PET SUPPLEMENTSWhy give your pet vitamin, mineral or other nutritional supplements when pet food manufacturers claim 100% complete and balanced products? Because regulatory feeding trial studies to permit "100% complete" claims on labels, were not designed to examine nutritional relationships to long-term health, disease prevention, or to achieve optimal health.
When researchers set nutrient requirements they use statistics. They create a bell curve, which is a statistical distribution to determine what the requirement would be for the average majority. If an animal falls in the middle of the bell curve for every nutrient (each nutrient has its own bell curve) all may be well. But each edge of the bell curve also represents a number of animals for which the "average" dose is either too little (creating a deficiency) or too much (creating possible toxicity). There is a good chance that a specific animal, (as opposed to a statistical average) will be on the edges of the curve for at least one of the nutrients.
For example, thousands of cats have suffered from a heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy. This disease was a direct result of a deficiency of the amino acid taurine in the commercial pet foods exclusively fed. No, these were not cheap inferior generic pet foods. They were premium diets, which had been "proven" to be "100% complete and balanced" through feeding trials, laboratory analyses and digestibility.
Taurine deficiency is just the tip of the iceberg. Other recent discoveries of subtle nutritional imbalance in "100% complete" pet foods include potassium deficiency, carnitine deficiency, zinc deficiency, riboflavin deficiency and chloride overdose. Not every animal is affected, but subtle deficiencies in many animals cast a long shadow on their health and cannot be detected in short-term feeding trials. Rather, they incubate over the lifetime of the animal to crop up in later years when little can be done to resolve the problem or identify the underlying cause - the exclusive feeding of "100% complete" pet foods.
There is every reason to believe that many chronic degenerative diseases such as arthritis, obesity, heart disease, cancer, immune disorders, allergies, and skin, eye and ear infections can often be related to chronic malnutrition. For this reason, supplementation is wise for pets fed commercial pet foods - regardless of the pet food label claims.
Ideally, this supplementation would be fresh, raw, whole, natural foods that mimic the archetypal diet of the animal. This would include fresh raw meats, organs, bones and eggs, as well as fresh vegetables, fruits and nuts - preferably organic. In fact, vitamin and mineral supplements are not necessary for animals (humans included) exclusively eating the diet to which they are genetically adapted.
However, virtually no one today feeds their pets a varied diet consisting entirely of natural, raw foods, nor do they themselves eat this way. Properly designed supplementation is thus a wise insurance policy and should include vitamins, chelated minerals, enzymes, essential fatty acids (particularly omega-3's), and probiotics.
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