Dangers of Pet Food: Health Alert You Need to Know

Contaminated foodsThe food you feed your dog or cat could make your pet sick. But worse, it could make you or your family sick as well. In fact, illness caused by contaminated pet food is on the rise around the world and surprisingly common. And yes it does even happen in New Zealand. Here is what you need to be aware of to keep you and your family (including your pets) safe.

Both raw and dried foods can become infected with harmful bacteria. The most common of these is salmonella. This can be passed on to humans by handling the food and can cause diarrhea and other unpleasant effects. Another less common but also harmful bacteria found in contaminated pet food is campylobacter.

Contaminations are very common and every year there are numerous food “recalls” where companies remove their products from sale due to the ingredients being tested positive for harmful bacteria and other problems.

Although feeding dried food appears to be safer than feeding raw (in fact the CDC, The American Center for Disease Control and Prevention “recommends against feeding raw food to dogs and cats because of the risk of illness to the pet as well as to people living in the household”*1) there are things you can do to ensure your risks are minimized.

When handling any pet food make sure you wash your hands thoroughly immediately afterwards. Also store the food away from human foods and don’t prepare the food in the same area as you prepare human foods.

However, the easiest precaution you can take is to feed a brand of food that has a high safety record and scrupulous health and safety practices.

And which company has the best record in all of these areas? Pro Pac and Earthborn Holistic. These are the only brands of pet food that have never been recalled due to contamination in their history – and that is 25 years!

While all of the other well-known brands have had numerous recalls, Pro Pac and Earthborn Holistic have never had a single instance of contamination – and there are a number of reasons why:

Firstly, all batches of Pro Pac and Earthborn Holistic that are exported (including to New Zealand) are produced to European Union requirements, which are much stricter than US standards. Most, if not all, other companies export their food to New Zealand using US standards.

European Union standards require a higher level of testing of the food and checking of suppliers of the ingredients. There is simply a lot more time (and cost) involved, which is why other companies avoid it if they can.

Secondly, Pro Pac and Earthborn Holistic are made only from ingredients from named, US-based suppliers. They do not use ‘anonymous’ ingredients from Asia, which have been the source of big problems in pet food. Virtually every other well-known pet food company will use Asian ingredients – and they will certainly not guarantee that their products don’t contain them. The corn used in Pro Pac is also non-GMO – unique for any US pet food.

Thirdly, both Pro Pac and Earthborn Holistic undergo testing far in excess of the norm for pet food. Every batch is tested by an independent laboratory five times before it is sent from the factory! This is the most rigorous testing in the pet food industry.

Fourthly, both Pro Pac and Earthborn Holistic only use natural ingredients that have been proved to be nutritionally beneficial to pets. There are no by products, artificial colorings, flavorings or preservatives or any of the low-cost fillers that are found in the majority of other brands.

Food contamination – harming both pets and humans – is becoming an increasing problem worldwide. By feeding Pro Pac or Earthborn Holistic you can be assured of protecting your family to the highest level possible by using the safest foods on the market.

To order Pro Pac or Earthborn Holistic in New Zealand direct from the importer visit www.petfooddirect.co.nz

*1 CDC website, http://www.cdc.gov/Features/SalmonellaDryPetFood/

Don’t Make this Common Mistake When Feeding Your Dog

doglostappetiteMany dog owners leave food in their dog’s bowl for it to eat whenever it likes. However, this is not a good idea, for you or your dog. In fact, it is bound to cause a lot of problems.
If you are in the habit of leaving your dog to ‘graze’ on its food bowl whenever it feels like it, be aware that it is sending the wrong messages to your dog. Doing this actually lessens the value of the food to the dog. This can create fussiness or it not being particularly interested in its food. In addition to this, a few kibbles of food can make a good treat to use in training or as a reward. If the dog is used to being able to eat food whenever it feels like it, it is not going to regard the food as special or worth working for.

