Category Archives: Dog Food

Choosing the Right Food for your Dog

Choosing the right dog food can be quite an uphill challenge for dog owners, especially when he/she is a first time owner or new to this field. The most important thing to remember while choosing a food for your dog is to make sure that it has the necessary amount of proteins, vitamins and other essential nutrients required to make it a well balanced diet. The growth of your dog depends on what food you give it, irrespective of the breed. The Bone structure, development, digestion, dental hygiene, weight, skin and coat are all linked to the nutritional value of the diet provided by you for your dog.

General factors to consider while choosing the right food for your dog:

  1. Age:  The age of your dog is an important factor as the type of food and the proportions of nutrients required vary from a growing pup to an adult dog. You may want to consult a doctor before choosing the food for your pup initially as inappropriate feeding and harmful products can lead to your dog to obesity, improper bone growth and unusual changes in behavior.
  1. Health Conditions:  It is important to know about your dog’s existing health condition before choosing the right food for it. Some dogs may be slow in growth and may need added nutrients in their diet while others may grow rapidly and will need to be fed accordingly. Existing conditions like obesity, stunted growth, breathing problems and ignorance need to be taken into account before choosing the food for your dog.
  1. Activities/Lifestyle:  This is also a key issue to note while choosing the food for your dog. As, the diet and proportions of food differ from a working dog and a normal pet. A working dog requires a larger diet with the need for specific nutrients depending on the type of work, conditions and so on.
  1. Allergies:  This is the most important factor when it comes to choosing the right food for your dog is to know about any existing allergies your dog has or has developed over a period of time. This is a vital factor as inappropriate feeding of a food that your dog is allergic to may lead to severe health problems in the near future.

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Apart from this, one of the questions most dog owners ponder about while choosing the food for their dog is “Whether to buy dog food from the market or feed the dog homemade food”. The answer to this question remains in the hands of the owner as he/she needs to decide based on their schedule if it is possible to dedicate part of their time to cooking food for their dog. Packed dog food is good and has the nutrients required for a regular growing dog but if you really love your pet and want to give it the best possible food to enhance its growth and development, homemade dog food is highly recommended as it is fresh, prepared daily and has more nutritional values than the packed dog food. For more information on homemade dog food and recipes, please visit www.cocoscaninecuisine.com.

Dog food available in the market Store Bought

Homemade Dog Food
Homemade

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Making Dog Food at Home

EllieHow can You Save Time Making Dog Food at Home that is Healthier?

Why is making dog food at home healthier for your dog? Dogs are carnivorous animals. Before their domestication, wolves needed to hunt prey and their diets consisted mostly of protein. However, over time we have modified the diets of our companion animals, providing diets very similar to ours (omnivorous animals). This kind of diet does not deliver the amount of proteins and vitamins dogs need.

Most commercial dog foods are prepared with animal sub-products and low quality proteins. In most cases, these do not provide the essential amino acids needed by dogs. In addition, many commercial foods contain pesticides, preservatives, dyes, artificial flavors and other chemicals that can be very harmful to your dog’s health.

Making dog food at home is a great alternative to provide our beloved companions with the right nutrition. But who has all that time? With Coco’s Canine Cuisine you can prepare a healthy, affordable and delicious dog food in about half an hour each week. All you need to do is mix Coco’s Canine Cuisine dog food base with any kind of animal origin protein (beef, chicken, pork…) for a very high quality dog food.

Making Dog Food at Home Adds More Variety

In nature, canines would not eat the same every day, after all, who does that? With Coco’s you can add variety to your dog’s diet. Diet variety also maintains a good appetite. In addition, mixing Coco’s Canine Cuisine will automatically create a nutritionally balanced meal. Balance nutrition is essential for your dog to maintain a healthy weight and prevent many diseases.

Premium dog foods are quite expensive. Depending on the kind of protein that you use, making dog food at home could be less expensive and always be a healthier option. Preparing your own dog food has a lot of benefits and now Coco’s Canine Cuisine has made it easy and affordable to take care of our dear companions’ health.

What’s In Your Dog Food?

What are you feeding your dog? If you've already made the commitment to feed your dog homemade dog food, then you know the answer to this question. If you haven't yet started cooking for your dog, then the answer is a very complicated one. From the quality and balance of ingredients to the presence of contaminants, both accidental and intended, what goes into your dog's food has a direct effect on their health and quality of life. There is a lot of truth to the saying, "you are what you eat". This goes for our dogs as well.
While evaluating the ingredients in your dog's food is one of the most important decisions you can make related to your dog's heath, sometimes it's what's not on the label that can have the biggest impact.

