Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Pet Food Industry

div class="DefaultText" style="tab-stops: 36.0pt 72.0pt 108.0pt 144.0pt 180.0pt 216.0pt 252.0pt 288.0pt 324.0pt 360.0pt 396.0pt 432.0pt;"> The Pet Food Industry is changing  with pet food manufacturers focusing on :
·       New product development that takes advantage of trendy human diets
·       The expansion of premium diets, and healthy treats and snacks
·       Diets that address special pet needs such as joints, teeth, coat etc.
·       Small and giant dog requirements
·       Increasing palatability and maintaining freshness
·       Convenience for the pet owner

The aim of any pet owner is to have a healthy active companion, one compatible with their life style. Although many factors contribute to success, nutrition plays an intricate role through out a pet's life. Because of this, a wide range of pet foods  sold through grocery stores, pet speciality stores and veterinary clinics making numerous claims and with conflicting prices, confront the consumer. Advertisements on television, in newspapers, and magazines  and veterinary journels by pet food manufactures claim their diets will keep your pet in championship form.  Advertisements, diet clinics, and health professionals may influence an owners' dietary habits and this may reflect on how they feed their pets.

The physical criteria used by breeders to select champion breeding stock have changed since my grandparents won Best in Show at the Westminster Dog Show (mid 1950), with their Afghan Hound "Riffy".  Altered genetics, not only change the physical characteristics but can alter the animal's metabolism. Special diets may be required to the maintain the health of these pets.

Veterinarian have a great influence on the decisions made by  their clients on the diets fed to their pets Over the past 10 years there has been a significant increase in the veterinary line of pet foods with all the leading pet food manufactures now making therapeutic and wellness diets. Veterinary therapeutic diets were initially formulated to help manage specific health problems  Veterinarians now sell wellness diets designed  to maintain health throught out the life of the pet.  Similar diets are sold by the same manufacturer through pet speciality stores.  

When I fed my grandparent's dogs, I would mix a commercial kibble with canned food or cooked horsemeat. The proportions and amounts were altered to account for pregnancy, growth and maintenance. To day, nutrition is a complex subject, expanding with new information daily. Controversy exists in the literature on the merits of nutrients and their contribution to a pet's general well being. The best journals a veterinarian can read are those that their small animal clients read. Information that lacks scientific merit should be explained to the client. Nutrition is often regarded as a panacea. Unfortunately, a busy veterinarian often relies on the salesperson to supply the nutritional education along with their diets.

            I view nutrition as a complex jigsaw puzzle, one that I spent many hours putting together, only to discover the last 3 pieces missing. If these pieces are in the sky, the fact they are missing is annoying, but not critical to the total picture. If they are an important part of the puzzle, the picture is incomplete. My options are to look for the missing pieces, to throw the puzzle out, take it apart and count the pieces, or sue the company. My goal for the readers of this blog is to eliminate as many missing pieces as possible and thus reduce the mystery surrounding nutritional claims, so that an informed decision can be made by both the veterinarian and the client  about a pet's diet.

1 comment: