The History of Dog Food October, 2010

Dean's Welcome Notes

Holiday time is fast approaching and with that comes the addition of new pets to many homes. If you're one of our advertising members, this is the perfect time to spruce up or enhance your ads!

From the Dog Food book by Freymann and Elffers
For those of you considering getting a new puppy over the holidays, be sure to read our newsletter next month. It will be filled with tips on puppy proofing your home.

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Until next time,
Dean Hamill

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A History of Dog Food & Other Tidbits

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From the Dog Food book by Freymann and ElffersDogs have been companions of humans for thousands of years. But what did we feed them before the advent of "dog food" as we know it today?

The answer is pretty straightforward ~ they ate basically what we ate. Meats, grains, homemade food and table scraps made up diets of our pets until the mid 1800s. Then came along James Spratt, (not to be confused with Jack Spratt, who could eat no fat!), who concocted the first dog biscuit the world had seen. These "dog cakes" became wildly successful, and were the start of the dog food industry.

By the early 1900s, maufactured dog food had taken off. Milkbone dog biscuits were introduced in 1907, and became direct competition for Spratt. In the 1920s Ken-L-Ration came out with the first canned dog food, and it was a hit! Then, during WWII, when the tin supply became scarce, dry dog food took on a new popularity. In the 1950s Ralston Purina invented the extrusion process for dry dog food, aka kibble.

From the Dog Food book by Freymann and Elffers During the 1960s-70s companies sprang up with their own forms and flavors of dog foods. And finally, from the 1980s through today, companies have developed, and continue to produce dog food for specific markets, including natural dog food, ailment specifc foods, breed specific foods, moist, semi-moist, freeze dried, frozen, holistic, raw and human quality pet foods.

According to internet data, the "US pet food manufacturing industry includes about 200 companies with combined annual revenue of about $17 billion". This industry is highly concentrated and the 50 largest companies hold almost 100 percent of the market.

Now, to paraphrase Paul Harvey, here's the rest of the story…

James Spratt had an employee who would go on to influence the history of showing dogs as we know it today. A gentleman named Charles Cruft was a salesman for Spratt. His sales market was limited so he came up with a scheme to sell more dog food. He went around to the estates in his territory and encourgaed the owners to increase the breeding of their pedigree dogs, which they did. Thus allowing Cruft to sell more dog food to the estate owners.

From the Dog Food book by Freymann and ElffersHe started with Spratt in 1876, and by 1886 he was managing the Allied Terrier Club Show in Westminster. The year of 1891 was the beginning of his real legacy ~ the Crufts Dog Show. 100 years later, in 1991, the Guinness Book of Records recognized Crufts as the world's largest dog show.

More on dog food
and the pet food industry

This article started us thinking about how many brands of pet food are out there? And, what constitutes a "brand"? This seemed too overwhelming. So then how about trying to tally up the Pet Food Manufacturers? Here's an interesting list – which is not complete (they don't list Proctor & Gamble for instance) – but it's certainly at least eye-opening.

Dog Food Brands:  this is one of these "rate it" for yourself sites. There are 273 products listed – but like any of these types of sites, it's all in how you choose to interpret the ratings.

Dry Cat Food Reviews:  look for the long list on the right to see the brands.

From the Dog Food book by Freymann and ElffersThe Dog Food Advisor has a realistic article on "The Problem with Dog Food Reviews". That said, do take a look at their reviews – they are pretty comprehensive – and no nonsense.

Lastly are links to the major US and Canadian voices of the pet food industry.

Pet Food Institute (US)

Pet Food Association of Canada


Teach Your Pet a New Language This month it's German!

Cat = katze
Dog = hund

Sit (down) = setzen or sitz
Stay = bleiben or bleib
Down = platz
Come = hier

To here these words pronouced - go here and type in the German word & change the language to German)

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