This comes from the May issue of Reader's Digest with a huge list of contributors involved in feeding, training dogs (and cats).  I thought it was interesting since we often discuss what to feed our dogs.  Whether commercial dog food....what brand is best or a raw diet.  We often have new people who ask for advice and our opinions are as varied as we are.  We all want the best for our critters to keep them healthy, happy and with us for a long time.  This is not meant to be for or against a commercial diet or a raw diet.

 

Make sure their diets have plenty of essential fatty acids.  Most high-quality commercial pet food have enough but those on low quality of homemade diets may develop a dull coat.

 

Every bag of pet food has an Association Of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) statement on the label (tho you may need a magnifying glass to see it).  Look for one that says the food has undergone animal feeding trials rather than one that's been formulated by a computer.  The trials are expensive but they indicate that real dogs actually ate the food for 6 months with good results.

 

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, examined 200 recipes last year for home-prepared dog food found that 95% has some serious nutritional deficiencies.

 

Grain-free dog and cat food...it's all hype.  Grains has actually be an important part of a balanced diet.

 

A raw diet can cause cracked teeth or possible bacterial infections.  Also, exposure to feces could put anyone with a weakened immune system at risk.  The ASPCA, the CDC and other institutions all strongly discourage raw diets.

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Linda, I know that this may not be the most popular opinion, but I think grain-free for dogs is one of the biggest marketing coups in pet food history (cats are different; they are obligate carnivores).


Dogs digest grains just fine.  Some grains are better than others, of course, but dogs who do sprint work like agility actually get better energy if they do have carbs in their diet.

A relatively small number of dogs are allergic to certain grains and need to avoid them, so several companies made grain-free foods that substituted potatoes or whatever for the carbs.   But your market share will always be small if you only target allergic dogs.  So, what to do?  Make it seem like peas or potatoes instead of oats or rice are a major dietary improvement and market them to everyone.... and watch your company profits soar.

The argument I've heard is "dogs' ancestors did not eat grains."   When I ask "Did they eat potatoes?" I never get an answer, but most of the grain free dog foods use either peas or potatoes as the carb.   



Beth...I feed my guys Blue Buffalo, not the grain free one.  It has barley and brown rice...what I didn't want was a lot of corn.  Both of mine have done very well on it tho I know some people don't like it.  It works for us.  Their weight has stayed good even over winter months and they have good energy. 

My belief is there are good grains and there are bad grains. When the 1st 2nd or 3rd ingredient is a carb...that is not good and I would never feed my dogs a food with corn in. If it is rice, oatmeal or a better whole grain then I believe it is OK if it is lower on the ingredient list. It makes a difference as to how much exercise a dog gets also and their metabolism . Just like with people(I have helped many people lose 50-150#s by watching serving sizes and carb intake).Good whole grains can help with many other body functions that can help your dog too.

Honestly I don't think I could do a good enough job at making my dogs their own food.

I think DogFoodAdvisor is an excellent site for evaluating dog foods, and the types of ingredients that go into kibble, etc.  

I agree DFA does give you much info and also the carb %. It also gives you ingredients in red that are questionable or unnecessary. I just looked up one of mine again and it talks about not maybe wanting to feed rice due to the arsenic  in rice. Whole Dog Journal does a nice comparison of food 1-2 a year also.

If you read some of the feeding studies, they are very interesting. Mostly Iam's and Purina do feeding studies. They will actually blend different carbs and fiber based on digestibility to help regulate blood sugar/energy levels through the day. So some carbs are digested quickly, and some more slowly, and a mix of them means your dog feels quick energy soon after eating but continues to get energy for many hours, rather than having a quicker spike and then crash.

Some of the high end boutique foods and treats are using pea protein to sneak up their protein content. The main source of protein should be a named animal/fish source (meat or meat meal).

Also, "by-products" are not all the same. I know some lines of Iam's (there are different quality levels) use meat meal as the main protein source, but add chicken by-product meal as a source of glucosamine.

People make different decisions based on different values. So for instance the studies I've read show corn is actually a highly digestible carb as it's processed in dog food. But some don't like that much of our feed corm is GMO. Others don't like the environmental toll of corn production. So you get blanket statements like "corn is bad." It's important to understand where those sentiments come from. Bad for the dog? Bad for the environment?

I know some people like to feed "human quality" foods. From an environmental perspective, if dogs can be fit and healthy on our cast-offs, that is better for the planet. Not so say all of our cast-offs are good, but many of them are fine and when animals hunt, they go first for the body parts that we humans tend to turn our noses up at.

Beth, Glad you talked about the GMO. It's hard to find people food nowdays that doesn't have it in.

I'm glad I posted that article...actually if you get the Reader's Digest then you know their  "Secrets ......Don't Tell You" series.  I read the list of contributors to it wanting to know the people who gave the info.  It seems to have opened up a really good discussion about what we feed our guys.  I'm learning a lot and I've had dogs all life way back to the can of KenLRation or Alpo plus table scraps days.

Beth and Jane....thank you for your comments.  I very much respect your knowledge of dogs and corgis in particular.

Linda, I remember the KenLRation, my uncle who was a vet told me to use this when he gave me my 1st dog at 10. All those dogs survived just fine and I have no idea what was in the food but I believe they may have used horsemeat in some of them???? I also remember my dad making extra pancakes every Sat. AM so he could give the dogs a treat:)

I fed my first cat Friskie's Dental Diet. I would never feed it now to a cat as the only food source; it's high in carbs and plant-based protein. Cats are obligate carnivores and need much more protein than dogs to be healthy.

But the funny thing is, she lived to almost 17 and was fit and healthy til she went downhill fast after getting cancer late in life. However, some (not all) cats are prone to diabetes if fed a high-carb diet.

Personally, I like to feed my dogs what I consider a medium-grade kibble and a few times a week mix in things like fatty fish, or scrambled eggs, or yogurt or cottage cheese.

I think our dogs can thrive on a wide variety, but we must be careful. As this article mentions, many homemade diets lack essential nutrients and it can take years for those sorts of problems to show up. If you think of people, think how many are short of iron, calcium, and vitamin D without supplementing. It is easy to get enough calories, protein and fat from any old diet. But certain nutrients are harder to get right. I prefer to let some scientists develop a food and feed that. But some people have dogs with particular health issues that need special diets.

Beth,

I think over the years that dogs have replaced important people as now many relatives/friends move states and countries away from their roots and so people cater to their beloved animals . Just a thought as to why I think our animals have become more important.

My dogs get raw free range chicken eggs and the chick feed is NOT medicated.

Also like you I fed just plain cheap cat food and my cats all thrived. Now my 16 year old cat can't eat anything but Science Diet and I started switching off with chix breast and rice...it's the only thing he can keep down. I think the canned cat food has gotten so horrible that they scrape the bottom of the barrel for the gunk:(

Good point about us worrying more about the food we feed our pets than what we feed our human families. I think it may be that unconditional love and blind loyalty thing that gives animals the edge, but I do think I may be guilty of obsessing about my dog's diet and medical care. I also know my dog and I will have less time to be together and I hope to keep my dog happy and healthy as long as possible.

When Sully developed allergic skin issues and constipation I spent many hours trying to resolve it naturally, and inexpensively. Would I have been as obsessive with my children prior to having Google options? Who knows? I am certainly not looking for the best and most expensive feed and pet products, but the reports of animal deaths are so alarming that I try to find the least dangerous products and hope for the best. At last this site gives me some idea how products work with other corgis.

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