Dogs and cats are both carnivores. In the wild, dogs are "scavenging carnivores," eating animals they catch, dead animals, and other foods. Cats in the wild evolved as "strict carnivores." They got most of their nutrition from catching live prey. Carnivores also get lots of water from their foods - 60-75% of fresh foods is water.
Is kibble alone the best food for cats and dogs? NO! Can feeding only dry food cause health problems? YES!
While this subject applies to both dogs and cats, moisture can have an even more pronounced effect on cats, so cats may get a bit more attention in this presentation. Moisture is critically important to both dogs and cats.
- After oxygen, water is the next element animals (and humans) can't live without.
- Water makes up 60% of our dog's and cat's bodies.
- Body fluids, cell walls and tissues are made up of mostly water.
- Water is critical for the body to function and stay healthy.
- Low fluid levels in our cars leads to mechanical problems. The same goes for our pets.
Most cats evolved in desert climates, where water was scarce. Cats don't naturally drink a lot of water, even when dehydrated. As strict carnivores, they always got most of their water from their food - they are genetically programmed this way.
Here are some problems with feeding only dry foods:
- Dry, kibble foods are 5-10% moisture, a big change from fresh foods.
- In order to digest dry foods, the body has to give up moisture to soften the food before digestion can begin, these fluids have to come from other body areas, like the kidneys, liver and skin.
- Cats eating dry foods have a higher risk of urinary infections and urinary crystal or stone formation.
If you feed dry food how can you avoid these problems?
- Moisten the food before feeding, using warm bone broth or water. Allow the food to sit for several minutes before feeding.
- Introduce high moisture canned or frozen raw foods!
- Keep plenty of fresh drinking water available at all times! Fountains really encourage drinking.