Thursday, November 12, 2015

Thinking And Thoughts About Dog Food

This article is one of two reasons for this blog post.

Sometime back around 1987 when I had my first basset hound, Harry ... is when I first read about harmful ingredients in dog food. At that time the word was "ethoxyquin". It was found by a husky breeder who happened to be a chemist and raced her dogs in the Iditarod. Her litters were having deformed puppies. She thought ethoxyquin to be the cause.

Ethoxyquin is a quinoline-based antioxidant used as a food preservative and pesticide to control scald on pears after harvest. It is commonly used as a preservative in pets foods to prevent the rancidification of fats.

Ethoxyquin is the same thing used in rubber tires.

Within a few years of media exposure, it was no longer included in most dog foods as a preservative. It was then I started buying "premium" dog food. Still for the next 28 years my analytical mind was always asking if it really made a difference.

Even before Heidi's skin problems, where they increased this past year, I had hounds that itched, scratched, licked even on premium dog food. Some bassets lived older than 10 years old yet a couple of them died from cancer before the age of 7. All of them had eaten what was considered premium dog food.

A large percentage of dog food companies have had recalls for one reason or another. Very few have never had a recall, Fromm is one.

So why is this the topic of today's blog post? It's a combination of me searching for a dog food that Heidi can eat and results in her skin improving back to 100% healthy ... plus ... this article I ran onto yesterday.

You can read it here.

As I have stated in past blogs, I have kept an Excel spreadsheet on every penny I have earned and every penny I have spent since 1998. Each expense is labeled and categorized with a monthly average. I then compare those monthly averages to the averages from the prior year. This has really helped in controlling my spending and catching "leaks" within my budget over the year.

One of the items that has increased in costs annually is ... dog food ... by a large margin. The bags get smaller and the price gets higher.

Yes, the number of dogs would change that average but also the cost per bag changes that average. When you have the same number of hounds, eating the same food and the same quantities over a period of years, it is pretty easy to see the increase in costs.

Of course that formula changed for my monthly average spent this past August 30, when I added Stella to the herd of hounds.

I've always asked myself if "grocery store" brands of dog food are so bad, why are they still in business? Purina/Nestle is 80+ years old, why aren't they shut down? Why are all the breeders that won at the largest dog show of the year, in every category, feeding their show dogs Purina Pro Plan? They have won the past 3 years in all categories.

Or why is meat by-products or chicken by-products so bad when you will find a stray dog or wolf eating most parts of any animal they will kill to eat. I know there is a difference between raised chickens and wild animals in nature. That article brought out some information that made me think even more about why I am feeding my hounds what I am.

Is ground corn really better than potatoes like the article states? Does it really matter that blueberries are part of the diet of my hounds? Even though our hounds are like family and loved like family, they are still dogs. Some dogs even like eating poop. That puts it in perspective when you are analyzing dog food ingredients deeper and deeper and are being told all those fruits and veggies are important for dogs.

I know that the genetic makeup of all dogs are different. I know that all dogs will react differently to different foods. I know that no matter what you do, eventually they will die or have health problems during their lifetime.

Have pet owners been lied to? Has the marketing of dog food into a billion dollar business influenced the common pet owner in what they feed their dogs by a lack of research?

-  If the cheaper dog foods are so bad, why are they still in business?
-  Why isn't their more media published reports telling that only 3% of dog allergies are due to food?
-  Are the premium dog food companies trying to hide something by not testing their ingredients in depth?
-  How can a dog live to be 14-15 years old eating that "grocery store" brand dog food?
-  Why do "grocery store" brand dog foods have high customer reviews?

I don't want to start a firestorm over this ... pet owners know that most dog food forums, Facebook dog groups and dog food reviews are full of angry verbal battles fighting over what to feed a dog and what makes a good or bad pet owner ... but feel free to comment about the linked article, my questions and blog post.

I just find the whole dog food business quite remarkable at times.

Don't worry ... I'm writing a hound blog post with photos right after I hit the publish button on this one.


  1. I'm sure you have read this if not maybe give it a read.

    You commented on Purina Pro Plan which caused me to look it up. There are more formulations of Purina Pro Plan than ALL the products offered by Canidae or EarthBorn. I don't take the 'holistic' hype serious when applied to dog food or food for me for that matter. What I do like about Canidae and EarthBorn is that they both have meat as their first ingredient. They both also stand up well against the 'standards' outlined by "Dog Food Project".

    "Begging for the Truth" is a great title coming from Consumers Digest. Consumer Reports is owned by the not-for-profit Consumers Union, and it jealously guards its credibility. The same can not be said for its doppelganger, Consumers Digest. Like CR, the CD publication runs no advertising, but instead of relying on consumer subscriptions, CD has a very different source of revenue: licensing its awards for advertising purposes. Not saying I do not believe what is in the article (and what was not included) just that I would have believed it more IF it had been in Consumer Reports.

    1. Thanks a lot for that Dog Food Project link Ed ... a ton of information and something new I can add to my reading list ... I'm off to grab another cup of coffee and start reading that forum.

  2. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that some pet food companies engage in marketing flimflam and manipulation.
    What I'm wondering about is if homemade dog food would be cheaper and all around better than buying ready made. That way you control the ingredients. Yes, there is a hassle factor, but if you made big batches periodically and froze them that might help. Also, could supplement with the ready made. Seems like economies of scale could come into play here...

    1. Speaking of flimflam ... Blue Buffalo was caught this past summer and sued by Purina for saying their no grain food was no grain ... only admitting once under oath, some grains had been added by the mistake of the suppliers. I cannot find the article but I read a few months ago that Blue Buffalo spent 68% of their total budget on marketing.

      I've thought of cooking the homemade food. You have to be really careful with because the hounds may not be getting all they require in nutrition. I know that when I priced out just the food I would need to cook for 3 hounds at the time, the cost was just way too much ... so much I would never consider it.

      On occasion I do give them a baked skinless chicken breast in addition to their ration of kibble.

  3. Wow, 68%!!!! That's insane!