Millennial pet owners have been slammed for giving their beloved hounds human food.
So-called “pet parents” have turned to specialised dog foods that are far removed from traditional kibbles and more closely resemble dishes humans might eat.
The issue has divided pet owners into two groups, those who believe this wave of dog food is too much and another group who believe it is the best thing for their pet’s health.
What’s more, as millennial dog owners have continued their culinary experiment, more companies have been set up advertising a five-star dining experience for pups of all shapes and sizes.
Speaking to the Telegraph, one dog owner who feeds their 10-year-old Labrador, Silk, kibble and Pedigree Chum, said the whole situation had gotten ridiculous.
Jackie Plumb, 66, said: “It’s all got a bit silly. Silk only gets wet food occasionally.
“Mainly her diet consists of dry kibble. Even if I could afford to feed her steak, I don’t think dogs need anything fancy.
“In the 1960s, my mum used to give our dogs chocolate, which apparently is bad for them, although they lived to a ripe old age. We didn’t know any better then.”
On the other side of the dog food divide are entrepreneurs like Darren Clunie who co-founded his dog food company when his beloved hound started suffering from indigestion and he wanted to help them.
Mr Clunie said: “As pet parents, we often can’t work out what the problem is.
“It’s generally the cheap filler that big businesses use to make a profit at the expense of our dogs’ health – usually grains of some sort, which they aren’t physically equipped to digest.”
Mr Clunie founded Bounce and Bella, a premium dog food brand which has no grains. He said: “The derivatives used in mass-market products are made from any plant or animal.
“My big tip to any pet owner is to never buy anything that includes derivatives – you can’t know what’s in there.”
The move towards a different type of dog food reportedly comes from a post-pandemic shift in which owners are trying harder to give their dogs the best things in life.
Owner of Bottled Baking Co, Greg Fraser explained: “Since the pandemic, people increasingly see their pets as an essential part of their family, taking them on holiday, buying them gifts and even clothing.”
He said this concept expands into the dog foods people buy. He commented: “They really lean into flavours that sound appealing to them, too. Our carrot cake [baking mix] is a good example of this.”
Hug’s Sara Pearson, another entrepreneur, agrees that the pandemic had a massive impact on pet ownership, not just in the number of dogs being sought, but in how they are treated.
She said: “We saw a significant increase in pet ownership, particularly among people who were often first-time ‘pet parents’, some of whom saw their dogs as ‘trainee’ babies or an alternative to babies.
“In the same way that you wouldn’t feed a baby a permanent diet of tinned food, the new generation of pet owners don’t want solely to give tinned food to their dogs.
“Historically, pet food choices have been wet (tinned), dry (kibble), ready-cooked or raw, but the growing number of vegan/vegetarian pet owners means they may not be comfortable handling raw meat.”
The industry has seen such a boom that manufacturers are now producing special Christmas dog foods which pandemic dog owners are reportedly already rushing to buy.