The doggie interwebs have been nuts again lately...the pet parent population is sharing and tagging and freaking out about the latest dog food recall. This one sure made for good headlines, what with the substance found this time being small amounts of the same drug used for euthanasia. YIKES.
If I'm being honest, I rarely read these recalls, and it's not because I feed my dogs organic natural hormone-free antibiotic-free gluten-free grain-free cage-free chicken...it's because the recalls almost always hit the dog food brands that already sucked to begin with! I bet if you're reading this you probably don't need to read them either - if you take the time to read a blog post about picking a dog food, chances are you already feed something pretty good. So, yay for us for being a bit ahead of the curve already!! That said, there's still the possibility that we're being duped by the marketing departments of some of the brands we've come to think of as "good." So, I've put together a list of some tips that might help you weed through the muck of pretty packaging and cute commercials and get down to what matters - your dog's health!
1. COLOR COUNTS. Look at a handful of your dog's food. Are some of the pieces shaped and colored differently? If so, you're probably looking at a handful of dyes and additives meant to trick YOU (not your dog) into thinking it's higher quality. Good dog food manufacturers don't need to add dyes to their products or change the shapes to look like vegetables. Kibble pieces should all look the same and be colored the same.
2. LEARN THE LABEL. Ingredients are listed in order by weight, with the heaviest ingredient being listed first. If you look at a label and the first ingredient isn't a meat or a meat meal (NOT a meat by-product), stop reading and start looking for a new food. After the first ingredient, the next few ingredients should also indicate high quality - look for another protein source or two, and whole fruits and/or vegetables. A good grain like brown rice is okay too. Stay away from foods where you see corn, wheat, meat by-products, dyes (Blue 2, Red 40, etc), BHT, and BHA.
3. CUT THE CORN. I'm no scientist but I do take care of a lot of dogs, and I swear to you the ones that are overweight, have medical problems, who seem lazy, and who have diarrhea during boarding are almost always fed a diet that contains corn. Coincidence? I think not. Remember when dogs are staying with us we ask parents to bring food from home to help keep the dog's diet consistent, so whenever I catch a case of diarrhea I always walk right over to that dog's cubby to see what they're eating. And almost every time, corn is one of the first 5 ingredients in the dog's food. Further, parents who usually complain of their dog being a picky eater are also usually starting with a corn-based food...no wonder the dog seems picky, they don't like it! I love this article from Dog Food Advisor about corn - click here if you need more convincing to cut it out!
4. EXPENSIVE MAY NOT MEAN EXCELLENT. You don't have to break the bank to find a good dog food! That said, a high price tag doesn't necessary equal greatness. ALWAYS check the label. I can think of three brands (which I can't name) that are stupid expensive and offer much less quality than some of their less-expensive counterparts. Again, I love the Dog Food Advisor website for getting accurate research. Their info is unbiased and they aren't being "bought" by dog food companies in exchange for high ratings. Ratings range from one to five stars, with a thorough explanation of every brand you can imagine. Don't feel like you HAVE to go with a 5-star brand either. We don't eat filet mignon for every meal! As long as you're staying on the high-quality end of the spectrum, you're okay. I feed my dogs a 4.5 star line and it works super well for us. Click here to visit Dog Food Advisor's brand index and see where your current food ranks. If you're not happy, click around until you find something that looks better. If you land on something that is a bit more expensive, remember a high-quality diet can mean fewer (crazy expensive) vet visits in the long run, so it's still money well spent!
I hope this helps you on your quest for better health for your furry. If you're still stumped, by all means ask us! We sell Fromm in our lobby and love it, but are big fans of several other brands too, many of which you can still purchase locally!
Bone Appetit! -- Lacey