LOOKING BACK ON 2023
SAME OLD BUT CHANGE IS HAPPENING!!!
When we opened our store over 13 years ago, our offering of raw food, healthy treats and supplements was an outlier in the pet food retail business. Almost everything regarding pet nutrition was monopolized by the big pet food companies. From manufacturing to distribution to retail. From veterinary associations to every veterinary practice in North America. Most of the scientific studies and research that was conducted had the backing and support of big pet food companies.
Looking back on 2023, we are seeing more and more independent research being done on pet nutrition and pet health. We are also noticing that there is more of an acceptance of feeding our pets real food. At the same time, we have not seen a significant positive trend of veterinarians recommending and/or supporting a raw diet for our pets.
Today, it is estimated that 70% to 80% of pet owners in North America will continue to feed a highly processed, high carbohydrate feed to their pets. I believe this number is much lower today than it was 13 years ago but still far from where I feel it should be. Change takes time and I think things are moving in the right direction. There are still some serious warning signs that big corporations have the money and the will to keep things the same.
So let me share a few thoughts on some key events that took place in 2023 in the pet food world.
It was announced at the beginning of 2023 the FDA planned to end routine updates on the investigation of case reports of nonhereditary canine dilated cardiomyopathy and of certain dog foods and ingredients. This was almost 5 years after the “scientific study” put the scare of DCM into social media and veterinary associations. If you want to read more about DCM and grain-free pet food you can check out my blog HERE
The main point is that big pet food had the motivation and power to instill fear into pet owners and veterinary associations and change the purchase behaviour of what type of food to feed their pets. At the end of the day, there was no scientific evidence that linked grain-free diets to DCM. It only took 5 years.
Social media is on fire with reports of dogs getting sick eating Purina products. Purina ONE, prescription products and hydrolyzed products (both canned and kibble) have been implicated.
Whether these foods are the actual cause of these sick and dying pets is yet to be determined. Purina has made no public statement. The FDA is looking into reports submitted by consumers. Many are following this situation very closely.
The purpose raising this here is not to point a finger at one manufacturer. In fact, it may go far beyond Purina. This could potentially be an ingredient issue and we could see other brands that could soon be in Purina’s shoes.
In 2007, the big pet food recall year, multiple brands utilized melamine contaminated ingredients. Thousands of dogs and cats were poisoned by the supplement in question. If you remember, the shelves of pet food store were bare as the big manufacturers scrambled rid their inventory of contaminated food. Could this be happening again? We certainly hope not but it is worth keeping an eye on.
We are starting to see more peer-reviewed studies that support the role that fresh food plays in the overall health of our pets. There is so much science on real food and humans and the impact processed food has on our health. What about our pets? Why do we feel that a highly processed diet full of carbs, starches and suspect ingredient is the optimal way to feed our pets? Doesn’t make sense. Now we are starting to see more research targeting the canine/feline world.
Last year, a new peer-reviewed study shows when at least 25% of non-processed foods like balanced homemade or commercial raw diets are added to a dog’s bowl of dry kibble, there is a significant decrease in the development of ear infections later in life.
You can read the study HERE
The point here is that studies like were very rare 10 years ago. These studies are expensive and need funding. This is not a study a big pet food manufacturer would support. It is great to see more “independent” studies being done.
The Feed Real Institute offer online courses and workshops to individuals and veterinarians (for continuing education credits) to help feed real food to pets.
Their Professional Canine Nutrition Course earned RACE approval. This is the first real food-based, raw feeding-specific canine nutrition course with an interactive workshop that has ever been approved for veterinarians’ credit hours. This is a big deal and can only help in the continuing challenge of DVM’s accepting and working with our pets who are fed a raw diet.
These are just some highlights to the year. Some good, some not so good. I think it is important to know the change in pet food nutrition is moving in the right direction. However, to change the direction of a mammoth industry in North America does not happen over night. Will the ship get moving in the right direction? Tough to say. But it is changing and that is a good thing.
The Proof is in The Poop!!!