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Cat and dog owners replace animal food for natural diet

Article published in Folha de São Paulo

At the age of two, the French bulldog Tallulah already lives moments of glory. In the end of 2011, she won the title of Young Brazilian Champion in her breed, in a contest held by the Brazilian Canophilia Confederation (dog loving). And, like every winner, she keeps a special diet – not eating dog food, only meat, bones, vegetables and other non-industrialized food.

Tallulah receives natural food, a pet diet concept known around the world and making adepts in Brazil. “I couldn’t understand how undiversified food in the shape of ‘little balls’ could supply my dogs needs”, says the breeder Vivianne Mello, owner of the kennel Vix Bull, where Tallulah lives.

There are many kinds of natural feeding. The meat-based ones include meaty bones, entrails, chicken and fish. The omnivores add egg and raw vegetables, but, depending on the animal and the goal of the owner, it can be a 100% cooked, free from bones or maybe even vegetarian.


Years ago, this practice was considered inappropriate. “When I was introduced to this kind of diet, in 2007, none of the veterinarians with whom I tried to talk, accepted the idea”, said Sylvia Angelico, a veterinarian that manages the website Cachorro Verde (Green Dog) (

“I needed to buy books abroad, get information in websites in English. I broadened my horizons to a universe of healthy possibilities”, she adds. If it is planned with specialized follow-up, the natural diet offers high nutritional quality for the pets. But organization and discipline are necessary.

The followers assure it is worthy. “It might sound as an overstatement, but the mood of the dogs is something else. They get less sick, show less fur loss, and there is no tartar accumulation.” asserts Kathleen Schwab, breeder from the Pahnomen kennel.

Supported by clinical results, Vivianne agrees. “The blood tests show an increase in their immunity”, she says. Sylvia also points out the benefits in her patients. “The mucosae get moist, there is fat mass loss and gain in musculature, the organism resistance to parasites and diseases increases and we also note an improvement in the chronic condition of vomits, diarrheas, otitis and allergies.”

For the veterinarian Tatiana Pelucio, technical advisor from Conselho Regional de Medicina Veterinária de São Paulo (Regional Council of Veterinary Medicine), there is no contraindications, “as long as the diet is arranged and followed by a professional, including the preparing and handling of the products, specially the raw ones.”
The transition for natural diet, however, shall not be done without professional assistance. “It is imperative that the nutrition be properly balanced, adequate by kind of species, breed, scale, age and life habits”, says Tatiana.

Each animal needs to be measured individually and the menu preparation needs to take into consideration size and weight as well as the age. Besides that, there are specific traits from every species: felines, for example, need more protein and taurine, an essential aminoacid for the proper functioning of heart and eyes of the cats.

“A balanced nutrition contains animal protein, healthy fat, vitamins, minerals and fibers. The larger the variety of ingredients in the diet, the more nutritive it will be”, states Sylvia.

To avoid some problems, some measurements are made necessary. Before offered to the animals, the food needs to be frozen. Bones need to be given while raw, as the heat changes their composition, making them harder, possibly ripping and perforating their digestive system. And the pets have to be supervised while they eat.

The owner also needs to know that the natural diet is not so practical and demands discipline. “It’s less convenient than getting the industrialized dog food and put in the dog bowl”, Vivianne admits.

“It is necessary to research, buy the ingredients, organize and stock the meals” Kathleen adds. “We bought a freezer and a fridge especially for the dogs, and we have to remember to defrost the food in time for the next meal”, she notes.

For the breeder, the practice is also worthwhile financially. “Considering we used the best dog food brands, it is worthwhile, yeah. But it really is because of the well-being and the health of the dogs.”, she finishes.

Flavor: The menu is varied and flavorful.
Healthy: It reduces the amount of fat, improves immunity and gives a boost to the mood.
Teeth: It helps keeping them clean and keeps a fresh breath.
Hygiene: The feces are smaller, drier and smell less.

Not practical: Opening a bag of dog food and putting in a bowl is much easier.
No way back: The animal might not accept having dog food anymore.
Room: Stocking food takes room in the freezer.
Discipline: The owner needs to research about the subject and follow the directions strictly.


Cooked food X raw food

Dr William Costa Estellai

This text intends to clarify why we chose cooked food in Nabuco Kennel.

Wortinger (2009) considers important to cook the food offered in the diet, because it makes the digestion better, and it also eliminates bacterias and parasites that may cause infection. The improvement in digestion causes an improvement in the nutrients absorption by the dogs, which are carnivore, and have by nature a digestive tube smaller than the human’s.

A good absorption of the food avoids an interior disturbance in the animals. This constant disturbance raises the thyroxine and catecholamines secretion that, consequently, raises the oxidative processes, interfering in the energy obtainment by the animal (Gürtler, 1987).

For Schwartz (2008), cereals e vegetables need to be well cooked, because dogs don’t chew food. Their teeth were mostly designed for primarily hacking the meat, not chewing it. Besides that, their intestinal tracts are shorter than the man’s. The cooking should be done in low fire and in a way that the water is reabsorbed. Meat can be cooked along with cereals and vegetables.

The overconsumption of Raw, energetically Cold food, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, might weaken the Spleen, especially its Yang (Maciocia, 2007). This kind of food produces Cold and Humidity, which weaken the Spleen Yang (Auteroche e Navailh, 1992). The Spleen-Pancreas has as one of its functions to rule the transformation of the essence from the food and liquids we ingest into Energy (Carvalho, 2002).

Consulted sources:
AUTEROCHE, B., NAVAILH, P. O diagnóstico na Medicina Chinesa. São Paulo: Andrei, 1992. 420 p.

CARVALHO, G. E. F. Acupuntura e fitoterapia chinesa clássica. Rio de Janeiro: Taba Cultural, 2002. 366 p.

GÜRTLER, H.; KOLB, E.; SCHORÖDER, L.; KETZ, H.; SEIDEL, H. Fisiologia Veterinária. Rio de Janeiro. Ed. Guanabara Koogan, 1987. 612 p.

MACIOCIA, Giovanni. Os fundamentos da medicina chinesa: um texto abrangente para acupunturistas e fitoterapeutas. São Paulo: Roca, 2007. 967p.

SCHWARTZ, C. Quatro patas, cinco direções: um guia de medicina chinesa para cães e gatos. São Paulo: Ícone, 2008. 470 p.

WORTINGER, A. Nutrição para cães e gatos. São Paulo: Roca, 2009. 236 p.