The pet food industry has been around for hundreds of years, with the first commercially prepared pet food being made in 1860. It is a growing trade and is extensively used throughout the world, so how did it all start?
The Days Pet Food Manufacturers Took Over
Before the arrival of pet foods, most dogs were fed a combination of grains, meats, table scraps and homemade food from their owners.
The first maker of a dry dog biscuit was inspired after witnessing dogs scavenging along the docks for discarded biscuits. Made from vegetables, beef blood, wheat, and beetroot, this food was originally bought by English countrymen for their working dogs.
Manufacturers caught on and began commercial pet foods aimed at domestic dogs which contained cost-effective ingredients such as indigestible animal parts (feathers, feet, beaks, fur, and hooves for example), 4-d livestock (dead, dying, diseased or disabled), horse meat, euthanized animals and pets, roadkill and dead zoo animals, along with rotten fruit/vegetables and any leftover matter from farmyard feed.
All ‘meat’ sources were sent to rendering plants, where it was ground up and processed, often including plastic bags, metal tags and pet collars which were considered ‘animal waste’. Intestines, blood, ligaments, and bone were often blended with the mixture too, resulting in a sloppy blend called slurry. This concoction was then cooked and processed at extremely high temperatures and pressures, so any goodness in the form of amino acids, vitamins and minerals were destroyed- making the food nutritionally inadequate.
It was therefore sprayed with synthetic vitamins, minerals, dyes, flavorings, and preservatives to make it somewhat enticing to dogs and their owners.
Then, Consumers & Dog Owners Became More Educated
In the 1980’s, consumers were becoming more educated about their own nutrition, and as a result started reading the labels on dog food. They became increasingly concerned about some of the ingredients and questioned the use of chemical preservatives and artificial additives.
A small amount of the more developed pet food manufacturers started to eliminate these chemicals from their foods, creating the ‘holistic’ trend that we know today. It has come a long way since then, and there is a growing demand for holistic pet foods.
Brands began using meat sources which were sustainable and human-grade, with no off cuts or by-products. They made themselves different from regular pet foods and used high quality ingredients in a proper formation to ensure improved amounts of nutrition.
Holistic food is believed to have many benefits over other commercially prepared foods, such as the fact it only contains natural ingredients, with no chemicals or artificial additives. Typical supermarket brands will include by-products, wheat, maize and soya into their foods as these are readily available and very inexpensive to make, holistic foods however do not substitute any ingredients for a cheaper alternative, and always ensure strict quality control as to only use the best.
Holistic generally means treating something from the inside out, so fuelling the body with the correct nutrients and good quality unrefined, unprocessed ingredients which is proven to promote good health. It can alleviate digestive issues, bad breath, doggy odour, teeth and gum disease, dull coats, and unpleasant flatulence.
Holistic Dog Food Is (Not Just) About The End Product
Holistic is not only about what the end product is like, which a lot of commercial brands focus on. Some of the more independent companies such as The Natural Dog Food Company focus on the ethos of holistic, as well as the nutritional value.
The use of fully biodegradable and even compostable packaging ensures that the holistic approach is carried on, even after the product is gone. They have replanting schemes, so for every tree cut down, 5 more are planted where they are needed.
Air and water that are used during processing is fully recycled and renewable and their carbon footprint is dramatically lower than most due to sourcing local ingredients. These environmental factors all contribute to the product as a ‘whole’, which is what Holistic is really all about.
Their foods create an eco-system, in which the body has everything it needs to run efficiently, naturally and healthily.
Each Ingredient Must Benefit The Dog
Pesticides, insecticides and genetically modified corps are strictly banished from their ingredients, and all come from a fair trade background. Each individual herb and vegetable added is beneficial to the dog that is eating it, no unnecessary fillers or cheap bulking agents are used, along with wheat, gluten, dairy, soy or maize which are often linked to allergic reactions and digestive upset.
It includes only whole grains, fruits and vegetables, which are all selected to benefit the animal and not for enticement purposes. The human-grade meat is perfectly reared and cared for, whether it is grass fed lambs, free range chickens or sustainably farmed salmon the animals used are free of antibiotics, growth hormones, and are non-intensively farmed here in the UK. Their food is gently steam cooked to ensure all the natural nutrients are still present in the end product, and is extremely palatable due to its rich, aromatic taste.
The right balance and variety of all these things will maximise health and vitality by making a dog bright eyed, alert and active, with a shiny coat and small deposits. Skin ailments and allergies will disappear, with the use of quality protein and grain sources of exceptional nutritional value.
Due to the easily digestible ingredients dogs tend to absorb rather than eliminate more of the nutrients they require, resulting in a strengthened immune system that can help illness and sensitivities. Premium quality holistic foods like these are extremely nutritionally dense, and therefore have significantly lower feeding amounts than other foods. This is because it is naturally satisfying so dogs feel fuller for longer which makes it surprisingly efficient to feed, with a very low daily feeding cost.
No corners are cut, price is not a limit and quality is never compromised. Companies like these truly go above and beyond to ensure that every single step is taken to provide a nutritionally balanced, complete diet for every dog.