PAWS AND PAGES: Healthy dieting

Did you know that 84 percent of the immune system is found in the gut? Scientists around the world are studying how friendly bacteria in our digestive system’s microbiome play an important role in fighting infections, other illnesses and certain types of cancers. Food is the medicine we give our pets at least twice a day, so every bowl you feed your pet is either fighting disease or feeding it.

Which one are you doing?

There are many opinions in regard to what is the best diet for our pets, but the truth is that there is only one best option -- feeding pets a high quality and wholesome diet with real food that contains live enzymes, vitamins and minerals.

Unfortunately, there are frequent FDA recalls of highly commercialized pet food diets. This often scares pet owners and adds to the confusion as to we should be feeding our fur-kids. There has been some controversy around high doses of vitamin D in some formulations, and the lack of Taurine which may contribute to heart disease.

So what if you want to help your pet, but you are on a budget or don’t know how? The best way to start making a change is slowly and in small portions. Start by adding live, organic and wholesome items in your pet’s current diet. For example, spinach and blueberries are wonderful additions to any pet bowl. A study conducted by Purdue University found that adding fresh green vegetables in pet bowls decreased their risk of cancer by a whopping 90 percent!

Once you are ready to go into a full home-cooked diet, there are several companies, cookbooks, and pet nutritionists out there that can help you with recipes and supplements. Believe it or not, supplements such as calcium are just as important for cats and dogs as they are for people.

For those who must or prefer to stick to commercial brands, there are still several options out there. A few of our local pet stores (Petco, PetSmart and Tractor Supply Co.) carry a variety of nutritious and nutrient dense dry, raw and freeze-dried pet food brands that all pets at all life stages can benefit from. Some diets are even tailored to an individual pet’s specific dietary needs. For more info on these balanced brands, please call or visit the pet stores to speak with one of their associates.

As always, it is always highly recommended to consult with your family veterinarian, as each cat or dog’s health is unique, and the pet may have specific dietary needs or restrictions.

To your pet’s health!

Devon Apodaca is executive director of the Humane Society of Imperial County.

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