Sunday, October 19, 2008

When it comes to pet food, we, as an entire community of pet owners, still don't know what we are doing

PR Newswire reported of a poll conducted earlier this year in August. The results show that most pet owners don’t know what ingredients are in their pet foods and also, when pressed for the issue, admit that they are ultimately not feeding the ingredients they think they are. The survey questioned 2,151 adults ages 18+, of whom, 1,305 are dog and/or cat owners, 906 are dog owners and 783 are cat owners. Data were weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population. Two thirds of the 1,305 dog and/or cat owners say they feed their companion animals as if they were family members, when asked how about the health of their animals the number was even higher, 85% said their pet’s health to them is as important as the family’s health. However, their actions show no support of this claim. For instance 56% admitted that they always read the ingredient labels when it comes to their own, human food, yet only 20% of dog owners and 19% of the cat owners read the labels on their pet food. Only 38% say that they understand all the ingredients listed on those labels.
91% of the pet owners said they would not want their pets’ food to contain ingredients causing allergies and food intolerances. Plus, 56% worry that their pet food contains such unwanted ingredients. Another 66% prefer to only feed natural pet food. Yet, reality is that most consumers buy pet food that is not natural and that contains unwanted ingredients.
Additional findings of the survey were: 55% of pet owners don't know which federal body is charged with regulating pet food quality. When asked to name the first ingredient listed on the label of their cats’ kibble, 48% of cat owners answered they are not sure, among the dog owners that number was 44%.
And why do I talk about this boring stuff, reading off numbers almost making you fall asleep? Because I hope the opposite is the case. I wish it is a wake up call for all the pet owning community members, especially the ones who fall into the category of not quite being where they should be. I mean when it comes to doing the right thing for their pets.
The survey was conducted by an independent research firm and commissioned by a major pet food manufacturer, one who provides the “good” stuff, a food, which has earned quite a few seals of being “officially recommended” from independent parties.
In regards to the survey, the manufacturer’s president said: "We know that with pets, as with people, you are what you eat, which is why it is so important to understand the ingredients we're feeding our cats and dogs. We've made it our mission to educate dog and cat parents as to what makes a quality ingredient and to empower them to know what they are feeding their beloved animals. That way they can be confident they truly are meeting their mission of feeding their pets as high quality a food as they would the rest of their family."
This man is talking my language, it is all about providing information educating the consumer. There can’t be enough of it often enough until even the last pet owner understands what is required to keep a pet healthy and happy.
And what should you do if you want to feed the best? Start with informing and educating yourself before you go shopping. These days it is easy: Everybody has access to the best resource available to the human race ever: The Internet. Here you find such a wealth of information that you never ever will have the time in your life to read it all. And pet food doesn’t have to become such an integral part of your life as it is in mine. Learning just the basics will make a huge difference for your pet. Then, when shopping for pet food, pick up the bag, turn it around and read the ingredient label. Of course, latest then you’ll realize that it helps to be informed beforehand. Use the knowledge you gained in your studies. Know what the various ingredient classifications are. What the pitfalls are when it comes to interpreting pet food labels. Know the marketing tricks. Be informed about the "good" and the "bad" players in the pet food game. Which ingredients to look for and which are the ones to avoid. And most important, always remember, the most simple ingredient in this game is your “common sense”. It will mean a world of a difference for your cat or dog.

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