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Foodies and their pets

Credit: Poochsicles.com

Credit: Poochsicles.com

Would you care for a serving of roast bison and venison, served with sweet potatoes, and a side of blueberries, or perhaps the smoked salmon, with tomatoes and peas?

No, that isn’t a conversation that I recently had with a server while ordering dinner. That is a list of ingredients from a bag of my dog’s food.

Some of you that follow my Twitter account may have noticed a deluge of puppy photos appearing on my feed during the last few months, as my wife and I recently added a furry little bundle of joy to our new household. Just like many obsessively annoying new parents, I fawn over the little guy, and probably bore the heck out of my dog-less friends discussing all of his antics and quirks. Naturally, of the things I go completely overboard on, his food is a big one. And I’m not alone.

Let us turn the clock back a little. The summer after my freshman year of high school, I landed my first real job working in semi-luxurious pet boarding facility here in Atlanta. One day, we had a very high maintenance owner book a stay with us for her pampered Dalmatian, and she brought with her a long list of demands. Never mind that she booked an entire room usually reserved for a doggy day care group of 15 animals for her lone pup, or the strictly regimented schedule of rotating chew toys that we had to supply the dog, lest he get bored. The one instruction that I’ll never forget was that twice a day, I had to spoon feed this Dalmatian 2 scoops of Haagen-Dazs coffee flavored ice cream.

Granted, this is an extreme example, but it illustrates a larger point. As America’s food-consciousness has expanded in the last two decades, so has our awareness of what we feed our pets. Now, many of us regularly shell out nearly twice as much for organic, grain-free dog food instead of the Pedigree or Alpo of yesteryear. Milk-bones and Beggin’ strips have given way to dried bull pizzles and grass-fed beef tracheas. And I’m guilty as charged.

It seems that our people-food trends now quickly jump to the pet food world. “Natural” and “organic” are just as much of a buzzword in the pet store as in Midtown. Food trucks have been all the craze for the last few years…enter Poochsicles and Bark Bites, Atlanta’s own mobile doggie ice cream truck. (Disclaimer: I’ve fed my pup from the Poochsicles truck, and he freakin’ loved it.)

Perhaps the height of pet-foodie absurdity? The Farm to Bowl movement. That’s right, folks in New York are shelling out anywhere from $8-$10 per pound for leftover cuts of locally raised and organic meat from real butcher shops for their pets.

So, do I feel ridiculous when I sometimes pour a little Benton’s bacon fat onto a bowl of all-natural venison dog food for my pup? Sure I do. However, I comfort myself with the fact that he really seems to enjoy it and the likely misguided thought that I’m raising a pet with a good palette. Though, I still hear my father’s voice in the back of my head saying, “Good lord Jon, it’s just a dog!”

What about you pet owners out there? Are you on board with the latest pet-foodie trend, or is the whole thing just smart marketing and a waste of money?

-By Jon Watson, Food & More blog

32 comments Add your comment

LB

October 21st, 2011
6:53 am

What brand of dog food is it? We are looking at brands with ingredients such as this, in lieu of making dog food.

fred

October 21st, 2011
7:09 am

come on it is a dog. Dogs will eat poop. they are not discriminating in their palate. I love my dog but really… do wild dogs eat blueberries or sweet potatoes, or even dairy in their poochsicles. A fool and his money are soon parted.

steph

October 21st, 2011
8:28 am

I feed my dog Healthwise by Innova.. it’s cheaper than regular Innova and is great for big dogs.

ganners

October 21st, 2011
8:44 am

I feed my three dogs Pure Vida. You can get it at local stores or at wag.com or amazon. I know quality foods makes a big differnce. All three of mine are hairless and you can see the change in skin tone/texture pretty quickly if they get fillers and chemicals. Two of my friends rave about the Kirkland food at Costco—no fillers or crap. I don’t have two legged kids so my four leggeds get spoiled.

