Friday, March 23, 2007

So, what do I feed my dogs?

Amid this latest rash of pet food contamination, I've been asked "What do you feed them?"

Of course, I feed them the expensive stuff. One of the benefits of the expensive stuff is that it is rarely included in these mass-production recalls. One of the reasons is that expensive food rarely includes all the fillers that cheaper brands do. Yet, as this recall has made clear, foods that used to be the good stuff may not be so great anymore (Iams, Eukanewba, etc.)

For years I fed my dogs the Wellness brand, which was made with human grade ingredients and baked rather than extruded. The fact that it was baked meant there was only one factory that could produce it. But last year, when they began extruding the food in order to produce it at greater quantities, it also made my dogs sick. (Wellness is still better than most, and they have high quality control standards. My dogs just don't handle it anymore.) I switched to a number of other things which worked (Solid Gold's WolfKing) or didn't (Blue Buffalo) and finally setteled on Natural Balance's Organic dry food. Why organic? Not because it is organic. It is just the only food that Natural Balance makes that uses chicken as a single protein. In other words, it is as close as I can find to the Wellness formula that my dogs grew up on.

My final word of advice: if you are going to buy commercial food, don't judge the price strickly by the weight of the bag. With higher quality foods that don't use fillers like soy and wheat and corn, you don't have to feed as much, so comparing on a weight basis isn't an acurate reflection of the cost of feeding. Also, don't be fooled by the number of supposed "premium" foods that have come on the market with higher prices but the same ingredients as grocery store brands. Avoid anything that uses corn or corn by products, brewers rice, or unspecified "meals".