Article: Dog food: good or bad?: Food

 
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Image Dog food: good or bad?
By Lance Gardner on October 5, 2010

I would not feed that even to my dog! Believe it or not, you may very well be feeding some very bad stuff to your critters, and not even know it. So how do we go about choosing a good dog food?

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Imagethreegardeners
Oct 5, 2010 11:55 AM CST
Name: Lee Anne Stark
Ontario, Canada
Perpetually happy!
Tricky subject and you handled it well.

I tried my girls on the expensive food but didn't really notice a difference so I put them back on the usual food. Mind you, my 3 girls get lots of healthy table scraps. They love raw carrots! and will eat anything we do including fruit. Maybe that makes a difference? Any dogs I've known fed that way live well over 15 years and DH's Moms poodle is 22 years old...fed table scraps and store brand dog kibble.
ImageLance
Oct 5, 2010 12:34 PM CST
Name: Lance Gardner
coastal plain Virginia
Question authority, guide in wisdom
Thanks for reading, and sharing your experiences. Table scraps can work well, providing there is not too much extra 'stuff' put into it, such as salt, sugar and such. It sounds like you do a good job with it. If my dog had not suffered from arthritis and bone fusion, he would probably still be here today. What is eaten can make such a difference, for all of us. 22 years old is wonderful. Is this a standard poodle?
I will share a funny story on one of my current critters. Turk, the larger yellow lab, is very agile, with a good nose and big appetite for just about anything. I have caught him picking his own strawberries, grapes (not good for dogs, so he gets yelled at for those), figs, and passion fruit. I noticed him jump up about 6 or so feet high to pull off an almost ripe fig off the fig tree hanging over the fence. How he knew which part to grab I am not sure, but he got it. While retrieving recently, he stopped and was sniffing around the wildflower garden like crazy. When he finally found what he wanted, he grabbed an unripe passion fruit about 3 feet off the ground and tried to pull it off the vine. I told him to drop that one, as well. Amazing what they will do sometimes.
Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground -- the unborn of the future Nation. The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations.
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ImageZanymuse
Oct 5, 2010 12:51 PM CST
Name: Brenda Essig
Rio Dell, CA
Pyxle gets a lamb based dried food and unsalted table scraps with no fat. She loves tomatoes, potatoes and rice, lettuce, asparagus, most fruits and her favorite is avacado's which I have to limit her on because she would gain too much weight if I let her have all she wants. (plus the fact they are so expensive!) She loves to go for walks and will stop to eat wild blackberries that grow on the roadside. She will not eat carrots or grapes which were favorites of my previous dogs.

Her all time favorite treat though is Cheerios. She loves them more than milk bones and according to our Vet. they are better for her too.
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AlohaHoya
Oct 5, 2010 11:51 PM CST
Name: Carol Noel
Hawaii (near Hilo)
It's all about choices.
Lance...I have been told that all dog food is basically the same?????? Our Thelma (a lab mix) is 9 years old and I see aging signs. I have been cooking ground chicken and vegetables and brown rice to mix with her kibbles...but I feel she is too fat. Do you thing that changing her kibbles to a more $$$ senior diet would be better? Is ther ereally any difference? What should we look for?

