Fresh Food for Fido

Posted: April 3, 2019

U.S. pet owners are feeding more and more fresh food to their dogs and cats. Kibbles for Fido? Nope. These days, he’s getting diced chicken with sweet potatoes and spinach!

Some people order meals of meat and vegetables or frozen raw meat online for pets. Others find fresh pet food in refrigerators at big stores like Walmart. And later this spring, a kitchen will open in New York . . . just for pet food! Workers there will make 2,000 pounds of fresh pet food every day.

Is this a good idea? Or is it taking pet care a little too far? Some say fresh foods keep pets healthier. They say nutrients last better in fresh foods than in canned or dried ones. They say people think twice about human food that’s been processed, and now people are thinking about their pet food in the same way.

But some veterinarians question the trend. They say pet food companies have done good research about what’s good for cats and dogs. Vets wonder if people will be able to give pets all the nutrients they need by giving them fresh food. Officials at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration add this: Raw pet food has a high risk of bacterial contamination.

Pet food trends tend to copy human ones. Gravy was popular in the 1950s. That’s when Gravy Train dog food appeared. In the 1980s, people became interested in gourmet food—and they started feeding pets Fancy Feast cat food.

Some pet owners claim their pets are healthier since they have started real or raw food diets. But feeding pets raw food isn’t cheap. It’s the most expensive option! One pet owner spends $300 a month on three 10-pound rolls of meat plus vegetables, fruit, fish, and freeze-dried dog treats. But you can buy a 31-pound bag of Purina One Smart Blend dry dog food for $33.79. That’s a big difference!

A company called NomNomNow even makes fresh meals specific to each pet. Customers pay $2.60 to $3.80 per meal for a 35-pound dog. They pay $1.50 to $2.80 per meal for a 12-pound cat. The company makes hundreds of thousands of pet meals each month. It delivers to customers in 48 states.

What does this tell us about pet owners? More and more, they don’t think of pets as just pets. They think of them as members of the family!

Dr. Lindsey Bullen pets Benko, a golden retriever with weight issues, during a visit at the Veterinary Specialty Hospital in Cary, North Carolina. Dr. Bullen says she gets several questions a day from clients interested in fresh and homemade pet food. (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed)