Just because something is natural doesn’t mean it should be eaten. Lead and arsenic are naturally occurring elements but are very toxic and dangerous. Some all natural foods that are not appropriate for humans to eat; but other animal species depend on to nourish and sustain life. Earth worms eat soil, panda bears survive almost entirely on bamboo to nourish themselves. Soil and bamboo are not species appropriate foods for humans, dogs or cats.
There are a lot of natural foods that are NOT species appropriate.
The most relevant question is - are you feeding a biologically or species appropriate food to your dog or cat? Most people would not feed meat to a horse or a cow because they are herbivores. We would not expect a snake to eat grain. All species have species appropriate foods that they are biologically capable of digesting and obtaining nourishment from.
While many species share similar external traits; often their internal physiology to digest food is drastically different. Apes and humans have very different digestive physiologies and capabilities. Many herd animals like cattle, sheep, goats, buffalo, deer, llamas, alpacas and camels known as ruminants or camelids have three or four stomachs.
Humans are classified as omnivores and have the ability to eat and survive on both plan and animal matter. Horses and cows are classified as plant eating herbivores.
Cats & Dogs are classified as carnivores, "meat eaters". Carnivores are animals whose food and energy requirements derive solely from animal tissue or meat, whether through hunting or scavenging. Carnivores do NOT digest plant material like herbivores or omnivores and DO NOT obtain the same nutrients from them. Even if cats and dogs could break down the cellulose to get to the nutrients out of plant matter, their intestines are too short to get anything useful out of it. In addition, the long-term eating of foods that are not biologically or species appropriate may cause immune or allergic reactions and a syndrome commonly known as “leaky gut”.
Dogs and Cats do get nutrients from plants when they eat prey animals that eat plants.
There are some medicinal value in some plants for dogs. Dogs are scavengers and would naturally snack on or eat small amounts of plant material, including roots, berries, and vegetation. Dogs produce very small amounts of an enzyme called Amylase needed to break down plant matter. Dogs only produce enough amylase to break down already partially digested plant matter in the stomach of a very small prey animal. Therefore, dogs may have the ability to receive some medicinal values found in very small amounts of berries, spinach, etc.
Common cat and dog foods & treats are loaded with sugar, grains, plant proteins, synthetic vitamins & minerals, preservatives or unidentifiable ingredients; often sourced from outside the United States.
Add up the percentages on a package of your dry cat or dog food. You will always notice that they do not add up to 100%.
There are obviously ingredients missing from the analysis.
We encourage people to do their own research and seek out foods that are 100% species appropriate and that do not contain high levels of starches and foods not appropriate for carnivores to eat.
Sean is certified in pet nutrition, canine herbalism & raw feeding and co-owner of What's In The Bowl Pet Shops and Raw Dog Barkery. Sean is a licensed psychotherapist, and a former FBI special agent and healthcare executive. He has two masters degrees and has a passion for educating pet parents about biologically appropriate foods & supplements. Sean is also the executive director of Whats In The Bowl Forum - A Wisconsin 501(c)(3) Not-For-Profit Organization: Providing discussion, education and opportunities for pet parents to explore current species appropriate nutrition, wellness, treatment and training options for their pets. Sean lives in Waukesha, Wisconsin with his wife Amy (co-owner of Whats In The Bowl Pet Shops & Raw Dog Barkery) and their three golden retrievers Bonnie, Clyde & Stella.