The best way to feed a dog is to have two meal times a day, one in the morning and one in the evening. Try to keep to the same time each day if possible. Put the food bowl on the floor of fifteen minutes. If the dog has not eaten the food by then, remove the bowl until the next meal time. This teaches your dog that the food is important, meal times are special, and that if it does not eat there will be no more until the next meal time.
By following this simple routine you teach your dog the right attitude towards its food. It greatly reduces any tendency to be fussy (which dogs naturally are not) and that you expect it to eat the food provided when it is made available. It is an expectation that will make life easier for both of you!
Also ensure you feed a high-quality food such as Pro Pac or Earthborn Holistic. This is the only way to ensure your dog gets all the nutrition it needs for healthy development. Just as with human food, there are ‘junk foods’ for dogs and feeding them will create the same health problems you would expect to develop in humans.
For more information about Pro Pac and Earthborn Holistic Grain Free dog foods visit www.petfooddirect.co.cz

Get a FREE Pro Pac Backpack (worth $24)

 Great news! Buy any 15kg bag of Pro Pac this month and receive a Pro Pac Backpack absolutely free!

These stylish backpacks are both good looking and very useful. We normally sell them for $23.95 but you get one free with any order of Pro Pac 15kg dog food.

Limited supplies – be quick!

To order your Pro Pac (and get your free backpack) just give us a call anytime on 0800 DOG FOOD (0800 364 366) or buy directly online here

Note: Limit of one backpack per customer. Available until the end of July or until supplies of backpacks run out. Range of colours; colour will be allocated on available basis.

We hope you enjoy your backpack! Thanks as always for your support and we look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best wishes,

Liam and Mal

Questions to Ask Before Choosing Your Pet Food

Dog Choosing Food

(Article reprinted and modified from http://www.allpetnews.com/questions-to-ask-before-choosing-your-pet-food)

With all of the pet food recalls that have occurred over the last few years, it has never been more important to be an informed pet parent, especially when it comes to the nutrition that you provide your dog or cat. It’s also important to bear in mind that there are a lot of pet food companies vying for your attention and your money.  Remember that they still have costs to cut and profits to make.

How can you be sure you’re buying a high quality pet food? Asking the right questions will guide you in the right direction. Start by looking on a company’s website for the answers to the following inquiries. If you can’t find the information there, don’t hesitate to contact the company directly by phone or email. If they aren’t willing to answer your questions, it’s certainly a red flag to pay attention to and you may want to look elsewhere.

Where are the Ingredients Sourced From?  From poultry and seafood, to fruits, vegetables, and supplements, it’s important to ask a pet food manufacturer where they’re getting their ingredients from, and you want to steer clear of those companies that source cheap ingredients, which have been associated with toxins in pet food and treats that have been linked to sick and dead animals. Asking where the ingredients come from, whether they’ve been inspected and approved by the USDA, and where they’re actually processed into your pet’s food, are a few of the key questions that will let you know how much a company cares, and how much it’s willing to spend on its ingredients.

Comment: Virtually all ingredients used in the production of PRO PAC & EARTHBORN HOLISTIC are sourced from North America (some of the vitamins come from Europe, the lamb comes from Australia). This is in contrast to most pet food manufacturers, which source at least some of their ingredients from Asia.

What Quality Control Measures are in Place?  In addition to knowing where the ingredients come from, it’s also important to trust the facility that processes and packages the food. Therefore, asking a manufacturer about the quality control measures they have in place to assure pet owners that the food they’re purchasing is free of contaminants is another key question in determining what food is worth your money.

Look for a company that keeps raw ingredients away from cooked ingredients in order to prevent cross-contamination. And make sure they test each batch to be sure there aren’t any allergens, molds, bacteria, and other pathogens in the food before it’s shipped for sale. A good company will test food throughout the manufacturing process as well as at the end, and will hold food until they’ve gotten test results stating that the food is safe to consume before letting it leave the facility.

Comment: PRO PAC & EARTHBORN HOLISTIC products have never been recalled.  This despite the fact that the manufacturer as run thousands of tests for pathogens, toxins and other harmful substances – just in the last few years. 

Pro Pac & Earthborn Holistic use “Positive Release”.  That is, not releasing products to the market until they’ve been tested and found to be free of harmful substances.  The manufacturer actively utilises positive release on nearly all international shipments. 

All animal origin ingredient suppliers used in the production of Pro Pac & Earthborn Holistic are inspected at least annually by the US Department of Agriculture.  Material quality, adequate processing, quality control and sanitation are required.

