Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Dog Food Debate

I have been driving myself crazy trying to figure out what is chicken meal versus chicken. Internet search after Internet search turns up conflicting information. Is chicken meal a good source of protein or not? I must admit the longer I own dogs the more interested I get in canine nutrition. Why? As a trained coach and athlete (I use that word loosely these days.) I know what a major impact nutrition has on human performance. I don't view animals any different.

Having performance animals it makes sense to pay attention to their nutrition. As I travel around I like to ask the different handlers what they feed their dogs and why. Having grown up on a farm and seen what dogs eat when given the opportunity I never bought into the meat only diet. Dogs are by nature omnivores, meaning they eat everything. If you've ever seen the elimination from a coyote or wolf you would notice most of the turd is berries.

I had been feeding Origin, a high end dog food that was grain free. The only reason I was feeding a grain free dog food was because it was the only brand in the store that made a puppy food for large breed. Logically, that remained the food I fed my dogs. (With the exception of Tessa who has food allergies and gets Wellness.) You can imagine my dismay when the vet tech at the rehab place and I were talking about dog food and she commented on how all the puppies coming in to the clinic who were eating this brand had low blood sugar. I'm hypoglycemic so I have a very good understanding that low blood sugar is not a desirable thing for performance.

So the search was on. I switched to Acana which is made by the same people as Origin but it has grain in it. Grain being a carb, and carbs helping with blood sugar. A month passed by and I was happily feeding my dogs their new food. When one day I sat down and began to read the ingredient list a little closer. The leading ingredient is a "meal" protein. Trying to remember whether this is good or bad (bad like "by products"), I started my search. And still no answers. Why do I care if my dog gets a mildly substandard protein? Because I invest a tremendous amount of time and energy into them, they have a high cash value, and I want them to live long and healthy lives. The whole link between pet food and pet cancers does make me nervous.

I think my next visit in with my vet I just may ask what they think, after all they're the ones with all the schooling. I just want my dog to have a balanced, healthy diet. Like all athletes need.


GreenRanchingMom said...

My husband works off the farm right now at the local co-op. Purina Mills makes a "RED FLANEL" brand that is just made from Chicken, not Chicken Meal. If you can find it in your area, I would recommend it. Our dogs get along great with it, and it is hard to keep weight on our Heeler.

BTW - Purina sold "Purina Dog and Puppy chow" to Nabisco, and the recepie has changed

Country Girl said...

It doesn't appear the Red Flanel is up here. Too bad.