Pet food spending surpassed $32 billion this year, but not all major players in the market are feeling victorious….https://www.americanveterinarian.com/news/food-for-thought-the-changing-landscape-of-the-pet-food-industry (December 18, 2018)
I made a trip to Petsmart today, because my Internet “autoship” order of premium-brand dog food will not arrive for three days, Walking around Petsmart, I felt like that former Soviet emigre friend in the 1980s, certain that the mind-blowing number of brands and products in the supermarket had to be faked. Normally when I have gone to the big box store, I have my mind on one particular brand and flavor of dry dog food. In military precision, I get in, get it, and then got out. Today however, I was looking for some cans of wet food to carry Dexter and Comet through until the internet order arrives. Can you imagine that old Soviet, bug-eyed seeing separate sections in a store, with four or five premium brands per side of each aisle? Some, marketed in refrigerated cabinets as “RAW”. Or vegan, or grain-free, and some seem similar to the packaged heat and serve packages I took along on camping trips!
How we have changed in the last several decades. My mother never seemed as concerned about our pets’ dietary needs. Our childhood pets were fed Purina dog chow and table scraps and gravy drippings sometimes for extra flavor. Most of them lived very healthily into their late teens. Of course, forty years ago, people were a lot healthier also. Kids and their dogs ran around. They played all day and into the evening. Everyone got lots of exercise. Healthy home-cooked meals were the norm rather than take-out or delivery. And for the dogs? Purina, with some gravy or table scraps for added flavor. With changing times though, what can a responsible pet person do to feed her furry family?
A consumer advocate group reached out to me last month discussing dog nutrition, and the latest reports from the American FDA (Food and Drug Administration) reviewing the link between a heart-health problem (DCM) in certain dogs and a high-protein, grain-free diet. Knowing that humans themselves do not well-understand the link between certain foods, additives, and cancers, allergies, and the like, I thought it would be valuable to share with the readers of this blog. If you recall, it was not too very long ago, that American consumers learned that quality-control issues in China had resulted in many dogs in the USA and Canada, I believe, being poisoned by dog chow. It would be irresponsible not to look deeper into the various claims of premium dog food brands to see whether they truly put ethics and health of their clients’ pets above profits.
I welcome old friends as well as new friends offering me their insight in the area of pet nutrition. And please visit the consumersadvocate.org for their research in other topics as well.
Ahh, Eric…you know that when it comes to dogs, I just have to chime in. Having a Great Dane, one of the top breeds associated with genetic DCM, I was more than a little alarmed to read the FDA report a couple of months ago. They only had DCM reports from around 500 animals over a five-year time span, but even though that’s a pretty small sample, I am still concerned. The bits of research I’ve done has provided more questions than answers. There was a thought that low taurine levels might be the answer. Only sometimes. Then there was a question about lentils/peas/etc as ingredients often used to replace grain in the boutique brands. Maybe. It could also be the ‘exotic’ meats used. Hmmm… So many questions and, as of yet, no solid answers. There hasn’t been a big enough sample to really know for sure. They are actively asking vets to provide statistics regarding DCM, so we may know more soon.
In our case, I had been feeding grain-free Taste of the Wild food. We went grain-free years ago because our previous Dane had a wheat allergy. I just carried on feeding it to Walter and he thrived on it. After reading this report a few months ago, I switched him to a diet that included grains and added taurine. He’s thriving on this, too. It’s probably an overreaction considering the small sample used in the FDA investigation, but since Great Danes are predisposed to DCM anyway, I thought I’d take the additional precautions. Of course, one of Walter’s greatest achievements was eating an SOS pad. And here I am worried about how much pea protein he has in his food! Haha!
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I have had the same concern that the sample size was small. And I know, in layman’s terms, that “purebred” dogs seem to be more susceptible to ailments. Most shelter dogs – most of the ones I have raised over the last 30 years, are mixes, so perhaps mixed genes and good diet dodge a lot of this cancer, DCM, etc. Of course, both dogs do add “stuffed” toys and oven mitts, for example, to their diet every so often! Hmmm.
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