This may not go down well. I expect that some people are going to have a hissy fit about it. That’s ok – bring it on. Someone has to say it, and if you know me at all, you know that I can hold back for only so long…so here goes.
I do a lot of reading, and much of it has to do with canine nutrition including industry news. There’s a noticeable shift (perhaps avalanche would be a better word) in marketing tactics. I don’t think the belief system has changed so much as the powers-that-be have taken serious note of our changed attitudes towards pets and how we feed them. For example, some people refer to pet owners as pet parents. This hasn’t escaped the industry as you can see in the article titled Petfood brands turn focus on desire to make pets’ meals at home. Two things that get me worked up:
1. We are not pet parents. We are pet owners. To say we are pet-parents is to open legal doors that can slam in our faces. I’ve spoken to vets and the concern is real in that if the animal is accepted as a child, any and all medical procedures run a far greater insurance risk. That means the vet needs more and more insurance which costs more and more money, and who do you think is going to end up paying for that? Right. Veterinary bills would skyrocket. I think of our dog as our baby, but! – she’s a dog. No matter how much we love her, or how devoted we are to her, she is not human. If I am a pet-parent and my dog is given rights that would pertain to humans…can I still have her put to sleep when her time comes, or would it be considered murder?
2. Ok, so “they” seem to understand that more and more people are making their own dog food, and they’ve even pointed to the 2007 food recalls as a big reason for it. I can see by my client roster that some people are really devoted to taking control of their dogs’ food, and others are sorta-kinda devoted in that even if they really want to do it, life changes won’t permit them to. What bothers me is when the industry makes it sound like they have the answer. Yes, from a marketing perspective in that they found a void and are focusing on filling it – but with what? Do I really believe that adding meat to a premixed food-base is the answer to the “desire to make pet’s meals at home”? It might help with the “desire” if we’re viewed as having some sort of warped need to spend extra time, or money to feed our pets. But it misses the bigger issue here – our values. If someone is going to call me a pet-parent, having a basic understanding of parenting rather than seeing it as a marketing opportunity would be nice. Just as I don’t add meat to a boxed packaged “dinner” and call that a healthy meal for a family, I don’t think it’s ideal for my dog. What is the big deal about preparing the entire meal? If I’m going to add meat anyway, why not feed fresh food altogether? Again…living our values.
The article above grew legs a few days ago when I was at the vet clinic with our dog. A sales rep was speaking to one of the employees and guess what she was touting? That’s right! An entire sales pitch about the growing market of dog owners who want to prepare their own food. The premixes are here, the reps are out, the industry is aware…and I have to wonder if this is any different in so far as safety for our pets. Because that’s the part I’m not seeing a focus on.