In 2017, Americans spent almost $70 billion on their pets.
Of that, almost $30 billion was spent on food. $30 billion.
If anyone ever tells you money doesn’t rule the pet food industry, just think about that number. Pet food companies jump on food trends and try to follow them. But most actually fail when you look a little closer at them.
We’ve looked at dog food trends and what the pet food industry is saying people want. But s
Dog Food Trends
Almost as a whole, dog owners have gotten more conscious about their own health – and that of their dogs. In fact, it’s easy to see that dog food trends tend to mirror human food trends. Words like grain-free, antioxidant-rich, organic and fresh seem to be at the forefront.
Some trends are great. Others, not so much.
2 Dog Food Trends That Concern Us
Vegan Or Vegetarian Dog Food
This isn’t a new thing. We know dog owners are switching their dogs’ diets to mirror their own. This includes those who live a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. Some people choose this option for their dogs for ethical reasons. Others choose it for sustainability reasons.
Whatever the reason, w
One of the biggest issues: dogs have much shorter digestive tracts than humans. Why does that matter? Dogs can’t digest, discard and process the waste of a plant-based diet through the gut and liver. So they could be missing out on important nutrients AND absorbing too many bad ones.
Another issue is the nutrients that come from meat. And not just muscle meat, but those other bits – the organs, skin and bones. A vegetarian diet can be missing out on these essential nutrients:
- B complex vitamins, including B12 and folate
- Iron, copper, zinc and chromium
- Quality fats
- Excellent protein
- Collagen, elastin, keratin and melanin
- Vitamin D, E and K2
- Amino acids
Condition Specific/Prescription Dog Food
Weight control, joint problems, sensitive stomachs, even allergies. If your dog has a health condition, chances are a pet food company has developed a food that’s meant to “help.”
Well, first, these foods are almost exclusively kibbles. Second, they’re usually just more expensive versions of regular kibble. We’ve pored over the ingredients in many different prescription foods. What we’ve found is that, aside from costing a lot more, there really isn’t much of a difference.
And if there is, those “beneficial” ingredients are way too far down on the ingredient list. Remember, ingredients are listed by weight according to how much is in the food. So, these ingredients are so far down that there can’t be enough of them to actually do any good.
And then you have the foods for allergies …
Take one popular prescription food formulated for food sensitivities. The first ingredient is corn starch. The second, hydrolyzed soy protein isolate.
So, soy. That’s a big problem.
- Soy is antigenic (meaning it can stimulate the production of antibodies)
- During high-temperature processing, soy is denatured. This results in the formation of toxic lysinoalanine and highly carcinogenic nitrosamines
- Soy contains trypsin inhibitors (which have caused stunted growth in test animals)
- It’s high in phytic acid, which reduces the digestion of key nutrients
- Soy has high levels of manganese and aluminum, which can lead to brain damage
- Eating soybean products is linked to seizures in both dogs and cats
- Soy can cause serious gastric distress (gas and discomfort) in our pets
Also, today, less than 1% of soybeans are grown organically and 9% naturally. This means 90% of soy crops are genetically modified. And that means they contain glyphosate. Glyphosate can cause can cause cancer, infertility, brain disorders and heart disease!
[Related] We took a look at several types of prescription dog food. Were they any better? Find out more here.
But, as we said, not all dog food trends are bad. Some we actually love.
2 Dog Food Trends That We Stand Behind!
Raw Dog Food
This isn’t a new trend. Technically, it isn’t really a trend at all – it’s far too old to be. But we’re so happy that more people are coming to understand how much healthier it is for their dogs. Dogs just aren’t designed to prosper on dry kibble or canned diets.
In fact, cooked foods weren’t part of the canine diet until about 80 years ago. Instead, dogs ate (thrived off) unprocessed meat, live prey and fermented carrion.
To be healthy, dogs need a diet that contains quality protein, fats and vegetables and fruits. They don’t need grains or starches. They don’t need artificial preservatives or colors. And they definitely don’t need fillers or synthetic vitamins and minerals.
Kibble is full of other harmful ingredients:
- Aflatoxins – cancer-causing molds found in corn, wheat, and rice, as well as nuts and legumes.
- Acrylamide – “a probable carcinogen” according to the World Health Organization. Acrylamides form when high-temperature heat is applied to vegetable foods.
- Synthetic nutrients – your dog’s body can’t completely use these. Instead, it processes them as a foreign substance. This puts stress on the liver and kidneys.
- Processed foods are full of added preservatives that enhance product shelf life.
Kibble is dead food. There’s nothing fresh about it. And the list of ingredients you can’t pronounce should be enough to prove that.
Homemade raw diets let you meet your dog’s specific needs. It’s easy to avoid foods that your dog is sensitive to. And feeding raw bones can help keep your dog’s teeth clean. Buy a commercially prepared raw food or make your own at home. Either way, feeding fresh, whole foods gives your dog far more nourishment than kibble ever could.
[Related] It’s easy to make the move to raw. Here are some tips to get started.
Antioxidants For Dogs
As oxygen interacts with the body’s cells, oxidation occurs. This is a natural process and the body metabolizes oxygen well. However, 1% to 2% of cells will become damaged by that oxygen and become free radicals. Free radicals are damaged cells. They’re missing a critical molecule and they aggressively seek out replacements. They rob other cells of their molecules, they damage the DNA in that cell and this creates the basis for disease.
Antioxidants can fight these free radicals. And there are many different foods you can add to boost the antioxidants in your dog’s diet.
- Flavonoids are especially powerful antioxidants found in most fruits, vegetables and herbs. Green tea also contains very high amounts of flavonoids.
- Astaxanthin mostly comes from microalgae. It’s a powerful antioxidant – 65 times more powerful than vitamin C. Astaxanthin is also good for brain, heart, joint and eye health.
- Green-lipped mussels. These are full of omega-3 fatty acids and minerals, vitamins, amino acids and enzymes. They’re also packed with antioxidants. They’re also a natural source of glycosaminoglycans (GAGS), which are the main components of cartilage and synovial fluid found in the joints, so they support joint health as well.
Good And Bad?
The next trend is a yes and a no. Let me explain …
Grain Free Diets
On the surface, the idea of eliminating grains from your dog’s diet is a good one. After all, grains and other starches have a negative impact on gut health. They also create insulin resistance and cause inflammation. Your dog doesn’t actually need grains in her diet.
And of course they cause allergies … or do they?
We now know that grains feed yeast. Yeast is a fungus that’s part of the normal flora of your dog’s body. And when things are in balance, that’s fine. But, when the immune system is out of whack or if your dog eats starchy foods, things change. This causes the yeast to multiply throughout the body. And this causes itching.
Pet food companies have jumped on this. They’re making a lot of money by selling grain-free foods. But here’s the kicker: it’s not just grains that cause yeast and allergy symptoms … it’s all kinds of starches.
Starches are complex carbohydrates that turn into sugar when the body metabolizes them. Yeast’s favorite food is sugar. Rice, corn and wheat are starches. But so are potatoes, peas and sweet potatoes. These ingredients are in almost all grain-free goods.
So, while the idea of eliminating grains from the diet is good, still feeding starches is bad. So, to make this trend healthy, go both grain and starch free.
There are many different ways to keep your dog healthy, and the food you feed is one of the most important. Making healthy choices, whether they’re trendy or not, is critical.