Americans will spend close to $30 billion feeding their pets this year, according to the American Pet Products Assn. That's up from $28.23 billion last year.
Driving the growth: premium, human-grade food that is organic, minimally processed, slow-cooked and loaded with previously niche ingredients like coconut, turmeric and cardamom.
"People want to feed their dogs upscale, yuppie diets rather than buying dog chow," said Will Draper, veterinary contributor to WebMD and the co-host with his wife, Fran Tyler, of Nat Geo's "Love and Vets" show. "Otherwise, they feel like they're cheating their dogs."
It's not just an aspirational thing, either. Tyler said that the newer ingredients being used in dog food — such as turmeric — can have a valid place in an animal's diet.
"Turmeric helps with pain and inflammation, ginger is good for an upset tummy. But are they necessary in a dog's diet? That's debatable. It's definitely smart to check with your vet before introducing something new."
Once you get the all-clear, here are some alternatives to dish out.
At the San Diego headquarters of the Honest Kitchen, founder Lucy Postins and her staff can be found sipping the probiotic-rich goat's milk drinks or a nourishing cup of turmeric- and parsley-infused bone broth.
"We taste everything," Postins said. "These are foods fit for human consumption, sourced from the human food chain."
Products include Prowl, a grain-free cat food made with free-range chicken, vegetables, eggs and flaxseed, or Spruce, a dog food made with whole food ingredients (cage free duck, dried navy beans) alongside the usual vitamins and minerals.
Upcoming launches include Pumpkin Spice Latte; Pep Up, made from hemp powder; and Turkey and Ginger Spice, a bone broth also made with lentils and kale.
Available at Whole Foods, Sprouts, Healthy Spot, Pussy & Pooch.
Rachael Ray’s menu
Food Network star Rachael Ray's pet food line, Nutrish, uses bison and roasted chicken for its new line of treats: Burger Bites and Savory Roasters.
"They're inspired by recipes from Rachael's kitchen," said Steve Joyce, vice president of marketing at Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, Nutrish's parent company. The new offerings join food that is made from whole ingredients — carrots, peas, apple — that can be seen in the dish, using U.S.-sourced meats.
"We're seeing more of the humanization of pet food," Joyce said. "Animals are seen as members of the family."
Available online and at most groceries.
Chicken and quinoa
From another line, Pure Dog Food, come treats with just five ingredients, including chicken-and-quinoa bowls and newly launched Popeye Chicken & Spinach. The 100% human grade ingredients, from suppliers who also sell to restaurants, include coconut, nutritional yeast and organic chicken breast dehydrated with fresh parsley.
Available at Erewhon or through a home delivery service.
Greek yogurt and kale
Freeze-dried "functional treats" from Whole Life Pet are made in small batches, using ingredients like Greek yogurt, blueberries and kale. The freeze-drying retains nutrition that might otherwise be lost to high-heat cooking. The brand also incorporates omega-oil-rich chia seeds and cranberries in its salmon-based cat food.
Available at Chateau Marmutt, Pet Food Express and Unleashed by Petco.
The convenience of healthy meals delivered to your doorstep comes from Ollie, which worked with canine nutritionists to develop an algorithm that customizes meal plans for your dog. The meals — chicken, beef or lamb — arrive in recyclable trays lined with compostable jute. The accompanying scoop will help you portion out the precise amount your dog needs.
Available through myollie.com.