Why good nutrition is important

Good nutrition is as important to our pets as it is to us as humans . We are what we eat and if we don’t eat well it can lead to weight gain and long term health issues . 

But the pet food industry is dominated by pet food manufacturers who don’t create and sell pet food that is healthy or nutritionally dense . Instead they are often motivated by making profits and are mass producing dog and cat food that could in fact be doing harm to your furry friend.

In order for thriving health to occur, all living things must consume the foods they were designed to eat . This is known as species-appropriate nutrition. 

Dogs and cats, like humans, are more resilient and can eat a number of things their bodies were not designed to eat. However, their health and vitality suffers.

Why raw feeding?

Pretty much everything we know about healthy eating and weight management tells us that we should eat as much fresh, unprocessed food as possible, while avoiding things like refined sugars, simple carbs and heavily processed foods.

Common sense says this approach should also apply to our animals, especially if they need to drop a few kilos – but it’s also founded in evidence.

In 2020 the University of Florida conducted a large survey that clearly found dogs eating a processed dry or canned diet were more likely to be overweight or obese than those eating fresh foods, such as home cooked or commercial raw food.

Perhaps even more significantly, researchers at a teaching veterinary school in Finland found that dogs fed raw food have lower levels of inflammation and disease markers, regardless of whether they are overweight or not.

This is troubling for the dogs eating processed food because chronic inflammation is widely understood to be a precursor to a vast number of diseases.

A New Zealand study published in 2017 found a clear link between gut microbiome diversity with intestinal health.
It also found that kibble fed dogs had increased levels of bacteria associated with diarrhoea and irritable bowel, whereas the raw fed dogs in the study experienced greater gut microbiome diversity and improved nutrient digestibility.

While unfortunately we don't have similar studies for cats, animal experts agree that these highly processed foods have simialr detrimental affects on felines.

The makeup of the microbiome is critically important to overall health, given that as much as 70-80% of the immune system cells are thought to reside in the gut.

Despite all of this, commercial weight loss foods are still brimming with heavily processed carbohydrates and typically achieve their lower calorie density with the addition of large amounts of indigestible fibre.

They often cost the earth, don’t work and cause insulin to spike (which may lead to weight gain), leaving your pet hungrier than ever and maybe even poorly nourished due to the fibre’s ability to hinder nutrient absorption.

Any weight they do lose is likely to be muscle mass, rather than fat.

We believe a far better way to support your dog or cat through their weight loss journey is to provide them with a nutrient dense, species appropriate diet that will not only help them maintain a healthy weight, but also support their gut health, fight oxidative stress and inflammation, keep them feeling full and satisfied, and potentially may even extend their life.

Another key consideration that doesn’t get a lot of attention is water. Water is the most important nutrient any of us consume, but it is decidedly lacking from most commercial pet food.

A fresh diet will naturally keep your pet hydrated, as most of our water comes from our food. This will not only help your pet’s weight loss goals, but it will also improve their overall health and the health of their organs.

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The benefits of slow feeding bowls

A slow feeding bowl is a food bowl or mat that has obstacles that your cat or dog needs to get around to reach their food. They make your pet work out how to get to the food, so they work for it. 

A slow feeding bowl can be shaped like a bowl, but there are also mats, balls and other shapes. They have ridges, nooks, lumps and bumps that your pet has to work around. They come in a variety of materials, from plastic and silicone to stainless steel.

Why use a slow feeder?

Complications can arise if your mutt eats too fast, particularly for large breeds. When devouring food, your pet can also ingest a large amount of air, causing many issues.

Slow feeders limit these issues and are also great for weight management as they take longer to eat.

  • Reduces choking

    A slow feeder slows down the eating process, giving your pet time to chew properly before swallowing. Slowing down also means your furry friend has less chance to choke on their food, or even vomit. It also gives them time to digest their food properly. Nutrients are better assimilated, and throw-ups are less likely to happen.

  • Prevents Gastrointestinal Discomfort

    Eating fast can lead your dog or cat to pile too much food at once into their stomach and swallow a lot of air. This can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, gas, bloating and belching. Eating slower can help your pet with these problems.

  • Promotes Mental Stimulation

    Many slow feeders are designed to make eating more of a challenge for your pet, by making it more difficult to access the food. This turns meal times into a kind of puzzle, providing mental stimulation. More mental stimulation equals less boredom, which in turn means less problematic behaviour

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How much exercise should my pet be getting?

Exercise for Dogs

Providing a nutritious diet that supports your dog’s weight loss goals is a hugely important step towards ensuring their health and longevity, but we can’t forget about exercise . Just like for us, any endeavour to slim down will be more successful if it is paired with regular movement . 

If your dog has become very sedentary, start gradually and work up to longer periods of activity . If they are capable, your dog should get at least 20 minutes of regular daily exercise in the form of a brisk walk or play at the dog park or beach . Ideally, they will be active for an hour a day if this is appropriate for them, which may be split into multiple outings if this works better for you (or them) . 

For dogs, physical activity doesn’t just provide physical benefits, but also offers enormous mental benefits . Exercise doesn’t have to be intense either; interactive tasks like training, play, sniffing, chewing and problem solving all work out the body and the mind, resulting in positive outcomes for physical and mental health . 

If you have a particularly active breed, you may find physical exercise alone is insufficient to wear your pup out – working dogs can run for hours without stopping but will be mentally challenged and tire from puzzles and intense chewing . This is because these activities release dopamine (the “reward” brain chemical) and have a calming effect.

Exercise for Cats

Exercise maybe isn’t something that is naturally associated with cats, but as hunters they would have used their natural agility to stay active and fed (and if your cat ventures outdoors, they probably still do) . And while you don’t have to leash train your cat and start taking them for walks, there are huge benefits to encouraging play and movement, especially when it comes to weight loss . 

Physical activity offers mental health benefits as well as physical health, and most cats will (literally) jump at the chance to chase something shiny . Cats that sleep all day are not necessarily tired; they may actually be bored . Feline play will often mimic predator behaviour, stalking, pouncing and attacking, so choosing toys that can be chased, like something fluffy on the end of a wand, or that make noise or roll – like a ball with a bell in
it – will often appeal . A laser pointer is a fun way to really get your cat moving, and some cats will enjoy learning how to play fetch . You can also liven up their environment with scratching posts, cat trees and different spots for them to perch and climb, like cat hammocks . 

Playing with your cat for an hour a day is ideal, especially if they need to shift some excess weight, but you can break this up into multiple short bursts or whatever works for you . Interestingly, if you do have an outdoor cat and you worry about their impact on wildlife, a 2021 study found that a combination of a high meat diet and regular play reduced the tendency of cats to hunt . This also tells us a lot about the natural inclinations of cats and by extension the food they should be eating .

Keep your pet active

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