People can be very passionate when it comes to what they feed their dogs and cats, and for
good reason. A good diet can contribute to a long and healthy life and even the psychological
well-being of our pets.
Unfortunately, many pet owners feed low quality diets simply due to the
fact that they haven’t taken the time to think about the long-term effects of a poor-quality diet.
If asked, “If your pet could live 2 years longer, would you like that to happen?”, no animal lover
alive would say no, yet alarmingly few pet owners take the time to really put much time and
effort into making this happen with nutrition. In fact, many don’t even think about it and blindly
feed what is on the supermarket or veterinary shop shelves.
In a recent article for the Daily Maverick, Kevin Bloom refers to the ‘pet food crisis’ of March
2007. Overseas veterinary organisations gave reports of over 100 pet deaths that were linked to
the ingestion of an industrial chemical melamine, found in commercially processed foods. Less
than two weeks later, an online database reported that there were around 3,600 pet deaths.
Although the first recalls were announced in the United States, in the months that followed we
would see recalls spread throughout North America and even into Europe and South Africa.
Affected brands included Nestlé Purina Petcare, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Royal Canin and over a
dozen brands owned by the American processed foods giant Del Monte.
Wendy Knowler (a consumer journalist) published an article in The Star newspaper “Wonder
nutrition or modern scourge?” Which asked whether South Africans had suffered a crisis of
confidence in their pet food. “Apparently not,” she concluded, citing the executive director of the
Pet Food Industry Association of Southern Africa, who noted that the local market had grown
over the previous year by two percent, mainly because of the “upfront way” in which
manufacturers had responded to the crisis. Knowler explained that: “What the industry has
always done very well is discourage pet owners from feeding their cats and dogs anything which
doesn’t come out of a bag, pouch or tin. In the case of ‘premium’ brands sold at veterinary
practices, the vets strongly advise pet owners to feed their animals solely on packaged food.
Coming from someone with a medical degree, it’s a very powerful endorsement. And it’s backed
by the SA Veterinary Association.”
The Daily Maverick wrote that “for every study that says dried kibble pellets are not an
appropriate food for your pet, there’s another study (or 10) saying the opposite. But the debate
is not the point. The point is the deranged clowns behind the curtain who are controlling the
information.” The million dollar corporations. You can read the full article here, including a quote
from Vondi’s Paul Jacobson.
What point would we like to make in addendum to the Daily Maverick article? Let’s be fair to
modern South African pet owners. Many of us are conscientious enough to listen to the advice
of our vets and make the extra investment in higher quality food, rather than simply toss in a
dusty bag from the supermarket aisle after we’ve bought our bin bags.
However, still not enough go far enough as to do enough research beyond what our vets say to
form our own opinions.
We mean no disrespect to veterinarians, but not all veterinarians are dietitians. They are taught
to treat pet illness and injury, not necessarily to advise on nutrition. They are also heavily
marketed to throughout their training by pet food brands. It is not solely your vet’s job to think
about what you feed your pets. It is your job as well.
Kibble is the easy alternative to buy for your dog without giving it much thought and many
people rarely know or care what gets put into it. If you read the labels of many vet shop brands,
you’ll see that corn/maize comes first. Dogs and cats are both primarily carnivorous. Does
cereal seem like it should be first on this list?
We’re not saying all kibble feeders are irresponsible or thoughtless. In fact, increasingly more
pet owners in South Africa are calling for higher quality kibble brands, which boast extremely
high protein content from more reputable, quality sources. In fact, if you read the labels of some
of these, you will quickly come to realise that many people don’t eat as high quality ingredients
as are contained in these freeze-dried bags.
However, for these ingredients to be conveniently packaged and transported, and neatly
scooped into bowls without getting sticky meat juice on your hands or taking up your freezer
space, high amounts of processing and preserving needs to take place, and this is where these
foods fall down.
While most people still seem to feed their dog a commercial kibble or canned food diet, many
dog owners today are looking for other options and have moved their pets to raw meat feeder or
In the home-cooked camp, many people tell stories about how their grandparents fed their farm
dogs leftovers from the table and they lived to ripe old ages in great health, yet with today’s
busy lifestyle, few people have the time to invest in this. To fill this gap, frozen, preservative-free
pet food such as Vondi’s has found a niche with those who subscribe to this form of pet
nutrition, yet don’t have the time, or confidence in their own nutrition knowledge to make it
In the other camp are the raw meat feeders, who believe in diets of bones, raw meat, fruit and
vegetables, or some of them, purely raw meat and bones.
While some people suggest we feed our dogs like wolves, others suggest that domesticated
dogs have been eating home-cooked food for thousands of years and their metabolism has
adapted so. Their argument is that today’s dogs can no longer digest large amounts of raw meat
and rather benefit from a diet rich in raw vegetables and nutritional pulses, together with quality
meat – much like humans.
Vondis believes in using only natural ingredients (real meat and fresh veggies) and offer your
dog a complete natural and balanced wholesome diet free of preservatives. They believe in food
quality that you’d eat yourself, although possibly even better since the food contains less
sodium than most human diets.
At the end of the day, there are many opposing beliefs when it comes to animal feeding, and it’ll
never be possible to get everyone to agree. The main point we’d like to make is that pet owners
should take time to consider their pet food and form an opinion based on proper research and
facts, rather than just taking anyone’s word for it.
It’s you who decide what your dog eats, so make an informed choice for your furry companion.