Lovey dubby Lovey dubby carol
Leap. The net will appear.
ImageLance
Oct 6, 2010 7:45 AM CST
Name: Lance Gardner
coastal plain Virginia
Question authority, guide in wisdom
There is most definitely a difference. Just like I would not serve most prepared foods I find in the grocery store to myself or family, I will also not use grocery store dog food. There are several other sources on the internet that go over dog food ingredients in much more detail if you are interested (http://www.feedmypet.com/dog-food-comparison.html, http://www.dogfoodproject.com/index.php?page=betterproducts for 2 examples). There are also many levels of expense for better dog foods. Go to http://www.petfooddirect.com/landing/Dog-Food.aspx and check out their listings - they seem to have the most extensive list available, actually overwhelming. You can go with the types of food I listed at the end of the article, and just take advantage of what I have researched already, or look for other types. I find the ones listed to be moderate in expense and still quite good in quality.
As for what to look for or avoid, the end of the article gives some pointers on what to look for, and the rest discusses what to avoid. Since she is getting older, you might want to look for food with a lower fat content, as well as reducing the amount fed. Your cooking for her sounds good, so you don't need to feed as much as dog food - this should cut down on the expense. Home prepared meals are actually better for all of us and our pets, so keep up the good work.
I am also reluctant to use any food that was included on the melamine recall: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/petfoodrecall/. The reason is that if the dog food company was lax enough to include outsourced ingredients without verifying their source and quality, my trust in them is tainted. I did not include this comment in the article, as I did not want to point at any specific brands, but it does concern me. Oddly enough, it was the vegetable protein ingredients that were contaminated, not the animal protein sources.
I may do an article on dog health and exercise one day, but if you think she is too fat, she probably is. You should be able to easily feel her vertebrae when you run your hand along her back, and feel and see the ribs just a little. Check out http://www.placervillevet.com/canine body condition.htm for some more guidance.
I hope this helps.
Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground -- the unborn of the future Nation. The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations.
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Imagevalleylynn
Oct 6, 2010 10:13 AM CST
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR zone 8
A very informative article Lance, and a needed one. We found out about the contaminants and toxins in our dog food and livestock grain back in the late 70's. I won't go into detail here, but with the help of a state veterinarian we got it figured out and changed the way we feed our animals ever since.
Our Tess lived to be 17 even though she was born with a significant heart murmur. She was like an active puppy until her last 6 months when she slowed down. She never would have made it to that age on what we had fed in the years before we got her.
Hope this helps a lot of dog and cats out there live much longer and productive lives.
Thank you Lance.
Imageadinamiti
Oct 6, 2010 10:32 AM CST
Name: Adina Dosan
Balotesti, Romania
Lance, I enjoyed very much reading your article and seeing your doggies! My beloved GS, Boss, lived only for 12 years, but he was also very active until his last year. When we first got him, our vet told us to feed him with cooked rice and beef bones and let him chew the bones after having his meal. He soon developed a rash and his fur fell down in some parts of his face and legs. After a few years I found out that GSs are very allergic to bones and can develop rashes and loose their fur, like Boss did. So I stopped giving him bones. I used to feed him my own cooked rice or wheat with chicken or beef and different veggies, but not too much meat. I started to feed him dry kibbles in his last years of life and I'm sure this ended his life sooner than it would have been if I only fed him my cooked food. I heard about the junk they are putting in the pets' food and I think they've found a very good market for that in our country.
Adina
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AlohaHoya
Oct 6, 2010 12:10 PM CST
Name: Carol Noel
Hawaii (near Hilo)
It's all about choices.
Thelma was slimmed down and looking GOOD until the avocado season started!!! Can't keep her tied up...so we alter her portions!! I am going to look at those sites, Lance. Thanks!!!!!
Leap. The net will appear.
GardeningNC
Oct 7, 2010 11:05 AM CST
I thought Id add that my GSD's (2 of 3) are allergic to grain! So I was giving them "expensive food" thinking I was doing right by them... Science Diet ID... well that was the problem and so were many other foods out there. They had problems with ear infections, UTI's and skin problems and not until very recently did anyone mention to play around with diet, and mentioned grain in particular. I now have some on a grain free diet - WOW... made a big difference for them. So you are very right - what works for one dog may not work for others, just like people.
ImageLance
Oct 7, 2010 11:10 AM CST
Name: Lance Gardner
coastal plain Virginia
Question authority, guide in wisdom
Thank you for sharing. There are several grain free dog foods available. I would never use Science Diet, as it has too many mystery ingredients and some ingredients I just don't want. Always check the ingredients and ensure they are recognizable and reasonable. I do this for all food I purchase, regardless of which critter may get it - 2 or 4 legs. Good to hear they are doing better. A healthy dog also makes for more fun and tractable dog.
Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground -- the unborn of the future Nation. The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations.
Dogs; Family Fun Unplugged; Perennials, Annuals, Veggies; Happy Birthday Wishes
Image1AnjL
Oct 7, 2010 8:07 PM CST
Name: AnjL/Annmarie
CA Sierra Mts
GREAT article!!