Kirk

October 21st, 2011
8:49 am

Anthropomorphism run amok. I’ve had many dogs over the course of fifty plus years and I can say that they will survive and thrive on almost anything. I love my dog and I feed him dry dog food to keep his teeth cleaner. He gets scraps and treats on occasion. His vet says he’s healthy at 8 years old and yes, he also eats poop on occasion.

Doc Hollidawg

October 21st, 2011
8:52 am

We found out early in our pup’s life that she had an allergy to wheat so our pup gets gluten free treats and food. I also smoke a turkey breast for her about once a month to put on her food. She also LOVES sweet potatoes, butternut squash and pumpkin. Good for her digestive tract too, which is key because she is an English Bulldog and they need, er, to have very good digestive tracts else they get…er…butt problems. And that ain’t pretty.

Reds

October 21st, 2011
8:56 am

I feed my 9 month old pup a natural small batch food, with wholesome indredients. She isnt picky though, and it’s not much more expensive than Iams or Science Diet. I also treat her with everything from watermelon to bell pepper. She will eat anything. Do spoil her with a deer antler as a chew toy. And yes, we were playing frisbee in the 38 degree weather this morning.

Bob from Accounttemps

October 21st, 2011
9:02 am

@Fred — Foodies for Dogs now. I love the comment about the dog not being “picky”. As you note, dogs will eat, whatever, when they’re hungry. As you note, more money than sense while imparting human characteristics on an animal. Can’t wait for the “artisnal” label to soon appear for dogs.

RK

October 21st, 2011
9:10 am

Dog + Foodies = Doodies?

Jan

October 21st, 2011
10:25 am

I would have agreed totally with the dogs will eat whatever, until my dog chewed most of his hair off and I went to an allergy clinic for him.
He looks great now, all hair has grown back. I could only feed him a special food and organic treats.

csblabmom

October 21st, 2011
10:28 am

Jon- sounds like you’re feeding TOTW. If it’s a larger breed pup, stay away from the Pacific Stream variety… too much calcium. All other TOTW are great for pups.

Renee

October 21st, 2011
10:31 am

Our cats eat grain-free wet and dry food, supplemented by freeze-dried raw occasionally. The older ones get glucosamine for their joints. All love chicken. And sushi take-out always includes an order of tuna sashimi for them.

Typical Redneck

October 21st, 2011
10:52 am

Jon, I could not agree more with your Dad.

1164mgc

October 21st, 2011
11:24 am

Heck, why not? I’m all for eating healthy, whether it’s people or pets. What gets me, though, are all these commercials putting food in crystal dishes (and on pillows) and talking about “succulent gravy” and “tender chunks” and whatever. Pets will eat it off the floor, and all they really care about is the taste, and how much they’re getting.

DW

October 21st, 2011
12:46 pm

TOTAL WASTE OF MONEY

M. Johnson

October 21st, 2011
1:32 pm

Welcome to the club, Jon.

For the detractors: Better quality dog food means less poop to scoop. Feed them crap and that’s all you’ll get on the other end.

John Kessler

October 21st, 2011
1:41 pm

1164mgc – You could be describing my brother, Tom.

Jon Watson

October 21st, 2011
3:04 pm

@csblabmom – Ding ding ding. Taste of the Wild it is.

Jessamine

October 21st, 2011
9:19 pm

Better diet, less vet bills. My dogs eat a diet of half home cooked (which is the Spot’s Stew recipe you can find online minus the garlic and kelp powder), half Canidae All Stages and they have not had fleas this summer. AT ALL. No spot on toxic treatments, nothing. Yes, we live in Atlanta. They are in great health, have beautiful teeth (frozen raw marrow bones for treats), no gas (they get a spoonful of plain yogurt each night)… And yep, I attribute that to feeding them quality food. Plus, my home cooked is actually saving me almost $1500 per YEAR instead of buying canned food at the store.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

jackdawg

October 22nd, 2011
8:17 am

my jack has venison, eggs and bacon, hamburger, steak, …yup,! brings in the rabbits, chipmunks, and the squirrel’s , my dawg feed it what i want, especially the venison.

