How many tons of commercial pet foods are made every year and how does it affect my pets’ health?
Take a walk down any pet food aisle and you’ll find an assortment of commercial foods reflecting every fad in human food, from locally sourced organic meat to raw food diets. Pet owners can choose from more than 3,000 different pet food products, including the dry, canned, and semi-moist types, as well as snacks such as biscuits, kibbles, and treats. There are prepared foods that are as close as possible to home-cooked meals and snacks; novel protein and hydrolyzed diets (to aid allergies); foods with extra supplements or that address specific health challenges and life stages.
In the United States, about 300 manufacturers produce more than seven million tons of pet food each year, one of the largest categories of any packaged food –and Americans now spend a total of over $41 billion a year on their pets—more than the gross domestic product of all but 64 countries in the world. That’s double the amount shelled out on pets a decade ago, with annual spending expected to hit $52 billion in the next two years, and it has had a positive impact on your pet’s health and life span.
It wasn’t so very long ago that the phrase “a dog’s life” meant sleeping outside, enduring the elements, living with aches, and sitting by the dinner table, waiting for a few scraps to land on the floor. There were also phrases like “dog tired” and “work like a dog” that have irrelevant meanings today.
In fact, in the 1960s the average life span of a cat was 10 to 13 years. Today, cats live, on average, 15 to 17 years. Dogs lived an average of nine to 12 years in the 1960s. Today, dogs live about 13 to 15 years.