You Are What You Eat

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The decision on what to feed our pets is always a tough one- especially with the pet food companies telling you anything you want to hear.

Your dog or cat will be happier/ healthier /live longer. 

There are cheap foods, all-natural and foods with “meat chunks”.  In all reality, we should be just as picky with what goes into their bodies as we are with what goes into ours. We all can agree that choosing the right food  can be one of the biggest factors in longevity and quality of life for our pets. We also have to realize that just like human food, the best-tasting food is often the worst for us. For example,  foods with “tasty bits” or “meaty chunks” are sold to satisfy OUR  needs more than the dog’s nutritional needs and are often the cause of obesity. 

What I want to do with this article is let you know that there isn’t any one right answer when it comes to the dog or cat food that you choose, but there are several wrong answers! I want to help you make more informed decisions when it is time to refill the doggie dish, but please keep in mind, I am no expert.  I will offer tips and sources for you to refer to while making your own decision. 

Here are a few tips to keep in mind while browsing.

*. DON’T BE FOOLED BY THE BAG!!! The bag is designed by the marketing company, not by the scientists who created the dog food. They don’t know what is in the food, and they don’t care. Be sure to look at the ingredient list and guaranteed analysis chart on the back to help you make your decision.

**:  Avoid the following ingredients AT ALL COSTS:  By-products, artificial preservatives, corn, wheat, unnamed meat ingredients (poultry meal as an example).  The secret history of  pet food is that it began and continues to be dominated by companies producing pet food from the waste in the human food industry. That means the animals get anything that is not fit for us to eat.  Now, this isn’t true of all pet foods, but especially the cheap ones. Always check for the ingredients above, where there is ONE, there are several. Especially avoid dog foods that have one of the ingredients above in its top 5 ingredients.  

Ingredient list of BENEFUL

*** Each dog/cat has different needs. You have to look for allergies, breeds, ages energy levels, and other general health issues. Keep these needs in mind when shopping for your next bag of food. It is best to talk with your veterinarian about the needs of your specific dog. I want to note that many veterinarian’s will suggest Science Diet (which, shockingly, isn’t a top of the line food.)

**** Don’t let price deter you!  I get hung up on this one often (especially since I am feeding four labs) Sure, the healthier foods are more expensive, but you are feeding your dog less (or you should be anyway). Not only will the food last longer, but you are saving money on future vet bills and, perhaps best of all, your dog will poop less! With the healthier foods there are less (or no) fillers, so your dog is using the food, which means less waste! 

As I said earlier, there is no right answer, but there are a lot of wrong ones. I am about to introduce you to your new best friend…. DogFoodAdvisor.Com   . This website is dedicated to rating all sorts of dog foods based on ingredients and they even keep an updated list of recalls. For those of you who may not have the time to click around on the site, I am going to list some of the worst and best choices of dog foods for your dog. The foods listed will be the more well-known brands and the DRY dog foods only, it is just to give you an idea of how marketing isn’t what it seems. The foods will be separated from 1 star (worst) to 5 star (best). For my kitty lovers out there, I apologize in advance, there isn’t a comprehensive site that rates all of the cat foods. However, I did find this article to help you on your journey as well! 

1 STAR FOODS

Alpo, BENEFUL (see editor’s note) , Bil-Jac Reduced Fat, Chef Michael’s,Hill’s Prescription Diet, Ol’ Roy, Kibbles N Bits, PEDIGREE, Purina (Dog Chow, Active Senior, Puppy Chow, Little Bites, Healthy Morsels, Be Happy, Fit N Trim).

2 STAR FOODS

Bil-Jac, Diamond Dog Food, Eukanuba Custom Care, Evolution Diet Dog Care, First Choice, Hill’s Science Diet (Diet R/D, Adult, Healthy Advantage, Mature Adult, Puppy), IAMS (Proactive Health, Veterinary Formulas Intestinal, Vet Formulas Skin/Coat, Vet Formulas Weight), Purina ONE Smart Blend, Purina ProPlan Savor, Rachel Ray Nutrish

3 STAR FOODS

Apex, Avoderm Natural Grain Free, Blue Buffalo Basics, Eukanuba (Breed specific formula, Dog Food, Natural, Naturally Wild, Premium Performance, Pure), Fromm Family Classics, Hill’s Science Diet (High Energy, Ideal Balance, Ideal Balance Grain Free), IAMS (Naturals Dog Food, Premium Protection), Natural Balance (Limited Ingredient Diets, Organic, Ultra), Nature’s Recipe (Original and Grain Free), Nutro (Original, Natural Choice, Natural Choice Grain Free, Natural Choice Limited Ingredient, Wholesome Essentials), Purina ONE Beyond, Purina PROplan (Focus, Select, Sport), Royal Canin (Breed specific adult, breed specific puppy, Cynotechnique Energy 4800, Giant Adult, Maxi, Medium, Mini Adult, Mini Aging, Mini Puppy, Mini Weight Care), Sojo’s Complete. 

4 STAR FOODS

Authority Grain Free, AvoDerm (Natural Dog Food, Natural Revolving Menu), Blue Buffalo (Freedom Grain Free, Life Protection, Longevity),  BOGO Bowl, Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul, Diamond Naturals, Earthborn Holistic, Fromm (Four Star Nutritionals, Gold), Halo, Newman’s Own  Organics, Nutro ULTRA, Pro Pac, Pure Vita (Original, Grain Free), Royal Canin Starter, Taste of the Wild,

5 STAR FOODS

Blue Buffalo Wilderness, Canidae (Grain Free Pure, Single Grain Protein) Earthborn Holistic (Grain Free, Primitive Natural), EVO, Fromm Four Star Nutritionals Grain Free, Merrick (Classic, Grain Free), Orijen, 

For more foods from each category, click on the hyperlink and it will take you to the specific rating category. This list is current as of March 2013 (per DogFoodAdvisor.com) Remember, just because it is on the shelf, doesn’t mean it is good for your dog or cat. Most store brand foods would receive a one star rating- ALWAYS look at the ingredients. I have always heard the rule of thumb is that YOU want to be able to eat the first five ingredients in your pet’s food. 

Anyway, I hope this helps you on your journey. Please feel free to leave your comments or ask questions! 

**Editor’s Note::: There is a huge backlash with  Purina BENEFUL right now, which was my inspiration for the article. Many dogs have been dying recently and the fingers are being pointed at this brand. Sadly, many don’t know about this issue until it is too late. Please please please be more thoughtful about what goes into your pet’s body. Share this article and help educate others on the importance of your pet’s diet!

ALSO::: There have been a lot of complaints about blue buffalo as of late. Please, no matter what food your animals are eating, if you see a change in their health/behavior contact your veterinarian right away. Here is a link with concerns about this brand. 

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