Can I give my pet only dry food? Why the answer is different for cats and dogs

Feed your pet a nutritious meal and minimizing damage to the environment is not an easy balance to strike.

A 2021 Voice The article detailed how pet food poses a serious sustainability problem, primarily due to factory-farmed beef and other animal proteins that make up the diets of cats and dogs.

A new Scientific reports Study says there may be a way to feed animals a potentially healthy diet for them and the planet – but some experts are concerned about whether such a diet can sustain everything pets.

What they found – Researchers looked at over 900 pet foods, including about 600 dog foods and 300 cat foods. The study took place in Brazil, among the top three countries with the highest populations of cats and dogs (the United States and China round out the top three).

The researchers analyzed the environmental footprint – or “pawprint” – of different pet diets, such as commercial dry food, wet food or homemade. The scientists then calculated the environmental impact of each diet based on the amount and types of nutrients in the product.

Nutrients include proteins – from animals and plants – fats and other additives. Researchers are looking at greenhouse gas emissions – a key contributor to global warming – and land used to grow vegetables or raise animals that end up in pet food products.

According to the results, wet food has the highest environmental cost of all cat and dog diets. Conversely, dry foods had the lowest environmental cost of any diet. Home-cooked meals fell somewhere in between. Ultimately, a 22-pound dog eating 534 calories per day of dry food would be responsible for 828.37 kilograms of carbon dioxide per year. But a similarly sized dog eating a wet diet is responsible for 6,541 kilograms of carbon dioxide.

The reason wet foods are less durable than dry foods is because of their higher nutrient content. Wet foods provided almost twice as much energy from animal products as dry foods, and animal products tend to be higher in greenhouse gas emissions.

“Dry food has more plant-based protein and contains more carbohydrates than canned food, which is why it has a lower impact on the environment,” says Molly DeVoss, certified feline training and behavior specialist who runs Cat Behavior Solutions. Reverse.

Can a dog tolerate a diet consisting only of dry food?

Most healthy dogs can tolerate dry food, but this could be a problem for dogs with medical conditions.Getty

The study doesn’t recommend a specific diet, but eco-conscious owners may be tempted by dry food only.

Some vets said Reverse that dry food is generally suitable for healthy animals.

“Yes, it’s safe to feed pets an all-dry diet, but the good news is that either type of pet food can provide your pet with the nutrition supplement he needs to grow and be happy,” Evan Antin, an affiliated veterinarian with a pet food company Blue Buffalo, tell Reverse.

Sarah Wooten, veterinary expert for Pumpkin Pet Insurance, says to look for foods certified by the Association of American Feed Control Officials.

“An all-dry diet can be convenient, and I always find myself supplementing or adding natural foods to my dog’s diet outside of dry food,” said Leigh Siegfried, founder of the research-based dog training company Opportunity Barks. Reverse.

Additionally, cats and dogs with pre-existing health conditions may not tolerate dry foods.

“If your dog has dental issues, like inflamed gums, broken teeth, or missing teeth, he may have a problem with dry food,” says Wooten.

Chronic kidney disease could make dry food difficult to digest for some senior cats, Antin says, due to problems with water retention and constipation.

Pets with digestive issues generally struggle with canned and wet foods, so the level of fat and fiber in their diets – wet or dry – should be balanced. Some pets may tolerate dry foods better overall.

“Because kibble is more highly processed than canned food, pets with digestive issues often tolerate dry food better than canned food,” Wooten adds.

Can a cat eat only dry food?

Cats are genetically evolved to have low thirst, which makes a dry-only diet potentially problematic. Getty

A dry diet may be fine for most dogs, as canines are omnivores that could even potentially support a vegan diet, but it may be unhealthy for most cats, who are obligate carnivores and may need animal protein. higher in wet foods.

“Can a cat survive on a diet of dry food only? Yes. Can a cat thrive on a dry food only diet? No,” says DeVoss.

DeVoss’ reasoning is twofold. First: dry food only contains between 5 and 10% moisture, whereas a cat’s natural prey would contain 75% moisture. Eating a diet of only dry foods could lead to dehydration and potentially urinary tract disease, including life-threatening urethral obstructions.

“Cats on a canned diet consume twice as much water as cats on a dry diet,” says DeVoss, adding that cats evolved with low thirst and “can’t drink enough water.” water to make up for what it is”. lack of a dry diet only.

Second: The higher carbohydrate content in dry food diets can wreak havoc on cats’ blood sugar levels, making them more prone to diabetes.

“A cat’s liver is designed for protein metabolism instead of carbohydrates,” says DeVoss.

“Feeding them canned food with dry food is a good way to boost their moisture and protein intake,” says Wooten.

Ultimately, whether or not you can choose dry-only food depends on your pet’s needs. Speak to a veterinarian for advice.

Why the study is important – The study suggests that the average dog food diet is equivalent to approximately 12.4-97.8% of the average greenhouse gas emissions of a Brazilian citizen, depending on whether the dog’s diet includes dry food or wet.

The researchers extrapolated this figure to calculate the impact of emissions from Brazil’s 52 million dogs, and found that they accounted for between 2.9 and 24.6 percent of all Brazil’s annual emissions.

And after – Finding a balance between nutritious meals and low environmental impact is tricky but not impossible, according to the study.

The study authors claim that pet food manufacturers can reduce the environmental effects of cat and dog food. One option is to replace high-emitting animal protein in diets – like beef – with low-emitting animal protein like insects.

Another option is to simply reduce the number of excess nutrients in diets that can contribute to increased greenhouse gas emissions. The document states that all diets provide “more protein and fat than recommended”, although these excess nutrients are sometimes added to help make diets more palatable to pets.

“These findings shed light on the important role of pet food in the sustainability discussion,” the study authors write.

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