Have you ever imagined what dogs used to eat before dog food?
This is a question I used to ask myself for a long time and really got surprised to know the real dog food history.
The dog food history took a great turn when entrepreneurs and big organizations started selling specialized dog foods claiming of high nutritional value. Some dog foods are bad for dogs and you should be extra conscious when buying foods for them.
This is something I personally wanted to share with you people. And hope this article should give you a background to the dog food revolution.
Let’s get started.
The age of raw food for dogs.
The oldest known dog food recipe can be traced back to 2000 years when dogs were used in farming. The only thing we got to know is that they were fed bones from dead sheep.
During the middle ages, dogs ate totally raw foods and people fed them from their food ingredients. But dogs were still a thing of luxury only kept by royals. What we got to know is that they used to feed them raw meat stew along with grains and vegetables.
Looks like dogs did have a healthy diet back then.
The story of Chinese impress Shih Tzu is something to recall as she fed her dog quail breasts and shark fins.
If we look during the 18th-century dogs were still considered working animals. During this time we can find first of any sort of commercial intent when certain people made living selling dead horse meat in cities. This made dog food a little cheaper than before.
Birth of the first commercial pet food.
Commercial dog food was born mainly due to the rising cost of goods and the urge to civilize working dogs as home pets.
Experts and owners started to question the use of raw meat as dog foods. As they though raw meat can make their dogs wild and uncivilized.
So seizing this opportunity James Spratt during the 1860s came up with a new dog biscuit that is cheap and can also be stored conveniently. The ingredient list included beef blood, vegetables, and wheat.
The new dog food became a big hit when it was introduced in England. And lots of businesses started following this new business model.
1880 to 1922- The trend continued.
From 1880 to 1992 dry dog food in the form of biscuits, bread or cake took over the dog food market.
In 1880, a veterinarian from Boston introduced dog bread. After that manufacturers began to produce more dog foods in different shapes and sizes in the form of kibbles. Notably, F.H bennet company started making bone-shaped biscuits.
During this time differentiation in the food also took place as puppy food also came into existence.
If we go down a little further to 1931, Nabisco biscuit company who acquired F.H bennet made the dog biscuits available at the regular grocery stores. This is when commercial dog food became really popular among consumers.
1930 to 1941- Canned raw horse meat.
In 1922, Chappel brothers from Rockford Illinois introduced the first canned dog food. We can call it the first wet dog food. The principal ingredient was raw horse meat.
Their intense marketing efforts on popular radio shows made the product so much popular that they had to begin breeding their own horses.
The demand for such canned dog food continued until 1941. Almost 50,000 horses were slaughtered by the end of the 1930s just to meet the demand from dog owners.
1941-1950- Kibbles ruled the market.
The canned horse meat gathered a 90% market share and the dry dog food market could hardly compete with it. And people loved feeding their dogs with raw food.
But it all changed when WWII started and the cost of producing tin cans increased greatly.
Thus canned dog food came to an end and the only kibble to rule the market again.
The Ralston Purina company came up with even a better version of dog food namely Purina Dog Chow. This dog food got better accepted compared to dry dog food and the dogs had no issues in their digestion.
1950 to until recent times- Large campaigns to get rid of home-based food.
From 1950 dog food manufacturers started aggressive marketing campaigns to establish the dog food market. The campaigns mostly involved demotivating consumers to avoid feeding their dogs with raw meat or human food.
Millions of dollars were spent in ad campaigns to provoke a sort of fear using raw food as dog food.
Well, the campaigns worked and dog owners became more and more convinced by this idea.
The rise of commercial dog food has its own pros and cons. Commercial dog food enables dog owners to feed their pets easily and at a lower cost than raw food.
But the downside is many manufacturers marketed their products labeling their meat is the best and the food has real nutritional values. But that wasn’t the case!
This sort of marketing propaganda is still in practice. Though consumers are fully liable as to what food is best for their dog.
Organic food coming back?
In recent times, organic dog food and raw meat diet are yet again on the rise. As people are shifting more to a natural diet than eating processed foods, they are motivated to make a change in their dog’s diet too.
Some of the commercial dog foods are nevertheless worthy to buy. Dog foods from organic and free-range animals with a mix of vegetables and minerals are taking on the current market.
I feed my Pit Bulls from only a few dog food brands that I trust! Though you can’t expect perfection, filtering the worst ones are necessary.
It’s completely understandable the sympathy and love we have for dogs. As a dog owner, it’s our responsibility to feed them healthy foods. The debate is totally up to you to resolve whether to give them commercial food or raw food.