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  #1  
Old 03-05-2008, 09:32 AM
Earl Snake-Hips Tucker Earl Snake-Hips Tucker is offline
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Dog food: cheap vs. high--any real difference?

What benefits is a dog getting from a higher priced dog food?
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  #2  
Old 03-05-2008, 09:50 AM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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My understanding is that the cheap stuff has more fillers - grains and such.
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Old 03-05-2008, 09:53 AM
enipla enipla is offline
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And I think with all those fillers, you may have to feed them more, and pick up after them more.

We went through about 5 different brands before we found one that didnít make our dog puke. Fun couple of months.
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  #4  
Old 03-05-2008, 09:56 AM
Duck Duck Goose Duck Duck Goose is offline
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Depends on the brand. You gotta read the labels.

Generally speaking, cheap dog foods are mainly cornmeal and other grain products. Also generally speaking, the higher the price, the more actual animal protein ("meat byproducts", "meat meal") the dog food contains.

However, this is not an across-the-board rule. There are some dog foods that are more expensive simply due to market forces, "whatever the traffic will bear", etc.

Some of the specialist dog foods, like the lamb and rice allergy diets, are more expensive because lamb and rice are more expensive ingredients than not-for-human-consumption leftover cow bits and wheat middlings.

So a dog won't intrinsically get a better diet from dog food that is more expensive. All reputable commercial dog food diets that are marketed in the U.S. have passed feeding tests run by the AAFCO and are thus certified to be nutritionally complete.

It's like asking, "What benefits is my child getting from a higher priced hamburger?" Generally speaking, there are three principles at work:

1. You get what you pay for.
2. However, producers will charge whatever the traffic will bear for their product, and sometimes those prices reflect only the juxtaposition of producer greed and consumer stupidity, not the actual relative value of the product's ingredients.
3. The alert consumer will inform himself and make his buying decisions accordingly.
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  #5  
Old 03-05-2008, 10:41 AM
Omega Glory Omega Glory is offline
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Different dogs will thrive on different foods. People who decide to get a premium brand would feel that their dog would be better off with a diet that contained more identifiable meat sources than things like corn or rice.

For an example, here's two ingredients lists. The first is a store brand, and the second, a premium brand.

Corn, Meat & Bone Meal, Chicken By-Product Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Animal Fat (Preserved with BHA), Rice, Flaxseed, Oatmeal (Source of Soluble Oat Fiber), Poultry Digest, Beet Pulp, Salt, Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Iron Oxide, Vitamin E Supplement, Choline Chloride, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Niacin, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Sodium Selenite, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Menadione Dimethylpyrimidinol BisulfIte (Source of Vitamin K Activity), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Sulfate, Folic Acid.

Turkey, Chicken, Turkey Meal, Chicken Meal, Potatoes, Herring Meal, Chicken Fat, Natural Flavors, Egg, Apples, Tomatoes, Potassium Chloride Carrots, Vitamins,Cottage Cheese, Minerals, Alfalfa Sprouts, Ascorbic Acid, Dried Chicory Root, Direct-Fed Microbials, Vitamin E Supplement, Lecithin, Rosemary Extract
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  #6  
Old 03-05-2008, 11:03 AM
NajaNivea NajaNivea is offline
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It's a little like asking "what's the difference between a McDonald's burger and a steakhouse burger?" Well, for one, the second choice has... you know, meat. Same with dog food

All joking aside, previous posters have it right. Cheap foods = cheap fillers. Whatever the current thinking of dogs as omnivores, it's not really true. They're opportunists and will eat whatever they can get, but biologically speaking they're designed to thrive on animal protein. The structure of their digestive tract, their jaw structure and dentition, the very fact that they lack the enzymes necessary to break down starch and cellulose points to carnivore status.

The point is, they can survive eating foods packed with corn meal, but they won't thrive. Though some dogs do just fine on cheap foods, others have dull, dry coats that shed in huge volume, poop mountainous loads of waste because they don't digest any of the corn, have gunky yellow teeth, age quickly and die fairly young.

NajaPop is a DVM and is fond of Science Diet--a pricey food marketed by Hill's exclusively to and through vets but which for a few years had the same ingredients list as the cheapified grocery store version of Iams and now though the ingredients list has changed slightly, the amount and source of corn and meat are roughly the same.

Point being, their back yard is filled with huge piles of smelly waste that they're constantly picking up. It's astounding the volume that dog produces. Mine goes once a day, and if I don't get around to picking it up until mid-week, it's dried and crumbled to dust anyway. The difference is my dog eats a small volume of food and utilizes all of it.

