Wednesday, January 14, 2015

How to Pick a Dog Food


When our dog Shadow was still a puppy he had horrible "hot spots" on his forearms, he was also a handful! When we went to see a trainer she immediately realized it was an allergy and started talking to us about dog food, lets just say looking back I can't believe I EVER gave my dogs Purina... but I didn't know! I think many people don't really realize that animal food is like people food and that just because it sustains them doesn't mean it is actually healthy and good for them!

When buying your next bag of dog food ask these questions (The more yes answers the better):

  1. Does it contain Named Meat sources?
  2. Is it Completely grain free/ OR One named grain only?
  3. Does it have Fresh Fruit/Veggies?
  4. Is this free of Chemicals?
  5. Is it Corn/Soy/Wheat Free?
  6. Is it GMO Free/antibiotic free/hormone free?
  7. Is this free from By-Products?
  8. Is it free of artificial colors
Also check for recent recalls and/or contamination reports and what has been done to correct the problem.

Make sure that the company does not use any ingredients from China.

Check your label out and see how many yes answers you get.  (More is better)

Check your label and see where meat falls on the list (especially with an active dog you want meats on the first 2/3 ingredients  at minimum and ALWAYS as the first).

                        yesterday in Petco I actually had a conversation with a lady whose dog also suffered from a grain allergy... the associate "helping" her was not only dismissive of the grain allergy calling it a "fad" and saying MOST dogs that are said to have it don't really, she also said that high protein causes kidney problems, which new studies refute. The lady only followed my brand advice due to the misinformation spread by the Petco associate, and got a subpar food that was low in protein! My point? Just because someone works in a Pet Store DOES NOT mean they have done research and know what they are talking about!

 All of the worst dog foods will be readily available at your grocery, which also means they are more than likely purchased more often than the healthier choices due to convenience! In general, if its in a grocery store than you DON'T want it... trust me, when I see a different brand at a store I'm in I will check ingredients but I have yet to find a quality food selling at Kroger, Walmart, Dollar General, etc!

                       Worst Dog Food Brands                                   
Beneful by Purina

Alpo by Purina
Ol' Roy

Kibbles and Bits

Purina Dog Chow


Hills Science Diet Original

Now that we have that out of the way lets talk about good dog food, the kind that: your dog is excited to eat, ups their energy level, gives them a good coat, makes them healthy & happy!!

Here are some resources for finding good dog food. Trust me, if you just go to a Pet Store and look at ingredients it can take a LONG time! is my personal favorite resource, as I think its fastest and easiest. Personally, I will look at the highly scored food on their list then do my own research on the food suggested. I really like that they explain ratings too, which gives you an idea of the reason for their rating and if it is important to you and your pet, like some 2 star food the only reason given for the rating is it was bought by P&G...  so it MAY still be good food, but do your research in that case!

What I use for my dogs!
I personally fed my dogs Whole Earth (the green bag) for 2 years! This isn't the BEST food out there, but it is the best that an 18-19 year old who just moved out of her mothers house and in with her fiance could afford! I would 100% recommend it, because although it isn't THE best, it is definitely a better choice than MANY dog foods (even other brands in a pet store) and is more affordable than many other brands.

I'm in the process of switching dog foods because for just a few dollars more on a big bag I can buy TOTW (taste of the wild)! I found the TOTW with Bison meat on sale on amazon and with prime I have free shipping so I got 2 big bags for $4 or so more than I would spend on Whole Earth and it is better food, with a LOT of protein!

Now we CAN'T forget the snacks! 

My vet actually has a list of dog snacks which he advises against due to them containing either onion or garlic. There is a huge debate right now about garlic for dogs, too much CAN be fatal, but in small doses many say it is beneficial. My dogs have garlic sometimes (due to us sharing food) and no negative reactions!

Many treats are just FILLED with grains, fillers, and empty calories! When you chose a treat, try to chose wisely. It is easy to overfeed our pets, but they require MUCH fewer calories than we do and their treats are like our junk food (filled with calories). I recently bought NUTRISENTIALS treats with only 7 calories per treat! I am not necessarily recommending this brand but I 100% recommend finding some low calorie treats, unless you feed dry kibble as treats!

Here you can guess and find out how many calories are in SOME common dog and cat treats! I was surprised to find just 10 per puppy milk bone, that will be a treat in the future. It also might be a good idea to make your own dog treats!

With any option you chose, treat or food, I think it is important to discuss with your vet your dogs daily calorie goal! Nobody likes the thought of counting calories for us or our pooch. Obesity in dogs, like in humans, has MANY bad side effects and is a health concern. With small dogs especially portion control is crucial, and as you upgrade their food you will find they need and eat less! and the lovely Ms. Casey Carter helped provide some of this information! If you are looking at getting a pet please always look at local rescues and your local animal shelter! If your feeling charitable I highly recommend donating here, you can help sweet dogs like this one I fostered:

Fostering is ALWAYS needed also, so check with local animal shelters in their area and even if they don't do fosters personally they can probably recommend a rescue who counts on fosters to save animals!