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“Selecting The Top Dry Dog Foods for Your Dog” – Whole Dog Journal

February 1, 2012

The Whole Dog Journal is out with its annual article on “Selecting The Top Dry Dog Foods for Your Dog

Some excerpts:

Now take a good long look at your dog. Is she the quintessential “picture of health”? Lean, fit, mentally sharp, with a glossy coat, clear eyes, and a reasonably pleasant odor? Are her poops medium-firm, neither rock hard nor gloppy piles of goop? If not – if she’s fat or too-thin, her coat is a smelly, greasy, or patchy mess, and she’s prone to itching, sores, incessant self-grooming, weepy eyes, endless farting, constipation or diarrhea, you need to choose a new food! All of these are unhealthy conditions that will improve with a better diet.”

“Dogs, like us, are individuals; what works for your overweight Labrador will not be appropriate for my high-energy hunting dog. Your dog may have an allergy or be unable to tolerate a certain ingredient or even several ingredients. The point is, you shouldn’t buy just any good food; your purchase should be customized to your individual dog’s needs.”

“You may have been told that it’s bad to switch foods, or you may have had a bad experience when your dog ate something different and unauthorized (by you) and erupted in gas or diarrhea. With most dogs, the more you change foods, the more robust and capable their digestion becomes. When fed a limited diet, the breadth of their production of digestive enzymes and the variety of the bacteria in their guts are reduced. You can speed the adjustment by adding digestive enzymes, probiotic, and prebiotic supplements, to help the gut recolonize itself with digestion-aiding agents.

A related article is “Hallmarks of Quality Dog Food (What to Look For)

What you want is:

*Lots of animal protein at the top of the ingredients list.
*An animal protein meal in a supporting role when a fresh meat is first on the ingredient list.
*Whole vegetables, fruits, and grains.
*A “best by” date that’s at least six months away.

What you don’t want are:

*Meat by-products or poultry by-products.
*A “generic” fat source
*Added sweeteners.
*Artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives (i.e., BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin)

Another related article is “Words Matter When Reading Dry Dog Food Labels – But Not All The Time

“Dog food manufacturers are supposed to list specific names for each ingredient in their formulations. Each food, vitamin, mineral, or other chemical (preservative, color, flavor, binder, etc.) that has been approved for use in a dog food is supposed to be listed in a certain way on the product’s ingredient list.”

“However, we’ve noticed that some companies get a little liberal with their ingredient lists; they add a few enticing adjectives to make their ingredients sound even better than (perhaps) they are.

Red Delicious Apples = apples,
Sun-Dried Alfalfa Meal = alfalfa meal
Whole Ground Brown Rice = brown rice.

Of course, the adjectives listed above make no difference to your dog at all. The embellishments are there to appeal to you, the consumer.”

“A few other adjectives do actually possess some legal significance:”

Finally “No” Power – Interpreting a Dry Dog Food Product Label

“The problem with each of these “no” statements is that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with any of those ingredients. In some of the latter cases, the pet food maker is not actually denigrating those ingredients; its trying to help the consumer identify products that contain less-common ingredients. However, the “no” approach plants a seed of doubt in the minds of many consumers. “Wait; why are potatoes bad?”

Corn, wheat, and soy have been historically overused in low-quality pet foods, in lieu of better-quality ingredients. But that doesn’t mean that the presence of any corn, wheat, or soy in a food is cause for immediate dismissal. Each contains nutrients that can be of some value when the ingredient is used in moderation in a food that is bursting with higher quality ingredients. I don’t want to see any of them in the top five or so ingredients in a food – but the appearance of one of them in an otherwise compelling food does not cause me to drop it in horror.”

A list of  all the dry dogs foods reviewed can be found via paid subscription at  Whole Dog Journal’s 2012 Dry Dog Food Review

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