The hidden reason processed pet foods are so addictive

The signal might be a hand in a pocket, a closet door opening, or even a word said out loud indifferently—”dinner.” Before you know it, you’re stumbling upon a pet eagerly waiting for a portion of… faded brown dried pellets. What’s in these mysterious pollen, what makes them as delicious as grilled chicken, wild salmon, or bundles of fresh herbs?

Take my flatmate, a little black rabbit. For a good part of every day, he can be found sitting attentively with his claws on his empty food bowl, waiting for the next part to eat him – though his droppings and smell seem equally unappetizing. He used to have an automated dispenser with a timer, but he learned to throw it across the room to reach its contents prematurely. No matter what delicacies I put before him — locally grown parsley, fine hay, fresh carrots, and organic kale — he always prefers processed pet food.

This appears to be not unusual. Tales abound about pets whose thoughts are largely preoccupied with food, like the cat having a daily panic attack when she realizes she ate all her pellets, and a real-life German Shepherd found carrying a bag of dog food on the streets of Houston after Hurricane Harvey.

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As it happens, this addictive quality is carefully crafted. Big Pet Food is a multibillion dollar industry that invests heavily in researching “falafel” – the ingredients that make our pets want to eat their products. And from the strong-smelling chemicals commonly found in rotting meat to an additive commonly added to potatoes to prevent discoloration, the quest to make the most delicious pet food has led to some surprising insights.

“old [pet food] The companies have huge divisions that make falafel, says Darren Logan, head of research at the Waltham Pitcare Institute of Science, which is part of Mars Petcare. “Just as we make them for humans, we make them for pets, too.”

upper class dogs

The first pet food was invented in 1860 by James Spratt, an enterprising lightning bolt seller from Ohio, USA. Legend has it that he traveled to England for his work, and was watching the sidewalks of Liverpool one day when he noticed stray dogs banging on the remaining hard biscuits.

This was a revelation for two reasons.


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