Organic Food Market. NEW YORK — If you’re wondering who will be the next target for the organic food movement—look no further than the family pet. To date, sales of all-natural and organic pet food are up significantly, according to IBIS World Inc., a market research firm in Illinois. According to study results the firm released last December: “Pet owners are continuing to review their animal’s diet as a means of improving overall health, including the extension and quality of life. This has resulted in consumers turning toward all-natural pet food products.” Increased concern for animal health combined with the fear created by last spring’s nationwide pet food recall has helped fuel this market growth. But many veterinarians and the Association of American Feed Control Officials say non-organic pet food is indeed safe.
“I do not know of any evidence to show that there is a systematic problem in the pet food industry that is causing specific problems in pets,” said Dr. Francis Kallfelz, a James Law professor of veterinary nutrition at Cornell University. “It’s not necessarily the ingredients that are important; rather it’s the nutrients that are important. As long as the product has all the essential nutrients to keep your pet healthy, then your animal is adequately fed.”
But not everyone is satisfied with a guarantee or statistical study. Dr. Carol Osborne, a veterinarian with a private practice in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and author of Naturally Healthy Cats and Naturally Healthy Dogs, argues that many commercial pet foods are to blame for her patients’ ailments.
“We, as veterinarians, have been taught to say that as long as the label on the back says it’s appropriate for the life stage and it meets dog’s minimum daily requirement, it’s fine. But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a client change the pet’s diet and said, ‘I’ve seen a positive change,'” she said.
Osborne recommended a home-cooked diet comprised of 1/3 lean mean, 1/3 long acting carbohydrates and 1/3 fiber. If you don’t have time to cook dinner for your pet, she said organic foods are preferable to your average commercially processed dog food.
“For those who don’t have time to cook, organic and natural pet foods have come into the spotlight,” said Osborne. “What I tell clients is that any premium food should have a 100% money back guarantee and you should probably expect it to cost a little more than $1 per pound.”
Whether you feel like going gourmet organic for Fido or not, Dr. Kallfelz cautioned pet owners not to feed pets too much food. He said one of the biggest problems plaguing pets is the fact that their owners are over-feeding them.
“Obesity is single worst problem we face,” Kallfelz said. “I think it’s now about 30% or higher of the dog and cat pet population that is overweight or obese.”