When Was Dog Food Invented? - Complete Timeline

When Was Dog Food Invented? - Complete Timeline

Author WDF Staff | Last updated: Jun 17 2023


As dog owners, we handle dog food every day, but it is not so common that we think about the history of that food. One of our team members lately asked: "When dog food was invented?" and after realizing that this is a topic many dog owners would want to read about, we decided to do the research, and this is what we found.

The history of dog food is a fascinating story, and as humans started to understand the nutrition-specific needs of their four-legged friends, dog food was developed to provide a balanced and healthy diet.

This is where it all started.

Early days of dog feeding

Before dog food was invented, dogs were predominantly fed table scraps and leftovers from their humans. Domesticated dogs have been with us for at least 15.000 years, and in the beginning, these dogs were mostly used as hunting companions and protectors.

Since they were mainly used for hunting; as a result, their diet mainly consisted of raw meat and bones from animals they found while hunting.

dog with food bowl

First commercial dog food

Dog food as we know it today can be traced back to the mid-19th century when there was evidence of invention. American businessman, James Spratt, is credited for creating the first commercial-produced dog food in 1860.

He developed the idea of creating dog food after he observed stray dogs eating discarded food in England. He quickly realized this was a good market for nutritious food specially designed for dogs.

His invention has completely changed the way people fed their dogs since, from this point, this meal offered a completely balanced diet that was easy to store and transport. First dog food contained wheat, beetroot, vegetables, and meat.

RELATED: Dog Food Recipes - Vet Approved Homemade Dog Food

Growing industry

Following the first commercial dog food, the pet food industry grew rapidly. In the early 20th century, the first canned dog food was introduced, causing a significant boom among dog owners.

This type of dog food offers a more effective and mess-free option for feeding dogs. A US-based company called Ken-L Ration was the first that produce canned dog food, and it was made from horse meat. This company gained popularity quickly after the invention of canned dog food, and their brand began to emerge.

In the 1920s and 1930s, the pet food industry continued to develop; in this period, dry kibble-style food was introduced. This type of food was easier to store and had a longer shelf life compared to canned food, which was the main reason why most pet owners started to buy it.

dog food

The science behind the canine nutrition

Understanding canine nutrition has changed over time, and both veterinarians and researchers studied the specific dogs' needs to create the best dog food on the market. After the initial dog food, they worked hard until they finally developed specialized formulas for different dog breeds, sizes, and life stages.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the first "life stage" dog food was introduced, creating a significant improvement in the dog food industry. We all know that puppy and senior dogs' nutritional needs differ, and thanks to veterinarians and researchers, today we can choose special dog food for puppies, adult dogs, and seniors.

Also at that time, they also developed food for dogs with specific health conditions such as kidney disease and obesity.

In The 1980s and 1990s, veterinarians and researchers were mostly focused on finding the best quality ingredients that could be used for making dog food, thus creating more well-balanced food that dogs could have more benefits from.

At this time, brands started creating premium and super premium dog food with more quality ingredients. These brands use high-quality proteins and natural ingredients with the minimum percentages of preservatives.

dog food

RELATED: Is Vegan Food Actually Good For Dogs? A New Study Claims It Is

Raw dog food

In recent years among dog owners, there has been a growing interest in raw and natural dog diets. Proponents of raw feeding argue that it more closely resembles the diet of a dog's wild ancestors and can lead to improved health and vitality. Because of this, many dog brands started to create raw and freeze-dried food.

The future of dog food will likely see even more innovation and variety, focusing on sustainability, personalized nutrition, and a further understanding of canine dietary needs. Insects, for example, are being explored as an alternative, eco-friendly protein source for dog food. Additionally, advances in technology and data analysis may allow for the creation of personalized meal plans tailored to each dog's unique nutritional requirements.

Here you can find out what is the best raw dog food today - Best Raw Dog Food

Why is proper nutrition extremely important for dogs?

Developing proper and good dog food over the years has played a major role in promoting the health and well-being of our dogs. A well-balanced diet is essential for maintaining dogs' health and energy levels and fighting different health problems.

Health problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart problems, joint problems, and many more can all be managed by using the proper diet. Also, high-quality dog food will help improve your dog's coat, skin, and immune system, making him less prone to allergies and infections.

World Dog Finder team

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