In 2019, Americans are expected to spend $30 billion on food for their pets, according to the American Pet Products Association, which says that more and more pet owners are choosing premium pet food that is organic and includes ingredients like coconut, turmeric and cardamom.
"People want to feed their dogs upscale, yuppie diets rather than buying dog chow," says Will Draper, veterinary contributor to WebMD and the co-host with his wife, Fran Tyler, of Nat Geo's Love and Vets. "Otherwise, they feel like they're cheating their dogs."
Tyler says that the new ingredients being used in pet food — such as turmeric — may have a positive impact on an animal's diet. "Turmeric helps with pain and inflammation, ginger is good for an upset tummy. But are they necessary in a dog's diet? That's debatable. It's definitely smart to check with your vet before introducing something new," she adds.
At the San Diego headquarters of the Honest Kitchen, founder Lucy Postins and her staff are testing probiotic-rich goat's milk drinks as well as turmeric- and parsley-infused bone broth. "We taste everything," Postins says. "These are foods fit for human consumption, sourced from the human food chain."
Organic pet food includes Prowl, a grain-free cat food made with free-range chicken, vegetables, eggs and flaxseed, or Spruce, a dog food made with whole food ingredients, such as cage free duck, dried navy beans as well as the usual vitamins and minerals.
Food Network’s Rachael Ray has a pet food line, Nutrish, that uses bison and roasted chicken for its new line of snacks: Burger Bites and Savory Roasters. "They're inspired by recipes from Rachael's kitchen," says Steve Joyce, vice president of marketing at Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, Nutrish's parent company. The new selections also incude food made from whole ingredients like carrots, peas, apple. "We're seeing more of the humanization of pet food," Joyce says. "Animals are seen as members of the family."
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Another line, Pure Dog Food, offers snacks with just five ingredients, including chicken-and-quinoa bowls and the recently launched Popeye Chicken & Spinach. The 100% human grade ingredients include coconut, nutritional yeast and organic chicken breast dehydrated with fresh parsley.
Also, freeze-dried "functional treats" from Whole Life Pet, which are made in small batches, use ingredients like Greek yogurt, blueberries and kale. The freeze-drying preserves nutrition that can be lost to high-heat cooking. The brand also combines omega-oil-rich chia seeds and cranberries in its salmon-based cat food.
Meanwhile, Ollie, which has worked with canine nutritionists to create an algorithm that customizes meal plans for your dog, delivers its products straight to your home. The meals, which include chicken, beef or lamb, are delivered in recyclable trays lined with compostable jute. The complementary scoop allows you to portion out the exact amount your dog needs. These products are available at myollie.com.