Dog food. I’d rather talk about less controversial topics like the measles vaccinations, police brutality, or if Bruce Jenner is a woman, but since I am so often asked, I will offer up some opinions on dog food instead. My opinions are based on my Camp-Run-A-Pup experience. I’m also able to identify and name most kibble by sight and smell. This talent alone qualifies me as a dog food expert. Really.
Best Dog Food: I’ve been buying the same dog food for 12 plus years. I could save money by switching to a less expensive brand. I’ve considered it. However, when I look at my pups with their bright eyes, shiny coats, and infrequent vet visits, I know it’s worth the premium price. The best dog food includes recognizable ingredients, such as chicken, turkey, apples, sweet potato, or rolled oats. Unhealthy ingredients include animal fat, corn gluten meal, BHA, wheat, or brewer’s rice. Tip: The best dog food has a high quality, digestible meat-based protein close to the top of the ingredient list
Raw Diets: The biggest benefit of a raw diet is knowing exactly what your pup is ingesting. Unfortunately, it’s also an expensive and time-consuming diet. Most often, single doting dog parents or couples without children become raw food devotees. This choice usually changes to a premium dog food when a family grows. It happens. Skip the guilt and carry on. One of my camper’s family insisted on sticking with a raw diet for their wolfhound after their baby was born. Buying, serving, and fixing the food was expense and stressful. The marriage ended in divorce with the wolfhound dining on Kibbles ’n Bits, and a wolfhound eating Kibbles n’ Bits is tragic.
Food Intolerance: According to an article by Drs. Foster and Smith, food allergies account for only 10% of all canine allergies. Food allergies rank well behind fleas and atopic (non-contact) allergies. Yet, when a pup shows any sign of an allergic reaction—such as itchy skin—we blame food first, though medicated baths and antihistamines might be better options for treatment. A food intolerance occurs when a dog’s digestive system is unable to digest a specific food. Food intolerant pups should avoid dog foods that include beef, dairy, chicken, lamb, fish, corn, wheat, or soy yeast. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dog food has been a good choice for many of my campers with digestive issues.
Picky Eaters: Unless your pup is sick, they will eat. There are starving dogs out in the world, but if you’re reading this, I am 99.9% certain your dog is not one of them. Allow me to share my best feeding practices. Feeding time should be around the same time every day. Allow the pup a reasonable amount of time to eat, but whether it’s empty or full, pick up the food bowl at the end of that time. The food bowl disappearing at the end of mealtime is key. Pups soon learn that they need to eat before their food disappear. Of-course,I add tasty tidbits to my pups’ meals on occasion, and even buy them Dairy Queen cones from time to time. I just refuse to lose the I-won’t-eat game and end up fixing them pheasant for dinner. On occasion, we do have a stressed out camper who won’t eat, and when this happens, I break out the Bil-Jac dog food. Most dogs love it, and it doesn’t seem to upset tummies.
Variety: Why? Switching dog food can cause all kinds of unpleasant side effects. When you must change your pup’s food, go slowly by mixing the old food with the new. Find a dog food that works and stick with it. If you get bored fixing the same old dog food, day after day, I suggest you spice up your life by making a lunch date with a friend! Have some wine. Cheers.
Fatties: As most of my campers’ families know, I am not shy about speaking up if pups are looking hefty. I am nicer than my dearly departed husband, who once told a longtime client that he didn’t recognize her pup because he had turned into such a fatty. She was a new mom, and he called her pup fat. My look should have turned him to stone. The point is fat dogs develop all kinds of health issues you want to avoid. When in doubt feed less.
First-World Stress: I’ve had pup parents call me in tears after someone told them at the dog park that they were poisoning their dog with their choice of dog food. Let me put this in perspective. I’ve known pups that lived to be 18 on cheap, dye-filled dog food and pups on a raw diet that included rock Cornish game hens that have died young. Dog food is important but it is not the end all when it comes to your pups overall health. Do a little research (breeders are a great resource, but vets tend to recommend whatever they have samples for), and pick a food that meets your pups needs and fits within your budget. Refuse to play the my-dog-eats-better-than-your-dog game.
Dog Food Bags: Does this really matter? If you don’t mind reaching into an ugly bag of dog food day after day, maybe not. However, if you are still undecided about which dog food to choose, go for the pretty bag. A few to consider are Blue Buffalo—I like the blue bag. Taste of the Wild dog food bags showcase wolves with glossy coats; Halo bags are heavenly; Wellness bags are happy, and Canidae bags shout, “I am filled with healthy, pure food!” My favorite dog food bag is Barking at the Moon by Solid Gold.
Now, to answer the question you’ve all been waiting for—I feed my pups Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul. My reasons? My sweet mother feeds the same food to her pups (mother always knows best), the first two ingredients are chicken and turkey, and my pups thrive on this diet. The downside is the bag is nothing much to look at.
What dog food do you feed your precious fur? Come on you can tell us! Be brave.
Odd Loves Company,
Food Fun at Camp: