What do you feed your dog (or pets)? Have you ever wondered why your dog seems to get sick or suffer from various ailments, some more serious than others? Do you take your dog to the vet for issues other than regular check ups? Have you ever wondered why your dog poops so much or why the excrement is goop? Have you ever taken a close look at what is in your dog’s diet? Well, you should.
Ideally, a dog should eat as a wolf does – a raw diet of mainly meat with a side of roughage (fruits and vegetables, offal, meat, eggs, or dairy foods). A raw diet however is not always practical for pet owners. You need to freeze individual packages of the food and there are hours of work to prepare it monthly.
When we got our dog four years ago we initially went with cheap food from Costco. My boss at the time had just gotten two puppies and he had a membership at the box store. He told us about this cheap food and offered to pick us up supplies when we needed it. Being frugal, and given Mrs. SPF’s family dogs growing up always ate low grade food (this is my first dog), we accepted my bosses offer.
The Results? Not good! Our dog ate a lot of the food (fed as per the bag instructions). She also had very runny and overly frequent poops, which we did not expect. We didn’t expect her to need a slow carb diet but she was burning through carbs like crazy! As we both work we had to crate her during the day and we were always fearful she may have an accident in her cage. After a few bags of this food we went into a local non-chain pet store and started discussing the food (Kirkland). The look on the owners face was enough for us to know we had erred, but then she started to tell us about the problems with the product (see below for the comparable food ingredients). She pointed us to another type of food and explained why the ingredients were superior. Her business monitors the ingredients in the foods they sell and she promised us that if a company changes their dietary composition of the food they would tell us. We’ve had to switch to our now 3rd type of food from this store (due to the “small guy” getting bought out by the big players who reduce costs by reducing quality), but this is great value added as we wouldn’t think to monitor the changes in the food on our own. She also pointed out that since this food had better ingredients we would be feeding less to our dog. At the time we knew the food cost more and she’d eat less but until now we’d never crunched the numbers.
Before number crunching you really need to take a look at the ingredient differences between the higher priced food we buy our dog (Holistic Blend Healthy Dog) and the generic Dog Chow brand.
Holistic Blend Healthy Dog
Cost: $46.99 – 35 lb bag. 100 lb dog requires about 3.5 cups per day.
- Free range Chicken (Human Grade/No By-Products or Rendered Meats)
- Naturally Preserved (Rosemary)
- Holistic & Conventional Vet. Recommended
- Chelated minerals, whole grains, fruits, antioxidants and herbs
- Promotes healthy skin and coat
- Highly digestible and palatable
- Balanced Omega 6 & 3 fatty acids (5-2 ratio)
- Ingredients allow for smaller feeding portions
Chicken meal, whole ground brown rice, hulless barley, chicken meat, oatmeal, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols, a source of vitamin E), potato, natural chicken flavour, sunflower oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols, a source of vitamin E), wild salmon meal, dried whole eggs, flax meal, yeast culture, dried kelp, tomato, carrots, pumpkin, cranberries, spinach, broccoli, green apple, blueberries, pears, bananas, rosemary extract, cinnamon, turmeric, capsicum, chamomile, dandelion, paprika. Minerals: calcium carbonate, zinc proteinate, ferrous sulfate, iron proteinate, zinc oxide, copper proteinate, copper sulfate, manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, calcium iodate, sodium selenite, choline chloride, l-lysine. Vitamins: vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, niacin, L-ascorbyl (source of vitamin C), inositol, d-calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, beta carotene, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement.
Does Not Have:
Animal By-Products (animal parts leftover after the meat has been stripped from the bone. Chicken byproducts include heads, feet, entrails, lungs, spleens, kidneys, brains, livers, stomachs, noses, blood, and intestines free of their contents. Very little nutritional value)
BHA/BHT (studies dating back to 1974 have shown that BHA and BHT increase the risk of cancer, accumulate in body tissue, cause liver enlargement, and can retard the rate of DNA synthesis and cell development.
Ethoxyquin (ethoxyquin is a pesticide, used in fruit scald control. It is also used as a rubber preservative!)
