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What Do You Feed Your Pet?

Updated on January 27, 2014

I have had a dog (or two) for the majority of my life. For the most part, I never paid a whole lot of attention what they had for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. But I have a wife who has educated me over the past ten years or so and I now realize some things which are worth knowing to any pet lover in America today.

What they eat does matter, and it matters a lot.

My dog, Misty Woods Ducks On The Pond is an AKC Registered English style Black Labrador Retriever. I have traced his lineage back some 150 years, over 40 generations. We have shown him, and he has won points on the AKC circuit, so we pay particular attention to his health and welfare, I assure you.

Buccleuch Nell, Lord Malmesbury's  Female Labrador Retriever circa 1880's (or 1850's depending on which site you research), my Duckie's ancestor
Buccleuch Nell, Lord Malmesbury's Female Labrador Retriever circa 1880's (or 1850's depending on which site you research), my Duckie's ancestor | Source

What I will speak of here is part observation, part information, and part first hand knowledge. Whether you use any of it, or all of it is entirely up to you. I will say that what we do works for us, and what we have learned has often been through trial and error, as well as information learned on the Internet.

To begin with, for most of Duckie's life we have fed him really good food; high quality, high cost dog food. When we purchased him, he was being fed Science Diet, something that a vet had provided to the person we bought him from. While it was a decent food, we wanted to do the best we could for him, so my wife searched on the internet to find the best dog food out there.

There are a LOT of dog foods out there! We have found a website that gives an unbiased look at these foods, their makeup, and whether any recalls have been placed on them It opened our eyes to a universe I never knew existed.

My dog Duckie at 8 weeks old
My dog Duckie at 8 weeks old | Source
Duckie at 10 weeks. He's a good looking dog!
Duckie at 10 weeks. He's a good looking dog! | Source
January 2012 Harrison, Ark Best of Breed at 6 months
January 2012 Harrison, Ark Best of Breed at 6 months | Source
Duckie Joplin 2012 Best of Breed - Opposite Sex
Duckie Joplin 2012 Best of Breed - Opposite Sex | Source

After much deliberation, trial and error we settled on Taste Of The Wild's Wetland Formula. This is the make up and the high points breakdown of it. What follows is a copy and paste straight from their site.

Wetlands Canine Formula

A grain-free formula with sweet potatoes and peas provides highly digestible energy for your active dog. Made with real roasted and smoked fowl, this formula offers a taste sensation like no other. Supplemented with fruits and vegetables, this hearty formula delivers natural antioxidants to help give your friend a healthy lifestyle. Your dog craves a taste of the wild. Go ahead and give him one.
Protein: 32% Minimum, Fat: 18% Minimum Calcium: 2.1%, as-fed; Phosphorus: 1.4%, as-fed Calories: 3,750 kcal/kg (375 kcal/cup) Calculated Metabolizable Energy

A lot of this is Greek to me, but what I see is that it contains real meat, has a high protein amount and a lower fat than some other brands. Duckie thrived on this item.

We also tried Before Grain, Chicken formula based on our vet's recommendation. Duckie was doing just fine on TOTW, but we did give BG a shot. Bottom line, we couldn't tell any difference between the two, and we just liked TOTW a bit better from a consumer's point of view. I couldn't really give you a reason why, but there it is. Personal choice.


How do you decide what you feed your dog?

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Other dog food we tried leading up to TOTW are as follows:

NOTE: These descriptions are straight from the company's websites. I have no hand in their wording, and I do not claim to know if what is stated is true or not.

Nutro Chicken, Brown Rice, and Oatmeal Formula

Make sure your puppy gets off to a healthy start with a natural puppy food designed for growth and development. NATURAL CHOICE® WHOLESOME ESSENTIALS® Puppy Formula contains real, farm-raised chicken with amino acids necessary for building muscle and maintaining a healthy metabolism. We’ve also added oatmeal for sensitive stomachs, whole brown rice for better nutrient absorption and a precise balance of calcium and phosphorus to help build strong bones and teeth. It’s premium nutrition your puppy will enjoy with the long-term benefits you want and real results you can actually see.

