Another dog food recall! How can you know what is the best dog food for your dog?
Looking back on all the dog food recall stories of the past few years, I set out in search of an answer to that question. We have a little terrier named Precious, and indeed she is precious to us. I wanted to be sure she was getting a diet that would keep her healthy.
I should explain that Precious isn’t really my dog. Her master is my good friend and housemate. He loves her, but I knew that what he knew about food could be written on the tip of one doggie toenail.
How do I know this? I watched what he ate. If he didn’t know any better than to feed himself junk food, how could I expect him to know what was good for his dog?
For a long time I stayed out of it. I watched, but followed a path of non-interference. Until I couldn’t stand it anymore.
I thought long and hard about how to approach this issue with him, how to let him know that his dog needed better nutrition without offending him.
As it turned out, I needn’t have worried. He was highly receptive to my suggestions. His only concern was that he didn’t want to have to figure out what to feed her. As long as I was willing to do that, he was willing to listen.
So… I started a research project. I read everything I could find on the subject, online and offline. I even put together an ebook, Doggie Eats, to make what I learned available to other pet parents concerned about choosing the right food for their dogs.
But I didn’t just research the topic. I also conducted my own lab experiments, with Precious as my guinea dog.
Don’t get me wrong. I am unequivocally opposed to animal experimentation in the usual sense.
No animals were harmed in my laboratory. I already had a baseline: reading the label, I saw that what Precious had been eating was indeed junk food.
My research confirmed what I was already pretty sure of: namely, that what dogs need more than anything else is protein. The average dog should be eating a food that is at least 18% protein.
I looked at the label of the canned food Precious had been eating: 0% protein! Omigosh.
I went to the pet food store and looked. Most canned foods contained 8% or less protein; the highest protein content I found in any of them was 10%. And the kibbles were no better.
In the course of my research I learned that although protein is important, dogs are not strictly carnivorous. They require a small component of vegetables and fruits, which in the wild they get from eating the stomachs of their prey.
But they don’t need grains. In fact, wheat and other grains are often at the root of canine problems like skin conditions, digestive tract upset, and a variety of allergic reactions.
In case you haven’t read the label on a can of processed dog food recently, most of them are composed chiefly of grains. Oops!
But dog food recall has nothing to do with protein content, or with grains that can make a dog sick. The mere fact that a food hasn’t been recalled doesn’t mean it constitutes a healthful diet.
So… what facts did I unearth in my research that will help you choose the best food for your dog?
1. Raw food is more nutritious than cooked food.
2. Raw foods come in two forms: dehydrated and frozen.
3. You can prepare your own raw food, but it takes time and attention to detail. Just grinding up a steak will not give your dog a balanced diet.
4. If you don’t want to go raw, or if your dog doesn’t tolerate raw food, there ARE grain-free canned and kibbled foods with decent protein content and a vegetable/fruit component.
So… even if you’re not a raw food enthusiast, you can still give your dog a reasonably healthful food. And some dogs, so I hear, do not do well on a raw diet. (They say the same about people. I don’t know whether it’s true or not.)
And if you’re really into raw food, you can make your own.
The middle path would be to buy raw, either dehydrated or frozen.
So okay, you knew there was more to think about than dog food recall. But I do hope this article has given you some useful information you weren’t aware of. For more detailed insight into how to pick the best food for your dog, I recommend you read my book, Doggie Eats. Click here to get it, or click on the image of the Doggie Eats ebook in the sidebar.
If you’re concerned about your dog’s health and well being, you might enjoy this video:
Like this little poochie, your dog just may want to consider all the doggie unfortunates who aren’t being fed so well. There but for the grace of God… .
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Chiwah Carol Slater
The Pet Story Passionista
Word Weaver Chiwah
Founder, PetWrites.com, WordWeaver4U.com