As with anything else, you mostly get what you pay for, though it's wise to take a look at the ingredients list. Science Diet is one of the most expensive out there, and it's total crap.

Last edited by NajaNivea; 03-05-2008 at 11:04 AM..
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  #7  
Old 03-05-2008, 12:09 PM
Cat Fight Cat Fight is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NajaNivea
Mine goes once a day
Whaa? is this really because of diet? I am truly in awe.
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  #8  
Old 03-05-2008, 12:56 PM
Risha Risha is offline
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Science Diet now makes a Nature's Best version, which still has some chemicals but is moving in the right direction.
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  #9  
Old 03-05-2008, 01:07 PM
Risha Risha is offline
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By the way, I don't know what Dick Van Patten knows about dogs' taste buds, but I tried Natural Balance on the adult on a whim one day. My dogs are crazy for it! I'm nearly bowled over if I'm slow putting the bowls down in the morning, and they're both always trying to snatch it out of my hands and fighting over the last morsel in the bowls. (The adult gets the roll, and the puppy gets the normal wet food, but they both want both.)

I recommended it to my neighbor, and her dogs are just as wild for it. She was excited to find that when she started putting it over dry food is the first time her older dog has submitted to eating dry food in a year.

I'm currently taste testing the cats on the wet food. They didn't eat much of it yesterday, but they're cautious about change. I'm giving it until tomorrow before switching back to Fancy Feast.
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  #10  
Old 03-05-2008, 01:42 PM
AskNott AskNott is offline
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When I first got my Welsh Terrier, Maxwell Edison, the breeder recommended Iams Eukanuba, partly for the "compact, solid stool" the dogs put out. She raised Welshies and Airedales, so cleanup was a big concern. Max lived about 7 years past the average for his breed, on Eukanuba, dry treats, and no people food.

Whatever brand you choose, the important things are that your dog is healthy, and that she doesn't get fat. My vet of many years is appalled at how many obese dogs he sees every day. You don't need a special scale to weigh your dog, if you can pick him up. Just weigh yourself, then weigh both of you. Do the math. If a yummy new food makes him gain weight, that's bad. Fat dogs die young. Don't take my word for it, ask your vet.
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  #11  
Old 03-05-2008, 02:47 PM
Gulo gulo Gulo gulo is offline
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Whole Dog Journal's Recommended Foods

They also asked companies where their foods were manufactured, no doubt inspired by the mass pet deaths of last year.
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  #12  
Old 03-05-2008, 02:48 PM
laramary laramary is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NajaNivea
... dull, dry coats that shed in huge volume, poop mountainous loads of waste because they don't digest any of the corn, have gunky yellow teeth, age quickly and die fairly young.
I'd like to add dogs on lower quality food can experience dog flatulence issues - which is worth a pretty penny to avoid, as it truly is an awful smell.
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  #13  
Old 03-05-2008, 03:01 PM
NajaNivea NajaNivea is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cat Fight
Whaa? is this really because of diet? I am truly in awe.
Yes! I swear, you can't write an endorsement better than "my dog hardly poops at all"
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  #14  
Old 03-05-2008, 03:13 PM
SmartAleq SmartAleq is offline
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I feed my beasties Nutra-Nuggets Lamb & Rice, which runs me about $18 per 40 lb bag at the local Fred Meyer. Small poops, very little flatulence and very shiny coats on both of them. They like the flavor, too. The glucosamine/chondroitin supplement is very welcome for the Malemute who was badly nourished for her first year and a half before I got her and who has joint problems as a result.
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  #15  
Old 03-05-2008, 05:10 PM
porcupine porcupine is offline
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Just a note that Costco's brand (Kirkland) is manufactured by Diamond, which is on the Whole Dog Journal list of foods. So it's good and cheap - $18 for a 40 lb bag.
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  #16  
Old 03-05-2008, 05:32 PM
SmartAleq SmartAleq is offline
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Nutra-Nuggets is also a Diamond manufactured product like Kirkland, so there you go! I originally bought Nutra-Nuggets at Costco but I don't have a membership now so I'm glad I can pick it up at Freddie's. Which is owned by Kroger's for those outside the PNW--it might be available through Kroger's stores as well. Cheap but good and the doggies dig it. The cat does too, but he's a mutant...
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  #17  
Old 03-05-2008, 06:17 PM
R. P. McMurphy R. P. McMurphy is offline
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Spartydog sez:

Depends on the dog, even with the premium stuff. Had a friend that thrived on Nutro. Tried it and just couldn't get used to it. Vomiting and indigestion.

