Editorial August 2011 Issue

Deja Vu

Consumer Reports does it again – claims all pet foods are the same.

Why, oh why, does Consumer Reports even “go there”? I have the utmost respect for the magazine’s reviews of vacuums and DVRs and such, but pet food is beyond their ken. Yet they persist. In “Tame Your Pet Costs” in the August issue, its authors advise readers not to “pay a premium for ‘premium’ dog food.” They put the quotes on premium dog food, to indicate their apparent opinion that there is no such thing. Sigh.

Nancy Kerns

Nancy Kerns

A quote: “Premium or otherwise, any food you see on supermarket and pet-store shelves that’s labeled ‘complete & balanced,’ ‘total nutrition,’ or ‘100 percent nutritious’ should meet the minimum standards for nutrition set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials. That indicates that it’s adequate for the vast majority of healthy pets.” The short article goes on to indicate that the best buy the authors found was Ol’ Roy at Walmart, “for just 34 cents per pound.”

Can you think of anything nutritious you can buy for 34 cents per pound? No; just sawdust comes to mind. Sprinkle on some fat from a vat of road kill and a vitamin/mineral mix of dubious origin and call it a day!

I just don’t know how anyone could regard a dog (carnivore) food whose ingredients list starts with  (as one example) turkey, chicken, and chicken meal as “just as good” as one that starts with corn, “meat and bone meal,” and soybean meal – even if the protein, fat, and vitamin levels in the two foods were equivalent.

“Bargain” prices are always an indication of cheap, low-quality ingredients. I will agree with Consumer Reports, however, that high prices may not necessarily correlate with high-quality ingredients; there certainly are plenty of high-priced foods competing in the “premium” niche whose ingredients don’t necessarily explain the price of the product.  So many factors go into pricing that you have to look past the price to the ingredients to determine the quality of a food. 

Allow me to rave positively about something else. Recently, two of our favorite behaviorists/authors, Patricia McConnell, PhD, and Karen London, PhD, published a great little book, Love Has No Age Limit: Welcoming an Adopted Dog into Your Home. They wanted to address a little-known problem having to do with dog adoptions: the fact that up to a third of dogs who get adopted in some areas end up being returned to the shelter. The goal of the book is to help guide folks with newly adopted dogs through the first few days, weeks, and months post-adoption – to avoid the most common mistakes that people make, and set up the dog and family for success.

Best of all, to make sure the book is affordable to cash-strapped animal welfare organizations, everyone involved with the book’s production agreed to discount the compensation for their work, so the book could be sold far below a typical retail price. Order it today from Dogwise for just $9.95; dogwise.com or (800) 776-2665.

Comments (5)

I still find it frustrating that no one is willing to name the best dog food(s) out there. Where to go for an unbiased review of the best foods for our dogs?

Posted by: Unknown | December 10, 2011 11:01 PM    Report this comment

I agree on all the dog food comments but have to to let Cheryl know CR DOES comment on human medical insurance. In fact it was the special report of the November issue where they ranked hundreds of private, Medicare and Medicaid health plans, by state. They added an article about how to choose a plan.

Hopefully folks who spend the money to subscribe to CR AND read it will realize that minimum standards of canine nutrition are not and will never be really complete!

Posted by: Sandra C | October 25, 2011 3:47 PM    Report this comment

Personally, I don't want my pets to "survive"...I want them to "THRIVE"!! Duh!! Walmart, along with the makers of "Ol' Roy" should be utterly ashamed of themselves! Its first ingredient and second ingredient are revolting! They've recently switched them...for whatever THAT'S worth! High Fructose Corn Syrup and (Mystery) Meat By-Products??!! WTF? Pleeeease! Gimme a break! Those of us who wish our pets to be at their optimum heath in order to reach their full potential, and stay with us as long as possible...well, we simply know better! I say let's boycott it, AND "Consumer Reports" magazine! Tracy C.

Posted by: Unknown | August 27, 2011 7:01 PM    Report this comment

Unbelievable. Back when I was growing up, we just couldn't afford the better foods and got what we could. After getting married and having my own babies, no WAY would I ever get those other foods. I love reading your annual review on wet and dry foods. It feels great to know I'm getting the best for our kids.

Thanks for the info on the new book. I very much enjoy reading all things dog-Evita

Posted by: EVITA C | August 7, 2011 10:51 AM    Report this comment

I so agree, had to laugh tho reading your editorial. Their comments on not using pet insurance, and their thoughts on the value on pet insurance also gives me pause. As far as I recall they don't review human medical insurance. Would love a comment on your thoughts about that in your newsletter. It always bothers me when Consumer Reports pans pet insurance and premium foods, have family members who think they are right on everything.
Cheryl A.

Posted by: Cheryl A. | August 4, 2011 7:27 PM    Report this comment

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