One of the questions we are asked most frequently is “what do I feed my dog / cat?” With all the products on the market it is easy to understand why this is such a complicated process.
Many of the “tried and true” brands that we used for years just aren’t good enough. There is a convenience factor to picking up a bag of “Ol Roy” at Wal-Mart but, after the most recent pet food scare, most people understand the need for something better.
Recently, many of you have read about raw foods diets such as BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) diet or the Prey model of feeding. Both of these diets feed raw meat and bones as the primary ingredients. The BARF diet also recommends adding raw veggies, fruit and supplements to the ground raw meat and bones. The Prey model believes that they get everything they need nutritionally from a much simpler model of just meat, bones and organs. Both of these diets can be a healthy alternative although there is still some controversy regarding whether or not these diets can spread infectious disease such as salmonella or e-coli. Our clients who have done this most successfully are generally raising their own chicken or cattle so they know they are getting a healthy source of meat. I wouldn’t eat raw chicken from the local grocery store and I wouldn’t feed it to my pets.
There are a few products that span the gap between raw and kibble. Honest Kitchen and Nature’s Variety both make freeze dried raw food diet that you reconstitute with warm water. You can also add your own additional protein although not required. We have also found these to be a convenient, low weight way of camping with your pet!! Nature’s Variety and Primal (among many others) offer frozen raw food diet that you just thaw and feed.
Of course there are still many prepared diets on the market in dry and canned food varieties and these continue to be the most popular options. The most important criteria for choosing a diet are the listing of ingredients on the package. We want to see a good whole protein source listed as the first ingredient (ie. Chicken, fish, beef). It can contain the term “chicken meal” but avoid terms like “byproduct” or non specific “meat”. We like to completely avoid corn, wheat, or soybeans, as these ingredients are often chosen for their low cost and not their digestibility and nutritional value. The “good” grains that seem to work better are barley, oat, and rice.
Some of the brands we have fed and liked include Wellness, Innova, California Natural, Nature’s Variety (Prarie), Canidae / Felidae, Blue Buffalo, Avoderm, and Solid Gold. All of these come in dry and canned varieties. There are undoubtedly many more that we didn’t list and new diets are coming out every week. Do your research and feel free to contact us if you have questions.
Recently the movement to feed dogs and cats diets that are completely grain free has gained in popularity. While many animals have done fine for years on diets that contain large amounts of grain protein and carbohydrate, we believe that most animals perform better with a higher level of good animal protein and carbohydrates from fruit and vegetables as is found in a grain free diet. There are several good choices among the grain free foods including; Wellness-CORE, Innova-Evo, Orijin, Taste of the Wild, Instinct or Acana. These diets tend to be the highest quality prepared kibble or canned foods available.
It is often nearly impossible to find some of the better quality pet foods in the grocery store aisle, or even in the large box stores. All of these diets continue to be family owned** and run companies that still have a vested interest in their products and for the most part only sell to smaller distributors. We recommend looking at the smaller feed stores or specialty pet food stores including;
- OK Feeds at 3701 E Ft Lowell
- Tucson Feeds and Pet Foods at 7878 E Tanque Verde
- Tanque Verde Hay and Feed 11050 E Tanque Verde
** Innova was sold to Procter and Gamble as of May 5th 2010.