The US pet food industry is expected to reach $30 billion by 2022. And major companies and their marketing power are getting behind this trend. ~”North American food companies are expanding in pet food as well. General Mills, Inc., Minneapolis, and the J.M. Smucker Co., Orrville, Ohio, made acquisitions this year while Mars, Inc., McLean, Va., owns Mars Petcare, which has about 50 brands”. This kind of push into the pet food marketplace can create a great deal of confusion among pet owners and even veterinary professionals. While we want to provide the best for our furry friends, what exactly should we be feeding our pets? Pet health is paramount and pet diets can be a big part of creating a healthy pet.
CHAH’s expert in dietary health for pets, Darcy Reid, DVM, addresses this along with some of the scary conditions that are being associated with pet diets right now:
Many of you have heard about the increase in dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs eating certain diets. While we do not yet know the cause, there are three categories being investigated: 1) boutique brands, 2) exotic ingredients, and 3) grain-free diets, specifically those that use lentils and other legumes (peas) as the base ingredient. The veterinary cardiology community, the pet food industry, and the FDA are working diligently to identify the cause. We know this can be scary. Trying to decide what to feed with so many choices can be daunting. To further complicate the issue, pet food labels provide factual information but they are also used as promotional tools to attract potential buyers. Unregulated terms are used such as “human grade”, “holistic”, or “premium” that are not helpful in assessing nutritional value. Pet food companies love to follow current human trends which may or may not be scientifically relevant. For example, there is no medical or nutritional indication for a “grain-free” diet in dogs despite the heavy marketing to the contrary. Companies will imply it will help with skin disease and food allergies when the vast majority of food allergies are to protein, not grains.
So what to feed?
For now, following the recommendation of board-certified veterinary nutritionists, we are recommending a “commercial pet food from a well established manufacturer with common ingredients, including grains.” We are NOT recommending raw or home-cooked diets, which can lead to other health problems and are not tested for safety and nutritional adequacy. Click the links below for more information and know we are here for you to answer any questions or concerns!