When you think good dog food, I'm sure those fun commercials start to run through your head. The BIG, BRAND name food, that MUST be good for your dog, well, think again. Now I'm not saying those food aren't going to sustain your dog. They will. Some will even do more then that, but many, MANY are the equivalent to feeding your children McDonalds twice a day, and no person in their right mind would do that, right? Hey, don't beat yourself up about it though, everyone has done it, why wouldn't you trust the company's advertising? They insist their food is HEALTHY for your dog, why would they lie? For money...money, money, money, because the average dog owner is unintentionally ignorant to the facts behind the fancy labels, and they know that.
Lucky for you, you're reading this blog! I'm going to tell you exactly how to tell the difference between a GOOD food, an OKAY food and a BAD food. Of course, as a dog trainer, Id love to see everyone using a good food, but I'll settle for an okay food if you must. Yes, I know what you're thinking, the better the food the higher the price. In many cases, this is true, at one point I was spending $100 or more per bag. But I did the homework and took the time to search for a good price, and good quality dog food and am spending less then half that amount now. That's on the largest size bag! (I'm talking the ones you have to throw over your shoulder to get into the house) I did this, not only for me and my dogs, but for my clients. I want to be able to give them a decent priced food with high quality to it.
So, whats the secret? Well, it's simple... READ the INGREDIENTS! Okay, now, I still grab an item of food off the shelf, look at the ingredients and wonder what the heck I'm reading, and I'm sure you're thinking this too. This is because I just don't know my facts...what it all means. When it comes to dog food though, I have a pretty good understanding. So I'm going to share this with you. To start I'm going to explain some facts on how dog food is labeled.
It is all set up by weight. So, this means the first item on your list of ingredients is what your dogs food consists most of. That being said, we really only have to worry about the first 5-6 ingredients on the list. Personally I judge the quality of the food mostly on the first 3 ingredients. Now, if you see the word “meal” next to a item, this means that the manufacturer weighed the item in a dehydrated state, this word is our friend. If you don't see the word “meal” next to an item it means it was weighed when it was wet, MEANING, if you dehydrated it, all of the sudden that chicken has been knocked down 3 ingredients and suddenly its basically all corn. Next we have to go into just WHAT those ingredients are and what it all means.
Lets start with “BAD” food... I want to encourage you all to avoid this type of food at all costs. This type of food is going to give your dog an unhealthy coat, weight gain, bad breath and TONS of poops for you to clean up. A good measure of how good your dogs food is, is how often they poop.. I know, it's kinda gross, but I mean it. Bad food will just go right through them, they won't absorb much, therefore they poop lots. So, what do you avoid? You avoid the word BY-PRODUCT! Yuck! I feel like I need to wash my mouth out! Seriously: this is bad stuff, no quality to it. What you are getting can be ANYTHING we humans don't want to eat. Bones, chicken beaks and other un-digestible parts etc. Blegh! All have some nutrients, but not the right balance or nearly enough for your dog. It will look like this: Chicken(or other meats) followed by the words “by-product”. Next one I don't like to see anywhere within the first 3 ingredients is CORN... any type of corn.. it's simply a filler. If it's later down the list, no biggy, but if it's in the top 3, put that bag DOWN! It's just like for us, corn goes in, and corn goes out, we don't take much from it. Not to mention if there isn't SOME kind of meat within the first 3 ingredients, walk away... if the first item is corn, walk away. Any kind of corn. That means the majority of your dog's food is corn. Insane right? And lastly, if you can't pronounce it, and it's in the top 3, again, put the bag down.
Next I will go over the “OKAY” food. This is food that falls under the same rules as “Bad” food, but leaves out some important details. This is where you won't see “by-product” within the first 3-ish ingredients, and you won't see corn either, but it doesn't tell you if it's a “meal” or not. It will look something like this: Chicken, Turkey, chicken fat, corn meal...etc. Notice they conveniently leave out if its a “meal” or not. Meaning, if we weighed this dry, all you're getting is corn meal. So this is why it's an “okay” food, because we don't really have all the information we need (and probably because they don't want to give it up!).
Lastly, what you have all been waiting for, the”GOOD” food. If you haven't already figured it out, we want a meat “meal” as our first ingredients. Chicken meal, turkey meal, beef meal etc. Then what we want to look for is quality, healthy fillers, and ones that are going to leave your dog actually feeling full! Thing likes brown rice, any kinds of potato, pumpkin seed, barley, oatmeal, any kind of animal fat, and plenty of fruits and veggies. Like I said before, if you see corn somewhere in there that's okay, as long as it's not in the top 3 or so. This kind of food is going to give your dog a healthy coat, much fewer poops, a well maintained weight and leave them feeling satisfied longer (meaning less scrounging around and begging...hopefully)
So I encourage you to go and take a look at your dog food's ingredients and see what's going into your dog's food. If you do decide its time to switch up your food, remember to move your dog over slowly. Switch out ¼ of a cup of their old food for the new food, and wait a few days. Make sure their poops are solid and looking good, and then switch out another ¼ of a cup (half and half) and so on until you are fully on the new food. If you found this information helpful, please let me know! Follow my blog for regular updates, and dare I say it, give me a call and hire some help! Thanks so much for taking the time to read my blog, the information provided is very important to me, so I appreciate your interest!