Lake Tahoe Wolf Rescue
Recommended Commercial Dog Food Brands
As noted in my Turkey Recipe, I always recommend a natural diet of raw meats, supplemented by small amounts of cooked grains and root vegetables; fresh finely chopped fruits; and raw, pureed legumes and green vegetables... but if one must feed a commercial dry food [aka kibble] or canned food due to convenience, travelling or whatever, here are some guidelines to choosing a good, high-grade commercial pet food for your canines (and felines). The important thing to remember is that many of the premium, high-quality commercial dog foods contain a bacterium called Interococcus Faecium, which is quite robust and can overwhelm the natural good bacteria in the digestive system, causing diarrhea. To avoid loose stools, mix a small portion of kibble with my Turkey Recipe , rather then feeding just kibble. [Many people in Rescue are trying to convince the manufacturers to take the Interococcus Faecium out altogether. For those commercial dry foods that do not contain probiotics, Acidophilus can be added separately to the meal. See my recommended list of commercial dog foods below.
Ingredients that are easy to digest will ensure more good nutrition getting into your dog, easier digestion, and fewer health problems overall. Keep in mind, canines cannot digest fiber as well as they digest meat, but fiber is an essential ingredient to good nutrition. Think of it. In the wild, canines eat the stomachs of their prey, which contain predigested vegetables, fruits, grasses, and some grains (especially if it is their favorite prey, vegetarians!). So when we give our canines a diet with fiber, we must make sure the fiber is easy to digest, and not more than 10-15% of their entire daily intake. [Giving your dog a tablespoon of brown rice helps curbs loose stools, but if you give a dog too much rice, it can cause diarrhea. So don't overdo it.]
When choosing a good commercial pet food, always look at the first three ingredients. These ingredients show what is used for the main source of nutrition. They should be meat, meat, and meat. Make sure it is a good meat source - i.e. it should say turkey, lamb, beef, chicken, etc. not meat meal, meat byproducts, or meat digest, melomine or other "false" proteins. . The pet food [dry or canned] should also contain vegetables, fruits, and other wholesome ingredients and vitamins. Depending on your dog's needs, a grain-free commercial food is best. [It is actually better to cook your own millet, brown rice, barley or quinoa and add it fresh for better nutrition and control.] Make sure the INGREDIENTS label on the pet food does NOT include preservatives and chemical additives such as Ethyoxaquin, BHA and BHT, as well as "natural flavoring" [which is just another word for MSG] sugar [which contributes to diabetes], sorbitol, aspartame, salt, coloring, or glutens. Corn, as found in many pet foods, is difficult to digest. Avoid all commercial pet foods that contain corn. It is better to give your canine some fresh, raw corn scraped right off the cob. Make sure you puree the corn to "predigest" it, or break it down so it is digestable. Never give your dog the inner core, or cob, as it does not break down. It can get stuck in the intestine, and will cause serious problems in the stomach as well. Corn is one of the few foods that does not lose it's nutritional content when canned or frozen, so you can always add some creamed or canned corn to their diet. It must be smashed well [BEST: put it through a food processor] as whole kernels do not break down efficiently and will pass through the elimination system undigested. This will also make the digestive system work harder, putting stress on the kidneys as well.
Most high-quality commercial foods are preserved with natural ingredients (such as vitamin E, mixed tocopherols, etc.), so the food must be stored in a sealed container and kept in a cool, dry area. Also, "high quality" commercial foods are still processed, dehydrated, treated, and has no live energy that you get from fresh food. Vitamins and live nutrients will die when exposed to the air and heat, so the oils used in processing will become rancid if not kept cool and dry. I recommend not buying more than your pet will consume in one month or less, so the food stays fresh. Another thing to remember, ingredients such as cellulose, “peanut hulls” and "wood fiber" [often found in some of the dog foods found in grocery stores] are NOT the same as food fiber, and can cause your pet so suffer indigestion, poor nutrition, irritable bowel, colitis and other various side effects [some brands, such as Science Diet, contain peanut hulls as a source of fiber in a few of their products].
Be on the lookout for words such as “byproducts” or “meat digest" on the labels of commercial pet foods. It will often say - chicken byproducts, beef byproducts, chicken meal, or poultry digest. These are some of the worst and most harmful ingredients in the pet-food industry. Ignore the marketing hype on the front of the bag where it will say "all natural" - go to the INGREDIENTS label and read the fine print.
What are By-products? Here's how it works ...
Pet Food Manufacturers buy from Slaughter Houses the parts of slaughtered animals that are not fit for human consumption - beaks, feathers, noses, feet, tails, hooves, tumors, and diseased organs - all of which have little nutritional value and can still contain harmful chemicals such as antibiotics [fed to sick farm animals], growth hormones, pesticides and other toxins. The parts of the animal which are not fit for human consumption are called by-products.
Another source of By-Products ...
