Paleo has gone to the dogs….and cats!

Pets and the Paleo Lifestyle

The consequences of the modern lifestyle are largely the same in pets as in humans. Domestic animals are increasingly overweight and inactive, and cats and dogs are even developing diabetes in ever-increasing numbers. This isn’t just a problem for the pets – their owners are also missing out on all the joy of a healthy companion. Domestic animals are a great complement to a Paleo lifestyle, because they help improve your mood, reduce stress, and even work more physical activity into your day.
Affording Paleo Pet Food
Unfortunately, good pet food, like good people food, is also significantly more expensive than processed junk, so a Paleo diet for your pet can come with a bit of sticker shock. Buying an entirely meat-based diet for a large dog can cost almost as much as buying food for another person, and for some people, it might not be in the budget at all. But even if Fluffy isn’t eating the finest grass-fed liver off a silver platter, you don’t necessarily have to stay with whatever you can find at Wal-Mart. Any step away from the grain-based commercial pet foods will be a bonus for your pet, whether it’s moving to a grain-free brand from the supermarket, an even more Paleo brand sourced from grass-fed cows, or an all-meat diet. Some people also compromise by supplementing Paleo-friendly pet food with occasional raw meat and bones.You can also keep the cost down by stocking up on cheap cuts of meat when they go on sale. Since your pet will be eating the meat raw, it’s fine to include bones (cooked bones are brittle and dangerous, but raw bones aren’t, and they’re a great source of calcium), so turkey or chicken necks and backs make great budget-friendly pet meals. Try a variety of meats, including fish, raw eggs, and organ meats.   

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Healthy Pets

Exercise

Along with feeding your pet the best diet that you can reasonably afford, it’s best to provide plenty of species-appropriate exercise options. Dogs love to run around with their pack – many larger dogs will happily jog with you or even run alongside a bike. Throw a ball around in the park, enjoy some dog-on-human tug of war, or see how long it takes you to destroy a Frisbee. This is not only physically healthy for your pet, but also great for resolving behavior and obedience issues. Just like people, dogs aren’t designed to lie around the house all day without a break: they’ll be less stressed and happier if you take them outside to play.

If dogs are famous for their sociability, cats are known for exactly the opposite attitude: not even the most luxurious Paleo diet will make most cats want to catch a tennis ball, much less come out with you for a jog (although there are always exceptions!). But that doesn’t mean they don’t need regular physical activity in their lives. Toys that encourage the cat to move and jump around are great ways to stretch your cat’s muscles, and safe places to jump and climb (like well-balanced scratching posts) can also help keep kitty occupied while you’re away.

The upshot is that if you have the resources to support a pet, animal friends are a great source of support and companionship, and fit naturally into a Paleo lifestyle. It’s best to feed your pet its natural evolutionary diet (which will vary, depending on the type of pet), but if you have to compromise with commercial kibbles, or a mix or kibble and raw food, there’s no reason to beat yourself up over it. After all, most humans don’t eat 100% cheat-free Paleo, and we still see the benefits of following evolutionary principles, so do what you can within your time and budget constraints, and enjoy the companionship of a healthier, happier pet.

 

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