Majority of Pet Owners Give Their Pets Some Homemade Food

Pet owners are taking the time to learn exactly what their pets are eating.
By Susan Thixton, August 2020
more pet owners feeding homemade diets

A new study discovered some surprising news about how we are feeding our pets…a significant majority of worldwide pet owners give their pets some real food each day.

The study—published by researchers from University of Guelph Ontario Veterinary College in Canada, with ties to Trouw Nutrition, Royal Canin and Petcurean—discovered through pet owner surveys something that surprised them (and probably concerned the pet food industry manufacturers). After surveying “3673 English-speaking dog and cat owners in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA” they learned that…

Only 13% dogs and 32% cats were fed conventional foods (kibble or can) exclusively.

Put another way, the study discovered that…

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87% of dogs and 68% of cats are provided some real food in their diet.

This study compared their results with previous research into pet owner feeding practices. In 2008, research showed that 65% of dog owners surveyed exclusively fed a kibble or canned diet to their dogs. Ten years later, only 13% of dog owners exclusively fed their dog a kibble or canned pet food. In 2008, 85% of cat owners surveyed exclusively fed a kibble or canned diet to their cats. Ten years later that percentage dropped to 32% of cat owners exclusively fed a kibble or canned diet.

No data had been recorded previously for raw diets, but the new pet owner survey found that in 2018 – 9% of dogs and 6% of cats were fed exclusively a raw diet.

And the inclusion of homemade diets for cats and dogs has increased significantly over the past ten years. In 2008, 31% of dogs diets included some homemade food. In 2018 that percentage increased to 64%. In 2008, 13% of cats diets included some homemade food. In 2018 the percentage increased to 46%.

The new study provided this potential cause for the significant shift of pet owners providing their pets real food: “In comparison with earlier studies, the differences in feeding practices may partially be explained by a loss of trust in the pet food industry. In 2007, a large and highly publicised global pet food crisis occurred, where diets from many of the largest and most popular pet food brands were found to be contaminated with inorganic toxins. This crisis has had ongoing implications for trust in the industry; more than a decade later, respondents participating in this survey reported concerns regarding the origin of pet food ingredients and potential contamination.”

But…as remarkable as the findings were in the pet owner survey—the study repeatedly warned against what they perceive as dangers of “unconventional” pet foods (conventional being described as kibble or canned pet food, unconventional would be any diet other than kibble or can pet food). “Avoidance of conventional pet foods in favour of HM (Home Made) diets and RAP (Raw Animal Products) may put the health of dogs and cats at risk.”

Pet owners can read the abstract of this study here; the study can be purchased for $27.00.

Personal Opinion: This study proves we (a world of pet owners and advocates) are making a difference. It proves that no matter how much ‘they’ try to hide the quality of the pet food—pet owners are taking the time to learn exactly what their pets are eating. It proves that every single day—more and more pets are being provided real food instead of highly processed ingredients often sourced from illegal (but allowed by FDA) waste. This was the best $27.00 I’ve ever spent.

Susan Thixton, founder of the Association for Truth in Pet Food, is one of a handful of consumer advocates fighting to hold the pet food industry accountable to existing food safety regulations.

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