While dogs and cats are not naturally seed eaters, neither is the way most of us feed them.
Many of us - without thinking about how unnatural what we are doing is - have taken our pet’s normal diet of other animals and have converted our pet to a dry diet that is the equivalent of a 100% balanced dry breakfast cereal. In other words, we’ve taken a body that evolved to eat a raw, high-protein, low carbohydrate, 90-plus percent moisture diet and required it to eat a heavily processed, 12-16% moisture low protein, high carb diet.
That’s like telling YOU that from now on, you’re going to eat Total breakfast cereal for every meal you eat for the rest of your life. No fresh meat, no veggies, no milk. And if you’re thirsty eating that dry cereal? Hey, just drink some water. Or maybe like winning a Jag in a lottery and gassing it up with 85-15 fuel.
Many people routinely manage to live their younger days on a beer and nacho diet, but it eventually catches up with them as they age. Just as happens with senior people, senior dogs and cats will show the effects of eating a very abnormal diet and not drinking enough water. But dogs and cats don’t complain early and often about feeling ill or even just a little “off” like people do - they act normal until they just can’t do it anymore. So they’ll struggle on, acting normal for as long as possible, and then flop over with kidney failure, or liver failure, or immune system failure. Or even with cancer. Every veterinarian is familiar with the teary phone calls that come in about a pet who “suddenly” collapsed, and we know how and why it happens.
I’m thinking about this a lot lately because I’m preparing some lectures I’ve been asked to give at this fall’s annual American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association conference. The amount of research I had to do officially documented what I already knew and have been preaching for years: that those “my-pet-is-just-laying-here” phone calls happen as an end stage result of a process that started long ago, when we began making our pets eat a very abnormal diet for the kind of body they have - a carnivore’s body.
It’s worst for cats, who are obligate carnivores. (That means that they have no carbohydrate requirement whatsoever). On a typical dry diet, cats eat far more carbs and far less protein than their bodies can healthily manage to use, and they drink nowhere near enough water, even if we make fresh water available for them all the time. In fact, research shows that the average apparently healthy cat that eats a dry food diet is walking around 4-6% dehydrated all the time!
I’ll post one of my lectures pretty soon that describes how dry foods even came about, what is wrong with them, and what other options are available. (The lecture is for other veterinarians, so it’s egg-heady and best used as bedtime reading if the goal is to get to sleep quickly). But this week, I want to simply plant some ideas about improving your pet’s diet. I’ll tell you about a quick and easy way to add a lot of goodness to that dry (or even canned + dry) diet without a lot of trouble, to help get your pet a little healthier - by adding prepared seeds to your pet’s diet. I promise you, if you pick ONE of the seeds I mention below, and add them to your pet’s diet even 2-3 times a week, you’ll have a healthier pet!
Because seeds are nature’s little package of everything necessary to survive early stages of growth and development. Many different kinds of seeds provide a little powerhouse of nutrition in a teensy package, but there are perhaps half a dozen that are extra-good for most dogs and cats. Later this week, we’ll talk about the top three seeds that I use for my own pets and that I recommend:
Dr. Deb Mitchell