By Debra and Daniel Paige


Nutrition is the foundation of health and healing for all living creatures. Two legged, four legged, finned, feathered and furred a good diet rich in essential nutrients has an enormous impact on how long we live and the quality of our lives.

As humans, we make choices about what, when and how often to eat. Animals, on the other hand, are totally dependent upon us their human companions and care givers to make choices for them.

Unfortunately, for decades we have been led to believe that commercial foods which meet the dietary requirements set by AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) are sufficient. Furthermore, we have been told by pet food manufacturers that the foods they sell are "complete," "wholesome," "all natural," and "preferred by dogs/cats more than any other major brand." This may sound impressive but it still doesn't tell us what's really in all that dog and cat food that fuels the $11 billion a year pet food industry.

The Food and Drug Administration has no ingredient standards for pet foods. This means that substandard food and wastes the so called 4D sources of dead, diseased, disabled and dying animals are used in pet foods. In addition, food rejected by the FDA for human consumption (rancid fats, moldy grain, spoiled meats, cancerous growths) is also processed into animal food. Chemical additives, many of which have been banned from human foods, are used in pet products to increase shelf life, keep food moist and flexible, provide a "red meat" color, and provide sweetness. Furthermore, chemical and environmental contaminants abound in pet foods because the bones of cattle even healthy cows contain high levels of lead from gasoline pollution caused by cars.

In short, most commercial pet foods consist of low cost, low quality, 100% processed, difficult to digest ingredients which leave pets undernourished and expose them to all sorts of hazards. It is no wonder that "mystery" ailments and degenerative diseases such as cancers, digestive disorders, bone joint problems, and skin/hair maladies once found only in older animals are now appearing. with great frequency in younger animals.

Though it may seem a daunting task to try to feed your companion animals a nutrient rich diet given the quality of commercial pet foods, it isn't difficult once you learn the basics of healthful eating and come up with a routine for meal preparation. Since few of us have the time to prepare fresh meals from scratch each day (even for ourselves!), here are some suggestions for creating healthful meals for your companions:

1. Find a high quality, all natural, preservative free dry dog/cat food to use as a foundation for a fresh foods diet. Depending upon your pet's individual needs, this may serve as the carbohydrate and/or protein source, provided that it is complete and balanced. Though "all natural" has become the buzz word in the pet food industry lately, there are still very few commercial foods that really are all natural. Read the label carefully and stay away from foods containing byproducts, fat, tallow, gluten, BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, sucrose, beet pulp, soybeans, wheat, corn and white rice.

2. Add plenty of fresh or lightly cooked vegetables to your companion's dish. Buy organically grown produce whenever possible but definitely avoid produce that has been irradiated, waxed, dyed or sprayed. Some raw favorites include finely chopped carrots, zucchini, parsley, and alfalfa sprouts; vegetables which should be lightly cooked are broccoli, green beans, peas, squash, yams and corn. And don't forget to try fruit for a snack fresh unsprayed apples, berries, bananas and peaches, and dried apricots, raisins and dates are nutritious treats.

3. Add a source of protein. Organic turkey, lamb, chicken or beef, farm raised fish, or dairy products such as cottage cheese or eggs, are good for both dogs and cats. According to your pet's requirements, add a protein source every day if you are not using a dry dog/cat food which contains adequate protein, or every other day if you are using a dry dog/cat food with adequate protein.

4. Provide variety. How would you like to eat the same thing every day? Once you get the hang of it, it is easy a mix and match menus. On Monday, use the dry food as a base, add fresh vegetables and a nutritional supplement; the next day cook a grain such as amaranth, barley, brown rice or millet in place of the dry food, and add fresh vegetables, organic meat and a nutritional supplement. On Wednesday, use dry food, vegetables, cottage cheese and a nutritional supplement. The key is to keep your companion's meals balanced, nutritious and filled with fresh "live" foods vegetables, grains, meats) instead of Processed "dead" foods with no nutritional value.

5. Use a nutritional supplement on a daily basis. Just like humans, animals have special needs and, no matter what you feed them, there will always be some nutrients lacking. Add human grade, preservative free nutritional supplement such as Animal SuperFood to your companion's food o ensure that she's getting the nutritional support she needs to stay healthy.

6. Stick to pure sources. Whenever possible, use organic meats, vegetables and fruits. Buy bottled or distilled water, or get a water purifier; over 2,000 toxic chemicals have been found in our country's water supply. always provide your companion with plenty of fresh water daily.

One last word . . . if you are considering a more healthful, natural diet for your pet, remember to make the transition gradual so his system can adapt to the change with a minimum amount of upset. Don't be surprised if, at first, your dog or cat looks perplexed at the new food or refuses to eat it. Both dogs and cats rely heavily on the smell and "mouth feel" of food - something new and healthful without all those preservatives, sugars, chemicals and salts is bound to take them by surprise. That is why a gradual transition is the best way to introduce this new natural diet.

Lorraine M. Vlcarelli is a Natural Health Care Consultant for Companion Animals and President of Animal SuperFood, Inc., manufacturers of human grade nutritional supplements and herbal remedies for companion animals. For more information, she can be reached at (860) 435-6315 or send a stamped, self addressed envelope to P.O. Box 1846, Southold, NY 11971.

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