We are what we eat – a truism that only recently have we started applying to our pets. All of a sudden, dog lovers seem to be hyper-focused on what they are feeding their dogs. We all had such a scare from the pet food recall crisis only a year ago, when people discovered the lack of oversight over what can go into pet food and the fact (surprising to some?) that what drives the mainstream of the commercial pet food industry is an economic bottom line: how much inexpensive waste product can be jammed into cans and bags to ensure high profits while keeping pets alive? Of course the operative word here is “survive,” when what we really want for ourselves and our animals is to “thrive.”
We’re also learning more all the time about nutrition and the safety of ingredients and preparation in our own diets, and the trickle-down effect is that we’re learning to pay attention to what goes into our dogs’ mouth, too. There is a steady flow of fantastic new pet foods into the market, along with the some really good existing ones - but it’s a jungle out there, trying to separate the mediocre - from the merely good - to the really great foods you can find in a can. This ain’t your grandma’s world anymore, where dog food is concerned! Gone are the dark days of commercial dog food when there was one shelf in the supermarket that showcased canned foods containing horse meat (or no recognizable meat at all) and a variety of fool-the-eye-but-not-the-brain synthetic soft creations that looked like red hamburger patties or chunks of meat but were concocted from a series of chemicals, dyes and goodness-knows what other toxic waste. My book, “The Dog Bible,” shows you how you really need to learn to read a dog food label in order to make the best decisions for your dog and your lifestyle. But I’m going to make it a little easier for you right here by picking the Best of the Best – those foods that stand out in some particular way - keeping in mind that there are literally dozens of other high-quality foods that were contenders and in many ways every bit as good as these.
Special Mention – In a Class by Itself:
The Honest Kitchen: Although this raw, dehydrated food does not come in a can neither is it in any sense a dry dog food (which is traditionally kibble, which I’ll cover in another article soon). You turn any of the various Honest Kitchen dry mixes into a lovely porridge by adding water – and you can add additional protein or carbs of your own choosing. This food embodies so many of the attributes that matter in what we feed our pets: it is minimally processed (from raw meat sources, vegetables and fruit), from organic, human-grade ingredients processed in an American human food factory. What I like beyond that, is that using Honest Kitchen (as I do) as part of every dog’s meal, is that it encourages you to be an active participant in your dog’s diet, not relying solely on one food source and putting the responsibility for good nutrition squarely in your lap.