- July 7, 2015
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THIS afternoon was punctured by my colleague saying “what the f*ck?” fairly loudly from her desk.
Instead of explaining herself, she wordlessly forward me the press release that had provoked the expletive. What landed in my inbox was a press release that spruiked a raw food program for dogs suffering from sensitive skin.
That’s right. A raw food program for dogs suffering from sensitive skin.
“Turning to natural ingredients that have gained traction in the human sector, Big Dog Pet Foods have produced a sensitive skin range that has pet owners [and their pups] barking mad for their product,” trilled the punny email.
The company’s founder Chris Essex went on to write “products such as coconut oil, fish oil, chia seeds, kelp, alfalfa and nettle that are so popular for humans also have exceptional results when introduced to a dog’s diet.”
Admittedly, I don’t own a pet, so I have no business commenting on whether this is bonkers or not. But it is confronting to realise that there are a bunch of poodles out there with a better diet than you.
So are these new eating plans really beneficial?
Dr Melanie Hill from the Swan Street Veterinary and Wellness Centre in Melbourne is a little sceptical.
“Diets prescribed by vets for specific conditions are definitely [beneficial], and in the case of kidney failure, those special diets have been shown to significantly prolong the life expectancy of the pet,” she explains. But when it comes to paleo and raw food diets, she believes this trend is simply because of a cultural and social shift in human eating patterns, and not because it is actually nutritionally better for pets.
‘Hipster’ diets are just the latest in a long line of examples of people wanting to give their pets a luxe (and Instagram-worthy) lifestyle.
Sydney’s Langham Hotel has a pampered pets package that features a special room service menu for furry friends and a pet-sitting service. People are now doing ‘doga’ (that’s yoga with your dog, insert ‘downward dog’ references here), where pups enjoy the benefits of stretching and massage. And then there’s all the added extras like expensive grooming, bedazzled collars, adorable jumpers and designer water bowls.
While all this spending may seem slightly excessive to those without pets, there are clearly plenty of pet owners who are willing to spend the bucks on their four-legged friends. Big Dog Pet Foods (the company producing the raw food diet for pooches) produce 30 tonnes of food from their headquarters in Brisbane on a weekly basis, generating a turnover of over $6 million this financial year. A recent article in the Financial Review placed the value of the pet food market at $10 billion.
But Dr Hill believes that if you must splurge on your pet, there’s one area that you should be spending your hard-earned cash.
“Good pet insurance … it’s the best thing your money can buy.”