Americans are increasingly feeding their dogs and cats fresh foods.

Most Americans feed their pets with kibble – a kind of food ground into small pieces. But, more American pets are eating fresh food, like chicken, sweet potatoes and spinach.

Sales of fresh pet food in grocery stores and pet stores grew to about $546 million in 2018. That is an increase of about 70 percent from 2015. That information comes from Nielsen, a company that researches what the public buys and uses.

Even with the big increase, fresh food sales still make up a small part of the $25 billion that Americans spend on pet food each year.

Supporters of fresh food diets for pets say these foods keep their nutrients better than canned or dried foods. They also say fresh food diets are similar to the pets' ancestral diets and improve their health.

In America, pet food trends have followed human ones. When gravy, a sauce made from the juices of cooked meat, was popular in the 1950s, Gravy Train dog food appeared. In the 1980s, Fancy Feast cat food showed a growing consumer interest in gourmet food.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says that raw pet food has a high risk of bacterial contamination. The agency is also investigating a link between grain-free diets that contain peas, lentils and potatoes and elevated levels of heart disease in dogs.

Lindsey Bullen is a pet nutrition specialist with the Veterinary Specialist Hospital of the Carolinas in Durham, North Carolina.

She said pets need many kinds of important nutrients. If those levels of needed nutrients "are too high or too low," she added, "it can cause significant problems for that pet that the client might not see for months or years to come.”

Seven years ago, Deb Colgan saw that her husband was feeding raw meat to their two dogs. At first, she did not like the idea, but changed her mind after researching it.

She and her husband started buying raw meat and bones from the grocery store. She also talked with a veterinarian and added supplements like vitamin E, salmon oil and probiotics, among others.

Exercise 1


Read the following vocabulary with your teacher.

trend –n. a general direction of change : a way of behaving, proceeding, etc., that is developing and becoming more common

gourmet – adj. food of very high quality

contamination – n. the process of making something dangerous, dirty, or impure by adding something harmful or undesirable to it

trend –n. a general direction of change : a way of behaving, proceeding, etc., that is developing and becoming more common

significant –adj. very important

client –n. a person who pays a professional person or organization for services


Exercise 2


Answer these questions about the article.

1. What is kibble?

2. How much do Americans spend on pet food each year?

3. Why is fresh food diet good for dogs?

4. According to the FDA, why is raw pet food problematic?


Exercise 3

Make a sentence.

Make sentences using these words.

trend, gourmet, contamination, significant, client


Exercise 4


Have a discussion on following questions.

1. What do you think about feeding dogs fresh food?

2. If you have a pet, what kind of food do you give it?

3. If you could have any animal as a pet, which one would you have?

4. Which animals make the best pets in your opinion?


This lesson is based on a news article originally published by VOA.