A couple of weeks ago I had to do something I haven’t done in a really long time… try to figure out which brand of dry dog food to buy.
My dogs eat a raw diet so I haven’t had to navigate that part of the pet store for years. But with 6 foster puppies arriving in a few hours, I had to get something I could feed them. Wandering around those aisles, I was totally confused. I picked up pack after pack and had absolutely no idea which one was better than the other.
Since then I’ve had a few conversations in person and in groups about diet & health and with this so top of mind I just watched Pet Fooled again. As it always does, it reminded me why I’m so passionate about this topic.
The following quote has always stuck with me:
“Our job as pet guardians is to feed the best possible food that we can afford” Dr Karen Becker
What this is will vary wildly from person to person. Not everyone can afford to feed an organic, all raw, biologically appropriate diet (nor do they all want to). But with a little bit of knowledge I believe we can all make better choices for the animals that rely on us to look after them.
Unfortunately, one of the big problems with learning about pet nutrition is that there isn’t expert consensus on the right way to go.
My dogs go to two different vets. A local vet for acute issues/injuries or emergencies, and an Integrative/Holistic vet on the Sunshine Coast for more ongoing preventative health treatments. They are both fantastic vets who I have a lot of respect for and I know for a fact that if I asked both of them for advice on what to feed Henry and Lulu I would get two totally different responses.
This post isn’t about trying to convince people that my personal choice of a raw whole food diet is the only way to go for their pets. Its about encouraging everyone to learn enough about pet nutrition and the pet food industry that they can make truly informed decisions about what they want to feed in their own home.
If you’ve never looked into how pet food is made or marketed then watching Pet Fooled is a great place to start. You can watch it on Netflix, or rent/buy on itunes or youtube.
Friends who have watched it have questioned whether being based in the USA means its not as relevant here…I mean of course the Australian pet food industry would be better regulated right? WRONG! Our pet food industry is almost entirely self-regulated with production and nutrition standards that are completely voluntary. Companies aren’t even required by law to recall products that have received multiple reports from vets of causing death or illness. If you’re interested in learning more about this, then the Choice website has lots more information here:
And if you watch Pet Fooled and end up more confused than ever about what’s in your pet’s dry food, then this site is a good place to start learning about just what and how good the ingredients in your particular brand might be:
For those people considering switching to a raw/natural diet, the Natural Vets have a great article about the best way to transition your pets safely:
And last but not least, if anyone is interested in what I feed my dogs then I can’t recommend highly enough The Complete Pet Company.
I chose The Complete Pet Company because not only is their product exceptional from a nutritional standpoint, it is all sourced from non-factory farmed, organic meat which was a big factor in my decision process. They’re also a local Brisbane company which I love (though if you’re not in Brisbane you can still find their products in other parts of Australia!)
In an average week, Henry and Lulu will eat:
- Complete Pet Company Raw Patties (we generally choose Chicken or Goat)
- Raw meaty bones
- Small amounts of offal (liver/heart etc)
- Chicken wings
- Fresh Sardines
- Small amounts of vegetables left over from my meals (Henry in particular loves Broccoli, Capsicum and Sweet Potato)
Some days I’m pretty sure they eat better than I do!!
I’m not going to lie, feeding a natural diet is more expensive than feeding dry food, so I know it’s not possible for everyone.
Making your own using meat you buy in bulk or on special can save you money over purchasing a pre-made product like I do, and there are lots of resources online to help with working out the right mix of ingredients if you wanted to go that way.
But if it’s not an option for you to go 100% natural (or it’s just not something you want to do) then even including SOME whole foods into your pets’ diet or at the very least finding the best possible brand of dry food you can afford can make a huge difference to their overall health.
As Dr Karen Becker says… “Our job as pet guardians is to feed the best possible food that we can afford”
And please… if you haven’t watched it already, the next time you have a spare hour, watch PET FOOLED or do some of your own research into the pet food industry.
There is so much knowledge out there. We just have to want to find it.