Failure to Delve Deep Enough    

About a month ago, my husband and I decided to go on a search for a cooked food that we felt was high enough quality to feed our dogs. While we feed a lot of raw food and also cook a lot of food, there are times when it would be nice to just be able to grab a can or jar and pour it in the bowl.

Of course, we have extremely high standards. We wanted a food made with human grade ingredients, with no artificial vitamin and mineral additives, that would not require freezing or refrigeration, made in a human grade kitchen. Needless to say, the options were fairly limited.

We also wanted to look for nontraditional packaging; we were able to find a couple of products that were packaged in boxes or jars. We were curious how these products would be packaged for shipping and if they would live up to the statements of grandeur we read on the websites.

One day I arrived home from work to find a few packages waiting to be opened. Hue had a huge grin on his face, thinking he might have found the holy grail and we would have more food options for the dogs that would be easy to grab and go. Yes, I know, freeze dried foods are pretty easy to grab and go, but they still require water for re-hydration. We were looking for “travel food” that required zero preparation.

The first product we unwrapped was a boxed food. The ingredients weren’t horrible, but they definitely were much higher in carbohydrates and starches than we feed our pets and there were also some added vitamins and minerals. I decided we could try feeding this to the two old men, Charlie and Scout, as our trial. Both are seventeen and are starting to struggle to maintain enough weight. Sometimes senior dogs will benefit from a little more starch in the diet. These two dogs develop loose stools if fats are increased, so options have become more limited.

I wish I could tell you our dogs sniffed around the food, tasted the food, and thought about whether it was up to their standards. But the truth is, our dogs are pretty much pigs – they will eat anything that lands in their bowls. True to their nature, they gobbled the food and licked the chrome off the bowls. The good news: perfect poop. Being a mom that celebrates perfect poop, I made the decision this food would be a viable option when we were on the run, at least for these two dogs.

The second product was a small batch jarred food. While the packaging was a bit unique and the website proclaimed the use of all human grade food ingredients prepared in a human grade kitchen, I was appalled when I turned to the ingredient panel. The ingredient list took up the entire side of the jar, in a font too small to read without a magnifier. Once I got past the real food ingredients (the first one quarter of the ingredient list), that was followed by a list of chemical vitamin and mineral additives that took up most of the label.

I turned to Hue and gasped “Didn’t you read the ingredients before you paid $10 a jar for this stuff??” He admitted he didn’t get past the claims of human grade, human kitchen, small batch, etc. The food was very high in starchy carbohydrates such as grains, peas, and potatoes. Even with all the additives, the label stated the food was for supplemental feeding only! As an added bonus the company threw in a box of their biscuits. (Their service was excellent, they even called to make sure we got the delivery on time.) However, when I looked at the ingredient panel on the biscuits, it was worse than the label on the jars.

The products even had “veterinary endorsement”! (Goes back to what I say often: veterinarians are not well versed in pet food ingredients.) I put the jars back in the box and stashed it in our back basement, proclaiming the food was not good enough for our dogs. I’ve kept them as chemical-free as possible for the past twelve years. I’m not about to send their immune systems into a tailspin now.

So, the search continues. After wasting over one hundred dollars on jars of food I refuse to feed, Hue has promised to read the ingredient panel completely from now on.

How often do you take the time to read the ingredient panel? Do you know what you are putting in your pet’s bowl?