Pet Food Revolution from Dr. Michael W. Fox


One of our trusted pet food safety allies – Dr. Michael W. Fox – shares some interesting changes in pet food purchases.

From Dr. Fox…

Pet Food Industry Revolution/Evolution

By Dr. Michael W. Fox

Pet Products News International reports that the GfK Group, a Germany-based global market research company tracking business in 11,000 U.S. pet stores, that sales of grain-free pet foods have jumped some 28% over the past year. More than $1.4 billion was spent on this kind of pet food for dogs, and some $322 million for cats in 2012. While this is a small fraction of the annual $21 billion-a-year pet food market, it is a significant change in consumer choice and demand driving market availability. Much of this has to do with the pet obesity epidemic and other documented health problems in dogs and cats associated with high cereal content diets. (For details visit It is an issue of especial concern for cats who are obligate carnivores and cannot process cereals and other sources of starch unlike most dogs.

I have also long advocated a reduction of soy products in dog foods and their elimination from all cat foods. Pet owners are to be advised to check the ingredients of grain free pet foods that may use high carbohydrate substitutes such potato and pea flour as a binder in dry foods, along with beet pulp, also used as filler.

I have also been a long time advocate of organic farming and according to the Organic Trade Association organic pet food sales are growing at nearly three times the rate of similar organic, USDA Certified human food sales. It is noteworthy because of documented animal health and environmental concerns about genetically engineered crops and foods ( also detailed on the above website) that some pet food and pet treat manufacturers are now including a “No GMO” or “GMO-FREE” label one their product labels.

These market trends indicate the power of informed consumers voting with their dollars to support a more healthful agriculture and human food industry of which the pet food industry is a subsidiary and now a catalyst for a revolution because of the diet related health problems being seen in our dogs and cats.

(End content from Dr. Fox)

I really like Dr. Fox’s title…Pet Food Industry Revolution/Evolution.  Revolution:  Pet food consumers in growing numbers have informed themselves to the truth of pet food ingredients and they have learned the dramatic differences in the quality of pet food ingredients.  Evolution:  Informed consumers have then taken their shopping dollars to support companies that use quality ingredients.  I can’t wait to see how pet food further evolves.

Thanks Dr. Fox – you have been instrumental in the Pet Food Revolution/Evolution.


Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Association for Truth in Pet Food
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible

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  1. Hope

    I’ve gotta say that independent brick and mortar pet supply stores–not big box or on-line retailers– are the ones that have led and brought about this amazing trend towards low carbohydrate/high animal protein kibble sales with an additional emphasis on complete and balanced raw food feeding for dogs and cats. Its where consumer education happens fueled by our desire to help humans have the healthiest pets on earth!

    • Susan Thixton

      I agree Hope – Independent pet food stores have played a HUGE role in the Revolution/Evolution!

    • Jay Smith



      But, let’s not overlook the fact that there’s an unsung “independent” factor in the marketplace now, that’s putting heat on the largest, corporate-owned, multi-national dominated industry. The Independent manufacturer, like the Independent Retailer, plays an indispensable role in this market shift.

      Let’s encourage consumers to support BOTH!

      • Susan Thixton

        Yes – agree with you too Jay!

        It’s team work. All of us working towards a common goal…healthy pets!

      • Tuck

        Agree. I buy from local independent stores. I like to personally check the product dates and packaging conditions. Easy returns. And especially as they sell quality food. As for carrageenan, I wont buy anything that contains it.

    • Ann

      We each have the solution to putting the irresponsible pet food companies out of business. First by individually educating ourselves and others and then by using our knowledge to boycott the irresponsible pet food producers and to spend our money with the ethical suppliers.
      The big name pet food producers may ignore our complaints, but they are not going to ignore their shrinking profit lines – guaranteed! The quickest way to either force them to change to healthier practices or to close their doors permanently, is
      by cutting off or reducing their profits.
      The second way we can control the pet food industry is by donating our dollars to sites such as this or Poisoned Pets so that the dedicated and INDEPENDENT site owners can afford to stay in business, and continue to forge the way in educating the public and putting the appropriate pressure on the regulatory groups like the FDA, etc to do their jobs.
      I urge everyone who appreciates and supports websites like these to donate as generously as possible to keep them in business. Let’s exercise the power of our pursestrings and make our voices heard in these two very effective ways.

