Monday, April 15, 2013

What should I feed my dog? (Part II - Who do you trust?)

Who do you trust?

It's an important consideration when considering what you'll feed your dog.

Gone are the days when dogs ate table scraps and their diet was given little, if any consideration. Dogs are treated as members of our families and addressing their well-being, including the food they eat, is part of our lives.

There's a rumor out there that veterinarians don't know much about canine nutrition and their training consists of dog-food-company-sponsored lectures of a day or two in vet school. While not quite accurate, it is true that most veterinarians don't specialize in nutritional considerations. And the controversy over raw feeding and BARF (Bones and Raw Food) feeding rages not only in the consumer sector, but in professional circles as well.

So - is your veterinarian's word final when it comes to your dog's food? No - but it should be considered. As should the opinion of your "dog friends" whose dogs are active, happy, healthy and look great. It can also be helpful to get the viewpoints of all the dog "professionals" you're in contact with - the breeder you got your puppy from, the groomer who makes your dog look great, the trainer who taught your obedience class.

All of them have found some feeding system, brand or company whose products they trust.

Listen to everybody. Ask why they do what they do. Follow up with online research of the brands, or methods that sound best to you. And then employ the most valuable tool you have - your common sense.

When I first heard about raw feeding, it was accompanied by phrases like "what wolves eat in the wild." Thinking about it - my dogs bear little, if any resemblance to wolves. And I found no research that wolves in the wild are particularly long-lived, or healthy. It may be that a raw diet is good for dogs (some people swear by it, too), but that reasoning wasn't good enough for me - it defied common sense.

And once your decision is made, don't rest on your laurels. News reports have been coming out almost weekly on dog food recalls, either enforced or voluntary, at various companies. Stay aware - it's not difficult these days. One of the most current sources for information is The Dog Food Advisor; you can even sign up for email alerts.

At our shop, Golly Gear, we don't carry dog food, so I have no stake in the argument. If/when we ever decide to carry dog food, I hope we'll use the same criteria we do for the treats we do stock. We know where they're made. We know all of the ingredients. The ingredient list is minimal. And the company stands by its products - as do we.

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