|Photo by Freeimages.com/Serg Alexa|
by Sue Quinn, The Daily Telegraph, April 28, 2016
Fancy a honey and banana biscuit served with herbal tea for elevenses? Or maybe a slice of cake slathered in whipped yoghurt icing? No, not you dear reader – I’m talking to your hound. Humanised dog food is booming in the UK.
This week (Thursday April 28) sees the launch of a new pop-up restaurant at the Bluebird Café in London’s Chelsea, where coddled canines can tuck into a three-course brunch of venison sausages and beefy brown rice, chicken and lamb ‘barkenberg’ loaf, and a sweet potato and peanut butter macaron to finish – all for a mere £30 a head.
It might be a marketing wheeze, but this gourmet dogs’ dinner also speaks to a growing desire by animal owners to serve pet food that approximates what they eat themselves.
From popcorn, ice-cream and herbal tea, to breakfast cereal, vegan snacks and fancy baked goods, dog food now looks suspiciously like what we eat for dinner. Even fast-food chain Shake Shack has a dog menu so that Fido can wolf down a Pooch-ini (dog biscuits, peanut butter sauce and vanilla custard) while you tuck into your burger and fries.
According to consumer research group Mintel, it’s all part of the deepening “emotional connection” we have with our pets: 66 per cent of pet owners say they “treat their pet with as much care as they would a child ”. And it seems cost is no obstacle; more than 20 per cent of Brits who own a cat or a dog would cut back on their own meals before skimping on their pets’ dinner.
Cheryl Alford, canine nutritionist and behaviorist, and owner of The Dogs Cake Bakery confirms that business is growing faster than ever. Her customers happily shell out more than £35 for one of her lavish dog-friendly birthday cakes made from organic wholemeal flour, free range eggs, untreated honey and vegetable and flax seed oil.
"Demand is definitely growing,” she says. “My customers are just ordinary people who love their dogs. It’s lovely to celebrate your dog’s birthday with a cake – it helps the bonding process. It’s only when people go over the top and forget that these are occasional treats that it becomes a problem.
Caroline Kisko, secretary of The Kennel Club, says there’s nothing wrong with giving man’s best friend a treat now and then. "The trend for humanised dog food can be completely harmless and can go to show just how much dog lovers consider their pets part of the family,” she says.
She does, however, warn dog owners to ensure the treats don’t lead to overfeeding and that they’re nutritionally complete. “Any treats given to a dog should be counted as part of their daily food allowance and it's always advisable to speak to a vet to discuss the best feeding plan for your dog."
That’s sound advice, but surely the rise of canine ice cream vans, doggie tea bags and Fido fast food is evidence that many dog owners are just barking mad? “Absolutely,” agrees Lisa Morton. “If you’ve ever been to Crufts you’ll know we’re all a bit bonkers.”
READ MORE ABOUT:
This article was written by Sue Quinn from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.