NATURAL DIETS FOR DOGS AND CATS
WHAT IS THE EVIDENCE?
What diet to feed dogs and cats is a highly debated topic. Some vets promote only using kibble to provide all the essential nutrients that a dog and cat need for a healthy life. Others advocate for owners to feed their pets a natural diet, with fresh ingredients. Many vets sit somewhere between these two positions in their advice to pet owners.
What is clear is that pet owners are increasingly concerned about the food they are feeding their pets; they are interested in providing a more "natural" diet for their pets; and many owners are willing to spending increasing amounts of money on the health and welfare of their pets.
Vets need to educate themselves about all the different diets now available for dogs and cats, to provide sound, educated, and well-rounded advice to pet owners about nutrition. It is an area of veterinary medicine that is lacking in education, leaving many vets feeling out of their depth when dietary advice is required. Pet owners are searching for information online or through social media, rather than discussing nutrition with their vet. This is a missed opportunity for vets to play a major role in promoting the health and wellbeing of companion animals.
Scientific studies into the benefits of fresh food, natural diets for dogs and cats are increasing over the last decade. These studies do have limitations, as often only small numbers of animals are included, however these studies offer important findings which can help to inform the decision making of veterinarians in clinical practice and provide some insights into the benefits of a natural diet.
Scroll down for summaries of multiple studies related to natural diets for dogs and cats. Follow the links to read a summary of each study and a link to the abstract.