I had been feeding my toy poodle a home cooked diet for the past 4 months because of his teeth issues. Last week, I switched him over to a fully raw & natural diet. He is still adjusting to the new diet, but his energy level has spiked considerably! I am completely amazed at the difference! I switched him over to the new diet after reading some really good articles about dog & cats digestive systems and am now convinced that most packaged foods, and cooked foods really are not good for them in the long run. Dogs in the wild dont raid rice fields, or dig up potatoes...and cook them, so why are we feeding it to them?

Here is a link to a really informative website if anyone is interested http://www.b-naturals.com/newsletter/raw-diet/
All Things Hobby
All the coffee in Columbia will never make me a morning person!
ImageLance
Oct 8, 2010 7:20 AM CST
Name: Lance Gardner
coastal plain Virginia
Question authority, guide in wisdom
Thank you for sharing your experiences, and the link. I am reluctant to use raw meat, as there is more potential for parasites and diseases. There is quite a bit of evidence that fresh raw fruits and veggies are better for us all, though, whether it be dog, cat, or person. Maybe some day, when I am retired and have the time (never?), I may be able to always prepare meals for the dogs and my family, but not yet. One thing about being omnivorous, opportunistic, generalist eaters, both dogs and people, is that we can eat and survive off of just about anything. Whether what we consume is healthy for us is a different matter, and I often wonder how much better we would all feel if we ate better diets.
Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground -- the unborn of the future Nation. The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations.
Dogs; Family Fun Unplugged; Perennials, Annuals, Veggies; Happy Birthday Wishes
scooterbug
Oct 8, 2010 11:52 AM CST
Tellico Plains TN
Lance wrote ..........................Thank you for sharing your experiences, and the link. I am reluctant to use raw meat, as there is more potential for parasites and diseases.

Smiling Our furry carnivores ( cats , dogs and ferret) only eat fresh human grade raw meat, whatever bone is in the piece of meat and an occasional organ part. Worldwide this is referred to as raw prey model feeding. Model because most of us must make do with parts and pieces of a whole prey critter we find at the market

Smiling Unlike omnivores , Dogs have very efficient short fast digestive systems as all carnivores do. Physically they are not able to digest anything else. Given any kind of plant matter puts great overload on the internal organs which often results in failure. The pancreas cannot put out enough digestive hormones in an ATTEMPT to use plant matter so it works over time and many dogs are in failure because of this.
Confused Parasite and diseases ? Think of what dogs get their noses and mouths into as in greeting the neighbor dog , or finding a spoiled piece of meat somewhere to their delight.


There is quite a bit of evidence that fresh raw fruits and veggies are better for us all, though, whether it be dog, cat, or person. Maybe some day, when I am retired and have the time (never?), I may be able to always prepare meals for the dogs and my family, but not yet.



Smiling I often wonder how much better we would all feel if we ate better diets. [/quote]
Smiling If we ate as our hunter gatherer ancestors we would be healthier by far and even reversing most of our 'modern' disease that only showed up when the age of agriculture began about 10K years ago.
Simple way to begin is to eat NO PROCESSED FOODS and take it from there.




