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Healthy Fuel For Our Pets. Food For Thought!!!

Dr Susanna McIntyre
April 21, 2024

It’s interesting that we take more care over the fuel for our cars than we do for ourselves and our pets!

Put the wrong fuel in your car and it stops working within a few minutes.

Put the wrong fuel (food) into our pets, our children or ourselves and we keep on going for many years, because natural systems are designed to survive whatever.  They are adaptable, tolerant, and able to withstand abuse unlike man-made machines.

So, what’s the best fuel for our pets? Their natural food. Food that they would eat without our intervention.

Rabbits eat grass. Horses eat grass. Cats and dogs eat other animals as well as vegetation. Everything raw, unadulterated and in its natural state, as far as possible, allows our pets to thrive in vibrant health instead of just surviving through various stages of disease and degeneration. The question is, how can we do this when we live in a house and don’t really want the cat chewing up a mouse on the carpet! It makes a horrible mess!

During my 44 years as a veterinary surgeon, I have tried all the options available and reached the blindingly obvious conclusion that raw is best. I am shocked that I didn’t realise this 40 years ago, but better late than never.

It’s actually easier than you might think.

Firstly, fresh clean chemical-free (filtered) water must be freely available and accessible all the time for all of us, people and pets alike. It is the most important nutrient, second only to fresh air!

Now let’s have a look at who thrives best on what sort of food.

Rabbits and other herbivores

Rabbits (and horses) need to chew tough, fibrous grass / hay 15 hours a day because their teeth grow continuously, being worn down by the grass in order to maintain the sharp cutting enamel edges required to effectively grind up their food to enable proper digestion. Their intestines are very long with a fermentation chamber near the end, in the caecum and colon, where bacteria (probiotics) break down the fibre (prebiotic), releasing more nutrients. Some of these are absorbed, but most need to go through the digestive tract a second time. That’s why rabbits (and horses) eat their faeces early in the morning or late at night, a natural process called coprophagia. It’s the softer droppings called caecotropes that are full of nutrients, rather than the smaller, drier ones that have already been digested twice! So when you are cleaning out your bunnies’ hutch or your horse’s stable, be sure to leave the soft ones ready to be eaten later. By the way, if your horse doesn’t eat pooh, that’s fine. Everyone is an individual and instinctively knows what is needed to thrive, given the opportunity and free choice.

The highly concentrated bunny mix foods provide too many calories too easily. Rabbits fed this way become fat and lazy, bored and unwell and suffer depression and dental problems, such as overgrown teeth, because they don’t need to chew for 15 hours a day. The same applies to all herbivores, even horses that are denied the opportunity to gallop about in the field and eat grass. However, horses that are expected to work do need the extra calories as they also need to sleep and don’t have enough hours in the day to chew grass for 15 hours.

They need regular dental attention, at least every 6 months, filing (floating) their teeth to make up for the lack of grinding fibres daily.

Dogs and Cats

We think cats are obligate carnivores, but this turns out to be untrue! Like dogs, they thrive on fresh raw protein, fat and nutrient rich vegetation (not grass!!!) like avocado, papaya, cucumber, tomato, courgette (zucchini) and even banana, especially when supported by an enzyme and probiotic rich nutritional supplement. Soaked, activated nuts and seeds form an essential supply of all the amino acids (proteins) and are happily eaten whole. I blend these up with liquidized greens (cucumber, celery, broccoli, sunflower greens and a little ginger and turmeric from my morning green juice), mix with chia seeds to thicken this soupy meal (stir them well or they form a solid lump of inedible chia seeds) and add a super nutrient, whole food based enzyme and probiotic rich powdered supplement to fill in any nutritional gaps and aid digestion.

This same mixture can be spread on dehydrator sheets and dehydrated at 40 degrees Centigrade for a few days to make delicious raw biscuits.

I usually mix these biscuits in with their food to give that satisfying crunch which we all enjoy!

Commercially available cooked, processed biscuits comprising denatured animal protein (chicken feet, beaks and feathers and other slaughterhouse waste products), excess processed carbohydrates (like maize) and added isolated vitamins are a primary cause of disease and degeneration, being devoid of useful nutrients and full of allergens. Just look at what happens to an egg when it is cooked. The liquid becomes solid because the molecules are damaged, deformed and denatured by the heat. The natural enzymes in the digestive system of the carnivore / omnivore are unable to recognize these deformed proteins, so most is wasted, some is digested and much inflammation results from consuming such damaged foods. Chronic inflammation is the basic cause of nearly all disease processes. So prevention is the key.

Not all dried foods are damaged though. Some have been carefully prepared and dried to preserve their natural integrity. Just read the labels and do your research!

A raw egg is thoroughly enjoyed every now and then but can happily be fed most days. The dogs eat them whole, shell and all, as they do in the wild on discovering the eggs of ground nesting birds. The cats prefer to lap up the yolk, so never mix the egg when giving it to your cat. Instead, save the albumen (the transparent liquid) and make meringues or yolkless omlettes for yourselves!

Given the opportunity, carnivores will follow their instinct and supplement their diet with wildlife, very useful on a farm which could otherwise be overrun with rats and mice. They love insects too, especially crunchy grasshoppers, beetles and ants, having enormous fun pouncing on them in the grass every evening. Sadly, the commercially available insect based ‘foods’ are mostly cooked and processed, so be careful to read the packet and see how these great sources of nutrition are dried.

Imitating Wild Diets at Home

We are currently spoilt for choice with numerous manufacturers of frozen raw minced meat and bone, offal and organ meats, beautifully balanced to mimic the proportions of the wild herbivores our carnivores would otherwise eat. Thawed in a bowl overnight (because the packets do leak, of course!), mixed with blended raw greens (broccoli and celery being the best) and a vegan, super nutrient, whole food plant-based enzyme and probiotic rich supplement, served at room temperature, is pretty close to their natural consumption of whole, freshly caught herbivore, but without messing up your carpet!

Ask your vet if they would stock frozen raw minced meat and bone, offal and organ meats and even blended greens to feed our carnivorous friends appropriately. Maybe they would stock hay for the bunnies too.

Following these guidelines will assure you and your precious furry friends of lasting health and vitality, boundless energy and a properly functioning immune system.

If in doubt, think about what your pet would do in the wild, without human intervention, and do your best to emulate this health giving, natural fuel.

Here’s to thriving in the 21st Century!