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The Link Between Picky Eating and Poor Pet Health: Understanding Gut Health in Carnivores

raw pet food, pet health, carnivore diet for pets, jack russell terrior with bone

By Dr Marlene Siegel DVM | or

In the wild, carnivore’s eagerly devour their prey. Their hunger drive is instinctual and their survival depends on their motivation and ability to catch/kill their meal. Though our dogs and cats no longer have to hunt their food, they are still carnivores and have the same instinctual drive to eat when food is available. When domesticated pets display signs of being “picky eaters”, it is the first symptom of deeper health issues stemming from poor gut health.

Common behaviors that signal poor gut health in your pet:

  1. Eating a few bites and walking away: Similar to picky eating, if your pet starts a meal but doesn’t finish it, it is your first symptom of a problem. Healthy carnivores stuff themselves with meat when food is available (they know in the wild their next meal is not guaranteed)
  2. Audible stomach gurgling: Loud stomach noises indicate digestive disorders like acid reflux. While some stomach sounds are normal, excessive or persistent gurgling, especially when associated with inappetence, is a cause for concern.
  3. Anorexia (not eating at all): This is a non specific symptom, but a far more serious one and warrants an appointment with your veterinarian. Your vet will take a complete history, perform a thorough exam and they should run blood work that includes a CBC, blood chemistries, urinalysis, possibly radiographs and abdominal ultrasound. In my practice I also check for nutrient deficiencies, toxicities and pancreatitis. BEWARE, DOGS CAN GO DAYS WITHOUT EATING, BUT CATS CAN DEVELOP FATTY LIVER DISEASE IN 3 DAYS FROM NOT OBTAINING ENOUGH CALORIES.
  4. Frequent Vomiting: Vomiting food or bile on a regular basis is not a normal behavior for healthy pets. Seek proper veterinary care and expect a work up similar to an anorexia patient.
Raw Pet Food, carnivore pet

A species appropriate diet for a carnivore in the wild is to kill an animal, eat it in the state they killed it in. They consumed raw meat, fat, bone, and organ meat. They also got extra fiber from the fur they ingested and intestinal contents that replenished their gut microbiome. Mimicking this diet as closely as possible is key to promoting the well-being of our domestic pets.

A balanced diet for pets should include:

  • Raw meat sourced from high-quality, pathogen free grass-fed/grass finished sources
  • Fat in proper proportion to the meat.
  • Bone meal is critical to maintain the proper calcium (found in bone meal) phosphorus (high in muscle meat) rations.
  • Organ meats, which include kidney, spleen, liver, pancreas (heart, though very healthy to eat is a muscle, not an organ).
  • Supplements to ensure complete nutrition, including The Essential Vitamins, Minerals, Amino Acids, and Fatty Acids.
  • Probiotics from fermented foods to support the diversity of the microbiome and gut health.

For pet owners interested in transitioning to a raw diet for their pets, it’s essential to do so safely and responsibly.

For a deeper dive into understanding the lifestyle components that create true “health and longevity, take The Empowered Pet Parent Course.

Dr. Marlene Siegel

Dr. Marlene Siegel has a long, inspiring history in the medical field. From an early age, she knew she wanted to make a difference. Her medical journey started as an emergency medical technician, but she always knew helping animals was her calling. After graduating from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, she soon opened her own clinic, Pasco Veterinary Medical Clinic. She has a revolutionary approach using a raw diet, holistic, and traditional medicines to achieve the best results for her patients. Dr. Siegel practices in Lutz, Florida, and is available for phone consultations.