The other day, I happened to go into a pet supply store that I had never been in before, and was looking at their collection of leashes, toys, treat bags, and, of course, food, when I overheard a conversation between a couple who were in the store with their new puppy. I had crossed paths with them several times, and had smiled at and ogled the puppy each time, but they both had frowns on and were looking only at the products as they walked up and down the food aisles. Finally, they flagged down a store employee. Throwing up her hands, the woman said, “You don’t sell the food that breeder told us to get! We don’t know what to get! It’s too much!”
Unfortunately, I had to go; as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t stay to hear what the store clerk told the couple.
But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. If you knew nothing – how would you know what to buy, where to start?
Pet supply store or veterinary clinic employees: I’d love to hear from you. How do you advise people who are looking for food and don’t know what to buy?
Dog owners: How did you choose what you feed?
I’ll go first:
I feed my dogs dry foods from three different companies, mostly. I tend to buy similar formulas – a chicken-based, “all life stages” food – from each of the three companies that I am familiar with and feel good about, and I usually switch which company’s product I buy with every single bag. Why chicken? I am not a huge fan of beef or lamb, as dog foods made with these tend to be lower in protein and higher in ash than high-quality chicken-based foods. And I don’t like the smell of fish-based foods – but more importantly, fish-based foods tend to be volatile (they go rancid quickly, especially at our summer temperatures, even indoors).
Dry food is not all they eat, though. I don’t make a big point of it, but if there are healthy leftovers from the family table that I feel like they would enjoy, they get those.
Also, if a dog food company sends me samples of something new, I often feed that to my dogs, whether it’s a canned, frozen, or dehydrated diet. I’m curious to see what different products look and smell like, how the dogs like it (how palatable it is) and how it comes out the other end (how digestible it is).
Neither Otto nor Woody is sensitive to any particular food ingredient, and neither seems to have digestive trouble if there is a spike or a dip in the amount of fat or protein they get. I’m lucky! Nevertheless, I go with the three main foods I feed because they are all in the same approximate ballpark in terms of protein and fat levels. One food has 25% protein and14% fat; the next has 23% protein and 13% fat, and the last has 26% protein and 15% fat. These levels seem to maintain my dogs at a healthy weight, coat, and energy level with a reasonably sized portion.
So, that’s us. I’ll repeat the question:
How did you choose what you feed your dogs? If you advise others about diet, what do you ask them about their dogs? How would you recommend that other people choose their dogs’ foods?