Vets Explain Health Risks of Homemade Cat Food Diets

Researchers at the University of California–Davis have found that homemade diets for cats are often lacking in essential nutrients and could even contain potentially toxic ingredients.

The study, shared in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, evaluated over 100 published recipes and found significant problems with almost all of them.

Most of the recipes, even those written by vets, lacked three or more essential feline nutrients, such as zinc, iron, thiamine, and vitamin E.

Some of the recipes contained ingredients that are toxic to cats, including garlic, onion, and leek.  Some also included bones, which can damage the gastrointestinal system.

Many of the recipes also lacked adequate preparation and feeding instructions, forcing readers to make assumptions about how to make the food and how much to feed their cats.

Feline health experts note that the trend of homemade pet food diets, while popular for dogs, can be trickier for cats because of their unique nutritional requirements as true (or “obligate”) carnivores.

Cats require certain specific nutrients (like taurine) that are only found in animal proteins in order to survive.  The safest option for cat owners is to buy high-quality commercial cat food.

Sometimes vets will recommend a homemade diet for medical reasons, but it’s important to follow a diet that has been created by a certified veterinary nutritionist.

 

Dogs and Humans Share Similar Gut Microbiomes

The human microbiome (the many microorganisms that live in and on our body) is a popular topic in science news these days.  Researchers are especially interested in how the microbes that live in our intestines impact our health and well-being.

Our pets have microbiomes too, and a recent study of the canine gut microbiome has found that humans and dogs share many similarities.  Dogs are more like humans in the gut microbiome than either pigs or mice.

Why are we so similar?  The study authors suspect that it has a lot to do with similarities in our diets.

The researchers randomly assigned two different diets to a group of dogs.  One was high protein/low carbohydrate and the other was a lower protein/higher carb diet.

The genes of the dogs’ gut microbes were sequenced using poop samples.  They were then compared to the genes of the gut microbes of humans and other animals.

The researchers found that we share more similarities with dogs than with pigs or mice.  They also found that dogs on the high protein/low carb diet experienced more changes in the gut microbiome than dogs on the higher carb diet.  This was especially true for overweight dogs.

Humans show similar gut microbiome changes when our diets are altered as well.  The researchers note that both dogs and humans with healthy body weights have more stable gut microbiomes, while obesity can lead to less stable gut microbiomes and an increased sensitivity to dietary changes.