I just shared an article from Dogs Naturally Magazine giving ’10 Simple Rules to Get You Started’ on raw feeding your dog. This prompted me to repost this article that I wrote a while ago on dog and cat nutrition:
Let’s start by looking at the commercial food market…
The food we feed our pets has changed considerably over the years, as indeed has our own diet. Years ago, animals were fed on scraps and left-overs from the food that we cooked for ourselves, so essentially they were eating ‘human’ food, however as our lifestyles have become busier and we now eat more ‘convenience food’, so our pets are being given more branded pet food. But is this a positive step?
Pet foods have become a “multibillion dollar industry” according to Donald R Strombeck, author of “Home-Prepared Dog and Cat Diets: The Healthful Alternative” (quoted in an article in The Bark Issue 42: May/Jun 2007). The Daily Mail, in January 2010, stated that the “pet food industry is valued at £2 billion and growing.” Products are advertised as being “the best” and “complete” and in fact they say that human food should not be given to animals, but is this the case? Unfortunately advertising laws around pet foods are less strict than those for human food and no-one really monitors the truth of what is being said. Also, there is little redress if the claims turn out to be false.
Veterinary students have often had very little teaching on what constitutes a healthy diet for the animals they will be caring for. Much of the information they actually receive comes from the pet food industry itself and this is then what the vets tell their patients. Manufacturers sponsor food displays in vet surgeries. Hill Science Plan sponsored the British Veterinary Association’s Congress in 2009 and signed a partnership with the British Veterinary Dental Association to sponsor animal tooth care. Royal Canin has partnerships with leading veterinary schools and Universities and they run Pet Health Counsellor Courses. Many pet websites are affiliated in some way with pet food corporations, in fact the Pet Health Council, described as an independent website, is sponsored by the Petfood Manufacturers Association. They claim “that processed food is best”, warning: ‘It would not be possible to feed your pet an adequate home-prepared diet” (“Is the pet food you’re serving up killing your 4-legged friend?”, Daily Mail online, 20 January 2010)
Most of the vets who specialise in nutrition are taught using information from the industry and end up working for them. Also, most research funding comes from pet food producers which is a conflict of interest. Even organisations such as the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) are made up of people form the industry.
In part 2 I’ll continue looking at processed pet foods and why these might not actually be as healthy as the advertising claims.
If you are interested in nutrition for your pet and would like to explore this further, contact me for a no-obligation chat where we can discuss your situation and see what simple changes you might be able to make to enhance their wellbeing. My contact details are:
You can also read more about my work on my website:
You can read the full text of this article here.