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A Wayback Look at Pet Food

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  1. Linda Lingenfelter

    I fed Royal Canin for 5 years to my cats and thought I was feeding an excellent high quality food because 3 vets told me it was a good food and it is so expensive. BUT, now that I have become informed through your websites and other cat lovers, I realize it is NOT a good healthy cat food. It is full of grains and fillers. The company claims the grains are good for cat’s health, but I no longer believe it. I have slowly and almost completely switched my 4 cats now to higher quality grain free food, and am starting to buy some freeze dried (I bought some raw and none of my cats, so far will touch it). Only my Ragdoll loves the freeze dried and my other 3 will not eat it. But I am slowely improving their diet. One thing is… 5 year old Ragdoll was starting to act like an old man and drooped around and slept so much. Now that he is off Roysl Canin Specisl 33, he is so much more lively and even starting to run around and play again, plus, now doesn’t want to sleep so much. What a difference!!! Thank you for informing us.

  2. Mike Natale

    Why include Halo? All it said was that the price per ounce increased. Everything at my grocery store has increased too. Are you implying that the quality of their food has deteriorated! I don’t think it has unless you can substantiate that. Anxiously awaiting your response.

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      This post was just to show changes in pet food. How as the years have gone by ingredients (if they were provided in the Way Back Machine) have changed, how many more foods are produced today as compared to ten years ago, and so on. It’s just about how the foods or companies or even the packaging have changed – that’s all.

      1. Mike Natale

        If that was the case you could have given a cost breakdown on anyone’s fog food. They have all risen over the past 15 years. It still seems that Halo does not belong on this listing unless they were singled out on purpose.

        1. Susan Thixton Author

          Actually this was the only food I could find a price for – it was stated on their website (no other website mentioned price of their food or I would have included it – I found it interesting information to share, also found it interesting the size of the cans back then too). It’s just information. Why wouldn’t Halo belong on this list? I’m not understanding why you think this was wrong to provide to consumers, it’s public information. Confused as to why you think this company was singled out.

          1. Mike Natale

            Because of your introductory paragraph:
            Have you ever wanted to look back at a pet foods ingredients years ago? Have you wondered if a Big Business buy out of a pet food brand changed the ingredients of the pet food? Thanks to the Wayback Machine website, here is a look at many popular brands of pet food and how they have changed over the years.

            This leads me to believe that the list is of those brands bought out by big business who then changed their formulation. It mentions nothing on price being a factor for your list. Halo has not been absorbed by a big pet company or radically changed their formulation. As for price, everyone in the pet food industry has increased pricing over the past decade and half. To the average person thar gets your emails it doesn’t matter. Cost is not a primary factor in our pet’s well being. I just didn’t and still don’t believe that Halo belongs on the list.

          2. Susan Thixton Author

            I still don’t understand your outlook on this or your protection of Halo. But you are entitled to your opinion.

          3. Peter

            Unfortunately, cost IS a primary factor for many consumers, even those dedicated to their pets well being who spend a lot. The problem is that these foods are changing all the time, and no matter how the company spins it (generally as “improvement”) it is to the consumer’s detriment. Global sourcing means that the source of the product changes constantly, as manufacturers search within “lowest cost mix” protocols. We often aren’t getting the same product from month to month, and they don’t even have to inform us. And most brands have increased cost while increasing reliance on cutting costs for sourcing. They are finding new ways to “fluff up” foods which means there is less in the can, and anyway, those cans are shrinking too, for many brands.

            Halo has changed in some respects over the years, and those who buy have seen that. Some of their choices are about making the food look appealing to people: why are whole green peas in my cat’s food? No matter what you coat it with, my cat simply won’t eat a whole green pea. It’s ridiculous. He leaves them behind, carefully avoided. But I paid for them.

  3. Meka

    Thanks Susan for this very eye opening look back at the older formulas, We all seem to have forgotten about.
    It seems that, Only the ACANA formula has improved over time. The exception to the rule.
    Every time big business buys out a small family company the formula just gose down along with out pets health.
    If the ingreedient is not good enough for you to eat then dont buy it, That has been my guilding principel when choosing food for my pets (children).
    Thanks Susan , Keep up the good work.

    1. Kim

      I too like Acana. I have found however, since the inclusion of peas and lentils, pets stool volume has increased significantly. Yes, they’re low glycemic so thats a good thing. Unfortunately, peas and lentil are so GMO’ed in this day and age that it concerns me on that point alone. Just some food for thought.

      1. John Stone

        Lentils and peas are not GMO yet, but soybeans likely are

        1. Terri Janson

          John, I hope lentils are not GMO. Gosh I did not think about that. I use them in my homemade dog food. I hate GMO’s! I do not eat Corn anymore myself or canola oil or soy products. They are hard to avoid.

          1. Janine

            Lentils are definitely not GM.

  4. Connie Schwarz

    When we recently had a problem with Costco’s Kirkland dog food, I started researching and found that there was now 17 different brands of dog food made by Diamond. Diamond private labels not only for Costco and Tractor Supply, but for several other dog food companies like Dick Van Patten and Solid name a few. As a breeder, I started using it years ago, and was shocked at how big they had become. It also became clear to me that just as the car industry does “risk management” when people start dying….so does the Dog Food Industry. Recalls are very costly, and it’s cheaper to pay off a few dog owners when pets start dying… especially when you have to pull 17 different brands all across the country. When I investigated the Diamond Salmonella recall in 2012, I discovered that the problem existed for 7 months prior to the recall. It wasn’t until people started dying and the FDA got involved, that they had to issue a recall. The recent Diamond issue was NOT salmonella, which is easy to detect. Because no people died, there was no recall issued….as of yet. But clearly, dogs all over the United States were getting sick, and dying. My thanks to Susan who has brought it to everyone’s attention that a complaint MUST be made to the FDA.

