- Dog food companies exaggerate the nutritional value of their food. (No! Then how come the dogs pictured on the bag look so happy?)
- Dogs are omnivores and can eat lots of different things, including grains, and be healthy. It’s poor quality sources bad additives that are bad.
- Generically named meat sources are bad because they’re obtained from questionable sources–otherwise they would tell you what it is. So you want specifically named meat and meat meals such as chicken, lamb, chicken meal, lamb meal, etc.
- Carbohydrates from grains or vegetables are fine. But they should also be from high quality, specified sources. For instance, avoid brewer’s rice. It sounds fine but it’s low in nutritional quality and it’s found in cheap dog foods because it’s cheap.
You may remember (or not…) when I told the story of our dog a few months ago. No matter how I was drug into dog ownership, he is a big part of our lives now, especially my husband’s who is definitely the “master.”
So who better than to do a guest post on our search for inexpensive but nutritious dog food than the master himself, Brian (some would say my better half, and come to think of it, maybe I would, too).
After the post, you will find the latest video from An Oregon Cottage all about…dog food.
This is a photo of our dog Samson. Do you see that look of gentle reproach? Jami says that I tend to project feelings onto the dog that he’s not capable of having. But if you’d been with me several weeks ago when I had to take him to the vet, you could have almost heard him say, “Master, I’m not angry, just disappointed.”
The veterinarian had just checked Samson over and noted that he was about ten pounds over weight (90 lbs. instead of 80 lbs.). I told her that I gave him lots of exercise.
She said, “What do you feed him?” When I told her the brand (hint: starts with “Atta” and ends with “Boy”), she gave me a look very similar to the one Samson has in the above photo.
“It’s like feeding him junk food,” she said.
“But it says ‘Complete and Balanced Nutrition’ right on the bag,” I replied, not really thinking this was going to change her mind. And it didn’t. She went on to explain that when a dog is eating food that’s relatively low in nutrition he has to eat more of it to get his required nutrients and thus he gains weight.
I asked her for the food she recommends and she gave me several expensive-sounding brands. But I left promising to get Samson some better food. As you know from reading this blog, cost is always an object with our family. We would get the dog something healthier to eat as long as we could fit it into The Budget.
Jami suggested I do some research online. Do you have any idea how many dog food information sites are on the Internet? I googled “dog food nutrition comparison” and got more than 1.6 million results. Is that like one dog food web page for every ten dogs?
Early on in the search I found a helpful site called DogFoodProject.com run by a woman named Sabine Contreras. I found lots of great information including forums where people post the ingredients of major dog food brands, nutritional analysis, and company information.
One thing I found very helpful is a little booklet you can print to take with you when shopping for dog food.
Her major points are:
In the end I took the information to Costco to see how their “Super Premium” Kirkland brand would compare. I was quite impressed. All their meat and grain sources are specified. They have none of the additives that I’d been warned about. When you read the ingredient label you get the idea that this food is a lot healthier than what most Americans are eating.
And at just 20 cents more per pound it won’t break the bank and we’ll end up feeding Samson less because he’s getting the better nutrition.
Another thing I noticed was when I opened the bag of Kirkland food to mix with his current food–they always say to do this–it smelled like real food. I wasn’t really tempted to taste it, though.
But would Samson like it? Even more important, would we begin to see beneficial effects as he began to absorb this better nutrition?
The photo below was taken of Samson BEFORE we started feeding him the Super Premium dog food.
Note the vacant look, the devil-may-care scowl, the ears pressed back in anxiety.
Now take a look at the picture we took of Samson just ten days after starting him on the new dog food.
Calm but not lethargic, passive but not cowering, the head held in a more noble pose.
Oh yeah, I think this 1,600,000th page on dog food proves once and for all that Kirkland Super Premium is the best.
By the way, this dog food switch seemed like a perfect opportunity to do a Super-Scientific Dog Food Trial on the way dogs perceive what’s good for them. They’ve only been domesticated for a few thousands years. Is the omnivore instinct still intact?
Watch the video and find out.
This is linked to Frugal Fridays @ Life as Mom