YOU'RE GETTING FAT OBESITY

75 years ago the pet food industry made it's debut. Whether this is a good thing or not is up for debate. Regardless it is important to fully understand the industry to recognize why Prey Model Raw feeding is so important. 

 

Obesity. What a hot topic. Not only is the human population afflicted by obesity with a reported 1.9 billion adults over 18 and 41 million children under 5 as overweight in 2014 according to the World Health Organization, but our companions are afflicted as well.  In 2015, 53.8% of dogs and 58.2% of cats were labelled as overweight according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. How is this happening? Just like humans, lack of exercise, poor portion control and of course bad nutrition are all common culprits.

 

Most of the world’s pets have turned from animals that ran the savannahs and the forests chasing prey or constantly on the move looking for shelter to now being very sedentary animals. Little Chihuahuas have become armpit pets, large dogs are crated while mom and dad are working 10 hours or more a day and cats are confined to small townhouses and apartment buildings. Some cats are let outside while some dogs get a daily walk or go to a dog park. Although walks are wonderful and heavily encouraged a 20-minute walk cannot burn off of extra calories that may be sourced from too many treats, free feeding and sneaky table scrapes. According to PetMD a 20 lb dog that walks at 15 minutes per mile will only burn about 64 calories in one hour. Unfortunately, there are few studies on the topic, but we can see that basic exercise in the form of walks, if the dog is lucky burns very few calories. Sadly, far too often our companions live a sedentary life where they don’t have to hunt for food, its provided right in front of them with little to no effort on a regular basis and often due to the nature of their food they are more than willing to eat it all.

 

Although the feeding guidelines on the back of the pet food bags are simply recommendations, free feeding definitely is not part of that recommendation. There is a rare occasion a dog, cat or ferret will not over eat. Because kibble and dry pet foods are not species appropriate, cats, dogs and ferrets are not getting the right nutrients in appropriate proportions leaving your companion unsatisfied. They may counter surf, beg for food, or gorge if left to eat on their own. Just like humans, if the body is craving specific nutrients the body will constantly be hungry looking for what it needs until this need is met. Our companions are no different. Free feeding may be convenient, but it certainly isn’t going to help the world’s obesity problem.

 

Another factor that weighs in (pun intended) to the obesity problem are treats. Many owners help their companion pack on the pounds by not factoring in treats into their companion’s diet. This could be biscuits and chews like bully sticks or special treats like cooked chicken or canned food. If you are following the feeding recommendations of your dry pet food and then adding these extra treats on top you are adding extra calories, fats and carbohydrates. If you are free feeding there is even more calories, fat and carbohydrate consumption occurring.

When companion owners start noticing their companion starting to pack on the pounds (typically after the vet mentions something) their first thought is to switch to a lite, weight management or weight control diet. This switch is actually the wrong direction to go. Are you surprised? Let’s break it down!

According to the AAFCO a weight management diet for dogs needs to be 3100 kilocalories/kilogram or less. For cats there must be 3250 kcals/kg or less. Below are popular brands of dog and cat foods that have a weight management, weight control, healthy weight or lite dry pet food. Foods highlighted in red are over the kcals for a weight management diet, yellow is slightly over and green is at or under the appropriate kcals for a weight management diet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

 

 

 

Out of the 26 dog diets only 19% of the diets meet the requirements of a weight management diet according to the AAFCO while 11% were just slightly over the recommendation and 70% were far over the recommended kilocalorie count for a weight management diet. Out of the 26 cat foods that are from the same company as the dog foods, 7 of the companies only produce a weight management for dogs and not cats. So out of the 19 remaining brands only 15% of the diets met the AAFCO’s recommendations of a weight management diet. 15% were slightly over the recommendation and 70% were far over the recommended kilocalorie count for weight management diets.

 

Outside of the amount of kilocalories in a pet food, it’s also important to look at the ingredients in these diets. What most companies do is while they reduce the fat content in weight management diets compared to their adult formula, the fiber content is increased. Check out these two guaranteed analyses and ingredient lists. One is an adult diet, the other is the company’s weight management diet.