Hurray! Easy-Peasy for feeding dogs & cats as nature intended throw them a chicken leg or quarter or hunk of pork or whatever else you find on sale ( and hoard *g*)

Sorry for the messed up content but if I try to further straighten it up it will continue to get worse Blinking Whistling

Shirley and the 9 raw fed GSD Kitchen Wolves and 2 raw fed kitties
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GardeningNC
Oct 8, 2010 2:18 PM CST
Just thought Id mention i have a GSD mix (different than the ones with allergies - I have 8 dogs) that despite being feed feels he needs to catch his own food in addition. I have not had any parasite problems with him but keep him on Heart and worm preventative. He has caught and enjoyed - possums, squirrels, mice, small birds and predator birds (yes really!), reptiles... and other things. I still get him checked all them time and worry but....
I also have one who eats dirt! The things we go through for our animals.
AlohaHoya
Oct 8, 2010 6:02 PM CST
Name: Carol Noel
Hawaii (near Hilo)
It's all about choices.
I have thought about organ meat for my lab, but livers and kidneys are the filters and filter all of the toxins...organic is just too expensive here... I do give her cooks vegetables and since wild dogs eat the contents of intestines they kill, I figure it is OK. I watch her poop and it seems healthy.
Leap. The net will appear.
Imageflaflwrgrl
Oct 8, 2010 6:13 PM CST
Name: Ann
North Central Fl
Hello. I'm new for this cubit & enjoyed the article & decided to join. We were "in between" dogs when the whole melamine thing happened & for once we were glad not to have a dog at that time. But that got me to thinking real hard aobut dog foods & what's in them & where it comes from. I knew we would get another dog as a day without a dog is a day not fully lived. Now, I used to be one of those people who "poo pooed" those who said dogs are allergic to certain foods & thought those people were a little over the top. But I am a believer now. I have SEEN the effects for myself. Before getting our dog, I was told by breeder after breeder that dogs are allergic to wheat, corn & soy (especially the glutens). Also your locale makes a difference. If a dog is going to have allergies of any kind (food or otherwise) --- they will show up in Fl. & the farther south in the state; the more they will show up. A dog may live in N.C. & exibit no allergies at all but bring it down here & any allergies they have are likely to manifest.
I decided to start our puppy on Canidae lamb & rice thereby avoiding the wheat, corn & soy. Everything was fine until they changed the formula WITHOUT any notice, WITHOUT changing the packaging. Suddenly you opened the bag & the kibble was yellow instead of brown. I called the store where I bought it & they said the formula had been changed & everything would be okay. Well, my dog never stopped having loose stools from the new food. What had they changed? The particular "kind" of rice they used in it. My dog began to exhibit allergy symptoms: gnawing on her feet, tearing of the eyes, ear infections, shaking herself OFTEN, scratching as if she had fleas.
Thus began my research into the whole subject of dog food. I spent literally 3 or 4 months finding out everything I could. It's apalling what they put in dog food!!!!! As well as the things mentioned in Lance's article you need to know that most dog foods contain ethoxiquin, BHA, BHT, embalming fluid, & anti-freeze! Don't shake your head---it's true! Oh yes, & at 30 times the allowed rate for human food. What dogs are 30 times our size? While I was researching, I was trying to find a food our dog did well on. I found out she has sensitivity to chicken. So now, I needed to find a grain free, chicken free food. Still researching; I discovered that no matter what brand of dog food you buy... there are only 3 or 4 dog food "plants" in the U.S. & those make all the different brands of dog food. In other words; they are contracted to make almost every brand out there. This brings into question what's REALLY in your dog food. It's made in the same plant where they make the dog food which contains all those bad things like diseased animals & chemical additives. I did find Wellness grain free fish to work well for our girl & the allergies went away but ICK! first thing in the morning it smells like FISH!!!! I tried her on another Wellness grain free but it had chicken & that's how I discovered the chicken sensitivity. So we were back to the fish. I finally found an excellent quality grain free food which is made in the company's OWN plant. That company is in Canada. They make two brands: Acana & Orijen. We put her on Acana Grasslands formula & she hasn't had one problem since. Now, they have come out with Orijen Regional Red & this gives us the option to switch her off for a while & she's doing great on it too. Check out the company for yourself. Don't be frightened by the amount of protein --- read their white paper on the subject.
Whatever you decide to feed your dog ---- please don't feed it crappy food which kills it!!!!! Do your homework & be responsible.

