We all want our pets to have the longest, happiest life they can, and how we feed them is a huge part of that.  It’s important then, for pet parents to educate themselves on the best food options for our cats and dogs.

As a pet insurance product designed with the well-being of the family pet in mind, we thought it a good time to share our thoughts on the matter of dry feeding vs. natural feeding, as we feel strongly that pet nutrition is one of the single biggest predictors of a happy and healthy life for any pet.

How it’s made.

Let’s start by what is meant by “Dry” vs “Natural”.

Dry food is well understood. You buy it in bags from your local retailer or vet shop in a range of sizes from small to “forklift required”. Most dry food is made by combining a host of ingredients into a dough, which is then fed into a machine and cooked.

Starch is a large constituent of dried pellets (generally between 25% and 45%), which gives the pellet its crumbly texture – more on starch later.

This pellet sausage is sliced into little pieces as it is pushed out and then dried. It is sprayed with additional nutritional additives and bagged.

‘Natural’ food on the other hand, is not just dumping half a pack of raw mince in your pet’s bowl. While natural diets do contain large amounts of meat, it is complemented with other ingredients like eggs, vegetables, oils, and herbs. Natural food seldom contains preservatives.

It is important to understand that Natural food does not necessarily mean that the food is raw. Certain herbs and vegetables might be added in their uncooked state, but reputable manufacturers of Natural food like Vondi’s will steam meat to a point where any possible pathogens or parasites are killed.

As close to nature as possible.

We understand that it’s convenient to buy a big bag of dry dog food and stash it in the cupboard for when its needed – knowing that it’ll still be edible in many months to come. The advertising campaigns assure you that what you’re buying offers a “complete”, “nutritional”, and “balanced” diet. That may be so, but by who’s standards?

The only reason that modern dried food contains things like preservatives, colorants, stabilizers, and added nutrients is because we’re trying to take shortcuts with our pet’s feeding regime. We’re wanting the food to look like we’d want it to look like if we were a pet (colourants). We’re wanting it to last in the cupboard for 3 months so we don’t have to pay much attention to it (preservatives), and to prevent the Dried food from becoming an oily mess (stabilizers).

None of these are issues in a Natural diet.

So we find ourselves paying more for food than we need to, precisely to create convenience, but often at the cost of reduced nutrient levels and dried food that is filled with starch that cannot be processed by our animals. Diabetes in pets is a real thing, and it’s getting more prominent!

Nature had it right all along, so it would be naive to think that we could somehow do it better.

We are not saying that all Dried food is horribly inappropriate for your pet, as there are very reputable brands out there who do care about the quality of the product that they’re selling as well as the health of their customers’ pets, but we think it wrong to think that it is an ‘either-or’ decision in the sense that Dried food is an alternative to Natural feeding, and vice versa.

Dried food can never offer what Natural feeding offers – it cannot. To prepare a convenience meal for your pet in a packet, means that certain nutritional sacrifices have to be made. To choose to feed Natural, is to choose a new way of looking after our pets. We can all argue over which dried food is better for our pets, but there is no substitute for natural feeding.

How much food is in that food?

Just because there is a picture of a beef cube on the packet, does not mean it contains beef. This should not be shocking news to you, but we concede that marketing can be powerful and it is easy to fall into that trap. Sometimes we need to be reminded of our vulnerability to marketing.

Food labelling can also be very ‘legalese’. If a dog food claims that amongst other things, it is “with real beef”, that simply means that at least 3% of the dry food by weight must contain beef. The 97% could be pretty much anything else.

Your “beef-flavoured” dried food, need not contain a gram of beef. It could simply be chunks of starch with beef flavouring.

I don’t think any of us ever really believed that there was any beef in our “beef-flavoured” instant noodles.

Most dry commercial pet foods are at least 50% grain as the carbs act as a binding agent to hold the pellet together. Dogs are not used to ingesting, nor able to digest such large quantities of carbohydrates. This is evidenced in the size of your pet’s stool, which is generally much larger in pets who eat solely dry food, as a lot more of the food is not digested.

Benefits of Natural feeding

As a pet insurer who has seen the benefits of natural feeding first hand in our clients’ pets, we are perfectly placed to attest to the benefits of switching to Natural. We even have a financial interest in keeping your pets healthy!

The reported benefits of Natural feeding and the kinds of changes you can expect in your pet’s behavior and general well-being, may include:

Why not give it a try?

Our strongest recommendation is to give Natural feeding a committed effort, and we’ll make it as easy as we can for you.

There are a few places that manufacture good quality Natural pet food for both dogs and cats, however Vondi’s stands out as a brand that has remained committed to using actual meat and vegetables in their products, as well as remaining committed to being preservative free, AND, they’ve been doing it for more than 16 years already.

Give natural feeding a try and see if it works for your pet.