Pet food is plant or animal material intended for consumption by pets. Typically sold in pet stores and supermarkets, it is usually specific to the type of animal, such as dog food or cat food. Most meat used for nonhuman animals is a byproduct of the human food industry, and is not regarded as “human grade”.In 2018, the world pet food market was valued at US$87.08 billion and is projected to grow to US$113.2 billion by the year 2024. The pet food market is dominated by five major companies, as of 2019: Mars, Inc., Nestle Purina Petcare, J. M. Smucker, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. (owned by Colgate-Palmolive), and Blue Buffalo Co. Ltd (owned by General Mills).
In the United States, pet-food sales in 2016 reached an all-time high of $28.23 billion.Mars is the leading company in the pet food industry, making about $17 billion annually in pet-care products. Online sales of pet food are increasing and contributing to this growth. Online sales in the US increased 15 percent in 2015. Worldwide, the compound annual growth rate of pet food purchased online was more than 25% between 2013–2018.As of 2015 the US leads the world in pet-food spending.
Formulations of mainstream commercial pet foods are generally based on nutrition research and many manufacturers undertake animal nutrition studies. For instance, Mars, Incorporated funds the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, which undertakes scientific research into pet nutrition and wellbeing, sharing its findings in publicly available peer-reviewed journals.Given the carnivorous dietary habits of many pets (especially cats and dogs), involving the consumption of an estimated fifth of the world’s meat and fish, the impact of pet-food production on carbon footprints and on climate change becomes an issue.
Recommendations differ on what diet is best for dogs. Some people argue dogs have thrived on leftovers and scraps from their human owners for thousands of years, and commercial dog foods (which have only been available for the past century) contain poor-quality meats, additives, and other ingredients dogs should not ingest, or that commercial dog food is not nutritionally sufficient for their dogs. However, many commercial brands are formulated using insights gained from scientific nutritional studies and there is no reliable peer-reviewed evidence that domestic options are superior. Most store-bought pet food comes in either dry form, also known as kibble, or wet, canned form.Raw feeding is the practice of feeding domestic dogs, cats and other animals a diet consisting primarily of uncooked meat, edible bones, and organs. The ingredients used to formulate raw diets can vary. Some pet owners choose to make home-made raw diets to feed their animals but commercial raw food diets are also available.
The practice of feeding raw diets has raised some concerns due to the risk of food borne illnesses, zoonosis and nutritional imbalances.People who feed their dogs raw food do so for a multitude of reasons, including but not limited to: culture, beliefs surrounding health, nutrition and what is perceived to be more natural for their pets.Feeding raw food can be perceived as allowing the pet to stay in touch with their wild, carnivorous ancestry.The raw food movement has occurred in parallel to the change in human food trends for more natural and organic products.Prepared foods and some raw ingredients may be toxic for animals, and care should be taken when feeding animals leftover food. It is known that the following foods are potentially unsafe for cats, dogs and pigs:
Chocolate, coffee-based products and soft drinks
Raisins and grapes
Garlic (in large doses) and onions
Generally, cooked and marinated foods should be avoided, as well as sauces and gravies, which may contain ingredients that, although well tolerated by humans, may be toxic to animals. Xylitol, an alternative sweetener found in chewing gum and baked goods designed for diabetics, is highly toxic to cats, dogs, and ferrets.In the European Union, pet food is regulated by the same harmonized standards across the EU, via the Feeding Stuffs Act.
All ingredients used for pet food have to be fit for human consumption according to EU requirements. But regulations require that pet food that contains by-products be labeled as “Not for human consumption” even though such by-products have to be derived from animals declared fit for human consumption. Raw pet food has to be labeled “Pet food only”.
Products meant for daily feeding are labeled “complete feedingstuff” or “complete petfood” or other EU languages equivalent. Products meant for intermittent feeding are labeled “complementary feedingstuff or “complementary pet food” while products with an ash content of over 40% are labeled “mineral feedingstuff”. Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight.(Wikipedia)