Monday, April 21, 2014

Our Pets, Their Health, and The Environment: #PawNatural

How does our view of the world influence how we care for our pets?
Since tomorrow is Earth Day, it seemed an appropriate topic.


I come from a culture and faith that takes stewardship of the earth very seriously. We have a saying: tikkun olam, "repair the world." And though its full meaning goes far beyond just the physical world in which we live (it has deep spiritual connotations), there is an inherent respect for the planet we inhabit, and the animals who are in our care. 

Faraday likes to explore the yard in his harness. I am mindful of
pesticides and fertilizers, and keep his explorations confined to our yard.

The items associated with the proper care of a pet not only have an impact on the animal itself; they can also have an impact on the environment.

Natural litters that are biodegradable are kinder to the earth. They don’t add to landfills, and they're flushable, too. (yay!)

Pet foods free of chemicals, hormones, artificial colors, flavors and preservatives aren’t just better for your pet. These types of foods frequently use ingredients that are raised and harvested in sustainable ways – and this, too, is better for the environment.

It took us months to nurse Maxwell back to health when we adopted him.
And that gave us a completely new appreciation for products that promote wellness!

Some may question whether or not the type and quality of ingredients really matter all that much.
Perhaps the following story will help clarify:

About five years ago, a friend of ours suddenly became my husband's patient. Trust me when I say you do not want to become a patient of my husband – he treats people stricken with cancer.

Because it was a close friend, I immersed myself in my husband's world.

I researched. I traveled with him that year to ASTRO (the American Society for Radiation Oncology).

I listened to lectures and read white papers.

While we were there I heard an M.D. from Johns Hopkins present a paper on a study that changed the way I view food.

At the time, not that many people were talking about the effects that additives and chemicals can have on the food we eat, nor how ingredient choices could impact our health. But this doctor did.

This might sound unremarkable to you now, but at the time it was radical talk: Cancer feeds on sugar. Sugar depresses the immune system. Phytochemicals and carotenoids have cancer-fighting properties.

Today, a simple search will get you to mainstream sites like WebMD that say these same things.
Can foods positively or negatively impact our health? Modern medicine now unequivocally says YES.

If that’s true for humans, it’s true for our pets as well.

Feeding our glam girl an all-natural cat food may make
a difference in her health over time.

Personally, I believe in the long run that feeding a healthier diet - free of added chemicals and with ingredients that promote a stronger immune system - will result in fewer illnesses, thus fewer vet bills.

I equate it to the difference between paying incrementally more over time vs. being hit with a several hundred dollar vet bill all at once. In a way, it's a form of insurance.

But wait – is it really that much more expensive?

When Only Natural Pet approached and asked if I’d review their products, I did a cost comparison. I looked at their dehydrated cat food and compared it to a very well-known non-premium canned cat food and one of the oldest brands of dry kibble on the market.

The canned food was slightly more expensive (≈30₵/lb) and the kibble was slightly less (≈50₵/lb). Please note that’s per pound and not per ounce.

Would you consider changing to a healthier food for your pet, if it meant a nominal increase to your monthly grocery bill?

(The Tonk's Tail Test Laboratory is about to launch, and in a few weeks I'll be back one last time to give you firsthand - err, paw - opinions on food, litter and supplements from Only Natural Pet.)

This post is sponsored by Only Natural Pet on behalf of the BlogPaws Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Only Natural Pet, but A Tonk's Tail only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Only Natural Pet is not responsible for the content of this article.


  1. The old saying 'you are what you eat' really does have meaning when you start to think of how chemical additives must affect us. Sadly the word 'Natural' over here does not mean natural. You really have to keep your eyes peeled. Have a marvellous Monday.
    Best wishes Molly

  2. My humans tryes to buy as much Eco fruit and vegetables as possible.
    My mom-person say's we don't have much Eco cat food in Sweden :(
    But she knows she can order it online from Germany.
    I know it sounds far away , but Germany is actually closer for us than northern Sweden:)

  3. grate post guys !!! we haz shopped only natural pet for yeerz N love ther site; we enjoy de articles they offer az well !!!

  4. Absolutely food impacts our health. No question. We look forward to the Lab being opened. MOL

  5. it really is a shame that more health professionals do not take nutrition to heart.. of course if we all ate right, there would be less of a need for health professionals..

  6. I definitely believe that the food we feed our pets (and ourselves) do make a huge difference. It does cost quite a bit more but to see them in good health makes it all worth while.

  7. Great post! Diet is so important for humans as well as animals, and I'm so glad that there are pet food companies out there that are realizing this. Can't wait to read what you all have to say about Only Natural Pet!

  8. Very interesting topic as always! Do you have a direct link to the food you are feeding to your cats? I am currently studying feline health & nutrition, and just this week we are reading about the different types of diets available to cats, and discussing what is "best". It's an eye-opener, that is for sure!

    1. Yes! Here's the link to both of the foods: and

      I just began introducing it into their diets yesterday afternoon. Of course, I'm going slow, and mixing it with existing. The Easy Raw smells FABULOUS. As in human-food yummy. Allie ate the mixed meal without fuss, so this is promising. Faraday ate the mixed Max Meat meal. Maxwell? Oy vey. We're still working on the boy!

  9. Great post! The prices at Only Natural Pet seem very reasonable to me. Look forward to seeing the items you chose to review and how they worked out!

  10. We'll be interested to see how they accept their new food! The head peep got us from kibble to canned, and raw is an eventual goal. Feeding well now absolutely pays off in the long run.

  11. We can't wait to hear what Maxwell, Allie and Faraday think of this new food. We've been eating mostly canned and some freeze-dried raw, and we're always looking for more options.

  12. Great post ! We believe that the quality of our food make a big difference for our health too ! Purrs

  13. I completely agree that quality food can only be good. Unfortunately, the foods I'd like to feed the furries aren't appealing to them, which doesn't do them any good. But we always opt for grain-free, dye-free, foods with natural preservatives.

  14. TBT is pretty careful with our foods. Wellness an Avodern meet his approval.

  15. I used to feed my babies a natural cat food before Carmine got sick (and now is on prescription food for the rest of his life). I don't know what foods you compared for cost, and maybe this particular food isn't as expensive as the ones I've seen on the market. In the natural pet food store I used to go to, the food - kibbles and canned - were significantly more expensive than the foods available at the grocery store. I bought it anyway, though, because I believed it was better for my babies.

    It'll be interesting to see how your fur children like the food. :)

  16. Thanks for this informative post. We recently had to change to a prescription dry food, which is costing us more than an additional $50 a month, but to have healthy kitties, it is so worth it. Hugs, Janet

  17. lovely photos of your cats! and i'm looking into more natural foods for my dogs as well. I think it is absolutely worth it to make them healthier and happier.


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