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history of pet food

There is a strange history around the origins of commercial pet food.

The pet food industry began in the 1800's when the industrial revolution made it possible for pets to be regarded as luxury items. Gone were the days where only the super wealthy could afford to feed their dogs items other than leftover grains, lard, and meat from dead horses found on the side of the road. Along with this came the rise of veterinary medicine, and pet food was more scrutinized. Then, someone in the 1850's - an electrician with no background in food or health - had an entrepreneurial idea: Maybe cheaply produced biscuits (for human consumption) that were specifically made to have a long shelf life could be re-branded and re-formulated as dog treats. He came up with his own recipe and thus the first true pet food product was born.

Other people saw his success and followed in his footsteps, and various types of pet food and pet treats were brought to the market. Then in 1922, the first canned dog meat was created. It was, again, made out of horse meat. Canned dog food was the main type of pet food by a long shot until WWII rolled around and meat began to be rationed. Then, dry dog food came back into style.

What happened next was a stroke of marketing genius that stuck for decades.

Since the very first days of mainstream pet food products, dog (and cat) owners constantly complained about the digestibility of their pet's food. Purina attempted to come up with a cure for the digestive issues with a new extraction method, but the issues remained. Then, a lobbyist campaign in the mid 1960's began. To this day, many people regard the message of this campaign as universal knowledge. The dog food lobby was spending 50 million dollars PER YEAR to get people to stop feeding their dogs anything but packaged dog food. They funded "reports" that appeared in magazines, hailing and explaining the benefits of processed dog food, and even produced a radio spot about "the dangers of table scraps."

All of this marketing was outlandish and misleading, but apparently we all bought it. Whoops.

What has resulted from these advertising campaigns and the exponential rise of pet ownership? Well, in addition to major competition in the pet food market... mass confusion, blatant conflicts of interest, and mountains of cheap pet food that should never be fed to animals.

Finding the best pet food is confusing.

Actually, finding decent pet food is confusing.

See this post to find out how to find the best food for your furry pal!

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