Ask the Vet by Dr. Paula Terifaj, DVM
There are basically five ways to feed your hound: homemade meals, canned, kibble, raw or some combo – like adding fresh foods (meat and veggies) to kibble. Being an outspoken skeptic of the pet food industry (poor quality control and common use of inferior ingredients) – I have moved in the direction of the crockpot. I feel better about feeding USDA human grade meats than what is allowed to pass for pet food. That said, I also understand the realities of adding another chore to our multi-tasking lifestyle. Fortunately, consumer demand for healthier choices has birthed a new generation of pet foods to meet the challenge of adding more animal protein and reducing carbohydrates – doing away with meat by-products, corn, wheat, glutens and other low cost indigents that add nothing of value.
Look for kibble that exceeds the minimum guaranteed analysis for protein (adult dogs 18 percent; puppies 22 percent) and fat (15 percent) established by Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Companies that are moving away from pathetic minimum standards set by AAFCO have studied the diet of outdoor hunting predators, known as the ‘’prey model’’. These progressive companies have upped the content of protein (30 percent or more) and fat (20 percent or more), and limited carbohydrates (25 percent or less). Gone are the grains and other nutrient poor foodstuffs. A handy guide to quickly analyze the quality of many popular pet foods is found on DogFoodAdvisor.com. Each review shows a dashboard reading for protein, fat and carbs on a dry matter basis – an estimate of its true contents, which usually exceeds its minimum guaranteed analysis. Also, there is an explanation of ingredients followed by The Bottom Line (keep scrolling). Each review is also star rated – pick only 5 stars. Anything less is a compromise your dog cannot afford!
On a cost basis alone, kibble will cost far less than canned and raw diets. However, based on your shopping skills, homemade diets can cost relativity the same compared to high quality kibble. My top kibble pick is Orijen, made by Champion Pet Foods. This diet is based on a Biologically Appropriate (80.20.0) ingredient ratio of 80 percent meat, 20 percent fruit and vegetables, and 0 percent grain. Another winning feature is its diverse protein selection using six meat sources, including free-run chicken and turkey, chicken liver, and whole eggs, and a selection of wild-caught fish.Next, my homework on the company itself. Champion has chosen to use only wholefood ingredients approved ‘fit for human consumption’ they purchase directly. Plus, all pet food is produced and packaged in their own facility. So, nothing is outsourced! Quality control like this is the best insurance policy against pet food recalls. Environmentalists will appreciate that all fish are harvested responsibly within its region of operation, Alberta, Canada.
It’s important to acknowledge that the lump of fur sleeping on your couch is a descendant of the grey wolf – feared by rabbits, birds, and any grazing mammals this hunter can catch and kill. So, everything your dog needs to thrive can be found at the meat counter in your grocery store. Always question what’s in the bag.
PetFlow.com offers a wide selection of pet foods at competitive prices – and free shipping. Find this link on DogFoodAdviser.com: Shop at an OnlineRetailer$10 Off + FreeShipping.
Paula Terifaj DVM is owner of the DogSpa Resort & Wellness Center in Desert Hot Springs. To request a holistic consultation for your pet, call (760) 600-0246. More articles on her blog, Dog-Breath, at DogSpaResort.com/blog.