When Deanna Cuchiaro of Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, set out to adopt an Irish Setter, she had no idea the rescue would change her entire perspective on animal health care. Cuchiaro already had one Irish Setter, Brandy, who had recently turned 10, and she wanted to get another so that Brandy could help pass his positive influence around the house to the newcomer. She considered getting a puppy, but decided to adopt a rescue dog from the Irish Setter Club of Central Connecticut rescue program. She met representatives of the rescue group at a local Irish Setter show who told her there was a large two-year-old male Setter available for adoption.
Maybe it’s partially our fault, but the word “natural” is getting a lot of exposure on dog food labels these days. The problem is, it doesn’t mean anything in particular; there is no official definition of the word. It just sounds good, and companies like Pet Products Plus, Inc., makers of Sensible Choice, like to use it a lot. A bright yellow banner on the front of the bag says, “100% All Natural.” And the back of the label explains, “Sensible Choice dog foods are all-natural products. . . In other words, if it’s not found in nature, you won’t find it in Sensible Choice.” But that just doesn’t explain something like “natural flavor,” the sixth ingredient listed on the label of the Sensible Choice Lamb and Rice food. Natural what flavor?
CA 94501; or fax to (510) 749-4905
We’ve had a LOT of mail, email, and phone calls since we published our dry dog food review last month, mostly from people who wanted more information. We are thrilled that people are finally learning to be concerned with the food their dogs eat. We’re also pleased that a large percentage (perhaps a full three-quarters) of the people who contacted us asked, “What about the three foods that were on your list last year (Beowulf’s Back to Basics, Solid Gold’s Hund ‘N Flocken, and Wysong) that weren’t on your list this year?” What loyal readers! You guys are all over it! To answer the question for all three foods: They still meet all our criteria; they are still good foods. We like them! We like them! We really like them!
Sometimes, the deficiency is discovered when a blood test is performed for the purpose of analyzing the dog’s nutritional status (although, in my opinion, there are some problems with this methodology (see “Blood Testing for Deficiencies,” next page). In other cases, a dog owner might know that the diet he feeds is deficient in a certain nutrient, and he supplements rather than changes the formulation of the diet. For example, dogs who are fed a diet based on raw meats and vegetables, but who don’t receive fresh ground bones, are more than likely to be deficient in calcium.
Thank you for mentioning our product, Home Made 4 Life (“Food in the Freezer,” March 2000). Some important information was not mentioned in your article! We feel these key points set our companies and our product apart from our competition: Home Made 4 Life pet food is formulated by professional animal nutritionists Jennifer Boniface, MS, and Trina Nowak, BScAgr, each of whom hold higher education degrees in animal nutrition. Home Made 4 Life is the only international pet food of its type, with manufacturing taking place both in Maryland (Aunt Jeni’s Home Made) and Ontario, Canada (Pets 4 Life).
these days?) and they can't share the information with you for fear that the knowledge will spread and this will result in some sort of advantage by their competitors.
The truth is
We’ve been whining lately about the dog food industry’s reluctance to embrace and use a “date of manufacture” on their product labels. There is no argument that fresher foods are better foods; with time, vitamins degrade, oils go stale and become rancid, and molds may develop, no matter what sort of preservatives are used. But the big pet food makers would rather concentrate on making their foods last as long as possible – extending shelf life with preservatives, keeping oxygen out of the food with cutting-edge technology bags, etc. – than working out a distribution system that gets their products into the bowls of consumers faster.
While most dog owners are certain that “someone” is in charge of regulating the manufacture of commercial dog food in this country, very few people know who that mysterious official or agency might be. But somebody’s gotta be making sure that dog food doesn’t contain any harmful ingredients and does contain what dogs need to survive, right? The FDA? Department of Agriculture? Someone?
There are hundreds of brands and flavors of dog food out there. You can find them everywhere, from the corner convenience store to the members-only warehouse center to the hard-to-find health food store for pets. And by golly, you’ve tried what seems like all of them! Yet you’re still not sure which are the best ones for your dog. On the other hand, your dog seems to have a definite opinion about it, and really prefers one of the less expensive grocery store brands. That’s great, you think, he loves the food and he’s saving me money! But is he? Is your dog’s preference for a particular food a good indication of the quality of the food?
About frozen raw meat diets for dogs: We’ve got some good news, and some bad news. Here’s the good news: raw meat-based diets are really “what’s best” for dogs. With their sharp, tearing teeth, jaws capable of crushing bones, and short, highly acidic digestive systems, dogs are made to eat and thrive on diets that are made mostly of meat and bones. Every holistic veterinarian we know suggests feeding a raw meat-based diet, both to improve a dog’s existing health, or to recover it. Vital amino acids and food enzymes, vital for superior digestion and nutrient absorption, are present in raw meat, and survive the freezing/defrosting process beautifully.