When we began fostering our kittens, I wanted to provide them the best chance for success and that meant the best food. I knew the basics from my pre-vet days and assumed I could figure it out once I went to the pet store. EL OH EL. Never had I seen so many different labels that all claimed to be the best for your kitten. I was immediately pulling up my phone trying to research what was the best quality food.
Now to understand the what’s the “best,” it’s important to understand the history of pet food and why we feed our pets kibble. The pet food industry as we know it began in 1922 when Ken-L-Ration was created. It was canned and it was horse meat. Mmmm. All was well until World War II when we needed the meat and tin for the war. What’s a canned food company to do? Turn wet food into dry food and package it up. Purina was the first company to make easily digestible dry dog food and became the company it is today.
In the 1960s, the Pet Food Institute was created as a lobbying group for the pet food industry. They began running national ads urging people to only feed their pets packaged food, claiming the processed food was healthier than human food. It was the 60s, people thought many things were okay.
Now, why do I tell you this little history lesson? First, knowledge is power. Second, knowing where the industry came from is important when understanding how we got into the situation we’re in today. The situation is this: the majority of pet foods are not healthy for your pet. Did you process that? It’s a hard pill (pocket) to swallow.
I’m clearly not a nutritionist or animal food expert, but when I did some digging, I was pretty alarmed. The problem with the industry is that there is very little regulation over what is being put into your dog or cat’s food. In summary, the FDA and the State Department of Agriculture work together to regulate what is in pet food. The problem is that there are “considerations” in which manufacturers are allowed to get around some of these laws. And, majority of compliance is voluntary, so that’s fun.
Now, here’s where you mayyyy want to proceed with caution (or at least finish your lunch…) because things get dicey, literally.
If you haven’t heard of rendering, consider yourself #blessed. Rendering is basically the… recycling of dead animals. How they ended up dead, well that’s another story and one that brings more issues into the spotlight. But everything leftover from slaughter houses, grocery stores and sometimes zoos/shelters goes into a large grinder, is heated and cooked down into “meal.” Guess what meal becomes…you guessed it, kibble.
That was honestly so hard to type, I cringed through that entire paragraph and I’m sorry for having to tell you any of that but you need to know what is going into your pet’s food. Is it healthy? Not very. Is it cheap for companies to produce? Extremely.
TL;DR: What is the best diet for my cat/dog? I’m so glad you asked. Kinda.
There are basically three options when it comes to feeding your pet but as always, be sure to check with your veterinarian before making any changes to your pet’s diet!
Cooked human grade food – This is basically the same as the raw food diet, but…cooked. There are a lot of recipes out there if you do have the time to spend cooking for your beloved four-legged family member, just remember to not make these mistakes.
The Farmer’s Dog (full disclosure, they offered me a free trial of their service which Hattrick and Stanley immediately accepted) is a meal delivery service for dogs with human-grade food. You fill out a questionnaire online about your dog (at this point they only make dog food but stay tuned felines!) and they customize a meal plan based on your pet’s needs. The Farmer’s Dog ships you two weeks worth of food in daily portioned plastic pouches which you freeze until use. Each pouch has the exact amount of calories for the day.
We received Turkey, Beef and Pork recipes with nutritional and ingredient breakdowns for each, talk about transparency. When I was feeding them the pork recipe, I could actually see the green beans and cauliflower! It wasn’t a grey mix of lord-knows-what, but bright and colorful food that smelled as pork should smell. I would definitely recommend it (and so would Hattrick and Stanley) if you can afford the price tag. Coming in at roughly $400/month to feed two large dogs, it’s not the cheapest route, but seeing what I spend on my own food a month, I would definitely try to make it work. Bonus pics of my pups enjoying The Farmer’s Dog below!
*BONUS* If you sign up using the link above or right here, you get 50% off you trial. (Note: I do not receive any commission by you signing up, I truly wanted you all to try it for the sole benefit of your dog’s health!) Your favorite four legged friend will thank you 😉
Traditional pet food – If you do want to continue feeding your furry friend packaged dog food, (and no judgment here!) I would definitely recommend looking at what you are buying. It’s not easy to decipher the labels, but in general, look for ingredients listed in the following order:
– a specific meat source (lamb, fish, beef)
Whew. That was a long post! At times I felt as if I were writing a research paper…yikes. I could have cut some more stuff out, but I honestly felt as if it were all pretty important aspects when considering what to feed your pet.
Were you surprised by anything in this post? What do you feed your pet? Let me know in the comments below!