Last week I was running low on the dog food I usually get for my eight year old Lab. Of course the only grocery store in town was out of it. They were the last time too and I had gone to another variety then promising to return the next time. Usually I get Purina Active Senior 7®, but had gone with the Purina Healthy Bites®. This time she had about two days worth left so I could technically wait for the truck to arrive with the order, which I was assured had my usual variety on it. I started reading labels just out of curiosity and no surprise the dog foods, and I mean all the dog foods, had the main ingredient of corn or wheat. Meat was several items down the list, and then with rare exception they didn’t list what kind of meat; just the generic meat or meat by-product. I knew dog food in the grocery stores weren’t exactly the highest quality available especially since the price is low to mid-range for most budgets, and getting higher. I happened to see an ingredient I hadn’t seen before, and I suppose I should have read the labels sooner – it’s been years. Animal Digest was right in the middle of the list. What? That sounds like a magazine, but I don’t think they put magazines into dog food. I did find a five pound bag of the usual stuff I get and there it was in there too. I had to look that up and see what it was.
Dog food companies are very vague on what there questionable ingredients are, some won’t even actually have a list of ingredients on their websites, just broad statement about how tasty and healthful their food is for your pooch. You know what? It’s bologna. I had to go to sites that specialize in unbiased testing of dog food, and there are many. Some sites list ‘animal digest’ as ‘just’ being the intestines (and whatever they might have in them at the time) of different animals. Others will tell you it is also the manure of many animals which has been dried and ground into powder. It seems to me a bit ridiculous to try to train our dogs not to eat their own excrement by feeding them chemicals to make it ‘taste bad’ or scolding, or whatever means, and then turn around and put it in their dog food as a filler.
Fillers take up space; fill their tummies without much nutritional value, if any at all. Corn is a filler, and actually dogs usually are allergic to corn (something else I learned) and that is what makes them shake their heads and claw their ears and scratch their hide raw, also makes them shed. Wow. Companies also spray rancid cooking oil and grease collected from restaurants on the dog food to give it that ‘chicken flavor’ among other flavors. Ever smell the dog food when you open it?
By-products can be anything. Chicken is bones, beaks, feet, feathers, guts; anything that isn’t usually eaten by humans, and that goes for other animal by-products as well. Did you know the mysterious ‘meat by-products’ can also include euthanized animals? Not just diseased, crippled, medicated cows or other livestock either, but also pets! Yes, the next time you visit the veterinarian ask them what they do with the euthanized cats and dogs. The medication they used to do the job is also in the animal and that goes into the dog food as well. No wonder pets get sick so often. Oh, let’s not forget road kill. If is killed on the highways and actually retrieved by someone (other than the one who did the deed) it is probably going to a pet food company. You’re cats eat it too.
I did find that Pedigree did not have the animal digest, albeit it still has other questionable ingredients, but fewer ingredients than the other dog foods. I discovered even the so called ‘high end’ dog foods, the really expensive ones from the vet’s office, also have those ingredients. Some of the worst offenders were of course Purina varieties, but also included, although not as bad, Science Diet, Eukanuba, and Iams, just to name a few. If your dog is diabetic stay away from dog foods loaded with sugar. They are out there. At least some of them do have vegetables dogs can digest in them.
There is good news if you can afford it. Organic dog foods are the healthiest. If the dog food lists a specific meat such as beef, lamb, chicken, even fish, as the first ingredient (not by-product) then you’re on the right track. If it doesn’t have corn or wheat; it’s even better. Blue Buffalo has a very few ingredients. I checked on foods for older dogs. And it should be noted I was not researching canned dog food.
Alas, Blue Buffalo is not available in my area, and judging from the price sheet from online retailers, it’s out of most of our budgets, mine included. At Petsmart (online) it is $16.99 for a 6 # bag, $27.99 for a 15 # bag, and $46.99 for a 30 # bag. Other varieties were more than that. Sorry old pal. At least I don’t feel so bad about giving her table scraps anymore. The dog food companies and veterinarians tell us not to give that to them. At least mine isn’t made with any rancid oils or rotten meat!