Switched to Eukanuba and no problem. Feeding time is heaven. Go figure!
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  #18  
Old 03-05-2008, 07:46 PM
gonzomax gonzomax is offline
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When the Chinese were poisoning our dog and cat foods , the place that was making them made like 60 brands at one factory. Were they different when they charged more? Were they better? I do not know but I am skeptical.
Van Patten makes pressed dog food in tubes. My dogs think it is crack. They WILL get it every night or make it sure you will be miserable. Beagles do not suffer disappointment in peace.
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  #19  
Old 03-05-2008, 07:53 PM
KarlGrenze KarlGrenze is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gonzomax
When the Chinese were poisoning our dog and cat foods , the place that was making them made like 60 brands at one factory. Were they different when they charged more? Were they better? I do not know but I am skeptical.
They were different foods that share one single ingredient, but were different recipes. Probably some brands had more amount of it than others (wheat gluten, wasn't it?). IIRC, some of them were "prescription diets", meaning that they had to be sold under supervision of a veterinarian. Others were general run of the mill commercial diets sold in the supermarkets.

Like I said, all they had in common was that they charged one ingredient and were packaged in the same plant. They probably had different recipes and different amounts of the ingredients.
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  #20  
Old 03-05-2008, 08:23 PM
Risha Risha is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gonzomax
Van Patten makes pressed dog food in tubes. My dogs think it is crack. They WILL get it every night or make it sure you will be miserable. Beagles do not suffer disappointment in peace.
That's the Natural Balance stuff I mentioned above. Crack indeed, and yes, the puppy (beagle mix) does not suffer deprivation in silence.
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  #21  
Old 03-05-2008, 11:06 PM
Pullet Pullet is offline
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Originally Posted by gonzomax
When the Chinese were poisoning our dog and cat foods , the place that was making them made like 60 brands at one factory.
Like KarlGrenze said, it was a common tainted ingredient. They added Melamine to some wheat to increase the nitrogen content. Nitrogen content is a measure of protein content. Wheat with higher amounts of protein garners a higher selling price. Turns out, melamine also kills kidneys.
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  #22  
Old 03-06-2008, 10:15 AM
The Chao Goes Mu The Chao Goes Mu is offline
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I've recently switched from that swill Good Life Recipe to Pet Promise. Good Life smelled like rot, gave my dogs horrible gas and made them so incredibly thirsty. Not to mention they pooped all the time and it smelled atrocious.

Pet Promise is about $40 for a 25lb bag, not cheap I tells ya but they like it and they don't consume as much water and the horrific flatulence has ebbed.

The makers claim that it has no byproducts, nor dyes and that the animals that it comes from are not factory farmed. So far I have been unable to fine one negative article or comment about it online.

So yeah, it costs an arm and a leg but if it ends up being healthier in the long run then it's worth it.

Last edited by The Chao Goes Mu; 03-06-2008 at 10:15 AM..
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  #23  
Old 03-06-2008, 01:48 PM
Jodi Jodi is offline
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What I heard is that the first three ingredients of the dog food should be meat, meat, and meat. Compare the labels Omega Glory posted above and you'll see what I mean. I follow that rule but am not at all loyal to one brand or another. My dogs usually get Iams or Science Diet, lamb formula in either brand, dry. (Lamb formula because of the "first 3 ingredients are meat" rule). And dry treats, and very little people food. My experience with grocery store dog food (Purina, etc.) is that I can't find any that follow the "3 meat" rule and so I don't buy them. And yes, inevitably, dog foods made with meat instead of grain are more expensive.
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  #24  
Old 03-06-2008, 02:09 PM
Charlie Tan Charlie Tan is offline
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Why shouldn't they have people food?
I'm seriously curious, since, as NajaNivea noted, they're oppurtunists, with a preference for meat.
I had my boxer on a diet of raw herring, raw chicken wings, cottage cheese with some oats mixed in. He crapped less and was generally healthier than now. The turds also dried up and turned to dust, whereas the dry stuff results in poop that gets kinda mouldy after a few days.
Moving to an apartment without a freezer and no place to put one unfortunately put a stop to that.
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  #25  
Old 03-06-2008, 02:30 PM
KarlGrenze KarlGrenze is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie Tan
Why shouldn't they have people food?
I'm seriously curious, since, as NajaNivea noted, they're oppurtunists, with a preference for meat.
Many reasons, some more valid than others, in no particular order:

Raw food and meat may expose animals (and humans) to bacteria that they would not otherwise get with cooked food (yes, the dry food has been cooked during processing). Example: Salmonella, Toxoplasma, Campylobacter, E. coli.

