There are a lot of opinions on the best way to feed your pet. Some people advocate for a totally raw diet, while others think classic kibble is the way to go. The truth is that what’s best for one dog or cat may not be best for another, but let’s explore the different options and the benefits and drawbacks of each.
First, let’s talk about kibble. Now, there’s good, high-quality kibble, and then there’s not-so-good kibble. As a general rule, most kibble you can buy at a grocery store probably won’t be all that nutritious. It may be cheap, but that’s because it has more filler ingredients and by-products than whole foods. Some specialty foods have this problem as well, so be sure to check the nutrition label. Specialty pet food brands are also more likely to have formulas specific to certain allergies, such as grain-free or vegetarian formulas. The great thing about kibble is that, as long as you’re buying a high-quality brand, you know your pet is getting the nutrition they need without much effort on your part.
Speaking of vegetarian pet food, is it ethical to refrain from feeding your pets meat? The short answer is yes, it is possible for a dog or cat to eat a meat-free diet, though it would require close monitoring of nutrient intake. Dogs, like humans, are omnivorous in nature, so it isn’t a huge stretch to feed them a vegetarian diet. Cats, on the other hand, are carnivores, so they may have a harder time adjusting to the lack of meat. There are a few vegetarian pet foods out there, but the best option in this case would be to provide fresh fruits, vegetables and supplements as well as plenty of plant-based protein. More frequent vet visits may be necessary to monitor your pets’ health.
Raw pet food diets have gained popularity in recent years, but it is personally my least favorite option. The argument in favor of a raw diet is that it is closest to what dogs and cats would be eating in the wild; however, house cats and dogs have gone through thousands of years of domestication, meaning the chihuahua is significantly different from its’ wolf ancestors, and therefore has different needs. As with vegetarian diets, raw diets must be strictly monitored for nutritional deficiencies.
My dog, Nala, was raised on a raw diet from the time she was a puppy. When I adopted her, she was underweight and had a host of health issues. The most prominent was a terrible rash that just wouldn’t go away no matter what I tried. I tried to keep her on the raw diet at first, but she never seemed too enthusiastic about the raw chicken thigh and tablespoon of vegetables that I placed in front of her. After a while, I put her on high-quality grain-free kibble. After a couple of weeks, her rash was gone and she was making progress towards a healthy weight.
To find what works best for your furry family member, some trial and error may be necessary. My recommendation would be to start out with a high-quality kibble and move on to other options if it doesn’t seem to be working for your pet. Of course, I’m hardly a professional, so when in doubt, consult your veterinarian.