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  • Writer's pictureDr Becca Leung

Why every dog and cat could benefit from a fresh diet once a week

There’s a lot that could be said about the benefits of a fresh diet for pets. Although we know it’s not the cheapest or most convenient option (especially if you’re making it yourself at home), introducing some fresh into their diet could still be really beneficial. I would propose trying to feed a fresh diet once a week, and here’s why.

Increasing your pets’ gut microbiome diversity

Having a diverse diet is believed to be healthier in people and I would hypothesise that it’s the same for dogs and cats. In humans, scientists and doctors recommend eating 30 different plant ingredients every week. This recommendation steams from the results of the American Gut Project. This was a large study which included more than 10,000 global “citizen scientists” from the US, UK and Australia. The researchers found that those individuals who ate 30 or more different plants per week were more likely to have “good” gut bacteria and a reduction in the certain antibiotic resistance genes, compared to those who ate just 10 or fewer types of plants per week. The results of this study can be interpreted that eating a diverse diet containing a variety of vegetable and fruit ingredients with differing fibres and phytonutrients can be helpful in promoting a better bacterial population in your gut.

Compare this to our pets who can be eating the same diet day-in, day-out. While the diet may be complete and balanced, it’s still static when it comes to the nutrients. What other nutrients are they missing out that could be beneficial to them? By introducing more varied foods into their diet, you’re helping to close that gap. This goes for cats too, when we think about different animal-derived fibres.


Enriching your pets’ diet with phytonutrients

Phytonutrients are chemicals produced by plants that help them resist infections (bacteria, fungus, and viruses), and being eaten by insects. There are thousands of these compounds in plants, and some make up the diverse colours you see in the plant world. These compounds (carotenoids, polyphenols, flavonoids, anthocyanins and tannins, just to name a few) have been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticarcinogenic properties, and are thought to have potential to be helpful in several areas of human medicine.


Dogs can get these same benefits as well by introducing a variety of different vegetables and fruits into their diet, even if it’s just every now and then. Some is better than nothing. For cats, they likely get their phytonutrients from the meat they eat, as meats from grass-fed animals have phytonutrients present. So, it’s worthwhile to consider the way the animal was raised in the meat you feed your cat.


Maximising the nutrients


I’ve previously spoken about ultra-processed pet foods, and the limitations it can bring. By providing a minimally processed fresh diet, the food ingredients are left to resemble the whole foods they once were, which helps to maximise the nutrients they bring. This means less supplementation is needed to ensure that the overall diet has all the necessary essential nutrients, which is preferable.


Variety is the spice of life


This is one of my favourite proverbs. Bringing variety into your pets’ lives can be incredibly enriching, for you and for them. You can see it in their eyes when they get excited about their food and generally, fresh foods can be more palatable to dogs and cats compared to dry and canned options. Bringing in a fresh diet once a week can be a special treat. We all deserve to be spoilt every now and then!

We’re going to create a series of videos to help pet parents introduce a fresh variety into their pets’ food bowls. There will be complete and balanced diets, but also treats and topper options as well. We hope that they are helpful in showing you how easy it can be and that your pets will love them!

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