Best books on pet nutrition & ancestral diets
If you’re looking to learn about pet nutrition and appropriate canine and feline diets then you may find a great deal of information on these subjects biased. Accordingly I have comprised a list of what I consider some of the best books on pet nutrition & ancestral diets.
Firstly, let’s get on the same page
Without sounding like a conspiracy theorist, a great deal of research in pet nutrition is instigated and funded by the same powerful corporations who make your pet food. Even when a pet food manufacturer conducts research, there is a clear conflict of interest and they’ll never release research which harms their products.
In an ideal world research in pet nutrition would be led by independent bodies, but the reality is research requires sufficient funding, and the bodies which have such funding are the companies and conglomerates who make your pet food.
The same applies for Universities – they require a great deal of funding, and it makes sense for some of our largest conglomerates to provide such funding as sponsorship. Sadly sponsorship rarely comes without something in return.
It may surprise you, but worldwide most pet food brands are made by the same three companies – Mars, Nestle, and Colgate-Palmolive.
In the Australian pet food aisles you’ll find brand names like Pedigree, Advance, Optimum, and My Dog, which are all Mars Petcare brands. Anything labelled Purina, such as ProPlan or Supercoat, are Nestle brands.
Colgate-Palmolive control most veterinary-endorsed pet food brands under the banner Hill’s Science Diet and Hill’s Prescription Diet, and Mars have an offering in the space with their Royal Canin brand.
In Australia we have a few more leading manufacturers such as The Real Pet Food Co, Coprice, and Hypro Pet Food, but it’s the three global conglomerates mentioned earlier who control the research, University studies and sponsorship, dog shows, and breeder groups, as a vehicle to endorse products.
Needless to say, the field of pet nutrition is somewhat skewed, and you may be surprised to know we are still learning year on year.
Even of late – understanding toxins from corn has shown developments, as has the necessity of taurine in canine diets – the reason we have learned more on these issues is pet nutrition is from the failures of pet foods. Significant research in the microbiome has been conducted in recent years, showing how disruptive poor quality diets or antibiotics can be on our pets (one of the reasons many pets continue to suffer skin conditions, itchy ears, and poor health).
I see the most fundamental hindrance to pet nutrition research being the following fact – dogs and cats are essentially carnivorous beings, yet almost all dog food and cat food products manufactured by the leading conglomerates above are made from grains.
The below list of my best books on pet nutrition have been selected because they have no bias or influence from pet food manufacturers. Each book will offer you a perspective from which you can draw your own conclusions on what’s best for your pet.
The author of the first book on the list, Australian vet Dr Tom Lonsdale, refers to pet owners as the owners of furry toys. What he means by this is most pet owners treat their pets as toys, feeding them inappropriate junk as if they were a Tamagotchi, and not as the carnivorous predator animals they essentially are.
It’s influencers such as Tom Lonsdale who will really make you think.
Best books on Pet Nutrition – A definitive list!
Below are my best books on pet nutrition & ancestral diets (both canine and feline) which are well worth reading and will change your view on how you feed your dog or cat.
- Work Wonders by Australian vet Tom Londsdale – this is an excellent easy to read no-nonsense book on ancestral carnivore diets for dogs and cats. Dr Lonsdale BVSc has been an advocate for true pet health who has continued to fight commercial pet foods for decades. His other book Raw Meaty Bones is also well worth reading, being more in depth, detailed, and down and dirty. I’ve found these books to be the most raw and un-influenced ventures into true canine and feline diets which completely abstain from any pet food marketing bias.
- Give Your Dog a Bone by Dr Ian Billinghurst – one of the original books about canine diets and raw feeding. Like Tom Lonsdale above, Dr Billinghurst is an advocate for raw feeding, but also a key player in BARF pet food products.
- Dr Becker’s Real Food for Healthy Dogs & Cats – Dr Karen Becker DVM has been an advocate for better pet health for as long as I’ve been involved in pet nutrition (since circa 2007). She’s somewhat of a celebrity on social media, and this book on ancestral canine and feline diets which include appropriate amounts of vegetables, fruits, and supplements to mimic the gut content of prey is a worthy and insightful read.
- The Forever Dog – This is the latest offering from Dr Karen Becker DVM alongside Rodney Habib, two of the most prominent names in pet food and pet health over the last decade. The popularity of this duo has been quite something, and The Forever Dog has reached so much acclaim being a New York Times best seller.
A note on the above reading list
It may surprise you given this website reviews commercial pet foods that the above literature focuses on ancestral diets through to devout raw-meaty-bone-all-kibble-is-trash diets.
The reason for this is simple – I view both cats and dogs as carnivores who need a diet rich in whole prey ingredients.
I find most kibbles far from species appropriate, being a concoction of grains, potatoes, or excessive legumes. Unfortunately the most commonly purchased dog foods are the cheapest ones, the ones which get under 3/10 on this website.
In an ideal world all commercial pet foods should be species appropriate, mostly meats, organs, and essential nutrients found in the gut content of prey, all combined with raw meaty bones for gnawing, chewing, and true optimal dental health.
Unfortunately we’re a long way from such an idealism, although some of the best-rated brands are closer than they ever have been.
Reading the above material will give you a clear view and understanding of how we should really be feeding our pet dogs and cats, and allow you to chose their diet wisely to prolong their life and boost their health.
Feedback is welcome
Have you read any books on pet nutrition and diets which you highly recommend? Please let us know in the comments, and anything good will be added to our list of the best books on pet nutrition!