A History Of Commercial Dog Food

A History Of Commercial Dog Food

Commercial dog food—or kibble and canned food—is what most pawrents are feeding their pooches, oftentimes the same bags and cans for their entire lives. But was this always the norm? Is there a bone we have to pick about how healthy these diets are for our pups? Are ‘raw food’ or home cooked meals better alternatives? 

In this blog, we’re going over all things kibble and cans that will leave pawrents rethinking what they serve their pup for dinner.

How Did Commercial Dog Food Come About?

Today, there are an overwhelming number of options of dried kibble and canned wet food at any given pet supply store or supermarket—making it convenient for pawrents to grab a bag or can and dinner is served within seconds for their four-legged friend. Commercial dog food as we know it, however, is a relatively recent invention, with wet food beginning to be sold around 1860. The main ingredient at the time? Horse.

Come the 20th century and the onset of the two world wars, the increased demand for metal forced dog food companies into developing kibble—dry food that can be stored in plastic bags. The shelf-life and ease of simply pouring out dinner from a bag was a novelty for pet parents and has been ever since. 

So, What’s The Fuss? 

So far, commercial dog food sounds like a good thing. Who wouldn’t like spending seconds preparing their pooch’s meal? Well, your pooch. 

When commercial dog food turned into a major lucrative business in the 1950s, manufacturers began looking for ways to lower costs while having their kibble and wet food look the same, but in reality, being far from pawfect. This meant that dog food companies would—and continue to—source most of their meat-based ingredients from animal by-products. Animal by-products most commonly found in commercial dog food include lungs, spleen, liver, kidneys, brain, blood, bone—pretty much the stuff humans are too grossed out to eat. Didn’t think the ingredients could get worse? You must be barking. Other animal by-products that are approved to make pet food include ‘blood, placenta, wool, feathers, hair, horns, hoof cuts and raw milk from live animals’. Doesn’t sound so appetising, does it? Because of added flavours and food colouring, commercial dog food companies have succeeded in hiding those stomach-turning ingredients into palatable pieces of kibble and mysterious looking brown sludge in cans.

Ok, so your pooch isn’t as grossed out as we are about animal-by products (heck, they try eating rubbish off the ground on your daily walks all the time!). Well, there are other causes for concern when it comes to commercial dog food. Most commercial dog food is highly processed and composed of cheap carbohydrate fillers that when used as a main ingredient and fed to your dog, can lead to inflammation and obesity. These high amounts of fillers make commercial dog food nutritionally incomplete, which is why major dog food companies rely on adding vitamins and minerals at the end of their process rather than providing nutritious ingredients for your pup to begin with. Traditional dog food is also typically high in poor-quality fat. It’s important that there is fat in your pooch’s diet, but there is a massive nutritional difference between feeding your dog food that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and that which is loaded with animal fat—the latter of which being high in saturated fat and triglycerides.

Commercial dog food also gets a bad rep for its synthetic preservatives. Some of the preservatives found in dog food, to ensure its long shelf life, include BHA, BHT, TBHQ, sodium benzoate and sodium nitrate, to name a few. These preservatives, particularly BHA and BHT, are considered hormone disruptors; TBHQ has been found to cause liver enlargement (it’s also used to make resins, varnished and lacquers—yuck!). Most of these preservatives are considered carcinogenic, meaning when fed to your pup, they increase the chances of your pooch developing cancer in their lifetime.

Is Raw Food Or A Home Cooked Meal Better?

So, you’re suddenly super grossed out at the thought of continuing to feed your pooch animal remains and preservatives, which may lead you to consider the latest craze—raw food diets. Some pawrents think that their dog—who spends most of the day on the sofa, goes to the groomers and drinks puppuccinos—should go back to their ‘carnivorous roots’ (you must be barking). Firstly, dogs are omnivores and can thrive without being thrown a meaty bone. Secondly, along with not being proved to be any healthier for our pooches, raw food diets pose a high risk to your dog for containing harmful bacteria, including Salmonella ssp. and Listeria monocytogenes (which is risky for you too, as you’re handling their food). Just last year, researchers found an antibiotic-resistant bacteria in multiple types of raw dog food, making it an international public health risk, with the World Health Organisation highly alarmed by this ‘superbug’ triggered by raw meat-eating mutts.

You may now be thinking ‘What about a nice home cooked meal for my pooch?’ As appetising as your pup may find your home cooking, it’s not necessarily best to feed them this as their main meal of the day. When cooking your dog’s food yourself, you may unintentionally make a nutritiously incomplete and unbalanced plate for them. It is important to ensure that your dog’s main food source has been scientifically approved as providing all the nutrients their waggy body needs.

Perks Of Plant-Based Dog Food

Up until recently, options for your pooch at mealtime seem harrowing. Worry not, as we’ve saved the best option for your pooch for last.

Plant-based dog food, like that from THE PACK, is made with whole-food ingredients, so you don’t have to worry about any mashed-up bones and beaks, only mashed-up butternut squash and other premium veggies. THE PACK’s meals are high in quality protein and fat, sourced from peas, lupin beans and algal oil. There’s no ‘fillers’—only tasty natural ingredients that would make any human’s mouth water, let alone their pup’s!

Each of the three drool-inducing flavours have been created with industry expert pet food technologists and animal nutritionists to ensure that not only are the meals deliciously savoury for your pup, but also nutritionally balanced and complete. Each can of THE PACK contains zero preservatives, artificial flavours and colours, and doesn’t pose the risk of creating the next public health crisis through a superbug. We suppose you could technically call us ‘commercial dog food,’ since our food comes in a can, but there’s nothing else about our meals that makes us part of the traditional dog food industry’s pack.

Vegan Dog Food

If you want to discover more about raising a happy, healthy plant-based dog, download our FREE eBook

If you are new to THE PACK you can get 20% off your first order using THEPACK20 at checkout. Or 30% off your 1st subscription with code PACKSUB30. Winner, winner, plant-based dinner!


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