Features November 1999 Issue

Recent Innovations In The Dog Food Industry

Not all commercial dog foods come in a dry kibble or a can. Check out the latest innovations in healthy meals for Fido.

It seems self-evident (to me, anyway) that dogs can live perfectly healthy, long lives and never ever eat a commercial dog food. Why this fact is so shocking to some dog owners is beyond me; the commercial dog food industry is only about 150 years old! (Dogs have been with us a few thousand years longer.)

But maybe it makes so much sense to me because I already went through this with my son. Sure, there are thousands of prepared baby foods on the market – dried flakes, moist purees, and liquid formulas –and you can raise a baby to toddlerhood on nothing but these foods. But at some point most of us realize that the baby would really be a lot better off eating real foods, just like we eat. It makes sense that it’s got to be healthier to break off a piece of your banana and mush it up and feed it to your baby than it is to feed him a jar of commercially prepared, cooked, preserved, and vitamin-fortified banana mush.

On the other hand, those neat little jars are as convenient as all get-out. Jars of bananas don’t turn brown in a week or so of sitting on the counter, and can be taken on car and airplane trips without being worse for wear. And, oddly enough, it’s often less expensive to buy a jar of banana baby food than it is to buy a banana.

Convenience and affordability have also been the driving forces behind the creation (and enormous success) of the dog food industry. In fact, the industry leaders have made buying and feeding canned and kibbled food so much of a societal norm, that it now strikes some people as weird and obsessed to feed a dog “regular” food. While it doesn’t seem at all strange to buy groceries and prepare fresh, wholesome meals for your children or yourself, to some people, it seems over the top to do so for a “mere dog.”

The best of both worlds
Today, everybody knows that eating fresh, whole foods is best for us. And most readers of WDJ realize that feeding fresh, whole foods is best for their dogs. But not all of us take the time and effort to buy and prepare fresh whole foods; many of us prepare many of our meals by opening cans, rehydrating dried foods, and reheating frozen foods. We know that these foods do not create or support health as well as a fresh diet, but the convenience factor takes over.

Similarly, convenience drives many of us to buy commercial foods for our dogs, too. We make up for the guilt of not feeding fresh foods by buying the very best dried and canned foods.

But finally, there are commercial dog food makers who are trying to bridge the gap between providing truly healthy foods and convenience. They are going about it in an interesting variety of ways, and each has its merits and limitations. We’ll look at the ones we like.

One entire segment of this market has concentrated on preparing nutritionally complete canine diets based on fresh, raw meat – diets that are frozen and delivered to dog owners in a variety of forms. In order to carefully examine each of the diverse frozen, raw meat-based products on the market, we’ll discuss them in a separate article in an upcoming issue.

 

Also With This Article
Click here to view information on grain-based products, freeze-dried, and fermented meat products.

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