Wednesday, 26 April 2017

#DogFood #Debate #CleanEating for #Dogs and #People

The great dog food debate: Clean eating is great for people, but what about our pets?

If you are a dog owner, you have likely taken part in the great dog food debate of the new millennium. What do I feed my dog? Veterinary food? Holistic diets? Raw? The way we feed our pets has changed dramatically since the industrial revolution- especially the past 10 years. Dogs used to eat scraps. Even retail dog kibble was just scraps, basically. Fast forward to 2017 and dogs have become true members of the family. They aren’t chained up outside and fed scraps anymore. They have beds, outfits, playdates- even sunglasses! The money people spend on their dogs has increased, and pet owners are more concerned than ever with the quality of their dog’s diet.


A recent survey reveals that 90% of dog owners are including clean foods in their own diets, and 75% say it’s making them reflect on the quality of food they give to their dogs. The survey results don’t surprise me. I eat a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables, I shop organic and non-GMO, and I grow my own food. I try to shop local as often as possible, make things from scratch and I have three vegetarian days a week. Knowing where my food comes from is important to me.



Eating clean is good for the environment. Animal agriculture produces a large amount of greenhouse gases, especially methane. Animal waste runoff from farming can pollute local water sources. Animal agriculture accounts for much of the deforestation that is silently taking place world wide. The animal agriculture industry plays a huge part in man-made climate change. Eating clean can be a way to lower your carbon footprint. So, I fight climate change with my food!

Clean eating is also good for your health. Multiple studies have shown that many life-threatening conditions and diseases can be curbed or prevented by healthier diets. Produced, packaged foods contain a lot of sodium; especially frozen foods. Sodium is not good for heart health. Clean, wholesome food is good medicine.



I interviewed Terry Walters, who is at the forefront of Clean Eating, the lifestyle movement that encourages you to make informed choices about what you eat while trying to move closer to the source of natural ingredients. She is the author of three best-selling cookbooks; EAT CLEAN LIVE WELL, CLEAN FOOD and CLEAN START and the author of the popular blog Eat Clean Live Well. Terry believes that eating clean is about improving your entire family’s health, and that includes your four-legged family members.

“In order to make a healthy choice you have to know what you are choosing from,” said Walters. “The more we can empower ourselves with the knowledge of what the ingredients are and how to select products so that we are getting what we need and not a bunch of things that we don’t need, then the better we can sustain our own good health.”

HEAR THE FULL INTERVIEW!



The holistic food pet food market is growing. Many brands are coming out with new clean eating inspired foods that have an ingredients list that reads like your grocery list- if you shop at the farmer’s market. I’ve often struggled with the pet food debate in my head. I see so many advantages, and disadvantages, to feeding a holistic diet. On one hand as a human, it does make me feel at ease seeing ingredients I recognize on a pet food label. On the other hand, I know how different my dog’s physiology is to mine, and I understand the importance of feeding a diet that is nutrient rich by my dog’s standards. I choose to focus on the quality of ingredients and the density of nutrients.



I give my dogs human foods as treats, but I choose wisely. We have a food dehydrator that makes great dog treats. They especially love dehydrated sweet potato. When I chop my broccoli, I chop up the stalks into treats. Walters feeds snacks to her dogs like bananas and fish skin. Many of the human foods she gives to her dogs as treats are found in the dog food she feeds NUTRO® Wild Frontier. There are many fruits and vegetables that are healthy for you dog.


In the end, I chose a veterinary specific diet for my dog. I avoid grain free pet food. It doesn’t have blueberries or sweet potato, but if was formulated by veterinarians and veterinary nutritionists to best support my dog’s health. Even the food itself comes with support; my vet can do a therapeutic diet consult with a doctor who works for the brand I feed. It also has a palatability guarantee. I don’t believe that holistic pet food is harmful by any means, but I don’t know how much more helpful it is than a veterinary diet, or a high-quality retail diet. There is no proof yet, but a holistic diet is certainly more nutritious than a grocery grade diet. I admire Walter's take on food, and how much I can relate to it. Her version of clean eating is very similar to how I try to eat every day.


The research into pet food will continue because the truth is we don’t really know that much.
There is so much more to learn, because a study of the lifelong effects of feeding dogs a certain diet takes, well, a dog's lifetime to conduct. New trends will emerge in human food, and they will spill over into pet food- just like ‘grain-free’ did. As consumers and dog lovers we need to continue to ask questions and consult the experts. There is no debate that clean eating is healthy for people, but the great dog food debate still wages on.

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