Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Choosing the Right Dog Food

It's always surprising to me how many supposed "dog guys" know about dog food. Not all dog foods are created equal. There are so many brands, so many types that it's not surprising people are confused. Dog food can be bought at Costco, supermarkets, drug stores, pet stores chains, and boutique pet stores. Generally speaking the only places that sell quality dog food are the later.

How does one know if your dog food is quality? A good guideline, though not necessarily guaranteed, is price per pound. Generally quality food should cost at least $2/lbs or more. Think about what goes into a price of dog food (or any product for that matter), the ingredients, the marketing, the production (labor, wages, equipment, the packaging, the transportation, and the profit. I'm sure I might have missed something as well but you get the point. If you just look at ingredients alone, if you pay $1/lbs, what type of ingredient can you really expect? Even at wholesale prices its difficult to find meat for $1/lbs. That is not including all the other determinants mentioned above that go into the overall cost of the food. So the real cost of the meat may only be 50 or 60 cents. And thats not including the 20 or 30 other ingredients in the recipe.

One should always look at the packaging to see the ingredients and the guaranteed analysis. If you have a hunting or active dog both are critical. If you have a house pet that is rather inactive than the former is more important than the later. Ingredients listed are always listed in the order of most to least. So it is important that the first few ingredients be some sort of meat, fish, beef, chicken etc. You may see meal after the meat, that is OK. Meal is just the meat is cooked and the meat rendered is then dried. Since it is meat, it is still good. What you do not want to see is a meat By-product. This is inferior to the whole meats and includes everything such as the hearts, lungs, intestines and other undesirable portions. You may also see digest which is the worst of all. It is basically By-product that is cooked and made into a slurry. Make sure the first few ingredients are either a meat or meat meal to ensure you are getting your money's worth. Otherwise you are paying for filler.

Active dogs are like Olympic athletes and should be feed a quality diet. It's long believed that a minimum of 30% Protein to 20% fat is ideal for working dogs. This ratio keeps your dog cool and helps prevent injury. It will keep your dog healthier and will live longer.

There are many benefits to feeding your dog a quality dog food. One is because the ingredients are quality the dog does not need to eat as much. This helps the pocket book as a 30 pound bag will last longer than a 30 pound bag of inferior dog food. You'll also notice that the dog's stool will likely be less, which is always nice.

Quality always cost more but that is why it is quality. there are a number of quality foods out there. I personally feed Kaiser Adult Dog from Orijen. The guaranteed analysis is 38%/17%. The fat is a little less than ideal but I supplement boiled ground beef and veggies that should up the the fat levels.

One last thing I'd recommend is to buy food that is 100% US or another first world country made. Orijen is 100% Canadian. Make sure of this. Many companies try to short cut ingredients and outsource to cheaper nations. Remember a few years ago, all the dogs that were dying or falling seriously ill? That was a result of ingredients coming from China making its way into the recipes of some dog foods. Don't risk it.

More good info from retriever trainer and DU Waterdog host Justin Tackett:

I realize this article should have been written during the off season rather than the hunting season. That just shows you how little I was able to hunt this year. What a shame although I'll be able to make it one day this weekend. So I should have at least one more report for this season.

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