 

Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Barley, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid), White Rice, Oatmeal, Fish Meal (a Source of Fish Oil), Beet Pulp-Dried, Turkey and Chicken Flavor, Flax Seeds, Dried Brewers Yeast, Salt… (we’ve removed the vitamin and minerals for ease)

 

Protein 27.5%

Fat 16.3%

Fiber 2.6%

 

Chicken, Chicken Meal, Barley, Brown Rice, Beet Pulp-Dried, Pea Fiber, Natural Turkey and Chicken Flavor, Oatmeal, Tomato Pomace, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid), Rice Bran, Pea Protein, Dried Brewers Yeast, Fish Meal (a Source of Fish Oil), Flax Seed, Salt…

 

Protein 25%

Fat 9%

Fiber 14%

 

So what is the problem here? Although fiber bulks up a meal and fills you up faster, fiber is mainly grains and carbohydrates. Not only are cats, dogs and ferrets unable to properly digest and utilize carbohydrates many are moderate to high in sugars. Sugar especially simple sugars turn right into fat. The following are the carbohydrates in the weight control diet and their glycemic index number:

 

Barley-28

Brown Rice-68

Oatmeal-55

Rice Bran-47

 

Reference Numbers:

Low 0-35

Medium is 36-70

High 71-100

 

As you can see three of the four ingredients are moderate on the glycemic index one of which is borderline high. Compared to the adult diet, the weight management is 7.3% lower in fat, but the fiber is 11.4% higher.

 

If you are on a diet to help lose weight you most likely are not going to eat pasta, cereal and bread to lose weight right? It’s the same concept with dogs, cats and ferrets who unlike humans can’t even properly process carbohydrates. Because of this instead of safely helping your companion lose weight you are simply filling them with bulk ingredients that provide almost no proper nutrients which often can lead to other health concerns.

 

Limiting fat is also a problem. Although you want to avoid feeding the wrong types of fats, limiting fat not only makes a food less tasty but it also leaves your companion hungry and restricts a quality energy source for the body’s many cells that metabolize it to function. Fat is essential in the diet of dogs, cats and ferrets. It provides quality energy, it also cushions the body’s organs and helps conduct important nerve impulses among other important functions. Fat is calorically dense and actually is important for keeping your companion calorically satisfied and full as well. With just a little bit of good fat food tastes better and is nutrient dense.

 

So how can a raw diet manage weight? There are many components of a raw diet that can maintain or help your companion safely lose weight if they are currently on commercial pet foods without counting calories or restricting food.

 

Raw food has lots of water content, about 75%, more if raw feeders add bone broths, blood soups or other liquids. Just like if you drink a glass or two of water before a meal, you probably will not eat as much because you are fuller. Same principles apply.

 

Raw food is made of meat. Unlike other plant based protein sources your companion will increase their lean muscle while losing extra fat. So even feeding your companion at 3% of their adult body weight as recommended for maintenance in raw feeding, overweight or even underweight, given the nutrients of this diet they will most likely level out your companion to the right weight. Raw meat is calorically similar to carbohydrates but the difference is that carbohydrates turn to sugar and then fat, whereas meat simply builds lean muscle.

 

Meat also contains L-carnitine a component that helps to burn fat. Many pet foods contain this vitamin derivative but it is artificial whereas L-carnitine is naturally found in meat.

 

As long as the diet is balanced properly for your companion, they will not over eat. They will not gorge and once they are full actually stop eating even if food is left in the bowl. It truly is amazing to watch an animal reach satiety and stop. After being so used to our companions gorging or woofing down their meal within seconds, this is awesome to see.

 

The most ideal weight loss diet is one that is high in proteins and healthy fats like fish oils, but low in carbohydrates. This is what makes a prey model raw diet the best diet because it has all of these qualities. It contains quality proteins and healthy fats. It contains L-carnitine a natural vitamin derivative known to increase metabolism and burn fat and finally raw meat contains no carbohydrates that not only can be sugary but actually be counter-productive to weight loss.

Preventing your companion from becoming overweight starts with the right diet, but should they be overweight a raw diet is certainly the healthy way for your companion to lose those pounds. With exercise, proper portion control and most importantly the right species appropriate diet your companion can live a happy and healthy life! 

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