June 06, 2010 - U.S. Pet Owners Spending Record Amounts on Healthier Pet Foods

New spending trends indicate pet food consumers crave change when it comes to pet food quality and control over what pets eat

New York, NY – Americans will spend more than $18 billion dollars on pet food in 2010, clearly indicating a deep desire to invest in our pets’ nutritional health. However, an overabundance of choices, ingredient scares and often hard to decipher labels can leave pet owners feeling misled and unsure about which foods are best for their pets. Eye-opening new trends show pet food consumers crave change, as they are purchasing more healthy pet food products than ever before.

Local veterinarian, Dr. Francisco DiPolo, D.V.M., C.V.A., of TriBeCa’s Worth Street Veterinary Center, understands the challenges pet owners face when it comes to food products and is sharing simple and straight-forward ideas to ensure pets can achieve complete nutrition on any budget or owners’ busy schedules.

After the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recalled almost a thousand pet food items in 2009, nutritional experts across the country concluded mineral deficiencies alone have subjected animals, as well as humans, to more diseases, premature aging and a variety of sicknesses. “As pet owners become more and more aware of the issues so many commercial foods face from the ground up,” says Dr. DiPolo, “the savvier they seem to become.”

Because they are literally bombarded with ingredient scares and speculation regarding pet foods, it’s no surprise that sales of organic pet food alone reached an all time high of $84 million in 2009, according to the Organic Trade Association's 2010 Industry Survey. “While ongoing improvements in the manufacturing of commercial pet foods seem to point to a positive shift in the industry, as veterinarians, our experience shows many diets may only maintain pets lives, rather than actually promoting their optimum health and longevity. A well-balanced diet does and can be easy to achieve for anyone, even busy New Yorkers!”

So, how can pet owners achieve complete nutrition? “The great news is, New Yorkers are surrounded by retailers selling high-quality foods,” says Dr. DiPolo. “I’d urge pet owners to purchase foods that list ingredients that make sense, like vitamins or a meat. For example, if a pet food product label reads real vegetables, fiber, fatty acids or vitamins as nutritional information, chances are it’s a product worth trying. I’d recommend combining a good quality canned or dry food with some homemade nutrients, like a pet safe vegetable.”

Top 5 Healthy Pet Diet Tips:

1) Give Raw Vegetables as Snacks – “For dogs, I recommend providing a variety of raw vegetables, including sweet potatoes, green beans, peas, broccoli, carrots, kelp, and alfalfa. Because these are also human foods, they can be purchased at local produce markets. Cats do well with proteins and fats, so adding vegetables to their meals will provide some needed fiber. Just grate them into small pieces."
2) Add Fatty Acids - “Adding a source of fatty acids, such as a quality human-grade fish oil, is a great idea. I’d recommend a mercury-free brand.” 
3) Include a Good Multi-Vitamin - “Yes, they’re available for pets too! Pet owners should consult with their veterinarians as to which brand and dose is best for their pets. There are many readily available to pet owners.”

4) Make Pets an Occasional Home Cooked Meal (Also the Most Cost Effective - “It may surprise pet owners to know that home cooking can also be the most cost effective. Naturally, cooking for larger dogs can get pricier. People should consult with their family veterinarians concerning recipes that are most suitable for their pets. I always guide my clients on how to prepare homemade meals and suggest pet owners do plenty of research before getting started.” 
5) Provide Supplements - “Supplements are a good way to address potential nutritional imbalances. This isn't an exact science and every pet is different. I tend to conduct a BioNutrional Analysis (BNA). A BNA looks at minor deviations from an ideal number in a pet’s blood, which can indicate certain nutritional imbalances. With this knowledge, it is often much easier to pinpoint and adjust specific requirements of an individual pet.”

According to Dr. DiPolo, “Food issues often start with nutrient and mineral deficient agricultural soils. That deficiency can transfer to crops and inevitably compounding in the processing of commercial foods,” which he says “is just the tip of the iceberg.” Nutritional experts across the country conclude mineral deficiencies alone subject animals, as well as humans, to more diseases, premature aging and a variety of sicknesses. 

Dr. DiPolo’s best advice for pet owners is to trust their instincts and understand their options. “As a rule of thumb, look for recognizable ingredients. The best pet foods are made with the kinds of ingredients we’d be willing to serve our human families. Doing so can ensure pets live long and full lives. After all, who wouldn’t want to make sure their best friends live the best lives possible?”

Media Opportunities: Francisco DiPolo, D.V.M., C.V.A., is available for interview. Please contact Julie Robbins at (626) 981-3342 or [email protected].

About Worth Street Veterinary Center: Worth Street Veterinary Center was founded with a mission of providing New York City pets with the best, most compassionate and greenest veterinary care possible. Located at 77 Worth Street in a beautiful landmark building, the hospital offers modern conveniences for pet owners and top-notch integrative medicine for pets. A pick up and delivery service accommodates the busy schedules of New York pet owners, while the most advanced medical and surgical practices combined with time-tested holistic treatments provide a positive and comprehensive veterinary experience for pets. The building’s veterinary partners include a groomer, doggie day care, agility training for dogs and hydro and physical therapy for dogs, making Worth Street Veterinary Center a one stop shop for pets of all ages, health levels and physical needs. Worth Street Veterinary Center is located at 77 Worth Street in TriBeCa. For more information, please visit www.worthstreetvet.com.