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Natural food or dry food?

Ilga D.Drozdetskaya
Ilga D.Drozdetskaya
Veterinary gastroenterologist at the ‘Two Hearts’ animal clinic
Natural food or dry food?

Eternal debate and eternal conflict. One's supporters emphasize naturalness, while the other's backers emphasize balance and benefit. What is reality? Let's attempt to solve it.

When selecting a diet for their pet, what do all pet owners want? The best pet nutrition, which will give their body the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals it needs each day, is the solution. Another thing is that cooking should not take too much time and effort, so that the food is affordable, the pet likes its taste, and we like its appearance and smell.

All these needs can be met by any diet, both ready-made and natural. But each has its own features that are important to consider.

As a rule, the choice of a natural diet is based on the fact that "wolves and tigers do not eat dry food in the forest!" This is true, but let's still not forget that a chihuahua is not a wolf, and a domestic cat is not a tiger. Yes, they have a lot in common with their wild relatives, but there are many differences as well. The creation of a natural diet must be approached wisely, keeping the proper balance. Unfortunately, the usual proportion, which is 30% fiber and 70% animal protein, does not cover the daily requirements of the pet for proteins, fats, and micro- and macroelements.

In order not to harm your pet when choosing a natural diet, you should consult a veterinary nutritionist. The expert will create a nutrition plan that will suit your specific pet, taking into account its species, age, activity, living conditions, and health features.

What are the disadvantages of a natural diet?

  • Since cats need to eat frequently but in small amounts, it might be challenging to follow the right feeding schedule when such food is never out of reach.
  • The danger of invasion by parasites is increased by eating raw meat.
  • Meat can also be a source of bacterial infection.
  • A dog or cat with gastrointestinal inflammation may have a much harder time digesting natural protein.
  • Keeping a natural diet can be difficult during vacation time, when you take your pet with you, leave your pet with friends/relatives or in a hotel.
  • Not all pets will eat all the necessary sources of nutrients, which makes their daily diet poorer. For instance, many cats categorically refuse to eat cereals or vegetables, depriving themselves of fiber, which is very important for proper digestion.

What about ready-made food?

There are a number of subtleties as well. All ready-made foods differ in classes — economy, premium, super premium, holistic, etc.

Since childhood, it is important to start feeding your pet with high quality food — premium and above.

In our foods, the daily requirement for all necessary substances is provided. If you meet the recommended daily allowance according to your pet's weight, you may be sure that it gets all the required nutrients.

Using ready-made food, it is much easier to keep the right diet while traveling, on vacation, and when you are too busy. Another undeniable benefit is the ability to leave a daily portion of dry food for a cat within constant reach; in doing so, you take into account the peculiarities of the feeding regime of your pet. And when it comes to a dog, you can use an automatic feeder, which is also convenient.

Ready-made meals eliminate the possibility of parasite infestations caused by poor nutrition. Furthermore, when protein sources are crucial (for example, a rare form of animal protein that is not normal for your region) or the size of the protein molecule matters, it is much simpler to maintain remission of many diseases with the help of veterinary diets.

What are the disadvantages of ready-made food? 

The number of downsides is much fewer here, so let’s consider the most obvious ones.

  • Sometimes it can be very hard to figure out which food is right for your pet. A consultation with a veterinary nutritionist or general practitioner can help if there are any complaints about the pet’s general condition.
  • The prices may seem high. However, the well-balanced natural diet and a package of premium or super premium food will cost about the same.
  • Foreign brand food may disappear from stores due to supply chain disruption. But this is no longer a problem since food with excellent ingredients made in Russia has appeared on the market, and it is not inferior in quality to European manufacturers.

What is all of this telling us?

It’s very simple: there is neither pure evil nor pure good. A diet is usually chosen based on personal views and personal experience and not on the real needs and specifics of the pet, but this is a completely wrong approach. The choice of a diet should be considered with common sense and prudence; you have to take into account the species and specifics of the animal, your lifestyle, frequency of travel, and lots of other factors.