Nutro was our first foray into a food which produced less pop. The representative was in the store the day we were there and "sold" us on trying it. We did, and it did really make a difference. The only problem was that after a couple of weeks, Duckie simply refused to eat it anymore. We have no idea why.

Hill's Science Diet

Make sure your puppy gets off to a healthy start with a natural puppy food designed for growth and development. NATURAL CHOICE® WHOLESOME ESSENTIALS® Puppy Formula contains real, farm-raised chicken with amino acids necessary for building muscle and maintaining a healthy metabolism. We’ve also added oatmeal for sensitive stomachs, whole brown rice for better nutrient absorption and a precise balance of calcium and phosphorus to help build strong bones and teeth. It’s premium nutrition your puppy will enjoy with the long-term benefits you want and real results you can actually see.

This was what we started Duckie on. He did okay but in researching it we saw it was only a two star dog food as determined by the Dog Food Adviser. We wanted better for him so we continued our search.


One might notice there is no Iams, Eukanuba, Purina or other big name dog foods here. While I will not declaim these companies, what I can say is that in our investigations, we found reasons to not go with them.

Another item one might notice is there is no Walmart brands of food, nor any other lesser cost dog food here. Again, there is a reason for that. Here it is:

IN OUR THOUGHT PROCESS, WHAT GOES IN MUST COME OUT!!!

What does that mean, you ask? Simple: crap in, crap out. Sorry to be so blunt but there you go. What that means to us is if you feed you dog lower quality dog food whose first ingredient is corn, two things happen. First, your dog gets fat, overweight and it shows. Two, you are seeing a lot more poop piles around the yard and they are stinkers!

It is our belief, and our experience, that if we feed a higher quality food several things occur. First, the dog seems to be more alert, more energetic, more full of life. Second, there are fewer piles of poop to clean up. Third, the dog must be absorbing more nutrients from the higher quality dog food if there are fewer piles of poop, so he must be getting more out of less. Duckie eats less food on the higher quality food than he does of the lower quality food. Whether this is true or not we cannot say; this is simply our observation.

Misty Woods Ducks On The Pond (Duckie)
Misty Woods Ducks On The Pond (Duckie) | Source

We also use a site for Dog Food Recalls in order to stay up to date on any issues which might affect our pets.

http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/

This has proven to be a good source of solid information for us. We are signed up for advisements when any come out on any dog food, treat or any other dog related item. I can not tell you the amount of times this has given us food for thought. It has even given us information on dog food we were feeding Duckie once.

A recall came out for TOTW but a different batch than ours. We noticed Duckie had slowed down eating this particular bag, and it took a bit for him to finish it. When we went back to buy another bag, we found that the batches had been updated and we learned that our batch had in fact had been found to contain mold. Then it hit us: Duckie did not want to eat his food because he smelled that mold! Smart dog; good nose.

Other foods for other animals

We also have an 18 year old Shi Tzu who eats Science Diet Sensitive Stomach. This has been her food for close to ten years now and she does well on it.

Our newest addition is a two month old Shi Tzu / Yorkie cross (called a Shorkie for short). She is tiny, tiny tiny! To me she looks like an Ewok from the Star Wars movies. My wife feeds her Blue Buffalo Blue Wilderness Puppy Formula. A little bit goes a long way here. Blue Buffalo is another Grain Free food and this little tiger is thriving on it.

Our two cats, Tzu Tzu and Puss Puss couldn't be more different. Tzu Tzu is our 15 pound outdoor male (neutered of course). He is solid, no fat at all. He looks Siamese but has the body size of a Mainecoon. Nose to tail he measures over 3 feet! A cup a day morning and afternoon keeps him looking great. Puss Puss is a long haired indoor female cat (spayed) who resembles Garfield. Same amount twice a day and a bonus: these cats only poop once a day! Yes, once a day. No hairballs, no problems whatsoever. What do we feed them? Blue Buffalo Blue Wilderness Indoor Cat Formula. Again, grain free seems to be the way to go.