charles

October 22nd, 2011
8:59 am

Sure, dogs can eat almost anything and survive. And so can humans. We can eat fast food and preserved foods and still live a decent amount of time. But are we talking about thriving or surviving? there is AMPLE research that feeding dogs a biologically appropriate diet (raw bones and raw meat) will do wonders for him. heightened energy, impeccable dental work, cures/prevents various types of cancers, etc. B4 uninformed types have their typical knee jerk reaction about raw and its effects, there is a plethora of information online that will enable you to research so that you may be somewhat informed b4 stating position. http://oakleafranch.com/index.asp?ID=16

Muffin

October 22nd, 2011
11:38 am

Taste of the Wild is great. My dogs love it and it makes their skin and fur very soft. One of my pit mixes has an allergy to grain that makes his hair fall out so grain free it is for us, and canned pumpkin on occasion for upset bellies from eating things they shouldn’t, like poop.

Moons

October 22nd, 2011
3:34 pm

We feed our dogs dry kibble from the Merrick brand but they get some healthy “people” food treats too! Just like humans, it’s all about portion control and exercise!

Lib

October 23rd, 2011
7:53 am

We make a great frozen HEALTHY treat for dogs called LickALots. The ingredients include human grade plain low fat yogurt, peanut butter, bananas and honey. They are available in two sizes….2oz. and 4 oz. Dogs love them! They are available in Atlanta at many small pet stores, doggie day care and kennels. Vets even use them to distract their “patients” while doing minor procedures!! Check it out at http://www.petkoolers.com

gooberpeas

October 23rd, 2011
11:09 am

thewindwhistler

October 23rd, 2011
11:12 am

I will say this. Dogs have an entirely different take on what tastes good and what smells good. My Dalmation was down by the sea shore where he found a pile of rotting entrails of fish, He rolled in it until covered from head to foot in smelly fish. I had never seen the dog happier. Ran back and forth all over the place. Sooooo if you want to treat your dog right take them some place where they can seek out what appels to them.
I remeber one time, I took my dog to a dog show as a spectator thinking the dog would be thrilled with all the snappy looking pedigrees, it was bored right from the start.

TM

October 23rd, 2011
11:24 am

I am on board. My cat developed diabetes and believe me shots are no fun. I believe he developed this from eating cheap food with corn/grains. I switched to Blue Wilderness dry (my vet wanted to keep him on science diet with by products) and will sometimes feed my cats pure tuna from the can (cheaper than cat cans anyway). I didnt want my other cats to develop this disease.

Donna P.

October 23rd, 2011
12:18 pm

My Chihuahua mix has seizures and the vet recommended changing dog food. He is now eating a brand of food called Natural Balance. We chose the Vegan flavor. An actor named Dick Van Patten owns or is part of this company. He did have less seizures but was put on seizure meds and has only had one in the past 12 months. I do think it is important to watch what your dog eats and I don’t give him any human food.

Figment

October 24th, 2011
8:44 am

I’ve tried all the high quality brands for my dog and she will not eat them. She loves the dry Pedigree though so I supplement with good treats and wet food. I got tired of buying the grain free and special meat varieties just to have her not eat them. My cat however can only eat a limited ingredient food, I really liked Fromm but it’s too hard to find where I live and very expensive. The cat does well on Natural Balance though.

Just a dog?

October 24th, 2011
2:20 pm

Those who say it’s “just a dog” just do not understand.

Rodney

October 26th, 2011
9:16 am

I’m late to this post so this may not get read but I think that people can do whatever they want with their money and feed their animals foie and filet, if that’s their thing.

However …

I grew up in “the country” in South GA. I’ve had dogs, cats, chickens, a goat, a horse … nearly everything you can imagine and the most amazing thing is that they all thrived on whatever my parents fed them.

Two of more bizarre – my cat, Jenny, who died of extreme old age, at spaghetti and LOVED it. I’m talking complete with sauce. My Mom would cut it up for her and she gobbled it down.

Currently, my Mom feeds her chickens a combination of chicken feed (storebought) and table scraps – including egg shells and/or any leftover egg products. These are from the eggs that these very chickens lay! ;) I call them her Cannibal Chickens.