The line between pet and people food continues to blur as manufacturers promote human grade food. The market for organic pet food accounts for 7% of sales and households are not trading down even as household budgets become tighter. In fact, the market for bottled vitamin-infused mountain spring water for dogs is burgeoning.
The New York Times wondered if pets are healthier for this trend. Tony Buffington, a professor of veterinary nutrition at Ohio State University, says his students have studied the diet history of thousands of animals and have not yet determined that one pet food brand is better than another. “We have been unable to distinguish an outcome in healthy animals eating a wide variety of foods,” he says.
America’s pets are joining their owners in the obesity epidemic. Obese dogs (15% than their optimal weight) are at risk for diabetes and joint and locomotion problems, as well as an increased incidence of cancer and high blood pressure. The leading causes of obesity in pets are unlimited access to food and overfeeding of highly palatable foods.
People truly consider their animals to be part of the family. Every member of the family – including the humans – should be offered reasonable portions of high quality food, limit the junk and take long walks many times a day.