All dogs love their treats. We have experimented with quite a few in order to have Duckie learn and perform his best. Baked chicken breast, homemade chicken jerky, various store purchased training treats: we have tried a lot. What we have found is that while we have a favorite treat for him, all dogs love something a little bit more than any other. And perhaps most importantly, we have decided, for ourselves, that we WILL NOT feed our pets anything from overseas; and absolutely NOTHING from China.

We have read far too many reports that give evidence that pets have gotten extremely ill and even died on treats, and chicken jerky treats in particular manufactured in China. And they are tricky. A package will say American Product but with a little research you might find this item is manufactured in China and packaged in America. Big difference.

Our Treat Of The Moment is Wet Noses Cheese Treats. All natural, manufactured in the USA using American Made ingredients. Duckie absolutely adores these treats, and as soon as he is taken outdoors each morning he waits, sitting excitedly and expectantly for his treat. In the evening, I have him sit, then wait until I flip the treat into the air like a coin where he leaps into the air and catches it better than a major league shortstop ever could.

To us, the bottom line is to educate ourselves in order to make informed decisions. In today's world knowledge only a few seconds away and it does your pet a disservice to feed them whatever is on sale, is cheapest, or is what a vet or friend tells you to. Vet's are often compensated for their advice to use this or that, and friends don't always know all. Use your computer for something other than games and do your own research.

Your pet will thank you for it.

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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Honestly, Mike, I have no idea. LOL Bev buys the dog food for our three and I couldn't even guess what it is made of. Great information here from a man who knows what he is talking about, and I promise I'll pass this one to the boss of the house.

      Blessings to you and yours my friend

      bill

    • Mr Archer profile image
      Author

      Mr Archer 3 years ago from Missouri

      All I am I owe to Tina! She made me the informed individual sitting at the keyboard.

      Aren't smart women wonderful?!?!

      Blessing returned to you and yours tenfold, Bill. Stay safe.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Mike, first I must say Duckie is gorgeous! We had a Great Dane when I was growing up, Zorba of Big Kim. He came from a long line of champions too. My parents used to show Zorba and he did well - until his last show. Zorba buckled when the judges inspected his boy parts. We found out later that when we boarded him (emergency trip to Missouri and we lived in Philly) one of the handlers hog-tied him! Can you imagine? Well, needless to say, his show days were over, but he was the best dog we ever had, in my opinion.

      I don't have dogs now, but I do have cats. I will have to look into Blue Buffalo. I've been feeding them Purina Indoor mixed with Friskies wet food their entire lives. They love it (especially the Purina because the kibble is real small). But I do notice they spit up hair balls (why are they called that? They're more like hair tubes!) quite frequently and they poop more than once a day. Two of my 3 indoor cats are long-haired. Your kitties sound beautiful!

    • grandmapearl profile image

      Connie Smith 3 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      Mr Archer, This is the epitome of responsibility! To my mind, if you have pets, you should feed them the very best that is available. People should go by ingredients and health consequences, not by price. If I had my druthers, the garbage pet food that is peddled to the tune of billions of dollars a day, would be off the shelves permanently.

      The low-cost brands are loaded with fillers and sprayed with fat that can quickly become rancid. So many illnesses would disappear with the eradication of the garbage pet foods.

      China is known for using unprocessed sewer water to 'fertilize' their crops. YUCK!! This sewage can come from animals and humans--they see no problem in selling us this stuff!

      You are right, a responsible pet owner is an informed one. Thanks for sharing this essential information, which I am sharing and have voted Up+++

      Have a wonderful day, my friend ;) Pearl

    • Mr Archer profile image
      Author

      Mr Archer 3 years ago from Missouri

      Pearl, I had heard of using that type of water on crops but I just had a hard time believing someone would do that intentionally. But I suppose they do. As you say, YUCK!

      I appreciate the share, stop, and the comment. And I appreciate your thought that a responsible pet owner will do more than just look at the price of the food. Take care and stay safe, Pearl.

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