P.S. --- scooterbug, I like your comments!
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went."
Will Rogers
mom2goldens
Oct 8, 2010 7:18 PM CST
Name: Linda
Carmel, IN
Great article, Lance, and what sweet puppies.

We've always been advocates of good nutrition for our dogs. Unfortunately, it's a subject that seems to be sorely neglected by most veterinarians. Most of what we've learned has been done by reading, researching, and some trial/error. I'm not sure most people realize how different dog foods can be, as there is not a lot of attention given to the subject. It seems as if the commercials/ads we see are from the companies that produce the lower quality foods, so most people are not familiar with anything else. There is also the common misconception that a premium food costs more. While that seems true on the surface, most people do not realize how much more of the less expensive foods you must feed your pet.

We tried several "premium" types of kibble before finding the ones that worked best for our dogs. It was important to us to find a company that owned their own factories, and used only ingredients produced in the US. We supplement with some home-cooking, which includes lean meats, homemade broth, veggies and a little whole grain such as oatmeal, barley or quinoa. We've had two dogs with moderate to severe food allergies that required a lot of creative cooking (especially before so many great foods/treats were available). I think we are fortunate now in that there are so many good choices available commercially.

Our dogs have all lived to a good age--our oldest golden recently passed at age 16.5. I hope that good nutrition played some role in their longevity.
Image1AnjL
Oct 8, 2010 7:29 PM CST
Name: AnjL/Annmarie
CA Sierra Mts
I agree with you scooterbug! everything I have read so far states that dogs and kitties are carnivores, not omnivores with the exception of grasses that they chew for enzymes. I would be really interested in the raw diet you feed your kitties. I havent had a chance to do research on kitties yet, so for now kitty is still on his kibble, with added fresh raw for now.

A note about the chicken allergy. My puppy showed immediate signs of allergy when I had him on a diet of cooked chicken and green beans. I am not sure if it was the chicken or the veggie, but I took him off both. Now, on the raw meat diet, he is eating raw chicken and there are no signs of allergies at all so far.

Also, I wont give him livers. He is only 4 1/2 lbs, tiny! I agree that there is bad stuff in liver that would/could effect him. I do give him hearts tho. I also make certain that the meats I am giving him are truly organic, no antibiotics/growth hormones or any other injections to the animals prior to culling and packaging. No different that what I would feed my own family =)
All Things Hobby
All the coffee in Columbia will never make me a morning person!
ImageLance
Oct 9, 2010 8:09 AM CST
Name: Lance Gardner
coastal plain Virginia
Question authority, guide in wisdom
This thread is taking on a life of its own, making a good complement to the article. I appreciate everyone sharing their ideas, experiences, and thoughts. I am a bit busy this weekend, but will provide some responses soon. If anyone would like to check on some dietary information, from what I have read and heard, cats are more true carnivores than dogs. It might make for a good comparison. I don't think any animal is truly 100% herbivore or carnivore, but have a system more oriented to one direction or the other. Even bunnies and deer end up eating bugs, and squirrels are major bird nest predators.
Enjoy your weekend everyone, and keep the thoughts coming.
Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground -- the unborn of the future Nation. The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations.
Dogs; Family Fun Unplugged; Perennials, Annuals, Veggies; Happy Birthday Wishes
Image1AnjL
Oct 9, 2010 12:53 PM CST
Name: AnjL/Annmarie
CA Sierra Mts
I too am enjoying the info being shared. And OH MY! my kitty stalks and east lots n lots of bugs! Hilarious!
All Things Hobby
All the coffee in Columbia will never make me a morning person!

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