I've seen many people around here asking about pet food. This is from another forum that I read. I thought it might help out some of you folks who want to give your dog/cat the same great experience of being on a best-for-them diet! I hope that you find this thread informative and helpful!
The food your pet eats effects many, many parts of his life. Lots of problems come from improper diet and can be solved by very simple changes. Does Mittens itch constantly and have lots of dander? Probably food-related. Has Sparky suddenly sprayed the dining room with lots of liquid love? Could be food-related. Does Fido have the most rank, paint-peelin' bowel movements? Yeah, that's food-related. And when you think about it, it makes sense. All living things get what they need to survive from what they eat, and if what they're eating contains little, or none of the essential ingredients for a proper diet, health problems are bound to arise. This simple guide will help you keep your pet happy and healthy, and hopefully prevent you from having to take unneeded, additional trips to the vet office.
First the basics -
It doesn't get much more basic than ingredients. This is the make-up of foods, and more often than not, the root of many allergies and health problems in lower-quality diets. When it comes to shopping for pet foods, the first thing you should do is flip the bag over and find the nutritional information. If you see 'Corn' or 'By-Product' as one of the first ingredients, then you're off to a bad start.
Here's a list of ingredients to AVOID -
Corn - It's not digestable! This is used as a cheap filler for almost all dog and cat foods! This has almost no nutritional value, and passes straight through your pet, coming out as additional waste. On top of that, it's a very common allergen in dogs and cats!
By-Product - Some by-products are worse than others, but all by-products are an unreliable source of meat protein. You never really know what's in by-product meal, but it can range from diseased livestock, horse remains, roadkill, euthanized animals from local shelters and 4-d meats (Google it!), ( All seen in meat by-product meal. ) to unfiltered intestinal tracts, feathers, brains, feet and waste (Poultry by-product meal. ). Some say that by-products aren't all bad. Why? Well, because an animal would eat all that in the wild, right?! Nope, not necessarily. By-products can contain high traces of chemicals used in euthanasia ( Such as phenobarbital. ), as well as meat rendered but still tainted with poisons and deadly bacteria. In the wild, most animals would never encounter these things, and would probably die if they did. The 'filler' that the animals would gain in the wild from eating other animals can be replaced with much cleaner, healthier, and safer ingredients.
Peanut Hulls, Mill Run - This is essentially what they sweep off the floor from the processing plants. It's literally the hulls of peanuts, scraps from trees ( Including bark. ), and whatever else employees happened to drop on the floor that day. Science Diet will tell you it's fiber! Unfortunately, we really don't have the slightest idea what's in the 'mill run' that day.
Wheat, Wheat Gluten - Another allergen, wheat and wheat gluten is starting to pop up in all the wrong places. It has the same basic problems as corn, and is used frequently as a filler, binder and sweetener.
And here's a list of ingredients look for -
Whole meats (i.e Chicken, Turkey, Bison, Venison) - You're getting exactly what it says you're getting. Whole meats, usually quality cuts of whatever is listed. This is meat alone, contains no internal organs, no mystery chemicals. Generally the best quality meat you can get in pet food. They're easier to digest than the 'meals' ( I.E., chicken meal. ), but usually come hand-in-hand with at least one 'meal' for a more complete diet.
Fruits and Vegetables - Such as fresh blueberries ( A natural antioxidant! ), fresh apples ( Tasty and healthy! ), sweet potatoes ( Reliable source of fiber, though doesn't agree with all dog's tummies ). Again, you're getting what it says, these are fruits and vegetables ground up in the food. This is the source of fiber and plant material that a dog or cat would normally be getting from eating the stomach of prey in the wild. It's carefully balanced in premium foods, and is generally not a main ingredient.
Meals - Preferably seen alongside their 'whole meat' counterpart, chicken meal, fish meal, turkey meal is the dehydrated 'whole' product. It contains organs and bone and is good for adding calcium to the food. It's a bit harder to digest than whole meats, but is far cleaner and safer than 'by-product'.