      • Susan Thixton

        Thank you Ann. I can say with certainty – if (Mollie Morrissette) and myself had more funds to work with – we could do a lot more. Doing what we do is a struggle – one we love, but it is a struggle. Thank you for your comment -

  2. Margo Mann

    This is excellent news from Dr. Fox. But let’s not forget that ALL plant material is useless to obligate carnivores. The savvy cat food companies who boast that they have no grains or cereals, tend to put in veggies and or fruit instead. They are just as much a filler as cereals and grains. They are there because they are cheaper than meat. And MEAT is what cats need. Balanced with minerals and fat. So, I will be even happier when the cat food companies become really honest and dump the veggies and fruit.

    • Jolie Cosette

      Agreed. Yet I’m seeing a trend among “good” pet food companies to go the “good” carb route when developing new cat food lines. THERE ARE NO GOOD CARBS FOR CATS. Certainly, blueberries are better than soy, but that’s like saying vanilla wafers are better than Twinkies. Why have either?

      To a certain extent, pet food companies are listening to us. But when I see a new line or variety containing pineapple–pineapple??–I think we, as stewards of the wonderful animals who occupy our homes and hearts,have a lot to teach pet food companies.

  3. Taylor Humphrey

    Actually, I have a question. My ginger cat twins, Calvin and Hodge, have gastrointestinal problems–little inflated tummies on the wrong food. They were both fine and dandy on canned Wellness Core Chicken and canned Nature’s Variety Chicken with a sprinkle of NV Ltd Ingredient Turkey. But recently I noticed that NV canned seems to have changed: first, there was less meat and more liquid in the cans, then there was something added to make that liquid not watery but more gravy-like, and just now the food does not smell as fresh. .Do you know what has changed? My little ones were doing so beautifully and while Calvin is still fine and dandy Hodge looks a tad like a hot-air balloon! Thank you so much!

    • Susan Thixton

      Does the food contain a pea protein, pea fiber or pea flour ingredient? High level of pea ingredients can cause gastrointestinal issues. Also does the food include carrageenan – this ingredient is also linked to gastrointestinal issues.

    • Peter

      Many brands (including some of the so-called “premium” ones) have been changing formulas as they seek to cut costs. They trumpet to consumers that they have “improved” their products. Many dog or cat guardians wonder why their animals suddenly aren’t enthusiastic (or reject) foods they have been using a long time. A good example of this sad phenomenon is Merrick, which changed/eliminated formulas in their cat food line, substituting or re-ordering meat ratios, introduced undesirable fillers or extenders such as cellulose (uh, sawdust), while increasing calorie content in some of the reformulations. The prices were upped, too. Complaining (inquiring?) to almost any company about the unexpected texture, moisture content, or, as in the case of Wellness, simply “not full” cans almost never yields a satisfactory answer. “Oh, that’s probably just the end of the run,” one rep told me. No offer of compensation for horrible looking food with 1/4 of the can empty… yes, simply empty. It’s just cat food, right? No matter that it is nearly $2 a can, more than one would pay for “human” food such as tuna. I wonder, if these same people would accept this disgrace if it were baby food? Would they smile and hand over that $10 at the fast food joint for a French fries container only partially full, or a burger that was malformed and mashed?

      • Jolie Cosette

        When I’ve complained to companies about [fill in the blank], they’ve referred me to the distributors [Chewy, PetFoodDirect, pet stores etc.], who cheerfully have given me refunds. That’s appreciated, but IMO the companies’ responses show a lack of accountability, responsibility and quality control, all of which erode my trust.

