It’s that time of year when we all pledge to live a healthier life, right? It’s probably the most popular resolution across the world as every calendar turns to a new year. And for many pet owners, that resolution extends to our dogs, our cats — the furry members of our family. We resolve to take better care of them, give them more love and attention that will benefit their health, whether that’s simply devoting more time to taking them on walks, spending more time with them altogether, and of course, ensure they’re eating a healthier diet while you cave in less to giving them unhealthy treats. These are some of the same common resolutions we often make for our own health goals but as we know with resolutions, there’s a natural habit to let them slip as we move deeper into the year.
“January is often a time where our thoughts turn to getting healthier, be it taking part in ‘Dry January’ or just generally being more conscious about what we eat – and this shouldn’t be any different for our pets,” says Melanie Sainsbury, a Veterinary Education Manager. “Whilst there is clearly a gap in knowledge of what’s really in certain pet foods, we understand that pet owners are often time-poor and often prioritise convenience.
“However, it’s promising to see from the research that pet parents want to make a positive change - and it doesn’t have to be difficult either.
“Pets could take part in their very own ‘Dry January’ – but one where they enjoy a balanced nutritious diet in the form of a more natural, healthy dry food such as True Instinct. Our Raw Boost product includes no nasties and all the ingredients they need to thrive, whilst still in a convenient format.”
Did you make any of these resolutions for your dog or cat in the New Year?
Top 10 list of New Year’s resolutions for our pets in 2019:
- Go for more walks (45%)
- Cut down on unhealthy treats (40%)
- Give them a better, more natural diet (31%)
- Spend more time with them (30%)
- Brush their teeth more often (29%)
- Pay more attention to their training/behavior (25%)
- Take them for regular health checks (21%)
- Stop bad habits e.g. sleeping on the bed, eating from the table (19%)
- Give them more regular baths (18%)
- Ensure they socialize with other dogs/cats (16%)
As mentioned, many of these top resolutions revolve around keeping our pet as healthy as possible. But one factor may surprise you in just how well equipped we are to follow through on providing our friends a healthier 2019. According to recent research conducted in the UK, an astonishing 62 percent of dog and cat owners are unaware of the ingredients in the food they give to their pet. In the UK, that equates to about 10 million of the nation’s approximate 17 million dog and cat owners. Conversely, roughly 40 percent of those survey participants had resolved to live healthier in 2019 and 25 percent of them were making the same resolution for their pet.
The research, which was conducted by True Instinct through simple surveys given to pet owners. More than half of them admitted to not knowing that most dry pet food, for example, has sugar, meat derivatives, processed ingredients, and artificial additives - all things that we are told to stay away from ourselves when we set out to eat healthier, maybe lose a couple pounds, or just hope to feel better through a better diet. Bone ash, feathers, and synthetics are also present in some of these same dry foods as well, which less than 15 percent of the survey participants were aware of.
Chew on some other findings from True Instinct’s survey:
- Approximately 30 percent of pet owners aren’t aware that chocolates and onions are toxic to dogs.
- 14 percent of dog owners say their pets can’t eat butternut squash and another 20 percent say the same about blueberries. Both are in fact, healthy and good for pets, with butternut squash serving as a healthy vegetable and blueberries being full of antioxidants.
- More than 33 percent say their dog or cat has an existing health issue, such as bad breath, diabetes, or skin conditions.
- 10 percent of those pets are overweight.
- 26 percent of pet owners admitted that selecting food or brand for their pet is in part dictated by that pet showing a visible sign that they enjoy it - a logical factor but not indicative of healthy choices.
Yet in light of all these findings through the survey, just a quarter of pet owners said the food they give their dog or cat must make an impact on their health or wellbeing.
If you’re at a loss for where to start in finding the best/healthiest foods for your dog or cat, you can start equipping yourself with knowledge in small doses and build from there. Take the dry food versus wet food debate, for example. Every dog owner bases their decision of which to feed their pet based on their own individual criteria. For some, it’s simply an economic choice while for others maybe it’s a matter of cleanliness and storage around the home. Dry food is most likely going to be the most convenient choice for you, the owner. It’s more affordable, can be sealed up and stored easily in a container, has a longer shelf life, and can even be left out in a bowl for your dog to eat as it pleases. But if you are raising a young, growing, dog, then it’s important to keep in mind that dry foods tend to have lower levels of animal-based proteins which are going to be helpful in their growth. Wet food, on the other hand, has a richer scent and flavor than its dry counterparts, making it much more preferable in the appetizing department along with offering higher protein content as well as fewer carbs than dry food, making it slightly more nutritious in that sense. These are just a couple things to consider when you set out on that 2019 resolution of giving your pet a healthier diet and hopefully a happier life.
Natural pet food
Pet Food Labels
Your Dog's Nutritional Needs
How to Read a Dog Food Label
General Feeding Guidelines for Dogs
Nutritional Sustainability of Pet Foods
The Nutritive value of selected commercial dry dog foods