Antibiotics (can cause arthritis; ear infections; ‘doggy’ odor; dry, itchy skin; urinary tract infections; diabetes; environmental sensitivities; heart disease; cancer)
Growth Hormones (don’t really need to comment on this)
Corn (deprives your dog of the animal based protein that their bodies are better equipped to absorb and retain. Much of the corn protein will pass through your dog as poop.)
Wheat or Wheat Gluten (dogs can not digest it properly and it adds little nutritional value to your dog`s diet)
Sugar (can cause worms)
Salt (can lead to gulping of water, which leads to bloating, and the gas could lead to stomach twisting and a painful death)
Beet Pulp (slows down the transition of rancid animal fats and causing stress to kidney and liver in the process. Can cause allergies and ear infections)
Soya (soy proteins are digestible by dogs, the overwhelming problem is that many are allergic to it)
Now let’s look at Dog Chow
Cost: |30 for 35 lbs. 100 lb dog needs about 6 2/3 cups per day.
Whole grain corn, poultry by-product meal, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), corn gluten meal, meat and bone meal, brewers rice, soybean meal, barley, whole grain wheat, animal digest, calcium carbonate, salt, calcium phosphate, potassium chloride, L-Lysine monohydrochloride, choline chloride, zinc sulfate, Vitamin E supplement, zinc proteinate, ferrous sulfate, added color (Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 2, Yellow 6), DL-Methionine, manganese sulfate, manganese proteinate, niacin, Vitamin A supplement, copper sulfate, calcium pantothenate, copper proteinate, garlic oil, pyridoxine hydrochloride, Vitamin B-12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, Vitamin D-3 supplement, riboflavin supplement, calcium iodate, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), folic acid, biotin, sodium selenite.
Not so good! Corn as the first ingredient – bad as it is filler. By-product meal as the #2 ingredient – bad (see above). Corn gluten meal at number 4 – bad – more filler. Meat and BONE meal – bad (see above – and it is listing BONE as an ingredient!). Brewers rice (bad as it is low grade rice – filler). Soybean meal (see above – filler). Barley (another grain – bad). Wheat (see above). Animal digest?! (a quick wikipedia search returns “A cooked-down broth made from specified or unspecified parts of animals (depending on the type of digest used). If the source is unspecified (e.g. “Animal” or “Poultry”, the animals used can be obtained from any source, so there is no control over quality or contamination. Any kind of animal can be included: “4-D animals” (dead, diseased, disabled, or dying prior to slaughter), goats, pigs, horses, rats, misc. roadkill, animals euthanized at shelters, restaurant and supermarket refuse.” OK – GROSS) and after these “ingredients” a whole slew of chemical type sounds words. Does your dog deserve this diet?
Now let’s take a look at the financial numbers behind your dog’s diet.
1 cup of food = 1/2 lb
There are 70 cups of food in each bag.
Dog Chow costs $0.43 per 1/2 lb of food.
Holistic Blend Healthy Dog costs $0.67 per 1/2 lb of food.
The thing to note however, is that the quantity of food your dog eats changes the real cost that you pay per day.
Dog Chow recommends 6.66 cups per day @ $0.43 which equals $2.86 per day for Fido.
Holistic Blend Healthy Dog recommends 3.5 cups per day @ $0.67 which equals $2.35 per day! $0.51 less per day. Over a year you have effectively saved $186.15. Multiple this figure by your dog’s life expectancy (which should be longer with a good diet) and the savings are significant.
The numbers don’t lie and the ingredient list certainly opens ones eyes about the good or the bad for we opt to we give to our dogs. Given lower costs for higher priced food, the fact you will have to buy less bags (which become waste) of food and less trips to the pet store the choice seems simple. On top of all of these great reasons to feed your dog well? Vet bills! A healthy canine won’t be getting as many allergies and infections, not to mention (sometimes incurable) diseases. You won’t have to pay for pet insurance any longer or be forking out your hard earned money in very expensive pet bills. Treat your dog as you treat your money, with care, and you’ll both live happy lives.