Why and When Was Dog Food Invented?

Dog food is an essential part of a dog’s diet, providing the necessary nutrients for their health and well-being. But when was dog food invented, and how did it evolve over time?

In this article, we’ll explore the history of dog food from its early origins to the present day.

When Was Dog Food Invented?

Early History of Dog Food

The history of dog food can be traced back to the early domestication of dogs, when they were primarily fed table scraps and raw meat. This diet persisted well into the 20th century for farm dogs around the world. For city dogs, their primary source of protein was horse meat, as horses were the primary form of transportation in those days.

In the late 1800s, however, a new trend emerged: the invention of commercial dog food.

James Spratt and the Invention of Dog Biscuits

The first commercial dog food was invented in the 1860s by James Spratt, an American entrepreneur who was inspired by the sight of stray dogs eating hardtack biscuits on a dock in London. Spratt’s invention, called “Spratt’s Patent Meat Fibrine Dog Cake,” was made from a mixture of wheat, vegetables, beef blood, and minerals. The biscuits were marketed as a complete and balanced food for dogs and quickly became popular in the United States and Europe.

Spratt’s invention paved the way for other companies to develop their own commercial dog food products. In the early 1900s, canned dog food began to become popular, with companies like Ken-L Ration and Purina leading the way.

The Evolution of Dog Food

Over time, dog food evolved to meet the changing needs and preferences of pet owners. In the 1930s, the first dry kibble dog food was developed by the Gaines Food Company. This product, called “Gaines Burgers,” was made from cereal grains, beef tallow, and vegetables.

By the 1950s, canned and dry dog foods had become commonplace. In the 1960s and 1970s, premium dog foods began to emerge, made with high-quality ingredients like real meat and vegetables.

Today, there are a wide variety of dog food products available, including specialty diets for dogs with specific dietary needs. Many dog owners choose to make their own dog food at home, using fresh ingredients like meat, vegetables, and grains.

Despite the evolution of dog food over time, the importance of providing a balanced and nutritious diet for dogs remains the same. Dogs require a diet that is high in protein and fat, with the right balance of vitamins and minerals to support their health and well-being.


In conclusion, the invention of dog food can be traced back to the late 1800s, with James Spratt’s invention of dog biscuits. Since then, dog food has evolved to meet the changing needs and preferences of pet owners, with the development of canned and dry dog foods, as well as premium and specialty diets.

As a dog owner, it’s important to choose a high-quality dog food that meets your dog’s nutritional needs. Always check the ingredients list and choose a product that is appropriate for your dog’s age, size, and activity level. With the right diet, your dog can lead a healthy and happy life.

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