Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Commercial Dog Food Followup

The original question was "Is commercial dog food junk food". The following conversation resulted from that post.

LH:
Done lots of research on this since my Shepherd has a pretty sensitive stomach. Lots of commercial food full of corn and wheat, ingredients many dogs are allergic to and can manifest as symptoms such as itching, paw licking, loose stools, etc. A wonderful website I have found is: www.dogfoodanalysis.com which rates all of the foods out there.

DL:
Is it just me, or do vets not help at all with food selection? I've asked a few, and they recommend the grocery store foods with no hesitation.

Me:
I get the feeling vets don't think it's their job to recommend what goes in our dogs. And that's just dumb since a properly fed dog is a healthier dog. Hmmm. Is there a potential conflict of interest here?

DL:
I wonder if there is some relationship with the dog food companies, sort of like the relationship between our doctors and the drug companies? Some unspoken agreement not to criticize their products? I'm almost positive I've seen things in vet offices that are produced by dog food companies (informational posters, brochures, etc). Hmmm?

Me:
An aside: holistic vets seem to be the exception to the rule. They tend to look at the whole dog, often recommending homemade or raw diets.

LH:
Vets used to push "Science Diet" a whole lot, used to be the only place you could buy it was at a vet. This makes me think there was definitely a relationship between the vet and the food. My vet currently has "Canidae" posters up in his exam rooms although he does not push it on me or mention it. I would be interested to know how much they learn about nutrition in school. There are quite a few ailments that could be cured through better food. I cured my Shepherd's itchies by going grainless. Would a vet just have written prescription after prescription for this? I have no idea, but many people don't investigate their dog's food too much. Dee, what are your thoughts about commercial food? Blue Buffalo, from what I have read, is probably the best "commercial" food out there, you can buy at Petsmart. What kills me is the "Beneful" bag with corn and wheat depicted right on the bag!

Me:
Murphy is my 4-year-old Lab. Here's a bit of his history: when he was around a year old he had adolescent acne on his chin and developed a rash on his belly. My vet at the time suggested before putting Murph through allergy testing that I change his food. She told me the most common allergies in dogs are food allergies. She didn't recommend a brand but told me to look for a food without corn, beef, and wheat. So I went to PetSmart and read many labels. I decided to try Nature’s Recipe Healthy Skin & Coat Venison Meal & Rice Recipe*. It worked. Murphy's skin issues went away never to return. So I put Cody on the same food. They've been on it for 3-1/2 years, have lustrous coats, and no stomach upsets.

I'm not up on the best foods available at the big box stores because the companies are always changing their formulas. But when I was looking three years ago, the top three were Blue Buffalo, Royal Canan, and Nature's Recipe. I've had innumerable clients ask me what they should do about their dog's itchies. I always tell them to start with changing food, eliminating the obvious junk. In the end, people who love their dogs must become informed consumers. Good nutrition and exercise are as important for our dogs as it is for us.

LH:
Ozzy has been doing well on Orijen and Acana (both Canadian foods). $54 for a 30 lb bag. Unfortunately, the better foods can be cost prohibitive for some people. I cry for the dog on "Ol' Roy."

Me:
*I contacted Del Monte to ask what is in venison meal. Their response: "Venison meal is ground deer meat, and can include both the muscle tissue and the nutritious (cleaned) organ tissue."

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