  5. Steve J

    Thanks (again) Susan.
    Oh I wish I could read the ingredients in the feed my parents gave to our dogs in the early 1980’s. Money was tight, and “Generic” was a new fad. The kibble was in a plain yellow bag with bold black lettering “DOG FOOD” as the only verbiage. No wonder the dogs vomited regularly. At the time I thought that was just how dogs were!
    Keep on spreading the word…way too many educated people are still completely clueless about their pets nutrition.

  6. Pat P.

    Besides changes in ingredients, sizes, varieties, costs, etc., what I would really be interested in and find the answer elusive, is the quality of the contents. Most were, probably, poor in years past and are similarly lousy now–just maybe in different ways. I believe, for the most part, that the few foods that are not terrible are from smaller companies, that I hope aren’t bought out. If they are trying to provide decent, fairly healthy food, it is tough to compete with these large corporations that will use cheap and harmful ingredients, with no concern for the welfare of pets–only for their profit margin.

    Although Halo may not have changed in the same way others have, and ingredients seemed to be the emphasis of Susan’s article, Mike Natale, for some unknown reason, does seem overly defensive of the brand.

  7. Marcia H.

    Interesting post! I wish we had data to go back to the1960’s. I dont recall so much cancer in dogs back then.

    BTW: i would look into “carrageenen.” It is in the canned foods only, and i dont think it is a “good” ingredient according to It has been two years since i was talking cat and dog food to folks, but you may want to check that out!

  8. Kenneth

    No matter what commercial pet food you find, it will slowly turn into garbage except a very select few, or silently bought out by one of the big brands with the same result.. what was once good when you researched it, has been turned into garbage not fit for sewer rats to eat. (No offence to any sewer rat owners hehe) so you have to constantly compare to last purchase to see when (Not if, but when… it will happen sooner or later) if it’s beginning to go down hill, not worth the time, effort and risk to my babies.

    This, ladies and gentlemen, is why I feed raw, I know what’s in there, and I only use the best and it will only change if _I_ change it.

    Nice work, must have taken some time to do, very interesting, thanks.

  9. foodguy

    The difference in Merrick’s can is night and day- really stood out to me.

  10. Sally Bahner

    I was editor of The Whole Cat Journal in the late ’90s and early 2000s when many of those foods first came out. They were definitely a cut above many of the foods available. Sad to see such a decline. Today, I wouldn’t recommend any of the dry and only a couple of the canned.

  11. Ann*

    I remember from the 1950’s Ken-L Ration canned dog food. It was horsemeat and smelled wonderful when first opened. That is what I fed my first dog back then and he did well and lived a long life. The choices were very limited and most dogs were mainly fed table scraps. Regular Milk Bone was the most common dog treat. I occasionally nibbled on both the biscuits and the canned food if I was very hungry. I was only 8 years old and my mother didn’t know, but I suffered no ill effects.
    Here is a brief history of dog food from Wikipedia:
    It was not until the mid-1800s that the world saw its first food made specifically for dogs. An American electrician, James Spratt, concocted the first dog treat. Living in London at the time, he witnessed dogs around a shipyard eating scraps of discarded biscuits. Shortly thereafter he introduced his dog food, made up of wheat meals, vegetables and meat. By 1890 production had begun in the United States and became known as “Spratt’s Patent Limited”. In later years, dog biscuit was sometimes treated as synonymous with dog food.
    The first three prize winners at the late coursing meeting at Great Bend were trained on Spratt’s Patent Dog Biscuit. This same dog food won no less than three awards, including a gold medal, at the Exposition in Paris which has just closed. It would seem that the decision of the judges is more than backed up by the result in the kennel. Another good dog food is that manufactured by Austin & Graves, of Boston. They, too, seem to be meeting with great success in their line.[12]

    Canned horse meat was introduced in the United States under the Ken-L Ration brand after WWI as a means to dispose of deceased horses. The 1930s saw the introduction of canned cat food and dry meat-meal dog food by the Gaines Food Co. By the time WWII ended, pet food sales had reached $200 million. In the 1950s Spratt’s became part of General Mills. For companies such as Nabisco, Quaker Oats, and General Foods, pet food represented an opportunity to market by-products as a profitable source of income.[13]

  12. alphadog

    In the 70s we fed our dogs whatever the farm supply store was selling, usually under the Coop. Brand, and it was probably pretty junky. They (the dogs ) lived to 16 and 21. The cats ate only kibble and lived long lives too. We did not feed Purina anything because my brother worked on a chicken ranch. When they cleaned the chicken houses everything (straw
    feathers, manure, whatever) was hauled down the road a piece to be sold to Purina for use in pet food. We didn’t figure any other company could be so stupid. We were probably wrong but even ar that the animals lived long healthy lives.

    1. Marcia

      I remember in the 1960’s (and maybe 1970’s) my Dad bought Gainsburger dog food. It was in the shape of a hamburger patty and we broke it up (it was soft) and put it in the dogs’ bowls. I have no idea to this day what Gainsburger was made of, but our dogs didnt have lipomas like today’s dogs and the dogs lived longer with fewer health issues.

      I am not blaming just the food our modern society feeds their pets, however. We give our pets pills and shots for everything, and we never did the medicine/vaccine overload back then!

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