Todays choosing what to feed dogs and cats has become a unique challenge. It’s no longer as simple as being concerned about the poor ingredients and overprocessing of most pet foods. We are witnessing a growing decline in the health of dogs and cats that is connected with the decreasing nutrients and increasing toxins in all foods, but especially the bioaccumulation of toxins in animal products and seafoods today.

Fresh look at feeding pets

On top of that, there is a very high cost to eating high on the food chain—for our planet and our children and no less for the countless factory-farmed animals and disappearing wildlife who pay the ultimate price each and every day, each an animal as eager to live and to have a good life as those we know and love.

So, while our classic diets for dogs and cats included meat, we knew we had to take a fresh look at food in this major update. With the destructive impacts of animal agriculture on our diminishing resources, we knew we were looking at an inevitable game changer for all of us, dogs and cats included. If we want to leave this an inhabitable world, we simply cannot continue consuming the amount of meat and other animal products that we have in recent decades. Frankly, it appears that we will soon have little choice.

And so the question has occurred to us and to many others: If we are to continue with dogs and cats as our companions, can they somehow join us on this needed journey? If so, to what degree? Should we not at least see what is possible?

To take that fresh look at feeding pets requires looking outside the box, beyond the common view in the holistic animal care world lately that the “raw,” “species-appropriate” diet so centered on fresh meat is the only healthy way to feed dogs and cats. After all, the story goes, their ancestors were predators and they share that physiology, so therefore they need meat. Some will say that it is absurd or even cruel to suggest otherwise even though there are many reports of both dogs and cats doing fine on well-planned meatless diets that meet their nutritional requirements.

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So, walk down the aisle of any pet food store, or browse the natural dog and cat journals and websites. Foods made of wild species and alternative meats are all the rage. In addition, the grains that sustained dogs and people for eons have now become the enemy. I have seen clients who successfully used our diet for years switch their pet to a raw, mostly meat diet because of this trend or because another veterinarian recommended it.

Just yesterday, I heard from an old client who did this and now her dog’s teeth are getting loose: The diet was not supplying adequate calcium. That is, in fact, a common story when people feed high-meat diets to pets. It takes some knowledge.

In any case, the story of the wild predator who needs its meat is a popular one, with parallels in the Paleo and low-carb trends for people in recent years. Put it together, however, and somehow both we and our pets are eating more meat than ever, all heading the opposite direction from what our planet and our conscience now ask of us.