Balanced nutrition

Balanced nutrition. We hear that term every day. Whether it is about our diet, or our pets. It is something that we strive for, something no one debates as being essential for healthy living.

We get balance in our diet through variety. We have food pyramids and nutritionists that tell us we need x, y and z in our diet, and if we aren’t getting those in our regular foods, what foods we can supplement with to get that, or even what shake, pill, gummy or whatever we can take to fill in those gaps.

For some reason, we have been programmed that our pets get should get balance a different way. By eating the same “balanced” diet day in and day out, for their entire life. Every little brown pebble has everything your pet needs.

Let’s look at that idea. Sure, pet food companies employ nutritionists that study both the ingredients and supplements that they use in their foods, and how the pet utilizes them. They study the way processing affects the ingredients and strive to ensure that a pet can utilize the nutrition as it comes out of the bag. They do lab tests and feeding trials to make sure the foods perform as promised.

So that’s great. But is being balanced enough? If we ate the exact same “balanced” meals every day, every meal, would that be a good way of getting balance? I don’t think any nutritionist would ever suggest that we eat the exact same meals every day, and I don’t think we’d want to, especially for the boredom factor.

Wouldn’t that be true for our pets as well? Wouldn’t it be better and more enjoyable for them to have something different? If not every meal, maybe every bag change things up? And not just different flavours, but different manufacturers. I have customers that have 3 or 4 different small bags going at any time, and the dogs love it. And cats, well, we know how finicky they can be, and this can help.

Every company uses a different formulation process, a different cooking/processing procedure, and use different ingredients/supplements. While each may be “balanced”, they achieve that balance in different ways. Our pets might do better with one company’s supplements, but another company’s processing, and maybe a third company’s ingredients. By mixing and matching, you can make sure that they get a better balance though variety. I’m not saying that there is not a perfect food for your pet out there, that will be the perfect nutrition for the life of your animal, but I don’t like the chances of finding that perfect food.

Same with raw foods, each different protein has a different nutritional profile, and each manufacturer uses different ingredients from different sources. Some might use pork organs in their mixes, other beef, and still others may use the same organs as the main protein. Some use parts to make up the meal, others grind the whole animal, with nothing else added. By offering foods that are made from different animals and made by different companies, I believe you can more likely achieve a nutritional balance through variety.

If you want, you can also add in foods that have properties that you think will help your furry companion. No reason, whether you feed dry or raw, that you can’t add in some sardines, or some kale, or an egg, or some goats milk kefir, or any other healthy foods (stay away from empty carbs, please). Supplements like turmeric, or probiotics, or Omega 3 oils can address certain problems your pet may be having.

Feeding our pets doesn’t have to be rocket science, but we all know, variety is the spice of life.

(Originally published in Canstar News papers, Lance, Metro, Herald, et al.)

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