Expensive food vs. cheap food - what to look for

Jul 14, 2001

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The Bottom Line Buy PUPPY food and a look at ingredients to see if they use real meat/fish/chicken and not by-products and fillers.

As with babies, puppies need special nutrition to help them grow strong and big. Thus, the ingredients in their food are a very important factor in choosing a good food. Needless to say, the food you buy should be labeled as puppy food. Puppy food typically contains more protein than adult food.
(NOTE: Puppies are typically 0-12 months. The larger the dog the longer they are a puppy, and the smaller the dog the less. i.e. a small dog could be an adult at 8 months and huge dog at 14 months. Also, some people opt to keep their dogs on puppy food their entire life. There is nothing wrong with this, just make sure your dog gets lots of exercise so the extra fat/protein doesn't build up.)

DRY DOG food only

This is a brief section. Dry food should be the only food fed to your puppy. It is by far the healthiest and the easiest to clean up.

Canned food may taste better, but often does not provide much more than flavor. Nutrients from the food are minimal, thus the food only makes the waste less solid (and smellier and wetter). Also, once a dog tries wet food it is very UNLIKELY that it will eat just dry food (without some wet mixed in).

Also, stay away from table food. Besides being unhealthy, it will promote begging at the table and make your puppy realize it likes table food more than its dog food.

Key things to look for

The more Protein the better. Thus, the more meat and fish and chicken (well it's meat), the better quality the food. In otherwords, look at the ingredient label. If the first few ingredients are rice, corn, flour, etc... (fillers) the food is not high quality. It would be similar to us eating beef flavored potato chips as our main diet.

If the main ingredients are chicken, beef, and fish you know a lot of REAL stuff is being put in the food.

By-products as the main ingredients aren't as bad as the fillers, but still don't hold up to the real thing. By-products are basically the leftovers of the animal which can include anything from bone to liver to intestines. I guess you could compare "fake crab" (made from various fishes to be similar to crab) to the real live, fresh crab meat.

Why MOST fillers are bad

All fillers are not the same. The worst is probably CORN. While this seems like a good nutritious ingredient, it is actually completely INDIGESTIBLE by the dog. This means it goes in and all of it comes out (leading to more waste). Thus, the food is probably less nutritious because less is absobed by the dogs digestive tract.

Since less of the food is digested and absorbed by the body, more passes through. Simply put, they will excrete a lot more waste - that you will have to pick up. Also, their waste will probably smell worse - since there is a higher mixture of things in it.

Premium foods typically reduce the waste and reduce the smell. This is good because you have to pick up less.

NOTE: Ingredients such as wheat flour, barley, etc. may not have as much nutritional value, but are at least absorbed by the body. Some even help "settle" the digestive tract. For example, rice is usually good for getting rid of the runs (it helps solidify waste).

You get what you pay for

Don't always believe what you see in ads or on television. Producers often "stretch" the truth by saying their food will do wonders for show dogs, etc. For example, brands like Purina make their food sound absolutely wonderful. However, if you look at the ingredients, you will find the main ingredients to be rice, corn, or by-products. These are not high quality ingredients that will provide maximum nutrition.

Typically, the more expensive the food, the more REAL stuff they will have in it. The cheaper the food - the more fillers and the more they will have to eat to fill themselves. Better quality foods have more absorbed, thus they feel full faster. On average, you will SAVE money by buying the more expensive food because you will have to buy less of it.

Other perks of Premium foods

In many foods, lanoleic acid - (spelled correctly?) - essentially an oil that helps make the dogs hair/coat shiny and full of moisture. This is especially usefull if the dog has dry skin or a dull coat. (HINT: Another option is adding a teaspoon of vegetable oil to their daily food. This should produce the same effect.)

eucinidea (I'm having a rough time with spelling today - and I can't find the spelling on the web) which helps swollen joints. This is typically used to help dogs with arthritis of the joints.

Some contain no preservatives, which can be useful for dogs who have strong allergies. (Many times the allergies are caused by a specific preservative added into the food.)

Some premium brands/some nonpremium brands

This is just a general list of the "better" foods (in no particular order) and the filler foods.

Nutro Natural/Max (no preservatives)

Eukanuba (higher quality than IAMS - used mostly for dogs who need extra fat/protein in their diet)


Science Diet

Pro Plan

Vitarx (contains almost 100% of all the major nutrition needs - also contains fish, beef, and chicken in one formula where most come in separate flavors)

Healthy Select (all natural - contains many non-meat ingredients - also contains many vegetalbes - good for dogs with significant food allergies or for families who want vegetarian food)

Non-Premium Foods

Puppy/Dog Chow (fillers!)

Pedigree (fillers! especially corn meal)

Kibbles and Bits (fillers!)

In short

Look at the ingredients - if you wouldn't eat it because it's all byproducts or fillers - it's probably not healthy for your puppy.

Spend the money for the price...with better foods they produce less waste and eat less.

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