A holistic approach to life considers the body, mind, and social environment as inter-connected. It’s the realization that there can’t be balance for the whole being unless all the individual parts are nourished. For people living in Boca Raton, Delray Beach, or anywhere in Palm Beach County, a holistic lifestyle might include healthy eating, golf, tennis, or other exercise, and socializing with friends. In essence, the whole being is nourished.
Similarly, a holistic pet would be fueled with good nutrition, get plenty of exercise, and socialize with others. Notice that the starting point, for both people and pets, is to have a holistic cuisine: one that fortifies the body with energy and, hopefully, prevent illness.
As it relates to pet nutrition and pet health, it has been summed up by Dr. Katie Kangas, a holistic vet based in California, this way: “Nutrition really is the foundation of health. It’s the body’s fuel and provides the building blocks for the maintenance of health, tissue repair, and energy.”
If you’re reading this, you probably often wonder what is best for your puppy, kitten, adult, or senior pet. Is it best to feed high-protein, grain-free, or a limited-ingredient recipe? It might seem obvious that you want natural ingredients, but should you also look for labels that say “organic”, “non-GMO”, or “Holistic Pet Food”?
Wait! Is there even such a thing as holistic pet food?
While the term “holistic pet food” has become popular, there isn’t a standard or definition for it. The pet food industry’s regulating body, Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), sets the definitions for “natural pet food” and “organic pet food”. However, they have no definition for “holistic pet food”. Neither does the FDA or the USDA, which regulates organic products.
AAFCO does set standards for nutrition levels that qualify pet foods as correct for each life stage. The minimum percentage of protein and fat that qualifies puppy food as “complete and balanced for growth” differs from the amounts that qualify adult dog food as “complete and balanced for maintenance”. You can find AAFCO’s statement on nearly all pet food packaging.
But Ingredients Matter!
Pet food companies can include any ingredients that contribute to each of these categories. As an example, there is approximately 50% more protein in 1 gram of corn gluten meal than in 1 gram of chicken. Clearly, it’s less expensive for a pet food company to meet the protein requirements with the corn gluten meal, but certainly not as healthy or natural for the dog’s digestive system!
Brands that are considered “holistic”, give far more consideration to their ingredients. Rather than just meeting AAFCO’s required percentages, they choose ingredients based on optimal health benefits. So, while there’s no standard or definition for a holistic pet cuisine, we would expect to see many of the following ingredients included:
Quality animal proteins like fish, chicken, beef, or pork.
Wholesome grains such as oats, barley, or brown rice rather than whole wheat.
Prebiotics and probiotics to support the digestive system and provide easy absorption of nutrients.
Digestive enzymes to help break down protein, carbohydrates, and fats.
Natural fibers such as pumpkin and sweet potato to help move food through the digestive system.
Antioxidants to support healthy eyes and strengthen the immune system to prevent diseases like cancer or diabetes.
Healthy fish oils to hydrate the skin, promote a shinier coat, and lead to less shedding. The omega 3 fatty acids also inhibit inflammation that causes arthritic pain and other chronic canine conditions, and it does wonders for the dog’s brain.
At Jake’s Pet Supply, we realize it can be over-whelming to see so many brands and varieties of pet foods. We know “one size doesn’t fit all”. We’ll talk to you about your pet’s needs and your lifestyle and budget. Together, we’ll find the best pet food for you to purchase. And, of course, we’ll talk about it for free!
You'll find the healthy ingredients described above in the brands shown below. If they're not on your pet's food package, stop in to talk to us!