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Why Real food for Cats and Dogs?
Over the next few weeks we will build out a series of articles to help define our hypothesis and framework as it relates to real food for cats and dogs. There has long been an ongoing debate as to whether the species “dog” is a carnivore or an omnivore. The US National Research Council of the National Academies and the dog feed companies at large consider dogs as omnivores. However, most holistic and integrated veterinarians subscribe to the notion that dogs are carnivores, the specific classification of carnivore open for debate.
By definition, an animal that indiscriminately eats all kinds of foods, of both animal and plant origin, is considered an omnivore. Huumans are considered omnivores. A carnivore is an animal that mostly consumes only flesh. Cats, for example, are more readily agreed upon by most experts to be carnivores. Then there are the herbivores, animals that feed on plants, such as horses and cattle.
All mammals have evolved over time to maximize their survival and have adapted physically to their environment in order to optimize their health and survival. The question we are trying to answer is whether this process of “adaptation” or “evolution” has sufficiently changed the species “dog” to be classified an omnivore.
A hypothesis (plural: hypotheses) defined simply, in a scientific context, is a testable statement about the relationship between two or more variables or a proposed explanation for some observed phenomenon.
Occam’s Razor states that when presented with competing hypotheses that make the same predictions, one should select the solution with the fewest assumptions. Stated differently, simpler theories are preferable to more complex theories because they are more “testable“. This principle goes back at least as far as Aristotle, who wrote “Nature operates in the shortest way possible.” The idea of parsimony (meaning sparseness and is also referred to as the Rule of Simplicity) or simplicity in deciding between theories, though not the intent of the original expression of Occam’s razor, has been assimilated into our culture as the widespread layman’s formulation that “the simplest explanation is usually the correct one.“
Three key questions our hypothesis are going to try and answer is:
- are cats obligatory carnivores;
- are dogs facultative carnivores, and;
- given the outcome of (1) and (2) should the diet reflect the classification, in other words, be biologically and species appropriate.
There are many good books and research papers available to deep-dive many of the topics we cover in our articles, including how to make your own food or what typical is included in BARF-based pre-made meals. We are not covering the “how to” part of the dietary framework, other than where it is important for our hypothesis. For the purpose of our hypothesis, we focus on the factors that help create context, frame and answer our hypothesis. What you will realize in researching the topic of canine and feline nutrition, is that there are as many opposing opinions and hypotheses, there are many more opinions about what constitute, and what not, biologically specie appropriate diets, and the reasons for, or against.
Writing about nutrition and genetics in today’s information driven society is fraught with challenges, just try and follow Nina Teicholz (NY Times Best Selling Author Of The Big Fat Surprise) and United States Dietary Guidelines. We are not specialists or experts, and then there is the continual fluid nature of science itself, much evident from the debate raging around huuman nutrition. That leads to our disclaimer that most of what we have written comes from various online research papers, reputable books and references, experience gained since we started our business, as apposed to peer-reviewed research. You might come to the same conclusions as us about how hopelessly misleading nutritional orthodoxy can be in today’s information driven society. Watch the YouTube video titled This Is Why Eating Healthy Is Hard (Time Travel Dietician) to gain some appreciation for the challenges we are to face.
“…you do have to take some things on faith, especially good faith based on authorities and resources you trust. But you have to take care with those resources and be responsible for your own research and an intelligent, critical consumer of information. There’s no way around that.”
Remember, common sense is the most uncommon variety.
Our articles, written in support of our hypothesis, is written for informational purposes. We are not medically trained, nor legal experts. Our goal is to build awareness of concepts and define common terminology to stimulate creative thinking, so that you may effectively conduct your own research and gain some insights into our passion for our pets. We draw your attention to concepts, issues or authors that are or may be important to the subject at hand, but do not consider that our interpretation or sourcing is necessarily complete. These articles, by nature, is narrowly focused in support of our hypothesis: there are numerous scholarly books on this topic which we would encourage you to seek out.
Table of Content Outline:
- Anatomical Differences between herbivores, omnivores and carnivores;
- Energy Systems for cats and dogs, focused on dogs;
- Why we don’t think McKibble and McCan is appropriate;
- Life Expectancy and long-term health conditions;