The majority of UK pet owners have no idea what is in the meals they’re feeding their four-legged friends, according to new research. New research from pet food experts, Scrumbles, found three-quarters of British pet owners do not know what is in their pet’s food.
Over half (54%) make their decision on food by how healthy it looks, whether it’s on special offer, or if it’s cheap. Dr Michael Lazaris, of Channel 5’s The Dog Rescuers, said: “With so many pet food options on the market, it’s no surprise that so many pet owners are confused about what they should be feeding their furry friends. Given today’s economy, it can be tempting to go for the cheapest option available in supermarkets, but many of these brands skip out on quality ingredients or produce the pet food in a way which can affect the nutritional value of the food.
“Feeding your pet a poor quality diet can have direct effects on your pet’s health, which can sometimes translate into expensive vet bills. Learning how to read the ingredient list on the packaging can be easy to interpret, and can help pet owners pick the best food for their pet’s health and happiness.”
any households welcomed new pets during the pandemic, but some didn’t know where to turn when it came to feeding them. A quarter of new pet owners worked out what to feed their pets through trial and error, whilst a fifth asked the breeder or shelter, and their vet. 1% of pet owners buy their food in-store at the supermarket, purely because it’s convenient (56%) and because it’s cheaper and more cost-effective (32%). Regardless of where they’re buying it, one in five say they never check the ingredients list on their pet’s food.
Most pet owners have changed their pet’s food six times over the course of their life, and almost half (41%) of pet owners said they would consider changing their pet’s food to better look after their health. More often than not, we’re unaware of what’s causing our pets’ illness when they’re under the weather. When their pet has an upset stomach, over half (59%) of pet owners assume their pet has eaten something they shouldn’t have, whereas only a quarter assume it could be caused by their food.
Aneisha Soobroyen, Co-Founder at Scrumbles, said: “We need to be paying more attention to what our pets are actually eating. British pet owners love their furry friends, but are seriously unaware when it comes to their food. Without this knowledge, they could be exacerbating previously unknown symptoms such as senstive stomachs, or even causing illnesses.
“We’ll happily check the ingredients of our own food, so owners need to make sure they’re doing the same for their beloved pets.”
What’s more, we’re not knowing where to look when our pets aren’t feeling their best. Just 27% of pet owners frequently assess their pet’s stool – often the first place we should be looking when our animals aren’t themselves. We’re guilty of treating our pets too much, too. The average pet owner spends £213 a year on treats for their furry friends, with many slipping them food from the dinner table. In fact, on average, pet owners feed their pets off their plate, or give them human food, four times a week.
Treating our pets too much and not knowing what we’re feeding them can lead to our pets becoming overweight and unhealthy, potentially causing illness. More than a third (35%) of British pet owners have been told that their pet needs to lose weight or that they are overfeeding them, yet only 30% say they weigh their pets once every few months.
Dr Michael Lazaris continues with his top-tips in maintaining your pet’s overall health: “Start from the inside out. Choose a tasty, nutritious food appropriate for your pet’s life-stage and activity levels. This way you can ensure they will get all the nutrients they need to thrive, and not just survive, and have all the energy they need to enjoy every day to the fullest.
“One of the most common health issues us vets see on a daily basis is obesity in pets. It’s often a hard pill to swallow, but pet obesity is often a fault of the owner feeding too much of the wrong foods. I always show my clients how to use the feeding chart provided on the packaging, and advise against giving too much human food, which is far too high in calories. Free-pouring your pet’s food into a bowl is one of the easiest ways to feed more than they need, which will slowly equate to those extra kilos.
“Our pets should have at least one vet check a year, where the vet can perform a head-to-toe examination and get a detailed clinical history from the owners. You’ll be amazed at how often vets can pick up on pets’ problems before they become apparent to their owners, as dogs and cats are masters at hiding pain and disease.”