The melamine-in-dog-food scare of 2007 gave new life to the natural – organic – pet food industry. Consumers, frightened by all the news reports about commercial food causing the deaths of, or serious illnesses to pets, needed to find a dog or cat food they could believe in and trust. Enter the manufacturers of healthier options.
In 2012, Americans spent more than $53 million on their pets and a large portion of that amount was on pet food. Sales of organic pet food are projected to be $2.6 billion by 2014.
Natural – or organic pet foods are usually manufactured in the United States, which gives confidence to pet owners. While some of the makers are independently-owned, even the big boys like Diamond Pet Foods are producing healthier, more pet-friendly choices.
Only a few years ago, the majority of dog and cat food contained animal fat. Today, many have switched to flaxseed oil or some kind of fish oil. We are seeing fruits and vegetables included in the ingredients. Apples, blueberries, broccoli, spinach or sweet potatoes are certainly healthier options than corn or white rice. Many pet food manufacturers are adding more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and probiotics to improve the nutritional value of their products. All of these changes have come about because of consumer demands for a better quality diet for their pets.
The potential health benefits to dogs and cats eating a holistic/organic diet are many. Better food translates to a body that functions better, and that means fewer trips to the vet. Pay a bit more for the healthier food now and less to the veterinarian down the road.
Some pet owners prefer to feed their pets fresh – or raw – food but more turn to the organic commercial foods. The problem is that organic pet foods are expensive. With the economy in the tank, people out of work, and so many families forced to cut expenses, buying such quality food for their cats and dogs can be next to impossible.
It is possible to find ways to cut costs on the better pet foods. The big box stores, like Petsmart or Petco, carry larger quantities of food, as well as larger selections of brands and varieties. This might mean better prices than in smaller stores.
While you can find some quality pet foods at feed stores, I have yet to see true organic choices there.
When you shop at any store selling the pet food you prefer, always ask if they offer any discounts or coupons to help with the cost of Fido’s or Fluffy’s food.
Always check the website for the brand of pet food you wish to buy. You may find coupons for discounts there.
Shipping costs for large bags or cases of pet food can be prohibitive. Be sure to figure those in before ordering from an online source. Some better pet food companies offer free shipping.