Balancing your cat or dog's diet is crucial to their overall health, but there's no cookie-cutter formula that fits all. According to most vets and nutritionists, a healthy dog’s diet should contain about 80 percent meat/organs/bones and 20 percent veggies/fruit (this mimics the GI contents of prey, providing fiber and antioxidants as well). For healthy cats, the mix should be about 90 percent meat/organs/bones and 12 percent veggies.
But that's really just a starting point, kind of like the 2.5% (raw) feeding portion per day for their body weight, (cats and dogs are the same). For example, if you have a puppy or kitten, that daily feeding rate jumps to 5%, if you have a senior, overweight or inactive pet, that rate would be about 2%. The point is you have to adjust the feeding portion to match the overall situation of your cat or dog.
And the same thing applies to balancing the diet. Ideally you'll feed your pet a variety of at least 3 - 4 different protein meats, including red meat, poultry and fish. But what do you do if your pet has an allergy to chicken, which by the way, is very common? You might try rabbit or kangaroo or more fish, but the point is, you have less to work with. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do; a less balanced diet is better than one that afflicts your pet with bothersome allergies.
We've had many dogs with horrible allergies that needed daily doses of costly drugs just to get through the day. Some were so bad that they could only eat one protein meat every day. Guess what? They did very well. Thank you.
Some dogs are even allergic to veggies and organ meat. Are you going to force them to eat them? Of course not!
While I am a believer in a balanced diet, it has to be balanced for your individual pet and sometimes it can take time to find that right equilibrium.
Think about the wild kingdom; say a wolf's territory includes a river where the salmon run through. You can bet that salmon becomes a staple of their diet. But what about a wolf whose territory is inland and may never approach a river? That wolf might live solely on caribou and other hoofed animals. Obviously I haven't done the field research, but my hunch is that their expected longevity for both guys is about the same. Animals adapt.
All this to say: don't get hung up on formulaic balanced diets, the diet absolutely must suit your pet. Sure, it might take time and creativity, but that's just the way it is.
I think of my late grandfather, may he rest in peace, a man who lived to the ripe old age of 95 and was always hale and hearty. When I found out that he only ate meat, potatoes and rye bread, I was taken aback.
"How come you don't eat fruit and vegetables, Grandpa?" I asked him.
"Tried them when I was a child and I didn't like them, so I never ate them."
OK...Putting matters into perspective to make this blog make sense: Ultimately a balanced diet is a variable, as is life. But just as you have the power to live your life as you choose, you also have also have the ability to balance the right diet for your pet.