Dog Food: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Discussion in 'Dog Products' started by tx_cowgirl, Sep 14, 2008.

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  1. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    So you've opted to abandon the grocery store to check out your local PetCo/Petsmart/etc's supply....only to be overwhelmed be an array of different brands and specialties that you don't have a clue what the difference is. Science Diet's bag reads "Vet Recommended." And Iams claims that "Life's Better With IAMS." And of course there's many natural brands...but what does that really mean? Is natural the way to go? Or do you go with the brands you've heard of that you find in the grocery store? If you've ever wondered this yourself and found yourself at a loss, here's your answer.

    Now please understand that this is not simply my personal opinion(although my personal opinion is added in, for what it's worth). This is the simple truth, and the explanation of how these goods are made. In the end, the decision is entirely yours. Therefore, do not jump me for saying that your brand is not good. Do not get on my case for disagreeing with you. So your vet recommended it. Great. Fantastic. Good for you. That means it's probably best for your dog. This list is a general explanation. So if all you're wanting to do when you get done reading this post is argue, don't waste your time. It will be deleted in a timely manner. Thank you for being polite and courteous.

    The GOOD

    NATURAL. Why? Unnatural means processed. Quite simply, processed dog foods are comparable to the food in our fast food restaurants. Processed is typically not good for the system. This means your dog's food has chemicals in it. If you ate overprocessed food from McDonald's every day of your life, and only McDonalds, you would not be anywhere near as healthy. Studies have been done showing exactly this. A body can only take so much of a chemically processed food. This does not mean that processed foods will kill your dog. They simply are not as healthy or good for them.
    The higher-end brand foods are higher in part because of this: they use higher quality meats. Cheaper brands use animal-byproducts, and animal byproducts ONLY. In slaughter houses, everything that cannot be used for human consumption is tossed into the "hopper"--dog food and other products. This includes eyes, tongues, hooves, etc. I don't know about you...but lamb eye and cow tongue ground together with some good tasty swine blood doesn't sound all that appetizing. If I wouldn't eat it my dog shouldn't either.

    (In no specific order, here they are. Also, the prices listed are for DRY FOODS.)

    -Petsmart Brands
    Authority--Authority, as stated above, is ALL NATURAL. Completely. Entirely. No chemical processing. No fillers. No byproducts. All natural ingredients. Perhaps the best variety of Authority is the Harvest Baked. It is a wonderful product and I personally am a huge fan of it. Authority is not the most expensive good food on the market, but it is still high quality and reasonably priced. Overall, my favorite.
    Price: $9.99-35.99
    Blue Buffalo--Again...ALL NATURAL. Blue has many different varieties. They have an organic chain that is made entirely from organic products(this means that each and every detail of the ingredients is organic---the calf that made the beef in the food chowed down on organic grass and organic feeds, the vegetables were grown organically, etc). They have the Wilderness product that is made for high activity level dogs, based on the diet of wolves. It is low-carb and high protein, and is of course, all natural.
    Price: $15.99-25.99
    Nutro--And again...NATURAL. I don't know much about this brand, but I do know the Petsmart in my area has a Nutro representative who comes out every Saturday to discuss their products with any interested customer. A good food nonetheless.
    Price: $11.99-47.99
    Nature's Recipe:--Natural. Additive free, no artificial preservatives, no fillers or by-products, no sugars, no dairy products. Offers many different kinds to cater to dogs with allergies(foods without wheat, beef, corn, etc...anything your dog may be allergic too.) Offers a vegetarian recipe as well. I like that it has a relatively wide variety.
    Price: $8.29-39.99
    AvoDerm--Natural, real meat. Oven-baked. Not much variety, but still a quality food for easy keepers. Price: $9.99-49.99
    by Nature--Natural and organic. No corn(GREAT!), no wheat(good for allergic dogs!), no soy! Very little variety, and can be hard to find big bags in your desired type of food. Decent in the natural line of foods, but doesn't exactly cater to the customer.
    Price: $10.99-44.99

    Eukanuba Naturally Wild--This one is very new to the Eukanuba shelves. For this reason I know little about it, other than that it is natural. Anyone who has any information on it is welcome to share. =)

