Monday, October 20, 2008

Pet owners going “Green” (and against their pets?)

Mary Clarke of Glee Wire, a Birmingham in the UK based Internet news site reports that in a bid to boost their pet’s health 145,000 cat and dog owners in the UK have placed their pets on a vegetarian diet and 40% feed them three portions of fruit and vegetables a day. This is according to a survey commissioned by a British Insurance company. Only 24 per cent of UK dogs now have a meat only diet, the company said. Of those owners that had increased their pet’s fruit and vegetable intake, 42 per cent said it was because of perceived health benefits and 16 per cent said they were simply following government recommendations for human health. Among benefits noticed by respondents were better digestion and a glossier coat. 27 per cent claimed their pet had encountered fewer health problems since the switch and another 13 per cent highlighted the weight-loss benefits of the diet.
I would say there is something potentially wrong here. Not with the survey, but with the pet owners. I wonder where 42% learned of such health benefits when fed as a stand alone diet, and also, what would they be? 16% following the recommendations for human health? People, we are clearly talking about a total different “animal”. I understand that many of us including myself consider our pets to be part of our family, however I never look at mine as human beings. And for the 13% weight loosing pets, could it possibly be this is because they didn’t want to eat a food which is totally against everything nature had intended?
I was glad to find out that the surveying insurance company has warned these pet owners of the possible health issues and problems, which could be encountered.
Sometimes I am surprised. There are so many basics of which one would think they are just common knowledge by now. Apparently that does not seem to be the case. Cats cannot survive on a vegetarian diet and will need specialist supplements, and although dogs could survive, such a change in diet is likely to cause problems. Cats are carnivores, which means meat eaters. Look at their teeth, they have four large canine teeth used to grasp their prey, and large molars, including two carnassials, for the purpose of ripping and tearing raw flesh or meat. The mainstay of every feline’s diet is raw meat. With the exception of size, the domesticated felines of today very closely resemble their biological wild counterparts. Both, a short intestinal tract and a reduced time in food digestion clearly indicate the biological makeup of a carnivorous eating mammal. By passing their foods more quickly, the digestive period of felines is shortened leaving very little chance of harm from potential bacteria. I’d say if they would be plant eaters they would be more built like a rabbit. The same as a basic principle pretty much applies to our dogs, though they show more characteristics alike human beings as omnivores. In nature the only time they eat plant based food it is when they eat the predigested contents of their prey’s stomachs (like for instance a mouse which ate grains, a rabbit, which ate grass or roots, etc.). But what about this scenario: “I have seen my cat or dog eating grass!”? Well, there are 2 expert opinions on this subject: Many believe this has to do with the animal trying to eliminate something bothering them in their stomach, or cats trying to get rid of hair balls. Others say that it is because our domesticated animals don’t live on natural prey with the predigested plant based stomach content contained herein and try to make up the deficiency. So, yes, some or a little grass is fine, actually some veggies and fruits are even recommended, but a 100% green diet? Where is the common sense in that?
What is this trend anyway? More and more people (strange enough very often vegetarians themselves) think that their pets need to be fed vegan diets. Animals are just like humans in that they need a mixture of minerals and vitamins to keep them healthy, and cutting out whole food groups, like protein, can seriously damage their health. Who are these people making such drastic and substantial changes to what nature had intended? I believe in the theory of “Live and let live”. To me this means, if you are a democrat be one, if you believe in God, do so, if you believe in someone or something else, that’s fine with me, if you are vegetarian, so be it. I even discuss all this and your view points with you. I will share with you my view points. But don’t try to force your believes onto me. Especially not if they are scientifically proven wrong, as in my today’s topic.
Here are a couple more interesting results from the survey: Other reasons for switching to vegetable and fruit-heavy diet recorded by the survey included monetary concerns; 12 per cent of owners said they had reduced the meat content of their pet’s diet to save money (that I could understand if it indeed would be factual, but I don’t see veggies and fruits being that much less expensive any more), 4 per cent cited ethical concerns about meat (sorry, but I just I do not see anybody having the right to change nature’s intentions and to be quite frank, I see it as being unethical to feed a cat or dog veggies and fruits only). The most popular non meat ingredient was carrots followed by potatoes and peas. Now many of you may say, yeah, but this is in England. Well, I will be looking for an US based survey and promise you one to follow soon.

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