Food, glorious food!

Yum!

Reviews.com, a company that reviews all sorts of things, from deodorant, to mattresses, to yoga mats, to dog food, recently contacted me about their review of dog foods. I initially did not pay any attention to the email as I get a lot of people wanting me (or, more specifically, “the person in charge of …”) to include their products/opinions/ideas/thoughts-on-aliens on my website. Besides, I thought, The Whole Dog Journal has it’s yearly review of dog foods that I think is the best of the best, so why bother?

But, they contacted me a second time, actually addressing me by name in the email! So I thought, “Why not? If it’s worthless I will have wasted 10-15 minutes of my life, but gained a brief respite from vacuuming. If it’s any good, I have yet another resource to share that will help people to better provide for their dog.” 

So, I have to say that I was impressed by the thoroughness of their research and the standards they used to include foods in their recommended list. They had ten people working full-time (over 1400 hours) to produce this report. Here is how they conducted the research:

— We built a list of over 11,00 people with connections to the dog food industry and narrowed it down to the best.

— Over 20 experts contributed their valuable time to our work, including veterinarians, dog trainers, animal behaviorists, university researchers, and authors.

— We surveyed 300 dog owners and asked them if they knew what was in their dog’s food.

— We gathered a list of over 8,000 search queries to find out what matters most to dog owners.

— We read and analyzed 72 of the most popular articles and studies on dog food.

— We compiled a list of 2,223 formulas from 115 brands and reviewed their ingredients.

Their research led them to the absolutely inescapable conclusion that safe, quality ingredients are the key to good food and good health (physically and mentally) for your favorite canine. The use of inferior food products can lead to obesity, ear infections, liver or kidney issues, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, and perhaps much worse. 

Dogs need the right combination of protein, fat, moisture, fiber, and nutrients to live healthy, happy lives. The wrong ingredients in the wrong combinations can lead to a host of health problems, both physical and mental.

 

Digestive problems, including bloat and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), are symptomatic of poor ingredients that don’t contain enough whole, unprocessed foods. Food allergies can also lead to digestive issues — many of the experts we reached out to have seen evidence that dogs are sensitive to wheat and corn, both popular fillers.

 

Obesity is on the rise in dogs. One main reason for this is overfeeding, but many of the experts we talked to were quick to point out that poor grain-based ingredients are also to blame.

 

Physical problems are only half of it. There was a unanimous consensus among trainers and behaviorists we talked to that poor diet causes mental health issues in dogs, including poor temperament and lack of focus. Marc Abraham elaborates: “Certain popular pet food brands on the market contain extra colorings, additives, and E numbers that, in my opinion, can affect behavior, leading to hyperactivity and difficulty with training.”

I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Abraham that poor diet can lead to poor behavior and training issues. A dog who doesn’t feel well cannot perform well. Ask any parent of a child the day after Halloween if their child is cranky, unable to focus, distracted, amped up, or lethargic…

Included in the review are two handy charts: A Quick Guide to Dog Food Ingredients and A Quick Dog Food Type Comparison. Both give a handy overview of their subject matter with pros and cons. I especially liked the Food Type Comparison chart as it is hard to find information about the various types of food (dry, wet, dehydrated, raw and homemade) in one place.

And their conclusions? 

After putting in 1,400 hours of research and analyzing over 2,223 formulas, we discovered even some of the most popular brands still make food with unhealthy or unsafe ingredients. Of the 2,223 formulas we looked at, only 134 met our standard of approval — about 6 percent overall.

Why so few? They eliminated 2,089 foods because of the following reasons*:

1) We removed products where the first ingredient is not a meat of any kind. 194 disqualified

2) We removed products containing corn, soy, wheat, grain, or flour. 578 disqualified.

3) We removed products containing beet pulp or sugar. 146 disqualified.

4) We removed products that contained by-products or sauces. 44 disqualified.

5) We removed brands for recalls, ingredient sources, history, and customer satisfaction. 956 disqualified.

6) We reviewed the remaining formulas based on the best ratio of protein, fat, and carbs, as well as the source of protein. 171 disqualified.

Near the end of the article is the complete list of approved dry dog foods as well as links to their lists of preferred canned, puppy, and grain free foods. It is well worth your time to peruse the review and the list of acceptable foods. It was a definite eye opener for me! I had already decided to switch my dogs from Taste of the Wild and Blue Wilderness Puppy to Origen and Origen Large Breed Puppy before I read this article. After reading it, not only was I glad I switched, but I went to the local pet store to get some Origen to tide us over until my auto-ship arrives.**

A few final thoughts on dog foods: The foods listed here are super premium and the price for a bag of one of these foods may take your breath away if you are accustomed to purchasing your dog food at the grocery store. I understand that $65+ for a bag of food is a lot of money. But, perhaps you could look at this from a slightly different perspective: 
 
1) With super premium foods you generally feed less because the nutrition is dense. A food such as Purina may suggest you feed 4-6 cups of food to provide the minimum daily nutrition. With one of the premium foods, you may only need to feed 2-3 cups for complete nutrition that helps your dog to truly thrive, not just survive.
 
2) If you feed your dog food that helps him to achieve and maintain his ideal weight (by not having fillers such as corn which may lead to weight gain), then you are helping your dog avoid obesity and the problems associated with that. According to petmd.com, “Obese dogs and cats can be predisposed to a number of different health issues. These issues include diabetes (particularly for cats), joint disease, heart disease, liver disease, skin disease, respiratory disease, and heat stroke. Even some forms of cancer have been linked to obesity.” Obesity also lowers the life expectancy of your dog.
 
3) You might just lower your vet bills! A healthy, happy, vibrant dog requires fewer vet visits as there are fewer health problems. Getting your dog on the right food may do wonders to eliminate itchy skin, ear infections, or more serious issues such as diabetes that require numerous vet visits and medications.
 
Making the right decision for your dog’s individual needs can be a challenge. This is why reviews such as those offered by Review.com and Whole Dog Journal can be so helpful, as they do the heavy lifting research-wise. All you have to do is the heavy lifting of a bag of wonderfulness for your dog.  
 
Bone apetit!
 
nash.jpg
 
 
*To see the details on who was eliminated for what reason, visit the article at: http://www.reviews.com/dog-food/
 
**As I have mentioned in previous blogs, we are lucky here in Granville to have two wonderful pet stores stocked with great foods (Bath and Biscuits, and Village Pet Market). I will also use online sources for dog food and have found both Amazon.com and Chewy.com to be excellent sources. For another source of information on dog’s nutritional needs and digestive tract see:

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One Comment
  1. Eileen McNally says:

    I looked at the research and ordered Orijin for Petey. His sensitive stomach continues to act up. I believe the new food will help, but firmly believe that emotional responses (e.g. When either Bob or I are gone for awhile. He wants both of us together.) also plays a role. Thanks for the article.

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