    Natural Balance--You guessed it--natural. 100% organic. No artifical preservatives, colors, or flavors. No soy, wheat, eggs, or dairy. No by-products, uses QUALITY MEAT. Also has an organic line.
    Price: $8.99-41.99
    Halo --Natural by-products, rendered meats, or meals. Whole meats and grains. Naturally flavored without salts or sugars.
    Price: $11.99-70.99(pack of 2 36 lb bags)
    Organix--No by-products, pesticides, herbicides, growth hormones, antibiotics, or bioengineered ingredients. #1 ingredient: free-range chicken. Only goes up to 15 pound bags...
    Price: $8.99-31.99
    Think I missed some here....if so, feel free to tack them on in your reply. ^^

    Since Petsmart and PetCo are the most popular pet supply stores, these are the only two I am going to list. Plus, I don't know of any wide-spread franchises of their kind.

    The Bad and the Ugly

    Yes, these are categorized together. They I'm cramming them all into both "bad" and "ugly." This does not necessarily mean that they are AWFUL, DEADLY, PET-KILLING foods. Just that in comparison to the foods listed above...they are much further down on the list. Again, please no rude comments or arguments.

    So first of all, why are these in this category?
    1)These foods are PROCESSED. Beware--some may CLAIM to be natural--this may mean they use natural meats. So what. Natural meats could be natural cow tongue...which was eventually chemically preserved on its way to the factory, blah blah. 99% of them still have fillers, preservatives, rendered meat, and/or artifical flavors.
    2)These foods have CORN. Dogs cannot digest corn. This means you end up having to feed them MORE OF these foods to fill them up. So, you're spending about the same as if you were feeding a truly natural food.

    Purina--Yes they've been around forever...refer to 1 and 2 above. Yeah, so Pro Plan claims to have real meat. So what. They also have preservatives, CORN, on.
    Beneful--(By Purina)one of the better of the grocery brands. Why? More natural. But still, not entirely natural, and if I remember right it does contain corn.

    Science Diet--Again, 1 and 2 above. What is the first word of this product? SCIENCE. These products are based upon bioengineering, preservatives, and other SCIENTIFIC studies used to create fillers, etc. Perhaps the better of the lower-end brands, but still doesn't compare to Authority and the like.
    IAMS--Iams has even begun referring to themselves as the "top of the grocery brands." The consider themselves a grocery brand which means---(refer to 1 and 2.)
    Pedigree--1 and 2...
    The Goodlife Recipe--again, perhaps one of the better...mostly natural, but still not as good as the higher-end brands.

    On the Fence...

    Royal Canin

    Don't know much about these guys, other than that they are both processed and contain corn...right? Hmm....need to check into that...

    Again, if I missed any brands, feel free to add them in. Along with all these brands and the many others, many people opt for an entirely homemade natural diet. This is good...however...natural brands like Authority and Nutro and the like have access to natural, essential vitamins, natural flavors, and the like that your average everyday grocery store just isn't going to carry. Plus, these people are professionals and know the nutrition a dog requires. Buying these all-natural foods, or combining them with your homemade diet is SO MUCH cheaper than going 100% homemade. Homemade diets are good, but they get very expensive very fast. Plus, making them is extremely time consuming.

    In conclusion, what should you look for?
    -All natural---no artificial preservatives, colors, flavors,etc.
    -No animal by-products(not chicken MEAL, but real CHICKEN.)
    -No CORN.
    -No wheat, soy, or dairy is good for dogs who may have allergies
    I hope you all find this informative and helpful, and are a little less lost the next time you go dog food shopping. :dogsmile:

  2. tanis60617 Experienced Member

    This is a great article for people to use as a guide. I have been feeding nutro for the last year and it has been a great food. One thing most people don't realize is when house breaking a puppy a quality food leads to more predictable bowel movements and therefore easier house breaking. Real meat needs to be the first ingredient and as far my dog goes the lamb and rice formulas have been the best and easiest to digest. I was turned on to nutro by the representative and after doing some research I believe it is a high quality food.
  3. stormi Well-Known Member

    I think the Royal Canin in the USA is different from here in the UK. The British one hasnt got corn in and has chicken (not chicken meal like in the US?)
  4. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Glad you liked it Tanis. ^^
    Stormi, that brings up a very viable point...this post is based on what I know about AMERICAN-BASED foods. I have no idea whether or not some of these products are even sold in other countries, or if they are produced any differently. So, for those of you who do not live in America, feel free to comment on your own country's foods! Stormi, thank you for your comments on Royal Canin! Unfortunately I don't know very much about their brand. It is good that they do have real chicken and no corn, but they should also not have other fillers, artificial preservatives, flavors, colors, etc. Do you know if Royal Canin(or at least the UK version) contains any of these? Thank you for any information you can share. :)
  5. stormi Well-Known Member

    Yes, I'm not sure whether there are differences in other foods in different countries, but the Royal Canin (apart from the new CC club one?) in the UK is dehydrated chicken rather than chicken meal. The other thing is that countries have different definitions/regulations regarding ingredients, e.g. I understand meal is graded differently in different countries.

