Living and learning with each new day


Advertise with us

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 30/03/2022 (432 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

For me, every day is a learning da and every day is a teaching day. Some days I learn more than I teach, and those are good days.

I have grown up in the pet industry. My first retail job was in a pet store and all through my adult life I have consistently been drawn back to working with pets. My 22 years here in Winnipeg serving the fine people of St. Vital and beyond have been a pleasure and when I look back, I cannot believe the changes that have happened, both in the industry and in my own life.

Two decades ago, pet nutrition was just becoming a thing. I remember a company coming to me with a “holistic” kibble, touting it as both the first of its kind, and the first $50 bag of dog food. Yes, those groundbreaking advances happened barely 20 years ago. Sure, there may have been other “natural” foods, and even some that were more than $50 per bag, but this was a major mainstream company introducing this new concept.

After more than 20 years of doing business, columnist Jeff McFarlane reflects on how much more care and thought people give to making pet food choices.

In the time since, pet foods and pet food companies have evolved rapidly, whole market sectors, such as ‘grain free’ have exploded, and the amount we spend on pet foods has risen dramatically, with industry monitors saying the U.S. has eclipsed $100 billion per year.

We are much more conscious of reading labels for ourselves, so it makes sense that we are taking a closer look at what is on the labels of pet foods. Many people still buy the big bags of food at big box stores without looking at the label – after all, it’s the dog or cat food they’ve been told is good and that they’ve been using for years.

But as we hear of more pet food recalls, or warnings about certain ingredients (BHA or BHT, propylene glycol or titanium dioxide to name a few), people are reading labels and choosing to spend a little more to get a better food.

Some people are taking it further, looking for more natural products, or even getting away from processed food altogether. This has contributed to the growth of two categories of foods, the ‘no synthetics’ dry foods and frozen raw foods.

Twenty years ago, you’d have been hard-pressed to find either of those in a retail store. Nowadays there are stores that sell these items almost exclusively. We have been told we need to eat cleaner, fresher foods, and people and pets are getting the opportunity to try these foods. The results have been amazing.

It took me years to overcome the industry training and bias. A lot of my personal journey was through my own pets and the changes food has made in their lives. Sharing those stories with clients having similar issues gave them reason to give it a shot, most of the time with tremendous results. And then they tell two friends, and so on and so on.

Big companies spend millions convincing us to buy products with flashy advertising and fancy bags – that’s just the way it works. It’s the easy way to both sell and buy things.

Sometimes, though, doing some research and spending a little extra can result in a better life for our pets, and for us. I think it’s worth it.

Jeff McFarlane

Jeff McFarlane
Pets Are People, Too

Jeff McFarlane is the owner of Thrive Pet Food Market. Contact him with your questions or ideas or visit

Report Error Submit a Tip


Advertise With Us