Cost and time consuming- Good raw food diet can be expensive and time consuming, especially if you want to make sure it is as nutritionally balanced and you're not missing out anything major (more on that later). Not all owners have the resources and commitment to do that.

Nutritional deficiencies- Like it was pointed earlier, all commercial diets for dogs and cats must be approved by the AAFCO. The dogs that eat them may not have the shiniest coat, but they're not supposed to develop any major nutritional deficiency if they eat that as their only food source. That's the goal, anyways. Raw food does not follow those feed trials. It is easier to overlook a major nutrient when following a raw food diet.

When I hear the term just "people food", I don't think necessarily of raw diets, but of table scraps. Look at the owners, they may not even be getting healthy human table scraps (chicken wings, fried food, gravy, etc.)! That does not contribute to their general health.
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  #26  
Old 03-06-2008, 02:33 PM
Jodi Jodi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie Tan
Why shouldn't they have people food? I had my boxer on a diet of raw herring, raw chicken wings, cottage cheese with some oats mixed in. He crapped less and was generally healthier than now.
What you're talking about, a pet raw-food diet, is different from what I (and most other people) mean when we talk about "people food," which is the leftovers of whatever crap we humans happen to be feeding ourselves. That diet is generally not high enough in protein for dogs and can cause stomach upset or flatulence due to the variety of stuff we eat, not all of which is easily digestible by dogs. From personal experience, for example: I eat a fair amount of pasta with tomato-based sauces. Tomato-based sauces do not agree with my dogs.

Pet raw-food diets are usually held to be amazingly good for dogs; it's just not a lot of people have the time or energy to put a good one together.

Last edited by Jodi; 03-06-2008 at 02:34 PM..
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  #27  
Old 03-06-2008, 04:03 PM
AskNott AskNott is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie Tan
Why shouldn't they have people food?
I'm seriously curious, since, as NajaNivea noted, they're oppurtunists, with a preference for meat.
...
As my vet explained it to me, modern domestic dogs are not the wild dogs they descended from. A wolf or fox can gorge on a nest of quail one day, go hungry two days, chase down a bunny and some mice the fourth day, and tear apart rotting roadkill the fifth. He'll barf up the rotten stuff, but who cares in the wild? Some wild canines will die of disease or starvation, too. Domestic dogs are happier with a routine diet. Your dog will eagerly scarf up the scraps and fat from your dinner, but his innards will freak out, with bloating, flatulence, and surprises in the bowel schedule.

Some dog owners who feed dinner scraps to the dog find the pooch snubbing his dog food to make room for supper scraps. Fuzbo won't tell you when he's had enough to eat, especially when the food is covered in butter or gravy. Later on, when you can't feel his ribs, you'll know.

That's why they shouldn't have people food.
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  #28  
Old 03-06-2008, 04:10 PM
TimeWinder TimeWinder is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Risha
Science Diet now makes a Nature's Best version, which still has some chemicals but is moving in the right direction.
Find me a dog food (or a human food for that matter) that doesn't contain chemicals, and I will be really impressed.
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  #29  
Old 03-06-2008, 04:25 PM
Gulo gulo Gulo gulo is offline
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I just stumbled upon a course on dog nutrition in the Seattle area. I think I'll take it one day to see what it's about: Canine Nutrition

Edit: I see it's for students only. Dang. I wonder if they'd make exceptions for those of us who don't wish to massage animals for a living.

Last edited by Gulo gulo; 03-06-2008 at 04:27 PM..
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  #30  
Old 03-06-2008, 05:32 PM
Pullet Pullet is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie Tan
Why shouldn't they have people food?
I'm seriously curious, since, as NajaNivea noted, they're oppurtunists, with a preference for meat.
I had my boxer on a diet of raw herring, raw chicken wings, cottage cheese with some oats mixed in.
Raw fish can contain enzymes that destroy thiamin, making your dog deficient in this important enzyme. Bad stuff. Dogs can also get salmonella from raw chicken just like people.

Also, as you yourself and others have pointed out, raw food diets take discipline and knowledge on the part of the owner. Major drawback.

We had a client once who decided to feed their dog on nothing but fruit. If they were just lazy instead of idiots, we could have pressed cruelty charges.