    I dont think Royal Canin use artificial flavours, preservatives, etc and I think the only filler they use is the controversial beet pulp.

    I also heard Nutro is going out of's been bought by Mars/Pedigree (or at least that is what rumour has)? It will be a shame if they change the food or stop producing it completely as I know several of my friends dogs are doing well on it.

    Do you get a brand called 'Burns' in the USA? We get it here and it is another that uses good quality ingredients and no artificial additives, etc.
  6. tanis60617 Experienced Member

    I hope the rumor isn't true about Nutro going out of business, but I have noticed that certain varieties have been out of stock and when I asked an associate about it they said it was backordered and wouldn't be in for over a month.
  7. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Ugh, I do hope Nutro hasn't been bought out by them. I highly doubt it as their ideas of "good food" vary quite a bit. I will talk to my Nutro representative. If we do get Burns, we do not get it in my town. The name does sound familiar though, so perhaps in other states?? Not sure.
    As for Royal Canin...beet pulp is natural, which is a plus. Just not crazy about fillers myself, although natural is good either way. Thank you for your info!
  8. ruffmuttk9z New Member

    I am new here and will post an introduction shortly, but I saw this thread and felt the need to reply NOW! Please check out the following two links for much, much more information and very useful and understandable ratings on dog food brands and to look for in a good food!

    dogfoodanalysis. com

    dogfoodproject. com

    (remove spaces from links)
  9. jenclerm Experienced Member

    Does anyone know anything about the food Canidae?

    From what I have read about this dog food is its all natural,the first 3 ingredients are meat (Chicken meal, turkey meal, lamb meal)

    Does anyone feed this to thier dogs?

    Here is the link to thier site..
  10. ruffmuttk9z New Member

    Canidae is a good food. I fed their ALS formula to my dogs up until a couple of months ago when they changed their formulas, bag sizes and prices. All of my dogs got soft stools on the new formula and with the price increase and the bag size decrease I simply refused to pay big bucks for a food my dogs were not doing well on any longer.

    Canidae has recently released three new Grain Free formulas though I haven't been able to check the price on any of them yet.
  11. stormi Well-Known Member

    tx_cowgirl I'd be interested to know what your Nutro rep.'s a rumour I've heard going round and I'm not yet sure how much truth there is to it. Like tanis has found Nutro seems to be low in stock in the pet shops round here too :dogsad: .

    Those are interesting sites ruffmutt...I cant wait to have a good look around them, thanks for sharing :dogsmile:
  12. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    JenClerm--I would prefer feeding something without the MEALS. (Chicken MEAL, etc) Meat MEALS are normally made by animal by-products. This is all the meat that cannot be processed for human consumption. It's best to look for something that actually uses the meat itself, rather than the MEALS.
    RuffMutt thank you for your links and welcome to the site.
    Stormi I will talk with her on Saturday if I get a chance to go. Our store has not been low in stock at all that I've noticed...
  13. ruffmuttk9z New Member

    This couldn't be farther from the truth. Named meat meals are NOT by-products! If an ingredient is a by-product the bag must specifically state so.

    Named meats (ie: chicken, lamb, turkey) are 70-80% water and only around 15% protein. Therefore, when they are listed first on the list of ingredients, they may not actually be the main ingredient. When the meat is dehydrated it may drop WAY down on the list and become negligible in some dog foods. This is a common myth when it comes to dog food. This is why many people feel that named meat meals are superior to named meats.

    Named meat meals (ie: chicken meal, lamb meal, turkey meal) are simply the dehydrated meats. So when they are listed first on a bag of dog food, they truly are the ingredient with the highest mass. Named meat meals contain 50-65% protein.

