This is a guest post from Betsy Rosenfeld, who writes a blog called Love Thy Dog and just published a book, The Complete Single’s Guide to Dog Ownership.
When choosing a dog food, picking the more expensive bag may actually save you money in the long run!
Cheaper dog pet food is often bulked up with fillers that do add weight but don’t add nutritional value and can even compromise your pet’s health. I’m not just talking about the poison situation from the pet food crisis in 2007. I’m also talking about things like wheat and corn gluten that while not poisonous, are not a natural or needed part of a canine diet. And just like humans don’t do well eating tons of corn or wheat- think Oprah and Dr. Oz, and other anti-inflammatory diets- an excess of these ingredients can trigger expensive canine conditions too including allergies, skin conditions, eye and eye conditions and some experts think even cancer.
So be safe, and use the first five ingredients in a pet food as an indicator of the food’s nutritive value. The primary source should be a quality animal protein and not vegetable protein or grain. Avoid foods that list 2 or more grains in the first 5 ingredients.
You’ll be spending more per bag on a nutritionally dense food, but you may actually end up spending less on a cup by cup basis because these foods are more nutritionally dense so you’ll have to feed your dog less of it. To find out even more about the issue of pet food safety and value per cup visit DogFoodProject and or visit your local pet food store, I’m talking the mom and pop shop that doesn’t sell puppies. Their primary business is food (not puppies) and they will know the most about the different food options.
If you’re a little more adventurous consider a raw diet. My rescue partner feeds her dogs a diet based around turkey necks. This often discarded part of the bird is cheap and highly nutritious. Visit BarfWorld to find out how to healthfully start your pet on a raw diet!
A few good, nutritionally dense, high quality brands include: Evo, Merrick, and Innova. There are many more out there including a few such as Life’s Abundance which is only sold online. All dogs have their preferences and whichever dog food you choose be sure of a couple more things:
1. When changing your dog’s food, transition them slowly. Otherwise you can upset their stomachs and maybe cost you a trip to the vet.
2. Always include kibble or another crunchy item in their diet. This helps keep their teeth clean and dental disease in dogs can lead to big vet bills.
3. Feed your dog the right amount. Ask your vet and take into account your dog’s age and activity level. Not that you should be starving your dog, but I do feel it’s safer to err on the low side of the recommended serving. Companies are trying to sell more product after all and like their parents, we all need to take a look at portion control.
4. Not all dogs can eat all foods. If your dog isn’t reacting well to a food (constant gas is a good indicator,) don’t force the issue. Find a food that works!
Oh, and p.s. growing up I had a dog who lived to be 16 who ate vile looking Ken-L-Ration “burgers” that were the color of a basketball. Some dogs, often mutts, just have a strong constitution and can live eating the equivalent of spam every day of their lives. But if you love your dog like I love mine, I recommend not assuming you’ll be so lucky!