Monday, May 10, 2010

Food For Your Four Legged Friend

When I was much younger, I remember the commercials for Gaines Burger dog food. It really looked like something my dog should be eating. It even had "real" cheese in it. My dog liked cheese burgers when he snuck one from the family table, so why shouldn't we just serve him cheese burgers all of the time. Made perfect sense.

When I was attending Texas A&M I had a dog and had gained a minute amount of wisdom and good sense over the previous 15 years, so I talked to the vet and opted for a "premium" brand pet food. You know which ones I'm talking about. The ingredients aren't much different than the more pedestrian brands, but they make claims like:

"Preferred by champion breeders." and "Recommended by more veterinarians..." Blah,blah,blah...

Upon leaving college, I spent the next few years re-learning all about life from experience, rather than textbooks and the learned knowledge being spewed forth by others. And through a combination of logic, reading and conversations with other passionate pet owners I decided that raw food was the only way to go if I really cared about my furry buddy. Wolves, wild dogs, coyotes and other carnivores at raw meat, so why the heck shouldn't my dog? It was a bit messy, I occasionally made my own and it required a significant amount of freezer/fridge space. But the results were apparent almost immediately. My dogs lost any hint of that typical American doggy flab, their coats were radiant, their teeth were outstanding, they ate less and (an unforeseen benefit) they pooped exponentially less than their can & crunchy eating counterparts.

Over the past decade there have been numerous investigative reports revealing that not only the bargain brand food manufacturers, but the premium people as well, were feeding our animals downer livestock, roadkill, all manners of chemicals and additives that neither dogs nor people should EVER consume. You can read all about the various pros and cons regarding pet food by searching the Internet or talking to folks like I can now find just about everything worth knowing on the subject in a wonderful book recently published by good food champion, Dr. Marion Nestle. The book is called Feed Your Pet Right and is available from and fine book dealers everywhere. You can read more about the book and all sorts of enlightening human food related topics at Dr. Nestle's blog, Food Politics.

Even if you don't purchase the book, PLEASE consider changing your pet's diet if you're feeding them the type of food you purchase at the supermarket, warehouse store or discount megamart. And if you can swing it, consider the raw diet for your four-legged friend. My best buddy is sixteen years old this past March and I contribute his amazing health and longevity in large part to his raw diet.


  1. Feeding raw is very controversial, and something my vets (I've asked three of them, including one who is a friend and has nothing to profit by it) discourage. If my vet doesn't think it's safe to feed his dog raw, and he's the one I will have to go to if something goes wrong, why would I take that risk? I feed a high quality kibble, and my dogs are healthy, beautiful, and active. I'm glad your dogs are doing well on it, but I don't think it is for everyone.

  2. Stef,

    I have no problem with some of the "alternative" pet foods that have become more readily available in recent years. I'd likely feed my dog Innova or Wysong in a pinch if I had no other choice. But even the better quality pet food producers Merrick and Nature's Recipe has been involved in one of the many recalls that have plagued the pet food manufacturing industry in the past decade. However, pet food manufacturers in general are subject to very little scrutiny with what they put in their products. Almost all of them use some sort of corn, wheat or even cellulose fiber as filler. And the same goes for the meat products. All of our previous veterinarians ranged from slightly skeptical to outright opposing our choice to feed our dogs a raw food diet. But year after year of stellar checkups, no oral problems and no obesity even in the more sedentary years spoke volumes for our choice. Consider this. You'll also have to go to your vet if your dog ends up eating factory produced food that is contaminated with melamine, pesticides, salmonella, aflotoxin, vomitoxin or any of a number of improperly or inappropriately added nutrient supplements. All of these have been real problems with processed, mass-produced pet food recently. You're correct, a raw food diet may not be for everyone and I'll never berate anyone for making a choice other than the one I'm stumping for. However, I'm going to stick to my guns and say that I believe that a properly served, raw food diet is the best choice for a dog.