Consumer Panel Reports: Pet Food

April 01, 2011

What exactly are pet owners feeding their pets? Here are the results of an exclusive Supermarket Guru consumer panel

What to feed Fido and Tippy is top of mind for many pet owners these days – about 62 percent of US households own a pet, that’s 71.4 million homes. Increased awareness of what’s in our (people) food and a more stringent label reading population has impacted the pet world. Food safety issues trumped all other concerns in overall pet food trends – consumers turned to premium, organic, natural and locally sourced brands. After all, according to the American Pet Products Association, pet owners spent $18.28 billion on pet food alone in 2010. That’s up almost a billion dollars over the previous year.

So what exactly are pet owners feeding their pets? From the results of an exclusive Supermarket Guru consumer panel, we found that 95 percent of those surveyed have a dog or cat, and 76 percent feed it store bought natural, organic or gourmet pet food. Twenty-four percent serve their pet a mixture of people and pet food, while merely 21 percent reach for generic pet food.

Where do they purchase their pets’ foods? Forty-three percent purchase their pets food at a specialty pet store while less than a third buy pet food while shopping for groceries at the local supermarket.

Then there is the pet obesity question. Data from a study released in mid March indicated that one-fifth of dogs and cats are 30 percent above their normal weight, putting them in the obese category. The study was done by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention and Banfield Pet Hospital, the nation's largest general veterinary practice, which parallels the Supermarket Guru consumer panel: 19 percent say their pet is overweight.

And what about those feeding their pets from the dining room table? Over half say they sometimes do while 35 percent say they never do. The question is why? A third feed their pet people food and say they do it for a change, to stimulate the pet. Twenty-three percent say their pet likes people food more, and 18 percent say it’s nutritionally superior. Another 18 percent just don't want their foods to go to waste.

According to the ASPCA pets should never eat: chocolate, coffee, caffeine, avocado, macadamia nuts, grapes, raisins, yeast dough, undercooked or raw meats, eggs or bones, the sweetener xylitol, onions, garlic, chives, milk, salt, and never any alcohol – even at those summertime BBQs.