With so many options out there, and some less than honest marketing campaigns, knowing what to feed your foster or adopted dog can be confusing. We hope that these guidelines can help to take some of the guess work out of the equation.
There are two main sources to purchase your food from – grocery stores or pet supply stores like Pet Valu, Pet Smart, Pet Food Warehouse and many smaller local suppliers. Good and bad foods can be found in each. Similarly, a higher price point does not always equal a higher quality product and there are many highly rated foods at lower price points.
Dry Dog Food
Ingredients are a good way to eliminate some bad choices. Many of the grocery store brands have ingredient lists that begin with things like corn, corn by products or wheat. This right away tells you that as far as nutrition goes – it is lacking. These ingredients are fillers that provide energy but are not good sources of protein. You wouldn’t feed your human family dinner that was mostly corn with a mere sprinkling of other nutritional sources. If you did, they wouldn’t be very healthy.
Another red flag is meat and bone meal, a dry “rendered product from mammal tissues, including bone, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents” (according to the Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2008 Edition).
Because there is no specific animal named as the source of this, you can only assume what it may be – it could well be roadkill, spoiled supermarket meat, euthanized farm animals – the possibilities are all very unappetizing. Also avoid any dry dog food that contains artificial colouring. These are unnecessary chemicals added to the food to make it more appealing to humans – mission fail because we can now use it as a very clear red flag that the food is the lowest of quality. Besides, your dog could care less what colour the kibble is!
Keep in mind that what you may save on purchasing these foods, will only cost significantly more in vet bills due to poor nutrition or worse. We often have good quality food stocked at the office that has been donated. It is there for anyone that needs it, just ask.
There are many more brands that are good quality and may be recommended by the pet food experts at your preferred store. You can research most and find the food that is right for both your foster or adopted dog and your wallet. A great source of information can be found at http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/.
Wet Dog Food
The same recommendations and warnings apply for canned foods, whether you feed straight wet food or mixed with kibble.
Many of the same red flag ingredients are in dog treats however, another danger in the treat market is that a great many are made in or sourced from China. Always read the labels.
Also not recommended are rawhide chews. They become very slimy and gummy making them a dangerous (and expensive) hazard. They can be swallowed in large pieces that can either choke a dog or, if they manage to get past to the digestive system, can become an obstruction resulting in the need for surgical removal.
Again, there are many more but be sure to read labels carefully. Look for Canadian made and sourced products. Steer clear of “Made in China” and beware of packaging that states ‘Imported by…’ without saying where it was imported from.
We hope this has helped to take some of the guess work out. We want to ensure the longest, healthiest and happiest lives for all of the animals we rescue and care for and nutrition is a big part of that!