    The key here is NAMED meat meals. You don't want a generic "meat meal" because you have no idea what type of meat that might be or in what quantities. "Meat meal" still is not by-products, but the quantities of different meats may very well be different in every bag your purchase even if the brand is the same. "Meat meal" is defined by AAFCO as: "The rendered product from mammal tissues, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices."

    AAFCO defines "chicken by-product meal" as follows: "Consists of the dry, ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered chicken, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs, and intestines -- exclusive of feathers except in such amounts as might occur unavoidably in good processing practices."

    If you type "Meat vs. Meat Meal" into Google you will find hundreds of arguments on this subject. Some people feel the benefit of whole meats outweighs the fact that after dehydration the product drops down below the grains on the list of ingredients. Others feel like meat meals are more beneficial because they actually contain more meat, even if they are slightly more processed. After all, they argue, the dog food as a whole is processed so much that the processing of the meat into a meat meal is hardly worth worrying about when you look at the big picture.

    Ideally all of our dogs would eat natural, raw, prey-style diets. But for some of us it's just not practical. I have 11 dogs of my own and anywhere from 6-12 fosters at any given time. I also work a fulltime job. I do not have the TIME to feed everyone raw as much as I would love to do so. When I have a chance, I do feed raw snacks and meals. Instead my dogs eat a high quality kibble that contains no corn or by-products.

    That being said, if it's okay for our dogs to eat whole chickens, whole rabbits, etc, etc, why then are by-products (feet, necks, undeveloped eggs) so bad just because they are in kibble? The whole by-product argument goes out the window when you look at it this way, doesn't it? :msnrolleyes:

    At any rate, my only aim for this post was to point out that meat meals are NOT by-products. A lot of really good information can be found on the two links I posted earlier.
  14. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Look, I never said I was a food expert and I am quite insulted at your replies. I simply posted this as a BASIC guideline for buying dog food. There is absolutely no call for rudeness. You are at the wrong website for that. I CLEARLY stated that I did not want arguments started and if ANYTHING I posted was incorrect, then to politely state so. As you stated, meat meal is defined as "rendered." Rendered meats are not as good. If you disagree with anything posted here then you are more than welcome to state your opinion, but I see no need for pushing me down.
    If you never intended to come off this way then do forgive me. =) My mistake entirely. It has been a long day and if I mistook your intentions then I do apologize.

    As for Nutro far as I've been told, Nutro is/will be selling because they cannot afford the ingredients that they want to continue using, without having unbelievable prices. This is unfortunate because Nutro is one of the best foods available. So...that's what I've been told thusfar.
  15. ruffmuttk9z New Member

    Nothing I said was meant to be rude or insulting. My post was made to clarify that your post contained completely false information. If you don't know what you're talking about in regard to dog food, you're probably better off to not say anything at all. What you posted wasn't an opinion, it was posted as fact. Your statements directly said that meat meals are by-products and they are not. Plain and simple.

    As far as meat meals being 'rendered,' how do you think your dogs' Nutro gets to your house? Surely it is prepared in a 5 star restaurant, right? Not quite. Wake up call: ALL commecial kibbles are rendered. The product you commented about, Canidae, is a MUCH higher quality of food than ANY Nutro product. Spend some time reading the two links I posted initially, educate yourself about the realities of commecial dog food and then comment.

    I'm not here to start an argument or insult you or any of those other childish things you accused me of doing. But you do need to learn more about commercial dog food before you make broad, false statements. I have done a huge amount of research on the commercial dog food industry and it really irks me when people that have done none think they know what they are talking about, formulate their own incorrect assumptions and opinions and then turn around and pass those assumptions and opinions off as fact.

    All I'm asking is that you do a bit more research on the subject and get the real facts straight before you post assumptions that are far from true.
  16. tanis60617 Experienced Member

    Can I play mediator for just a minute. Firstly I think we just need to agree to disagree because when large corporations are at play you really never know the whole truth. Only what you are told. I think this goes for dog food corps. as well.
    As far as being rude
    i think that is pretty much the definition of rude. And I hate to say it but for the record it is perfectly possible to feed a dog Ol'Roy off the grocery store shelf and the dog live a healthy 15 years. I wouldn't recommend it, but as a child that is what we fed our dog, and I had the dog for 15 years.
    I hope we can all be adults here and just let this go, after all it is Dog Food we are arguing about. Don't get me wrong I love my dog but I wouldn't fist fight for what I believe is the better dog food.
    As far as the meat meal vs meat that is an age old argument that isn't going to be settled on this forum I assure you.
    Have a great day.
  17. ruffmuttk9z New Member

    You're right about not really knowing the whole truth about what goes on inside of redering plants. But there is a lot of research done on the subject and some really good inside info if you take the time to find it. There really is no agreeing to disagree on this subject since the facts laid out by tx_cowgirl are outright false. Meat meals are NOT by-products, according to AAFCO definitions.

