The Paleo Diet – What is it?
According to Loren Cordain, Ph.D., creator of The Paleo Diet, it is the world’s healthiest diet. It is based upon eating wholesome, contemporary foods from the food groups that our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have thrived on during the Paleolithic era, or Stone Age. I have seen similar diets called by other names but it always involves eating a diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and seafood while avoiding refined sugars and grains, trans fats, salt, high-glycemic carbohydrates, and processed foods.
Is the Paleo Diet right for our Pets?
If eating like our Stone Age ancestors is good for us, is the paleo diet also good for our pets? What did the ancestors of our modern day cats and dogs eat?
All dogs are descended from the wolf. The origin of the domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) began with the domestication of the Grey Wolf (Canis lupus) several tens of thousands of years ago. Wolves are hunters and scavengers. They are carnivores (meat eaters) but they will also eat other things like berries and insects.
Cats are obligate (true/strict) carnivores (physiologically/anatomically), designed to eat and digest whole, raw prey. They have no need for grains and, in fact, lack the enzyme to digest them. Any grain they get from their prey comes from the gut and is predigested. According to CatInfo.org, in the wild, your cat would be eating a high protein, high-moisture, meat/organ-based diet, with a moderate level of fat and with only approximately 1-2 percent of her diet consisting of carbohydrates.
Why, then, do pet food manufacturers insist on putting large amounts of grain (starch) in cat and dog food, both wet and dry? The answer, obviously, lies in economics. Grains, and even plant proteins, are less expensive than meat.
Why Switch your Pet to a Raw Diet?
According to Dr. James Coghlin in his book The Paleopet Handbook, starch carbohydrates are the cause of most all major disease in dogs and cats. Starch is sugar. Sugars cause inflammation and immune disease. Inflammation causes arthritis, allergies, organ failure and, with long term exposure, cancer.
Besides all the health benefits, feeding raw is actually less expensive than feeding premium dry or canned food – if you do it yourself! I found frozen raw dog food online for $5-$15 per pound! Do you pay that much for your meat? You can buy raw chicken for a little over $1 a pound and beef for under $2. Adding vegetables (for dogs) reduces the cost per pound even further. Even with a few added supplements (especially necessary for cats), you will be way under $5 per pound.
Feeding raw is one of my favorite topics. I have been feeding my cats a raw diet for nearly two years. It is easy, economical and gives me a sense of doing something really good for my cats. Look for more articles on this subject!