Oatmeal and Fish/Flax seed Oils - Oats and oatmeal are highly digestible and good for soothing upset bellies. These ingredients are frequently found in higher volume in sensitive-stomach formulas and are included in several ultra premium foods. Certain oils, such as flaxseed oil, are great for the skin and coat. Fish oils, especially salmon, also aid in skin/coat care as well as digestion. Not all oils are good though - corn and soy oils can cause allergic reactions just like their whole counterparts and should be avoided.
Next Post: Brands! The Easy Guide to What Not To Buy!
01-26-2010, 11:36 PM
Brand Name Foods - The Good, The Bad, and the, 'Oh God, your dog's been eating this and is still ALIVE?!'
And I'm not kidding either and I'll explain why.
Some of those nasty ingredients listed in the previous post can lead to serious health problems and even death ( In worst-case scenarios. ). Not too long ago, Diamond had to recall large quantities of their dog food for extremely high aflatoxin content that killed dozens of dogs. Aflatoxin comes from corn, one of the ingredients to avoid in your doggy health care plan. Another problem that can occur in dog and cat foods with high sugar-content is diabetes. Yep, your critter could be getting insulin shots, from you, for the rest of its life.
Here's a list of DOG foods and the things you should know about them -
Merrick / Merrick 'Before Grains'
Taste of the Wild
Prarie / Instinct
Innova / Innova Evo / Evo / Ancestral
All these foods contain whole meats, fruits, vegetables, and often cater to sensitive stomachs and unusual allergies. These foods all have a wide range of flavors including bison, venison, salmon and trout, as well as chicken and turkey for the less fancy. Many of these brands have come out with Grain-Free varieties of their original formulas, especially in canned foods. There's NO by-product, corn, wheat or mill runs in any of these foods. They are available at Petco (for Solid Gold), Canine Commissary (all three), or Pet Supplies Plus (all three).
Admittedly, I'm hesitant to put Nutro on this list, as it DOES contain Corn and Corn-Meal. However, it's also a decent enough in-between from the 'Acceptable' to the 'Premium' foods. Chicken Soup and Natural Balance have the same no by-product, no-corn policy and are excellent foods as well. They don't have the lavish flavor choices of Ultra Premium foods, and tend to be more grain-heavy, but cater to some very picky critters. Natural Balance has a Potato and Duck for dogs allergic to chicken, and many of these brands are coming out with completely 'Grain Free' options and 95% meat-type canned foods. These are all easily available at your local Petco, and Blue Buffalo can be found at Petsmart. Removed Nutro from list due to large number of consumers reporting contaminated bags.- Lioness
I hate to have to put Eagle Pack on here, but with the recent increase in corn on their ingredient list, they're falling fast. These are foods that are... Well, they're okay. I guess. They contain corn and/or by-products, are generally cheaper and are available at grocery stores. This stuff wont necessarily KILL your dog ( Despite the Diamond mass-death thing earlier this year. ), but it's certainly not the best. If your vet tells you to buy this stuff, punch him.
Regular Science Diet ( Non-prescription. )
Kibbles and Bits
Good Day Chunks
This is the worst of the worst. Usually no whole meats, or in the case of 'Good Day' no meat AT ALL. 90% of these foods are composed of corn, wheat, mill runs, followed by steamed bone-meal and by-product meal. Unfortunately, a majority of the foods you'll see available to the public are this grade, and can lead to many health problems. Also, these foods are GREASY, they make your dog's coat oil and often smelly, and make waste large, frequent, and often nasty-smelling. Science Diet I'm probably opening a can of worms with. But seriously, next time you have a bag at your finger tips, especially Adult Maintenance, just look at it.
Edit: A note about Science Diet - If your vet has put your dog on a prescription Science Diet in relation to a medical issue ( Such as kidney or urinary problems. ), my suggestion is to heed his advice. Regular Science Diet is terrible for a day-to-day use, but these prescription formulas may be what saves your pet's life.
Next: Cat Food!
01-26-2010, 11:37 PM
Cat food: Meat vs. "Oh, God!"
