Happy Dog Times

Are You Feeding Your Dog Crap?

Every one I know likes to save money including your truly. I know it’s tempting to buy cheap. But when it comes to dog food, cheap is not the answer. If you love your dog, you shouldn’t be feeding it cheap crap. You wouldn’t want to live on a diet consisting of just cheap ground beef. You would want a variety of good, nutritious food and your dog deserves the same. So, here courtesy of The Whole Dog Journal is some helpful information on choosing the right food for your dog.

Picking a dog food

There are a lot of factors in choosing your dog’s food. So how do we make our selection?

First,  try to shop locally. Try to scout out every location that sells pet food in your area, to get a sense of which ones carry which foods. Also, talk to the shop owners or staff, in order to get a sense of which stores seem interested in serving our type of dog owner: motivated, educated, and willing to spend more than the average customer for really good food.

Then  look at the product labels, examining the ingredients lists. Use the criteria outlined below (“Hallmarks of Quality” and “Signs of Corners Cut”) to determine which (if any) of the foods carried by the store are in the range of quality you’re willing to pay for.

Note the products that meet your selection criteria, and write down the names of any companies you’re not familiar with, so you can do a little more research on them once you’re back home.

If there are still several products in the running, look for the one that best matches your dog’s needs for protein, fat, and calories, using his body condition (fat, thin, or just right?) and activity level (highly active or couch potato?) to choose a product in the appropriate range. Unless he’s emaciated or obese (and in need of a high-calorie or “light” food, respectively), you should look for a product whose calories, fat, and protein levels are in the middle range of the products that are still in the running.

At this point, you’ve decided which brand and variety to buy, but before you grab the bag from the top of the pile, look for the “best by” date on the bag. Most naturally preserved dry foods are given a “best by” date that is 12 months from the date of manufacture. Try to find a bag that is as fresh as possible, rather than one that is near, at, or past its “best by” date. If every bag of food of the variety you selected is nearing its expiration,  choosr another variety, or asking a sales associate when she expects a new shipment to arrive. This stuff is too expensive, and your dog’s health too important, to buy potentially rancid food.

Make a note on your calendar when you start feeding a new product to your dog, and note any changes in his health. Adjust accordingly.

Approved foods

Click here to see this article in its entirety with Whole Dog Journal’s 2011 list of “approved foods”. Please note that we have listed the foods alphabetically by company; they are not rank-ordered.

Some companies make several product lines. We’ve listed each product line that meets our selection criteria from each manufacturer. We’ve also highlighted one product from each company as a representative, to show what sort of ingredients and macro-nutrient levels (minimum amounts of protein and fat, and maximum amounts of fiber and moisture) are typically found in that maker’s foods. Be aware that some companies offer dozens of different products with varying nutrient levels and ingredients. Check the company’s website or call its toll-free phone number to get information about its other varieties.

We say this every year, but it bears repeating: What if your favorite dog foods don’t meet our selection criteria? It’s up to you. If you have been feeding what we would consider to be low-quality foods to your dog, and she looks and appears to feel great, good for you! She’s one of those genetically lucky animals who can spin straw into gold, digestively speaking. But if she has allergies, chronic diarrhea, recurrent ear infections, or a poor coat, we’d recommend that you upgrade.

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