From time to time I will provide information about commercial dog food. When I visit a dog/cat home for the initial consultation, I usually ask what kind of diet (Kibble? Wet food? Raw Diet?) as well as the brand of food is being fed to their canine companions. About 50% of the time, I'm happy to hear the food is a superior brand (in the case of kibble). Many people feed their dogs food purchased from the local supermarket or a discount store, i.e., Target, Walmart. It's easy to pick up some dog chow there while shopping for your human family. Unfortunately, dog food sold at these places are inferior brands. While Petco and PetSmart also carried these same low-budget brands, and still do, I am happy to see they now carry a few of the better brands. Supply and demand. The dog owning public is wising up.
Sure, all pet foods sold must meet dietary guidelines so your dog is gerring his proper nutrients, right? Not necessarily. Many people believe that widely-advertised brands must be good. As the saying goes "there's truth in advertising." The problem with these brands is that most of the protein comes from vegetables and oils, not meat. That's OK if your dog is a vegetarian. But dogs are omnivores with a strong preference for meat (and we all know they love meat most of all). Many of these poorer brands are manufactured by huge corporations who have to answer to stock holders. They have massive marketing/advertising budgets that enable them to create fun tv commercials and the packaging can be quite appealing. While a picture is worth a thousand words, it is important to read the ingredients. (Think of the old addage whereby you can't judge a book by it's cover.) Consider the brand that comes in a white bag (hint: one word; begins with a B) with yummy pictures of wheat stalks, hand-picked ears of corn you'd serve to your family, and square-shaped chunks of meat. Unfortunately, that brand does not even list meat until after the first 7 ingredients which make up the majority of the food. Listed in those first 7 ingredients are corn, wheat, sugar, more corn, and more wheat. There's even food coloring to make it pretty. When have you ever seen a dog grazing in a corn or wheat field? Some bags of kibble list ingredients in hard to find places using tiny print. Intentional? While there are some dogs who can tolerate corn and wheat, many cannot and these can lead to allergies and digestion problems. And the corn products in it's many forms is not the same you'd get from your local farm market (think feed corn).
As a dog walker/pet sitter, I can't help but notice what comes out of the dog's rear end. I have to pick it up and bag it, after all. I have noticed that the dog's who eat lower-end kibble usually produce foul smelling feces, and lots of it. The fillers in these foods are expelled as the dog's digestive tract since it contains no nutritional value.
Let's face it. The easiest thing in the world is to pour some kibble into a bowl and let the dog have at it. That's why the majority of us choose kibble. Affordability is a consideration; kibble is inexpensive. I have 6 dogs and yes, I use kibble and I mix in some canned food with it.
Much of the research I have found is sourced from The Whole Dog Journal and trial and error. No, I am not a health nut and I should eat better but this is not about me; but I am very conscience of what my dogs eat. I want them to live long lives through proper nutrition and exercise. I started on the path to better canine nutrition because my two Cocker Spaniels had chronic ear infections. After numerous, expensive trips to the vet I figured out the culprit--corn and wheat. And I was giving them kibble from that white bag with the pics of corn and wheat on it. Thankfully, dog food has come a long way.
Posted October 2012
Coming next month: What ingredients should you look for, or stay away from in your pups kibble?