dog eating food out of bowl
Health + Wellness

The Evolution of the Pet Food Industry

Why a raw diet is better than processed pet food for your furry friends

You are what you eat and the same applies to our dogs! We love our furry, four-legged friends and we always have their best intentions in mind, but when it comes to their food, do we really know what is best for them?

Many pet owners will walk into a pet store and suddenly become overwhelmed by the amount of food in front of them. All the bags feature cute, happy-looking animals, convincing you that “this is the right food for your pet,” but not every food is right for every pet. The biggest trend the public has noticed in the pet food industry are “grain free” and “gluten free” products. It has actually been that way for a while, but the sudden circulation of online content, such as Pet Fooled and other viral videos, has led to people becoming more aware of what is and isn’t, in pet food.

During World War II, when resources ran thin, something needed to be added to dog food to make it sustainable and cheaper. This “something” was grain; mostly in the form of corn and wheat. Since then, many pet food companies have continued to include grain to keep production costs low and people have become accustomed to seeing grain in pet foods. Although dogs’ digestive tracts have evolved to process grain, it isn’t always an easy process and can put stress on their system. Additionally, grain is one of the most common food allergies that dogs have.

Another trend that is relatively new to the pet food industry is feeding raw food to dogs and cats. Commonly these foods are made only from meat, organs, and frames; or meat, organs, frames, and supplemental fruits and vegetables.

When talking to pet owner, Kaitlyn, who feeds raw food to her two border collies, she told me about the differences she saw in them after switching to a raw diet. One of her dogs, Phoenix, suffers from allergies to grain and chicken. One of the perks of feeding her dogs a raw diet is that it allows her to know exactly what is in the food and not have to worry about hidden meals or by-products in lengthy ingredient labels. Both dogs have benefited from the raw diet, having shinier coats with less matting, no gas or digestive troubles, less poop, cleaner teeth, and more energy!

A common concern about feeding raw food is that you or your pet could get sick from handling raw meat. Kaitlyn has been feeding raw food for years now and neither her nor her dogs have ever gotten sick from it. Her best advice is to find a reputable company that makes raw food, and to follow standard food safety guidelines. Dogs and cats also have high gastric acidity that kills the harmful bacteria that can lead to illnesses such as salmonella or E. Coli.

Whether you are interested in switching your pet to a raw diet or supplementing their current diet, there is a local pet store called, Wag on the Danforth, that is sure to have something to fit your needs. They carry a wide variety of high-quality treats, kibble, canned food, and raw food for both cats and dogs.

Always remember that checking the ingredient label and nutritional information is the best way to decide if a food is going to be right for your furry friend. Don’t be afraid to talk to the staff in speciality pet stores. They are full of knowledge and would love to share it. I promise they don’t bite.

Image from Max Pixel—no copyright infringement intended

Taylor Brûlé is currently attending Centennial College for postgraduate studies in Publishing. She lives in Mississauga, Ontario with her parents and two cats. Outside of school, she enjoys surfing, rock climbing, archery, CrossFit, hiking, baking, and photography. Taylor loves to travel and always has good stories to tell.

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