    I think you need to read the post that I made to begin with and then the following post where I was accused of being rude and wanting to start arguments. You tell me who had an attitude. My initial post was directed at no one in particular and was meant only to let people know that the previously mentioned statement that meat meals are by-products is false. There was nothing rude or derogatory about that post. But the reply to said post, well...

    I don't recall ever saying this wasn't possible. Believe me, I know as well as the next person that dogs fed crap dog food tend to live just as long. In fact, it's part of why I do so much research on the subject. Why is it that dogs on crap dog food live long, healthy lives and dogs on super premium, grain-free, holistic dog foods are plagued with health issues and die when they are 8, 9, 10 years old? It's interesting stuff.

    I'm still trying to figure out where the argument is. There's no argument. tx_cowgirl stated an incorrect fact. I corrected it, according to definitions. There's no argument to that.

    Feed your dog whatever you want to feed it. I certainly won't argue with you about that, either. I learned not to touch the "my food is better than your food" subject with a 10-foot pole years ago. Labels speak for themselves and it's not hard to put a bag of Nutro next to a bag of Canidae and be able to tell which food has the better ingredients.
  18. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Now wait a second here. You need to get your temper under control. I clearly stated in my original post that this was a BROAD, basic food guide, that I WOULD state some opinion but otherwise this was simply what I had learned. I made ONE statement about meat meals and you went off on me. I very politely replied that if that was wrong then fine--my mistake. You have CONTINUED to be blatently rude for no reason. If you disagree with anything in this post then fine. You are more than welcome to discontinue reading it and go on about your merry way. Otherwise I'd appreciate it if you'd leave me alone. If you want to help members on this site, you are more than welcome to do so politely. I never made a comment about Canidae. I stated that I'd never heard of it as my town doesn't carry it. I think we both are using a different definition of rendered. Rendered in an animal science sense and in a basic food production sense can vary according to general and specific definitions. I feel that I have been nothing but polite in this entire post, but you on the other hand I feel are being quite disrespectful to others. Perhaps you never intended to come off this way but that is how I took it, and ONCE AGAIN, if I am mistaken then I do apologize. If you go back you will clearly see that I thanked you for your links and information. I have yet to have seen any respect from you. If this continues to go on I will delete all replies from this post, as this is simply nonsense! This was simply meant to be a basic food guideline. My intentions were NEVER to teach a canine nutrition course and if you had read you would know that. The other members who read this post understood what they were reading and that it was not a full pamphlet on dog foods. There is no reason for all of this nonsense and again, if it continues these will all promptly be deleted.

    Tanis, thanks for the backup.
  19. stormi Well-Known Member

    tx_cowgirl thanks for the nutro I guess there is some truth in the rumour I heard...pity for those people whose dogs are doing well on the food.

    Some foods use a dehydrated meat, e.g. dehydrated chicken. It's often ingredient 1 or 2. Because the water has already been drawn off the meat before it is added the the mix for processing into kibble the problem ruffmutt outlined (re: water content of the meat affecting the proportion of meat in the dried kibble) is avoided.
  20. johnveryveryveryverylongname Well-Known Member

    I believe that this thread was originally started by tx_cowgirl with a heartfelt and generous act of kindness towards other members, she wanted to share her knowledge with the rest of the members here.

    Ruff, I don't think that tx_cowgirl felt offended by your correction of the fact, but instead by the tone of your post. I mean, how would you feel if you had spent some time writing a thoughtful message and someone showed up and said "What you've just said ... couldn't be further from the truth".

    Forum etiquette is hard, because we can't really tell what emotions or tone of voice you are using when writing it. So maybe you were just trying to be informative, perhaps you were annoyed or even angry. It is hard to tell, but usually it helps by being more courteous and giving credits for what they are correct about.

    I hope we can see this thread continueing on the positive trend it was originally founded upon. :dogsmile:

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