        In your example, manufacturing plants know when they’re on an end run. Why not sell those cans as “seconds” to grocery outlet chains, the labels partially ripped off, with the usual disclaimers (“same quality ingredients, but may be an end run or otherwise not up to company standards”), thus preserving the company’s reputation? Yet the inferior food you bought had the same guaranteed (and ME/dry matter) analysis and calorie count as the food to which you were accustomed.

        We have to keep badgering, meowing loudly. We’re the only advocates our cats have.

  4. Shelley

    This is great! I have a new rescue pup that is a 5 month old 45 pound Lab mix. Yes, I have been eating an organic diet and I’m happy to say so is he! I am so very happy to find quality certified organic and made in the USA food for my boy!

  5. AnniQ

    I am mindful that it was Christmas of 2006 that I went to Petsmart and purchased the Xmas treats that ended up killing all three of my precious cats from kidney failure due to Chinese melamine ingredients in brand name pet foods and brought on the massive recalls of 2007. I will never ever forget what happened to my beloved pets, and I know I’m not alone. Brand name or independent, be very, very careful with your pets’ and even your own food these days.
    Happy holidays, Susan.

    • Jolie Cosette

      I cannot imagine your endless sorrow. Yet it reminds us to remain vigilant. Thank you.

      • AnniQ

        Thank you, Julie. You don’t forget when it happens in your home and your heart.
        Be cautious and don’t let it happen to you. What I think about pet food producers to this day seven years later is absolutely unprintable Make your own food if you can.

        • Jolie Cosette

          Your words are haunting. To think that Christmas presents–such an act of love–were lethal. I suspect this can never become a memory, that the outcome of these tokens of love is as real and horrific today as it was then.

          I took veterinary matters into my own hands in 2003 (See Gatos D’s Yelp review of Baring Blvd. Veterinary Hospital. Cat name and gender have been changed to protect an innocent.) Then, I didn’t know the difference between creatine and creatinine. Now, I perform my own labs, create spreadsheets and graphs, look for trends and patterns, question my vets when I must see them.

          Yesterday I began taking better control of what goes into my cats’ bodies. Since 2003, I have been feeding my cats only wet food, studying, researching, adding and removing, balancing the “bads,” writing to pet food companies and the FDA, slowly coming to the realization that it’s all bad. I am angry not only with the junk that’s in commercial cat food; I am angry with the junk that IS commercial cat food.

          So we began transitioning to raw yesterday. I share my home and heart with only two cats now, so I made a small mix, froze it in ice cube trays, transferred the cubes to ziploc freezer bags, defrosted one, added 1/2 tsp. and 3 ccs of my mad scientist mixes of vitamins, supplements, long-chain fatty acids, probiotics, etc., and spread that one supplemented ice cube–just one–among six meals. (My 18-year-old has been severely immuno-compromised since birth and must eat many small meals a day.) This is going to be a long haul.

          When my cats roll on their backs, exposing their tummies, exhibiting trust and vulnerability, I often am filled with overwhelming shame and anxiety, that awful sense of responsibility that love necessarily includes, knowing that their health, their very lives, depends on my knowledge and actions. And what do I know? I know that knowledge is not static.

          Please forgive my rant. Just as late 2006 is seared into your mind forever, New Year’s Day of 2003 is seared into mine. Terrible, preventable losses. And we lost our trust and complacency, too. May others lose their complacency without losing their beloved animals.

          • AnniQ

            Jolie, I am so sorry for your loss. If our words stop even one pet parent from serving their pets the chemically embalmed crap that is currently commercial pet food, thereby saving a pet life, it would be almost worth the losses of so many. Long healthy life for your 18 year old.

  6. CSollersa

    I’m sure the majority of the higher quality food distributed is being sold through independent retailers. If you go to Wally World all you will see is the “Ol Roy” type of food. Unfortunately many times more people are shopping there than at the smaller store with the better products.

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Jerky Treats from China have been killing and sickening pets for

When will FDA make this clock stop?

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