i had an epiphany a few months ago when i read a fact that seattle has more dogs than we do children (no wonder i love this city)... but here are all these foodies and environmentalists and activists eating our organic produce, local fresh eggs or maybe some small-scale grass-fed beef, and what is it that we feed our pets?! most likely, some highly processed 'meat byproduct meal' crap from a bag. take a look at your pet food - if there is any vaguely labeled ingredients such as 'chicken-byproduct-meal,' you should drop the bag and go apologize to your four-legged friend for feeding it feathers and diseased meats. need more motivation to take action? check out marion nestle's book, 'pet food politics'
i could continue on this rant, or i could give you some useful suggestions of what can be done! first off, there are some very high quality foods on the market - like the honest kitchen's natural dehydrated pet foods. this is a good place to start if you don't have the time to learn more about preparing meals for animals. pet food is a science! just like us, dogs and cats require specific nutrients and ratios of protein to carbohydrates. but it is a science that can be perfected in your own home kitchen with a little bit of research and reading. i've been preparing meals for our pets based on the guidelines from a book called 'natural health for dogs & cats'
watching our cats dig their little furry faces into the first meal i prepared them gave me a surprising amount of joy. sure, i love getting to cook for and share a meal with my friends and family. but never before had i been able to do the same for our pets! i was so proud (and relieved that they actually liked my cooking!) that i think i may have scared them a bit with my enthusiasm. it's been a slow, gradual transition, but they are now on a 100% local raw foods diet!
what goes into a balanced meal for your pet? cat's are carnivores and require meat - lots of meat - and in the wild, that meat would be raw. dogs enjoy more vegetables and grains (potentially your dog could even be vegetarian if given ample supplements). our goal was to be able to track the source of the meat we feed to our pets, so we talked to the butcher at dot's delicatessen in hopes of finding some reasonably priced, lean ground meats from a local farm. for the first time in my life, i purchased beef chuck and liver and brought it home to my vegetarian kitchen.
beyond raw meat, cats and dogs also require carbs, calcium (which i learned can be supplemented by finely ground egg shells), fats and oils, omegas, various vitamins and enzymes - most of which can be sourced from natural foods or whole food supplements. oh, and nutritional yeast is the perfect meal topper for you pet (who knew??) so there is a bit of initial investment as you stock up on a few supplements and fish oils, etc. but in the end, our pet food costs have only gone up about 25% ... but it was worth it! just be patient with your pets - pet food scientists spend more time studying food additives and flavorings to make your pets addicted to their dry food than they do studying the quality and nutritional value of the food. cat's especially can be addicted to their dry food, but once they learn what real food they will love you for your efforts.
bon appetit mes chattes et mon chien! sante!