Cats are carnivores. In the wild, they live purely off of meat, and off of the stomach contents of their prey. In your home, they also need a predominantly meat-filled diet. Cats do not need added carbohydrates, but in order to meet AAFCO nutrition guidelines and to produce sufficient shelf-life, manufacturers typically add some type of vegetable matter and starch - Potatoes, grains, peas, carrots, etc. In cheaper foods, these ingredients mostly act as filler; In high-quality foods, the starch and fruit/vegetable content is selected to help maintain healthy digestive and urinary tracts
High carbohydrate content makes cats fat, and corn can be hard to digest. High-quality foods contain no corn, and usually favor non-grain starch over grain.
Avoid cat foods that use soy as a protein source. Soy has been shown to inhibit absorption of taurine, an essential nutrient for felines.
Ultra Premium ( Regular. )
Nature's Variety Prairie
Evanger's ( Makes only wet. ) ( NOT the vegetarian formula, duh. )
Tiki Cat ( Makes only wet. )
Wysong ( Wet. )
Ultra Premium ( Grain-free. )
Before Grain ( B.G.), made by Merrick
Now! Grain Free
Nature's Variety Instinct
Taste of the Wild
These all come with a relatively hefty price tag.
For the rare cat who's allergic to poultry, California Natural, Prairie, and Now! offer poultry-free formulas.
For other food ingredient allergies or sensitive stomachs, Natural Balance now makes a "Limited Ingredients Diet"/"L.I.D." formula. Meat isn't the first ingredient, but if your cat can't tolerate other dry/wet foods, it might still be a good option.
Be careful with all of the grain-free Ultra Premium foods. Some have a very high protein content, and cats prone to kidney issues probably shouldn't eat them. Even healthy cats sometimes can't handle the richness of Innova EVO; they never get used to it and will just puke it up. However, for healthy cats who can handle a grain-free diet, many grain-free foods have impressive ingredient lists.
Wysong's wet formula has a really nice ingredient list. And I believe Wysong is still the only premium food manufacturer with a prescription-foods line, and their ingredient list is much better than the Hill's Rx line.
Evanger's is just crazy. One variety is called "Whole Mackerel with Gravy." It is, in fact, an entire mackerel ( Including softened bones. ) cooked in a gravy to make it nutritionally-complete for cats. Other varieties are chock full of organic ingredients. Avoid the vegetarian diet, though - For some reason, they market their vegetarian food to cats as well as dogs. It might meet federal food guidelines, but it doesn't contain any animal protein, so it's not really suitable for a cat's diet.
Solid Gold has impressive wet and dry food. Solid Gold wet is similar in cost to Evangers, and has the consistency, odor, and appearance ofregular canned tuna. (This is my cats' favorite wet food, and I've fed them lots.)
I've upgraded Natural Balance to the "Ultra Premium" category due to some of its new products. Its formulas still contain carrageenan, but considering how prevalent carrageenan is on the open market and how little we hear of any intolerance or side effects, I won't give the food a bad rap just because of personal preference.
Wellness has a good ingredient list, but it seems less tasty to a greater proportion of pets than other premium foods.
Pet Promise (wet)
Newman's Own Organics
Diamond Naturals (dry)
Premium cat foods contain no by-products.
Merrick's wet cat food formulas seem pretty good, but they use the binding agent carrageenan to give some of their foods sort of a more "Stew like" consistency.
Blue Buffalo is available at PetSmart, and Pet Promise is available at Petco. Pet Promise's slogan is "Let By-Products be Bygones;" and Blue Buffalo has "nutrient clusters" ( Or whatever they call them. ), meaning the vitamins and minerals are cold-formed and not cooked with the meat, so they don't lose potency - But also that pets can avoid eating the vitamin-chunks if they don't like them.
Newman's Own contains some soy, but they don't appear to use it as a protein source.
These formulas are sort of "in-between." They're not bad, and I wouldn't immediately try to convince someone to switch from these... But, there's much better stuff on the market. For example, Eagle Pack contains some corn.
Royal Canin also contains corn, and I don't buy its claims that "scientific studies" show how individual cat breeds require, "Dramatically different diets to address significantly different nutritional requirements." I see Royal Canin as the biggest practitioner of marketing B.S. among all "quality" pet food manufacturers.
Wysong dry cat food contains corn, which is odd since Wysong's ingredient list is otherwise excellent. Wysong also makes a vegan cat food, which is just plan bad. Some Wysong dry formulas are fantastic, but because of the clear variations, I'm wary of even the better Wysong dry foods.
