Pet Business World journalists have watched a preview copy of the Channel 5 documentary, The Truth About Your Pet Food, which is to be aired at 9pm next Thursday, January 30.
The documentary delves into the history of dog food, then looks at the different methods of feeding dogs and the various approaches to how best to feed them, from home-cooked diets to vegetarian and vegan, naturally-prepared and commercially-prepared diets, to what the programme describes as the ‘most controversial’, the raw or BARF diet.
The programme makes some provocative statements, stating very early on: “War is breaking out over what we feed our dogs”, and going on to question whether the welfare of dogs is ‘playing second fiddle to big business’.
It is fairly obvious from its title that the guns are aimed at commercially-prepared dog food, and the programme’s executive producer, Mark Adderley, has interviewed a number of people for their opinions including Henrietta Morrison, of Lily’s Kitchen; holistic vet Richard Allport; Vicki Marshall, co-founder of Honey’s Real Dog Food; and Piers Smart of retailer Scampers in Cambridgeshire.
Henrietta, for example, tells the programme maker: “A very cheap dog food is cheap for a reason. It’s not because the company has decided out of the goodness of their heart to make a cheap pet food; it’s because the ingredients in it are extremely cheap ingredients.”
Jonathan Self, author and co-founder of Honey’s Real Dog Food, states: “Manufacturers are aided enormously by the legislation – the legislators aren’t really concerned about what goes into it, as long as it doesn’t kill the dog. That’s actually what the legislation says, as long as it doesn’t damage the dog over a period of three to six months, it’s absolutely fine to put it in.”
Michael Bellingham, chief executive of the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA) unsurprisingly stands in the corner of the dog food makers and says: “The idea that manufacturers are making a product that is not absolutely safe is clearly nonsense.”
The programme then goes on to question whether commercial dog food is a major cause of the obesity crisis in dogs, and spends a considerable amount of time looking at pet food labelling and the ingredients within some dog food brands, including colourants and preservatives.
Vets also come under scrutiny for the nutritional training they receive.
In its publicity material, Channel 5 asks: “How much of what we put into our pooch’s food is actually good for them? What if through the attention we put into our canine’s culinary delights we are actually making some massive mistakes?”
The documentary, it says, ‘is both a profile, and a user’s guide; steering dog loving viewers through the many varied worlds and opinions around feeding our beloved pooch’.
Commissioning editor Guy Davies asks: “We’re mad about dogs in the UK. Now we’re revealing some home truths about the dog food industry, and some more radical approaches from owners. Do we really know what we’re feeding our prized pets?”
From its provocative title to the controversial statements made about BARF, the programme looks set to stir a hornet’s nest, causing dog owners to think long and hard about what they feed their pets.