Pet Food Manufacturers also get their by-products from Rendering Plants. Where do Rendering Plants get their "meat"? Well, all animal carcasses that need to be disposed of get trucked to Rendering Plants. That includes poisoned or shot animals, rancid road kill, diseased and downed farm animals, and even euthanized dogs, cats, reptiles, and rodents sold to them by Animal Control Shelters. Euthanized animal carcasses still contain the poisons that killed them. [Pet Food companies claim they no longer use euthanized animals, but testing of these commercial foods showed the presence of pentobarbital and sodium thiopental.] These assorted carcasses are ground up, along with the plastic bags they came in on, along with collars, leashes, dirt, etc. The Rendering Plants then sell this "meat" to Pet-Food companies. Not only do by-products contain little or no useable nutrition, but they may contain toxins or other elements that are difficult or impossible for the digestive system to break down, thereby stressing the immune system. This causes allergies, disease, tumors, pancreatitis, and possibly cancer to your pet. Completely avoid foods that contain byproducts and digest materials. Avoid foods with too much grain and too little meat, i.e. where meat is only one ingredient, with lots of grains and vegetables following it. Stuffing your pet with unhealthy, processed fillers only makes the system to work harder, causing allergies and other health problems or cancer later in life. Kibble that contains corn should be avoided altogether. Best to use fresh, pureed corn as mentioned above, and a little goes a long way! Remember, anything processed, is still processed. That means it's heated, boiled, baked, and then heated again - killing any real nutrition that may have been present initially. That is what commercial pet food is.
Here are just a few of some better-quality commercial pet foods that will supply your dog or cat with fairly good nutrition. I am just listing the first few ingredients to give you an idea of what to look for. Note, these are dry-food kibble, but often the canned food has basically the same ingredients with the addition of water. Be sure to check all labels on a regular basis. [info on cat food below]
For information on Twisted Bowel Syndrome, or Bloat, see my Turkey Recipe
HIGH-QUALITY BRANDS CAN BE FOUND AT
PET SUPPLY OR FEED STORES
NOT GROCERY STORES, PET SMART OR PETCO ...
Visit Pet Station, located in Incline Village NV, Tahoe City CA, Truckee CA for great buys on pet supplies.
PEANUT BUTTER PET TREATS, RECALL - Check out this link:
Many of the brands below and more, are available at the "Only Natural Pet Store" [see banner below] This is a great site with lots of items to keep your animals healthy with natural products!
MORE GOOD FOODS ….. BUT BE SURE TO CHECK THE PET-RECALL LISTS FIRST AS THINGS CHANGE!
Also Check out these websites for healthy updates and pet food recalls ...
As you start reading more labels you will learn that very few pet foods found in grocery stores or Pet Food chain stores have human-grade clean MEAT as their primary source of nutrition; instead using grains, by-products and fillers for their main ingredients. This makes it less expensive thus more desirable to some. You actually have to feed more to get enough nutrition into your pet. You get what you pay for!
When changing your pet’s food over to a high-quality commercial food, be sure you mix a little of the new food in with their current food, allowing them to adjust to the change gradually. Many of the less expensive foods are not only filled with grains and fillers, but loaded with sugar, salt, flavorings, and MSG to make dogs and cats “crave” the food. This makes it difficult for them to accept the better quality foods, which are more bland. It’s just like trying to get our kids to eat their vegetables when they are used to rich, salty French Fries!
I recommend using grain-free Taste of the Wild, or Orijen at least every other month to vary the diet. It's fine to switch foods each month to ensure a variety of nutrition, making sure you overlap each new food to prevent sensitivity to diet change.
The most important thing is to make sure your dog is getting "real food" along with the dry food [if you must feed dry food]. I recommend using a variation of my Turkey Recipe, mixing it in with the kibble. If your dog is used to eating only dry food, add the meat mixture in small amounts until your canine is eating at least 50/50 meat and kibble.
Also, if you find any of the brands I recommend too rich for your pet initially, mix it with some of the other quality kibble that have meat only as the first or second ingredient until your dog has adjusted [some canines do better on the chicken recipe, and others on the red meat meal]. Adding a "B-complex" or "Daily Vitamin" once or twice a week will also boost your pet’s health. A vitamin for older or infirm pets should be given daily. Pet vitamins are often lacking and expensive, so I use a human-grade vitamin, and adjust as I would for a child [or appropriate weight]. Remember - all processed rawhide chews, feet, ears, etc. should be avoided as they do not digest properly, often getting stuck in the intestines, causing diarrhea, irritable bowel or blockages.
Check out these websites for healthy updates and pet food recalls ...
CAT FOOD – MOST OF THE SAME BRANDS AS MENTIONED ABOVE, INCLUDING:
FELIDAE AVODERM PRAIRIE NEWMANS
TRY TO FEED YOUR CAT MOSTLY FRESH MEAT with CANNED FOOD. CATS HAVE DIFFICULTY PROCESSING DRY FOOD SINCE THEY NATURALLY DRINK VERY LITTLE WATER. HAVING LITTLE MOISTURE CONTENT, DRY FOOD PUTS A LOT OF STRESS ON THEIR KIDNEYS. ALSO, CATS – MORE THAN DOGS – ARE VERY SENSITIVE TO HEAVY METALS. TUNA AND MACKERAL ARE VERY HIGH IN HEAVY METALS AND MERCURY, SO TRY TO AVOID THEM ALTOGETHER.
Remember to check out Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats for other good recipes. Available in our Shopping Wolf Things store. Also find other great books on pet health as well as pet accessories.
Have fun and good luck! Pamela Jo Wolflady
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