Last edited by Pullet; 03-06-2008 at 05:34 PM..
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  #31  
Old 03-06-2008, 05:58 PM
Brown Eyed Girl Brown Eyed Girl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Omega Glory
Corn, Meat & Bone Meal, Chicken By-Product Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Animal Fat (Preserved with BHA), Rice, Flaxseed, Oatmeal (Source of Soluble Oat Fiber), Poultry Digest, Beet Pulp, Salt, Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Iron Oxide, Vitamin E Supplement, Choline Chloride, Zinc Sulfate, ::yada, yada, yada::
Just gotta ask: what the hell is poultry digest? Please don't tell me it's the spew of bulimic chickens.
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  #32  
Old 03-06-2008, 06:21 PM
gonzomax gonzomax is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KarlGrenze
They were different foods that share one single ingredient, but were different recipes. Probably some brands had more amount of it than others (wheat gluten, wasn't it?). IIRC, some of them were "prescription diets", meaning that they had to be sold under supervision of a veterinarian. Others were general run of the mill commercial diets sold in the supermarkets.

Like I said, all they had in common was that they charged one ingredient and were packaged in the same plant. They probably had different recipes and different amounts of the ingredients.
Maybe but I do not completely believe it. Repackaging the same crap to increase profits.
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  #33  
Old 03-06-2008, 07:32 PM
KarlGrenze KarlGrenze is online now
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In those commercial diets, I cannot tell. Some of the recalled products, though, were "prescription diets".

These foods HAVE to follow different recipes than regular commercial diets, since they are used to help manage certain diseases. Similar to when humans with cardiac, kidney, or other disease are told to follow a certain diet and have guidelines of what they can and cannot eat, prescription diets are similar. They act like diets, giving animals with those conditions the extra nutrients they may need, while minimizing those ingredients that can exacerbate the problem.

Many of these prescriptions are backed up by research, feeding trials, experiments, publications in peer-reviewed journals, etc, not just the AAFCO's feeding trials required for commercial diets.

But, wheat gluten is a common ingredient, and sadly, like Pullet mentioned, it was tainted with melamine to increase the nitrogen conent and make it more desirable for manufacturers.
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  #34  
Old 03-06-2008, 08:07 PM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
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As a very general rule of thumb, the more corn= the worse the dog food.

Cat food should contain even less grain of any sort.
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  #35  
Old 03-06-2008, 09:47 PM
gonzomax gonzomax is offline
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http://www.dogfoodproject.com/index.php?page=myths
Heres a little info on dog foods.
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  #36  
Old 03-07-2008, 12:51 AM
Charlie Tan Charlie Tan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pullet
Raw fish can contain enzymes that destroy thiamin, making your dog deficient in this important enzyme. Bad stuff. Dogs can also get salmonella from raw chicken just like people.
I think it's mostly from fresh water fish, which herring is not. Thankfully, salmonella is rare in Sweden.
Buster do get leftovers as treats, mainly because at almost five, he hasn't put on any extra weight at all.
Thanks all for responding. My major concern with commercial pet food is the amount of grains. I don't see foxes or wolves roaming wheat fields for food, but OTOH, dogs have been with us a long time and many more generations of dogs than human generations during that time span, so maybe they are well adjusted to grains.

Some poeple in the BARF crowd seems to wear tinfoil hats (no examples in the link, I think), but they helped me put together a very good diet for my doggie.
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  #37  
Old 03-07-2008, 01:43 AM
Pullet Pullet is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie Tan
Thankfully, salmonella is rare in Sweden.
I was about to call BS on this claim, when I found this article Waddaya know, Sweden is making extreme efforts to eliminate salmonella in poultry. Ignorance fought.

WTF is the dessert pictures in the ad on that page? It looks like curdled cream and blood chunks.
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  #38  
Old 03-15-2008, 12:00 PM
NajaNivea NajaNivea is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brown Eyed Girl
Just gotta ask: what the hell is poultry digest? Please don't tell me it's the spew of bulimic chickens.
Sorry for the bump, but I just wanted to answer this.
"Digest" is all the leftover stuff--everything that couldn't be used as blood meal, bone meal, meat or meat meal, mechanically separated meat or byproducts--chemically dissolved into a sludge used as flavorant and scent enhancer. You'll tend to find digests used in foods with a high grain content, to increase the attraction of the food.

As far as dogs' susceptibility to salmonella, it's a far greater concern for immune-comprimised dogs than for your average pooch. Healthy dogs properly introduced to raw foods do not, as a general rule, need to be concerned about salmonella from human-grade meats. Their digestive systems are very short and highly acidic, there simply isn't the time or the environment for most bugs to grow.

Last edited by NajaNivea; 03-15-2008 at 12:04 PM..
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