by Eileen Weber
What’s in Fido’s supper dish these days? Organic pet food. The market for these products has taken off in the last few years. Many consumers are keen on choosing food that has no hormones, chemicals, or additives used in the manufacturing process.
There are a number of choices. From NaturaPet and Newman’s Own to Karma Organic and Castor & Pollux, pet owners are paying attention to the ingredients in the brands they buy. And certainly with pet food recalls like the one in 2007 in which contaminated food caused renal failure and even death, pet owners want to know that the food they put in that supper dish is safe.
According to the Organic Trade Association, organic pet food is one of the fastest growing non-food items with almost 37% of overall sales. Some of the top brands include lean, organic, fair trade meat in their food line. Newman’s Own gets their beef from Uruguay, a country frequently praised for their organic practices.
“The higher end organic pet foods are still growing in spite of the economy,” said Dr. Phil Brown, Corporate Veterinarian for Newman’s Own Organics Premium Pet Food. “Organic food is certainly natural. But natural doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t include additives and fillers. Organic foods have certification.”
Brown went on to say that the Westport-based company not only uses fresh meats in their products but they also use soy. “Some people say soy causes bloat and intestinal distress,” he said,” but there’s no research to substantiate that. Let’s just say it’s an urban legend. Soy is a good quality source of protein which makes it a good product for pet food.”
Many of the company’s products have some combination of chicken with rice. But they don’t add any other grains or fillers. In fact, they have a whole line of dry food that is grain-free. “Our foods have vegetables, too. The advantage of that is it helps control weight gain in your pet,” said Brown.
For companies like NaturaPet, based in Santa Clara, CA, they frequently get calls from customers wanting to know more about the kind of ingredients used in their products. “It’s a personal preference,” said one of the company’s customer representatives. “We provide a holistic diet consisting of meats, dairy, grains and vegetables. Our meats include not only beef, chicken and lamb, but buffalo and venison as well.”
This list of ingredients sounds more like a dinner menu at your local bistro rather than a can of dog food. Sure, companies market their products to appeal to the pet owner. After all, Fido isn’t the one hitting the grocery store to pick up a few tasty vittles after a hard day at work. But while these foods might sound appetizing to the owner, no one disagrees that it is important to provide the best food for your pet. Studies have shown that a regular diet of organic food can lower the risk of certain illnesses.
“There was a study done at Perdue,” said Brown. “As I recall, it found that Scotties had a lower level of bladder cancer with organic food.” In actuality, the 2004 study conducted by the Perdue University School of Veterinary Medicine found that Scottish Terriers had a high level of bladder cancer due to herbicides used on lawns. The breed is 18 times more susceptible to the disease as a result of non-organic lawn care.
Another Perdue study showed that large breeds dogs like Great Danes are susceptible to gastric bloat if one of the four main ingredients in a dry food contains high levels of fat. Even so, Brown’s point still comes across: Our pets are as affected by the environment and the food they eat just as much as we are.
So, why not give them the best? If organic food is good enough for you, it’s good enough for Fido.