Pet Promise (dry)
I don't like how Science Diet's main ingredient is corn, but let's face it - There's much worse crap out there than Science Diet.
Iams and Eukaneuba are practically the same, and Purina One and ordinary Diamond ( Not the Naturals. ) aren't much different.
Some Trader Joe's formulas may be better than the "acceptable" category, but recipes vary and some are better than others. I once went with a friend to Trader Joe's because she wanted to start feeding better food to her cats. We looked at 4 varieties of wet, and 3 contained un-named "meat" ingredients; the dry contained corn. So if you want feed Trader Joe's, be sure to read the ingredient labels fully.
Whole Paws has an impressive ingredient list and excellent consistency, but - the label said, "Made in China." ( This was long before the major pet food recall and melamine scare. )
Nutro has had its up and downs. Over the years it seems to have had spotty quality control, and it appears to have had occasional, unannounced recipe changes.
Many of these foods contain a significant amount of by-products as protein source, but they're still healthier than...
Special Kitty, or whatever Wal-Mart calls its house brand
Anything that includes the words "meat" or "animal" in its ingredients list
Basically, anything containing corn and by-products as the primary ingredients will damage your cat's health. Cheap foods cause poorer, less glossy coats with more matting and shedding, as well as more frequent and more aromatic defecation. Also, much as there's currently a human obesity epidemic, there seems to be a feline obesity epidemic - cats are indoors more and are less active, so they're getting fatter and are developing diabetes and other disorders at younger ages.
To put it another way: When trapping strays, I use these brands' wet formulas because they stay moist for an unnaturally long time. The food stays moist for an unnaturally long time. Would you eat that last slice of pizza the next morning if it was still warm and gooey and had a crispy crust after it'd sat in the box all night, or would it creep you out?
01-27-2010, 07:29 PM
I thought it was good to see a thread about healthier eating for pets.
My dog is fed a raw pre-model diet. He gets raw meat, bones and organs.
If you want to do raw, BARF (biologically appropriate raw foods) or home cooked meals for your pets, I urge you to do research on how to properly balance meals for your pet. There are plenty of groups on yahoo that are dedicated to these feeding choices.
01-28-2010, 06:21 AM
Thanks for great info. It is a concise reference on who to pick the right one. As for Cat food, has any experience with Life's Abundance Cat Food? It has got a unique mixture of superior quality ingredients.
01-28-2010, 08:09 AM
I understand you're in Michigan but if you ever get to NJ, email me. You're getting a huge hug. :hug:
We've just recently found out one of our dogs has high liver enzymes and could possibly have liver disease. Although even after 2 rounds of bloodwork, xrays and an ultrasound, our vet can't confirm anything because they can't figure out what could be causing her liver such distress. Our other dogs eats exactly what she eats and has no issues at all.
Anyway, both our dogs were eating Nutro for Large Breeds but she's been on a rice, chicken, fruit, vegetable diet to keep her from vomiting for about a week. The hubs and I decided that we definitely wanted to change their food and had no idea what to put them on next. Every site, every vet, every pet owner has a different opinion. It was HUGE for you to put together this consise list that I'm going to use as a guideline to get my pup on a healthy path again. Thank you so much. You have no idea how much you've helped. xoxo
01-28-2010, 08:18 AM
All I can say...Thank you so very much for this thread.
01-28-2010, 02:28 PM
I'm glad that I could help! I am a firm believer in giving our pets the best care possible; They are our responsibility.
Ay Har - I read the ingredients list, and, it sounds like a pretty good food.
fighting hungry - This is a great suggestion, and I was also thinking about adding something about the raw food diet. BARF is great. My mom feeds our dog raw chicken wings, and they've made a big difference in his coat, and teeth! Although, he's not on a fully raw diet. I think that giving certain pets even a few chicken wings a week is a good idea, though.
AbbySinthe - :hug: back! I hope that your doggy starts feeling better, and I'm very proud of you for making the change!
annie175 - So glad I could help! :D
01-28-2010, 09:40 PM
My dog does quite well on an all-raw diet. His skin is in the best shape its ever been, and he's also fit and lean when on a raw diet.. on a kibble diet, he gets a little bit of belly "flab". His teeth are also nice and clean.. he has very nice dentation for a 5 year old hairless!
