Thursday, May 8, 2008

Nutrition blurb

Nothing spectacular going on here, so I thought I would write about a couple things on my mind and in the news lately. There is an increasing concern for pets fed Nutro pet food. There appears to be a surge in the last several months of consumer complaints about vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy in pets fed this brand of food.

I have personally never been a big fan of Nutro I feel like they try to get a piece of the natural pet food market, but still use cheap fillers and poor quality ingredients in most of their lines of pet food. Their Ultra food is probably the best of the lot, but even it uses a lot of rice fillers, essentially making the food more rice product than anything else. If you feed Nutro, it would be wise to switch to something else, at least until they get this all figured out!

I am a stickler for dog nutrition and have studied it for 6 years, my bookshelf is all nutrition books, basically! (suprisingly, hehe, the interest in it all started around the same time we got Cedar)

(Cedar and Bozeman waiting for Cedar's 1 year birthday cake, It was his, and my birthday, so Mike and I were headed out somewhere, hence the wet hair from the shower! This was obviously before Cedar was neutered!)

I have gone through several phases in the last several years concerning my dogs food. My first "own" dog I fed Californial Natural only. This was after a salesperson at the grain store told me about it, it was really my introduction to the world of "natural" dog food.

Previously, being in the veterinary field, I would only feed Science Diet. This is now a food I detest and never recommend to anyone. Same goes for Iams, Eukanuba (I call it yuckanuba), and all the other commonly pushed brands of pet food. Many people don't realize that these foods are given out free in veterinary school, so this is what the future veterinarian knows of. Many hospitals are actually given money to carry only their food. Yes, a lot of research goes into those foods, but so do crappy ingredients. Did you know that you can make a "balanced" diet from chicken beaks and shavings? If you actually read the ingredients list on these foods you may be appalled. Anything unspecific such as poultry or meat, can be almost anything. Your dog could be eating horse if it says meat. This allows for them to change from one batch to the other to whatever is cheapest at the time. They use cheap fractions of grains instead of the whole grain.

Anyway, back to the tour of my journey through dog nutrition.

(Here is Cedar the night we got him at the airport)

When we first got Cedar things with his gut just weren't quite right, at least in my opinion. I had him eating the California Natural for a short time, and then switched to Wellness, trying to get things on track. When that didn't seem to make too much difference I jumped into the whole BARF idea. This actually worked great for a couple years, I even raised Kyler on a raw diet until she was 1 1/2. I read a lot of books before jumping into it, but I was fairly happy with the results. I was hesitant about the bone part at first, but seeing Kyler devour an entire chicken leg quarter safely was actually quite fun to watch. Their teeth were fabulous! It did get a bit expensive after a while, as they were eating grain free, so basically meat and some supplementation. We also had Bozeman, our Rottweiler, who ate raw as well (although, I have to say the V's ate way more than he did)

Here is Bozeman taking a nap. We didn't spoil him at all! :)

When Jaida came along I decided to make a change for her safety. I was always worried about the bacteria in the raw food, since she would surely be touching their bowls, and they would lick her. So, I changed back to commercial food, but I did still experiment. Bozeman, who only had 3 legs, and had OCD leading to arthritis in his other back leg, did better without grains in his food. Grains seemed to irritate his arthritis. He did very well on The Honest Kitchen, we used the grain free, less calorie option. I did feed the puppy version to the V's for a while, it just got to be ridiculously expensive. I think it would have cost me $200 just to feed the V's, waaaaay to much with only working part time due to the kid!

(Jaida a day old, she was even cute then!)

So, back to dry food for the V's. I did, however, always give them canned food too. Why should they hate what they eat? Might as well make it tasty. It is old school veterinary medicine to say "they should only eat dry food". Canned food is actually much better protein, less fillers than dry food. If I could afford to feed just canned food, I would do it. Now I don't mean canned food like Alpo, you might as well just scoop up some random crap off the ground and feed them if you are going to do that. Here is a list of some of my favorite foods to feed, this is not all inclusive, there are some other great foods out there, I just can't list them all.

Canidae, Merrick, Nature's Variety, ByNature Organics. Really this is only a very small amount of the good quality foods that are out there now. Check the ingredient list, meat should be at least the first ingredient and maybe even more if your dog can tolerate muliple protein sources.

(Kyler and Bozeman caught in the moment)

I always give the V's a higher protein and fat food in the fall during hunting season, they need the energy and the higher protein for muscle repair.

I currently home cook for the dogs. It all began when our local deer butcher gave us a couple hundred pounds of left over deer scraps. It was good quality and free! This allowed me to cook for the dogs for less than it cost to buy commercial dry food! They love it, and Kyler, who is very picky, actually eats her food. There are some days where they eat commercial food, when I am running out of home cooked meals, but they always get canned food with it to make it taste a little better. You would be amazed at how the dogs look. Their coats are better than ever before, their teeth are still great, and I can actually recognize what they are eating. I am in middle of an online class on creating home diets for dogs. Until I am done with that I am comfortable using Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats. He is well known in the natural animal health world. There are a lot of books out there written by people who don't know anything, and just write opinion. That is dangerous, if you are going to be feeding your pet based on what they say!

Anyway, hopefully this little blurb of mine will peak your interest in dog nutrition if you don't already pay close attention to what your canine friend eats!

(Then, Bozeman trying to catch his own dinner. Just kidding, he was a very sweet boy, although this little poodle was very annoying to him!) FYI: Bozeman is no longer with us, he passed away on June 30, 2006. He was the sweetest Rottie ever and I still wish for another Rottie just like him, which would be nearly impossible. Perhaps someday he will come back in another Rottie form and cross my path. I can only hope!


Andrew Campbell said...

Nice post, Kim! First of all, who knew that Cedar was such a cute little puppy... I think the size difference in our little guy is dramatic... we always assumed that Jaida was that cute.

There was a point that I made food for our darling, Choya, our Mexican street-dog, but she and I were both vegetarian at that point. I've generally had good luck with Innova and California Natural with our dogs before and including Choy-choy. Momo has mostly been fed California Natural, but seemed to have occasional loose days. While they were in MD for the winter, they were fed a hi-protein Purina -- and both dogs came back looking great. So after browsing other high-protein foods, I settled on Canidae -- but the regular All-Stages variety. After three months of using it, both boys seem to be processing it more easily. When I hunt or run the boys hard I do feed them grilled quail or chukar meat with their dry-food -- and will probably switch them to the even higher protein Canidae formula.


Rocket said...

What a great blub. Thanks for posting/sharing. Our guy gets a mixture of kibble, Merrick or Blue Buffalo canned and whatever "sparkle" is left over from our plates thats edible for him. He's perfected "the stare" he gives us while we are eating.

Kim said...

Thanks for the nice words guys! This blog thing is actually quite fun when I have the time to do it!

Cristina C. Sabates said...

Hi Kim,

Have you ever heard of Hund-N-Floken by Solid Gold? It is supposedly all natural with no fillers and human grade. We met the "inventor" of the food in 2003 and we got hooked on it. Cedar loves the food, especially when we open a freshly vaccuum sealed bag. It is hard to find though. Whenever there have been any food recalls, this food is never mentioned. Wondering what your thoughts are on it if you have ever heard of it.


Kim said...

Yes, I have heard of Solid Gold, it is a good food. It is just very expensive, one of the reasons I haven't used it much.
The food recalls made me so nervous, we had a hospital full of sick cats. I was picky before, I am even more picky now!