Lotsa Dogs Lotsa Fun

Lotsa Dogs Lotsa Fun
The Big Dogs Wait at The Door

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

What's really in dog food?

Recently my curiosity got the best of me and I set out to research what's really in dog food. Every vendor from Alpo canned to Bil Jac's Frozen swears their products are the best, used by champion breeders, etc. Some of it sounds like you could feed their food to your kids.

I don't know if curiosity killed the cat; but evidently pet foods can help kill your dog. The first piece of bad news is that the pet food industry is a way for the human food industry to turn waste into profits. What that means is that slaughterhouse offal, like intestines, udders, and esophagi; mildewed or rotting grains; and decaying vegetable and fruit cores and skins are bought up by the mass marketers, and processed into what you buy in that can or bag that promises "choice beef cuts", "whole grains", and "fresh vegetables". There are few laws or regulations controling the biological condition of the waste that pet food manufacturers buy, not to mention the cleanliness of containers and wrapping materials, or the mode of storage and transportation.

The major dog and cat food producers are subsidiairies of huge multinationals whose relationship to dog care is zero to none: Nestle (Alpo, Fancy Feast, Friskies, Mighty Dog); Heinz (9 Lives, Amore, Nature's Recipe, Kibbles-n-Bits, Gravy Train); and Colgate-Palmolive (Hill's Science Diet). Proctor and Gamble produces Eukanuba and Iams. So, if you thought the above waste-into-profits scenario didn't apply because you buy the "gourmet" foods like Iams, well, think again.

So what's a dog owner to do? There are small, independent producers who make dog food with human grade ingredients. Most of these people are dog loving entrepreneurs who set out to address the problem of mass marketed pet food. Many of them are devoted to the cause because they have had pets who were unsuccessfully treated by a veterinarian for a variety of ailments for long periods of time, before someone told them to feed their beloved companion wholesome food. For many ailments, and behavioral problems, a good diet solved the problem.

Some human-grade dry foods: Wellness, Flint River Ranch, Life's Abundance, The Honest Kitchen, Merrick, Dr. Harvey's, Solid Gold, and Fromm Family Nutritionals. Wet, freeze-dried and frozen diets include: Wellness, Spot's Stew by Halo, Red Barn, Fromm Family Nutritionals, Pooch Bowls and Steve's Real Food.

You can easily order these foods online. Try feedmypet.com, petfoodcafe.com, poochbowls.com, or just4pooches.com.

Friday, April 15, 2005

The Perfect Idiot Posted by Hello

Breeding Your Dog

Along with spring cleaning, April brings thoughts of starting a puppy family to many a dog owner. This time of year, customers ask me about breeding at least once a week. Mr. and Mrs. LoveDog feel that Fluffy Ann would make a terrific mom; or that Gentleman Jim is just the best looking stud around. And they're usually right! So, it makes sense that they would look for a stud (or a bitch) to breed their beloved to... at least once. Often, dog moms and dads tell me they're going to have Fluffy Ann spayed but not before they breed her, just once! It's like a refrain.

So here I come, the (excuse the pun) party pooper. There are already too many dogs in the world. Every year, thousands upon thousands of dogs are euthanized in veterinarians' offices and in animal shelters across the country. Many thousands more are wandering the countryside or the city streets, or living in the woods (barely). The luckiest of the wanderers and wood dwellers get found by kind samaritans who get them to no-kill shelters or animal rescue organizations. I've adopted my canine companions from rescues for years, and I've never been disappointed. And every one of my dog loves has been pure bred! Benny, for example looks like a typical cocker spaniel. However, he is (forgive me, Benny) a perfect idiot. An idiot with attention deficit disorder! Only a dog junkie could love him. And it's likely he was bred by a well-meaning amateur who couldn't bear not to reproduce his or her adorable cocker... or maybe by a puppy mill, but that's another subject. My point is that the endless "just once" breeders, even those who own a dog with an excellent pedigree, are adding to the "unwanted dog" problem. So much so that there are rescues that specialize in particular breeds of dog. If you don't believe me, Google "breed rescues".

So, please, let's leave the breeding to the professionals. Responsible breeders only breed after a dog has become an AKC champion. That means he or she has been shown numerous times, at specified kinds of events, and has won a certain number of points from various AKC-certified judges. The reason for this is that the goal for an ethical breeder is to improve his or her breed. Good breeders match adult mates for body structure, temperment, quality of coat and, most of all, excellent health. For example no reputable breeder would breed a dog with hip dysplasia, even if it had been shown successfully. This is important!! You have to know what you're doing! You have to know what to look for and who to exclude. You have to know your breed inside out and backwards. Cherish your dog, take a zillion pictures, brag about her to anyone who'll listen. But, please, let her off the parenthood hook.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005