Contamination: A Brief History

In the past two years there have been dog food and treat recalls, of many products, from a virtual who's who of well known pet food companies. These include Hill's Pet Nutrition, Science Diet, Purina,
Pedigree, Eukanuba, Iams, Natura, Nutrisca, OC, Bravo, Nylabone, Pro-Pet, J.J. Fuds and many more. While some of these are ongoing today, the history of pet food contamination can give us insight into
the widespread problems within the $20 billion pet food industry.
Before 2007, except for a few lightly publicized events, the idea of pet food contamination, recalls, and the related dangers were very limited in scope. Almost every occurrence of pet food contamination had
been related to the by-products of the manufacturing process. Not only the manufacturing process of the foods themselves, but many of the ingredients that make up the final product. These included heavy
metals and the biggest culprit, Dioxin, and it's related toxins, PCBs. These are classified as Class 1 "known human carcinogens". Along with being known as a cancer causing agent, they have also been linked to developmental delays in humans. Since our dog's bodies are very similar to ours, almost any compound that has these effects on humans, is a similar threat to dogs. Dioxins accumulate in the body,
so even very small amounts in foods can cause a much larger problem over time. In early 2007 there was an alarmingly high number of reports of sickness and deaths related to kidney failure. This sparked subsequent international recalls of more than 5,300 pet food products. After extensive testing it was found that melamine and cyanuric acid, chemicals used to make plastic, had been intentionally added to pet food ingredients in China. These chemicals were added to artificially
increase the value of these ingredients by making them appear to have a higher protein content than they actually had. After extensive testing, these chemicals were found in well over 100 different brands
of pet foods and treats. However, when these foods were consumed and the two chemicals were combined inside the body, the resulting chemical reaction caused crystal formation inside the animal's
kidneys. This caused permanent damage to the kidneys, leading to kidney failure and the eventual death of a very large number of dogs..

To make the incident even worse, it was eventually discovered that in 2004, over 6,000 dogs developed kidney disease from the consumption of these same 2 chemicals that were found in dog foods in Asia. Unfortunately, that event didn't get sufficient media coverage to prevent the catastrophic event that occurred 3 years later. More recently in 2013, a Salmonella outbreak at a manufacturing facility in South Carolina eventually caused a massive recall of 30,000 tons of dry dog and cat food. This recall was not only sparked by the
dangers and illnesses that it caused to pets, but also to humans. After handling the contaminated foods while feeding it to their pets, there were 47 people in 20 different states and 2 in Canada that
contracted the disease. Salmonella is currently the most common reported contaminant in commercial dog foods. In it's mildest
forms, it causes nausea and diarrhea. When diagnosed, people are usually hospitalized for treatment. While typically not a deadly disease, it can develop into a much more serious condition, if prolonged, due to dehydration and it's toxic effects.

The only way to totally avoid these contamination issues is to avoid commercial dog food products altogether. Alternatively, if feeding a commercial diet, there are steps you can take to decrease the known contamination risks. Either way will allow you to increase the quality of your dog's nutrition as well. By feeding a homemade dog food you can also eliminate many of the unhealthy and potentially dangerous ingredients that are actually listed on the dog food labels.

Dr. Eddy Collins, DVM

Next we will discuss current contamination issues, their effects, and what is being done to correct them.

What is in Dog Food?

By: Dr. Eddy Collins, DVM

What is in dog food is all clearly on the label right? The answer is “No.” A dog food label is actually a legal document. It’s a form of communication manufacturers use to tell you what’s in their food and how it will impact your dog. Unfortunately, it’s a very poor form of communication, very misleading, and often full of tactics that seem to try and hide the truth instead of state it. This makes it necessary to decipher the label, in order to try and discover what’s actually in the food.

Dog FoodThe two major goals when evaluating a dog food are nutrition and safety. These together will have the greatest impact on your dog’s overall health. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult if not impossible, to ensure both when feeding a commercial dog food.
The first of these is trying to choose the food that will provide your dog with the proper, and even the best, nutrition. The second is preventing problems by avoiding harmful ingredients and contamination issues. This is much easier said than done. Exposure to a contaminant can quickly alter the life of even the heathiest dog. The healthiest dog can quickly become a very sad and unhealthy pet.
In the simplest terms you have two choices, cook for your dog and know exactly what’s in their food or choose the second best option and take your chances. If you still don’t think you have the time to cook for your dog, 20 -25 minutes a week, let’s look at the latter.

Evaluating the List of What is in Dog Food

Once you understand what the name of each ingredient means, you can then start to evaluate the ingredient list. If you knew the actual quantity of each ingredient, in each food, it would be very easy to make the best decision for your dog’s nutrition. Obviously, pet food companies have this information, but they don’t want you to know it. So, that leaves you to make your best guess based on what you do know.

Ingredients
The truth about what is in dog food.

