This natural food diet in many cases is replacing traditional animal food, often seen in supermarkets or pet shops.

However, pet owners must know how to properly feed their best friends with natural food. The veterinarian Paola Cuevas shared with The Portugal News (TPN) some tips about how to stay on the right track when it comes to feeding pets this way.

TPN - What is considered natural food for animals?

Paola Cuevas - I would consider natural food as prepared using ingredients that are as close as possible to its natural state. Minimally processed and fresh.

TPN - What are the benefits of a natural diet, for both cats and dogs?

PC - As a veterinarian, I truly believe in what Hippocrates, the father of medicine said “Let thy food be thy medicine” back in 400 BC and this is still a true statement, nutrition has a direct and strong impact on health. Fresh dog food is prepared with fresh protein sources such as chicken, turkey, beef, egg, and chicken liver instead of meat meals or by-product meals. Fresh pet foods have great benefits since they are rich in antioxidants they protect cells from free radical damage.

TPN – What are the risks associated with feeding a dog or a cat with natural food?

PC - The biggest concern would be to get a recipe that is not complete and balanced. Each species has very specific nutritional requirements and their food needs to contain their daily requirements. To achieve this, you will most likely need to add supplements. One of the biggest issues commonly seen with homemade pet food is the lack of certain nutrients and excess of others. However, this mistake is easily preventable by following reliable recipes formulated by a veterinary nutritionist. These recipes need to be prepared with the right ingredients and supplemented adequately.

TPN – Is natural food better than regular animal food?

PC - The vast majority of kibble is extremely high in starches which are cheaper ingredients and also needed to form and bind the pellets. Its macronutrient composition is not what the staple diets of the currently living wild counterparts or their ancestors thrived on for all the millennia before dog food industrialisation. In simple words, they are too high in carbohydrates.

In addition to a bad macronutrient composition, the ultra-processing of the ingredients and the food results in an outrageous number of toxic by-products. Commercial kibble is based only on meat meals as a protein source. These are created using a process called “rendering” to convert waste animal tissue into a stable material. Repeated high-temperature ultra-processing also results in the creation even more of by-products such as AGEs or advanced glycation end products, chemical compounds that have been linked to disease. A shortened life span, an alarming rise in cancer cases, renal disease, metabolic and hepatic issues, and so on is just part of the equation.


Deeply in love with music and with a guilty pleasure in criminal cases, Bruno G. Santos decided to study Journalism and Communication, hoping to combine both passions into writing. The journalist is also a passionate traveller who likes to write about other cultures and discover the various hidden gems from Portugal and the world. Press card: 8463. 

Bruno G. Santos