Raw petfood: A growing market segment in spite of controversy
There are multiple sides to the raw petfood debate, but the numbers show that companies looking to expand should not dismiss this industry niche.
The idea of raw petfood has had its share of detractors in recent years. In June 2014, Colorado State University veterinarians came out against feeding pets raw diets, citing increased risks for contamination and the dangers of nutritionally imbalanced diets. The next month, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) presented warnings of its own highlighting the possibility for food poisoning in both pets and their owners. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)’s current policy on raw or undercooked animal-source protein in petfood “discourages the feeding to cats and dogs of any animal-source protein that has not first been subjected to a process to eliminate pathogens because of the risk of illness to cats and dogs as well as humans.”
On the other hand, proponents of the raw petfood diet say that pets would thrive on a biologically appropriate diet, based on what they ate before they became domesticated (e.g., raw, meaty bones and vegetable scraps). Potential benefits can include shinier coats, healthier skin, cleaner teeth and higher energy levels. Some say that the current warnings lump all raw petfood together under a single definition, when in fact commercially prepared raw petfoods can be found under the categories of fresh, refrigerated, frozen or freeze-dried petfoods.
Studies on the subject of raw petfood seem to go both ways as well. While some highlight the higher possibility for pathogen contamination compared to cooked (e.g., kibble) diets, others claim raw diets are more digestible for pets. But whatever the controversy, there’s no…