Ingredients on a dog food label are listed by weight in descending order. This is the pre-cooked weight of each ingredient, which means that water content can play a huge role in where an ingredient shows up on the list. While considering every ingredient listed is extremely important, especially related to safety, it is the first 5 or so ingredients that tell you the food’s nutritional makeup. The further down the list, the less that ingredient is contributing to the overall nutrition of the food. However, depending on the ingredient and the source, it could be contributing greatly to the food being detrimental to your dog’s health.

For dogs, primarily carnivorous animals, a meat should be the first on the list of what is in dog food. However, because uncooked meats consist of about 75% water, the actual amount by weight, of this ingredient in the food will be only 25% of its pre-cooked weight. This can drastically affect the real amounts of some ingredients and make them belong much further down the list.

To add to the confusion, some manufacturers will break a less desirable ingredient into several smaller ones. They can then list each individually, making them show up further down the list. For this reason, you need to consider the sum of directly related ingredients, such as adding all of the grains or corn related products together. Then try to decide where their place would fall on the list when combined.

You also have to consider the sum of the ingredients from each category of foods, such as carbohydrates and proteins. Grains, soy, and corn products such as corn gluten meal are used as protein sources, but are very poor ones for dogs. Some of these can also be very high in carbohydrate content. For example, if chicken is the first item on the list and in the next 4 or 5 ingredients listed there are 3 grains, soy, and/or corn products, it is safe to say this food has very little meat content. It is using cheaper ingredients to provide very poor substitutes for animal based protein while increasing the carbohydrate content. This is very undesirable in a dog food.

Wheat, corn, and their related formulations are also the most likely ingredients to be contaminated with Mycotoxins. While exposure to these can cause an acute illness, regular consumption and their accumulation over time is also a major concern. Wheat, corn, and soy, in their various forms, are also very common causes of canine allergies.

The other dangerous ingredients typically appear near the end of the list. These include chemical preservatives and colorings that are linked to cancer and organ toxicity, flavorings which can contain Salmonella, and sweeteners, such as propylene glycol which causes kidney failure.

Guaranteed Analysis of What is in Dog Food

Since pet food manufacturers won’t tell you the amounts of ingredients in their food, you have to do some math to get an idea. Using the guaranteed analysis on the label and a reference based on typical formulations, you can approximate the percent of animal based protein content. A food that contains 40%, 60%, and 70% animal ingredients will contain approximately 27%, 33%, and 40% protein, respectively.

Many dog foods contain 50% carbohydrates, some contain more, despite the fact that dogs are unable to utilize them very well. This is simply economics, grains and corn are cheaper. Diets high in carbohydrates are a major contributor to canine disease including obesity and diabetes. To determine the percentage of carbohydrates in a dry food, add the values for crude protein, fat, moisture, and ash and then subtract that from 100. This usually confirms a very high grain content.

Manufacturers Information

The manufacturer’s contact information is required to be on the label. Most will include a toll free number and/or a website where you can find out more information about the individual foods and their makers. This gives you a chance to assess their level of support for their products, should there ever be an issue. You can also evaluate how transparent they are as a company and with respect to what’s in their foods.

Some things to look or ask for include more information on the actual quantities of animal based protein, grains, and vegetables, where the ingredients come from, who actually owns the company, and its history. With respect to contaminants, you can ask what steps they are taking to avoid Mycotoxins, or any other, contamination and exposure. You can also ask if they are currently doing routine tests for Mycotoxins in their foods. Be aware that cooking will kill the molds responsible for these, but the toxins will still be present.

General Considerations of What is in Dog Food

Commercial diets are designed to be fed every day. This means your dog is constantly exposed to anything that is in that food. This results in a cumulative effect. Part of this involves the slow accumulation of relatively small amounts of toxins in your dog’s system that over time can add up to a very big problem.

Another aspect of this is linked to the constant exposure of dogs to corn, grain, and soy products which are known to trigger severe allergies. Ideally avoid foods containing corn or any of its many forms. Also, avoid foods containing cereal grains like maize, sorghum, pearl millet, and wheat.

If you aren’t already feeding a home cooked meal, at least some of the time, it’s time to start. By feeding a food that you cook for your dog, even if it’s only 2 or 3 times a week, you can help to break the cycle of constant exposure. This will also help to reduce accumulation and give your dog’s system a much needed break. Every little bit can help and there’s a good chance you will start to see some positive changes that convince you make a permanent switch. Your dog will love it too.

There are many factors that go into making the best nutritional choices for your dog and deciphering a dog food label is extremely challenging, while only partially answering the important questions. However, there is one big question that only you can answer. Do you want to leave your dog’s safety and well-being up to an industry with a very poor track record and little evidence that it wants to change or is it time to take matters into your own hands?