01-28-2010, 11:12 PM
Haven't had time to read it all but all I can say is since pretty much birth my 2 golden retrievers...age 6 now....have had Wellness dry food with chicken broth - Honest Kitchen - or a spoonful or two of assorted Merrick can food thrown in for variety....
healthy - happy - spoiled!
01-29-2010, 07:30 AM
EZ - We just started both our pups on Wellness last night. It seemed like the best & most accessable choice. Maybe I'm looking into it too much but they already seem to have more energy. Could also be because the poor things were eating rice & chicken for almost a week!
Ether way, though, I'm super happy that they are so happy.
01-31-2010, 09:43 PM
ABBY when my Reba was a new puppy she would race around the house like she was on crack after dinner. We mentioned that to the lady we were taking her too for obedience classes, she asked what we fed her...don't remember but it was a "top of the line" grocery store dog food...she told us too many carbs...that she gave her dogs Wellness, we switched and noticed an immediate change in her...for the good!
We usually stick with the chicken dry food (purple) and as I mentioned we put a few teaspoons of assorted Merrick wet food, or a piece of deli turkey or some homemade chicken broth in the mix for variety.
We keep them away from wheat and corn as much as we can and they have zero allergy or skin issues.
Good luck to your pets!
02-01-2010, 10:58 PM
Last weekend while I was out grocery shopping with the boyfriend we ran into his aunt... And, she had a shopping cart full of ingredients to bake her doggies goodies from a new dog cookbook she'd gotten! It makes me so happy to see that so many people are taking animal care more seriously these days!
02-08-2010, 04:38 PM
This is some great info! I think a lot of people don't realize that there is a HUGE difference in premium food and store food.
L R K
02-24-2010, 04:22 PM
I feed my dog Innova Evo and think it is fantastic!
I have always fed all my dogs (and cats) the Innova brand, I would def. highly reccomend it!
L R K
02-24-2010, 04:24 PM
...she told us too many carbs...that she gave her dogs Wellness, we switched and noticed an immediate change in her...for the good!
That's exactly what I was told by my vet! Kammi is a high-energry breed (Aussie Shepherd) and we were originally feeding her the regular Innova. When we switched to Innova Evo she did calm down quite a bit.
03-09-2010, 07:05 PM
Awesome thread, thank you for posting this! I am a firm believer in feeding my pooch good food. She was eating Innova but has recently been switched to Orijen. After feeding Innova for about 3 years we had some bad experiences and deicded to try something new - and for the best, she loves the Orijen! And I love that is it Canadian and uses fresh, never frozen regional ingredients!
Also on the weekend I picked up some of the Merrick canned food - that stuff looks better then some of the canned goods I buy myself!
03-09-2010, 07:53 PM
Also on the weekend I picked up some of the Merrick canned food - that stuff looks better then some of the canned goods I buy myself!
I agree....I'm thinkin' in a pinch or natural disaster....;)
03-11-2010, 08:56 PM
My cats get Primal with some added fresh raw chicken. The dogs mostly get chicken and pureed steamed veggies. They also get eggs regularly. Tried giving the cats frozen/thawed pinkies (which they loved), but it really disgusted my mom ;)
03-15-2010, 09:02 PM
03-16-2010, 03:32 PM
I've heard a lot of good things about feeding pets a raw diet. (tho it's controversial)
05-03-2010, 11:25 AM
My cat gets innova evo dry food and wellness wet. I was going to have her on evo wet but she hates it, I think some of the flavors are too dry, she only likes really wet food. I have her on a mostly wet diet, with a handful of dry as a treat midday.
05-03-2010, 11:31 AM
I am really happy to see this! We feed ours Taste of the Wild Pacific stream. People always compliment how shiny their coats are and how healthy they look.
We have three boxers and I am a member of a boxer forum. That is where I learned ALL about good foods and avoiding fillers. A lot of people feed raw, but it really takes a lot of dedication.
One of ours is a rescue and after eating the TOTW food its like he turned into a brand new dog. The food they get makes ALL the difference. They need to be healthy too!