Episode 8 – Finding the Balance
According to a 2016 survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 59% of cats and 54% of dogs in the US are overweight, and those percentages are growing every year. That’s incredible! Mostly, it’s incredibly sad. Most people know that obesity is dangerous, but many pet parents seem to turn a blind eye when it comes to their pet’s size. Obesity in pets is a serious problem that causes a whole host of health issues including diabetes, arthritis, back pain, liver disease, chronic inflammatory disease, heart disease, and cancer. So what’s causing this obesity epidemic in American pets? Like most things we talk about, it has everything to do with food—specifically, the type of foods our pets are eating.
The most popular and widely available pet food in the US is kibble, accounting for about 68% of total pet food sales. Unfortunately, the most popular brands of kibble are those that contain low-cost ingredients such as grains, starchy veggies, and animal by-products. These types of ingredients are tough for cats and dogs to process and this is problematic for two reasons: digestibility and carbohydrate load.
When the body comes across something it cannot digest and use, it may have an inflammatory response like you would see in an allergic reaction. Inflammation is incredibly taxing and harmful to the body. Additionally, large indigestible molecules can get clogged up in the liver and kidneys as the body tries to process and expel them, putting unnecessary stress on the organs.
Since dogs and cats are both carnivores (opportunistic and obligate), they are especially good at processing protein, which is the source of most of their energy. They don’t need carbohydrates to make energy like omnivores and vegetarians do, so when extra carbohydrates enter the body and don’t need to be processed for energy, they get stored as fat.
Raw food can both prevent weight gain and help your pet lose weight because it is easily digestible, doesn’t contain a large carbohydrate load, and provides plenty of digestible protein so your pet can have more energy to exercise/play. If you have a pet who needs to gain a few pounds, it’s also easy to add a little extra padding by temporarily increasing their portions. In addition to weight management, raw food is the perfect tool for building healthy lean muscle mass.
Protein Builds Muscle
When a cat or dog eats food high in digestible protein, it breaks the protein molecules into amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. The amino acids are then used to build new proteins as their body sees fit, including protein filaments that build muscle cells. More protein in the diet means more ingredients available to build more muscle. Raw food is the best source for usable protein and amino acids because the molecules are in their most natural and bioavailable form. Kibble diets high in cooked protein and low in moisture are not easy to digest or collect intact amino acids from. This can often lead to a build-up of big unusable protein molecules that cannot be flushed out by the liver and kidneys, causing something called protein toxicity. That’s why it’s so important for cats and dogs to get their protein from raw meat high in naturally-occurring moisture.
When you give your pet raw food, you are providing exactly what your pet needs to stay trim and build/sustain healthy lean muscle!