The production facilities for Pro Pac & Earthborn Holistic are inspected at least annually by the USDA to ensure product quality, adequate processing, quality control and sanitation.  Included among the inspections are approvals for the European Union, Russia, Australia, Israel and other countries.  Approvals for the EU and Russia are the most comprehensive, costly and difficult approvals to obtain.  Ingredient flushing and separation procedures and finished product separation (to prevent cross-contamination) are required.

Other Questions You Can Ask to Make the Right Choice.  Feel free to ask any other questions that come to mind, such as if the packaging used by a company are BPA-free. Before purchasing a food, check the ingredients and guaranteed analysis on the label to ensure that it is appropriately balanced for your pet and doesn’t contain any artificial ingredients or cheap fillers.

Comment: EARTHBORN HOLISTIC bags (and soon to be PRO PAC) are BPA-Free.
Neither Pro Pac nor Earthborn Holistic contain any artificial ingredients or cheap fillers.

Although adding to the cost of production, all of these factors make a huge difference to the quality of the food – and to the health of your dog. It is no secret that Pro Pac and Earthborn Holistic lead the world in quality and safety in pet food.

Available exclusively in New Zealand from Petfood Direct

Cancer Causing Toxins found in Hong Kong Pet Food (Relevant to NZ)

dangerWe thought you might be interested to see the results of a study conducted by the Hong Kong Consumer Council in which 39 pet foods were sampled off the shelf and tested for a variety of pathogens, toxins, heavy metals and other potentially harmful substances.

Note the well-known brands also sold in New Zealand that were among those with problem results.

Seven products were found to contain the toxin aflatoxin, melamine was found in two products and cyanuric acid was also found in two products.  Consequently, of the 39 pet food products tested, nearly 30% were found to contain potentially harmful substances.

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Here is the report:

Cancer-causing toxin found in Hong Kong pet food sparks alarm

15 April, 2014

Consumer Council calls for regulations on animal food after it finds carcinogen and other contaminants in 20% of products tested.

A cancer-causing toxin has been found in seven types of pet food sold in Hong Kong.

The council’s recent tests on 39 dry pet products – 20 dog foods and 19 cat foods – showed the amounts of aflatoxin found in four dog foods and three cat foods ranged from one to two micrograms per kilogram.

The tests also revealed two contaminants: melamine in Solid Gold and Iams; and cyanuric acid in Purina Pro Plan and 1st Choice.

One manufacturer of the pet foods found with aflatoxin, Purina One, said the carcinogen was an “unavoidable natural contaminant” found in grains such as corn, barley and rice. Another, AvoDerm, said it had since replaced the corn in its formula that was believed to be the source of the carcinogen.

Animal welfare groups supported legislation.

Sally Andersen of Hong Kong Dog Rescue said many pet owners tried to save money by buying cheap dog food, but ended up paying more to the vets.

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Products produced by the manufacturers of Pro Pac and Earthborn Holistic were also tested but came up ‘clean’, with no problems detected. Although the Pro Pac and Earthborn Holistic brands themselves were’t in the study, it’s important to remember that both of these brands have never been recalled due to problem ingredients – the only dog food brands to have achieved this.

As more and more health problems in dogs and cats become attributed to the foods they eating, you can rest assured that with Pro Pac and Earthborn Holistic you are feeding the safest foods on the market.

Getting a Fussy Dog to Eat

doglostappetiteDoes your dog appear fussy with its food? Does it turn its nose up at some foods and refuse to eat them? Are you sick of wasting money on bags of food that your dog won’t eat?

The truth is that it’s not really about the food. Dogs are like children – they will be fussy if you let them. But also like children, when it comes to feeding, the ‘parent’ should be more concerned about what the long term effects are going to be from what they eat. There aren’t that many intelligent parents who would be happy to feed their children a solid diet of soft drinks and potato chips and expect them to stay healthy. If you are a parent, you’re probably going to insist they eat nutritious food, even if they don’t want to.

The same is true for dogs. Feed them low-quality food and they will most likely develop health problems. Yes it’s amazing how many dog owners use whether the dog ”likes it’ as the reason for using the food that they do.

Start thinking of your dog as a child. It needs to eat what it is good for it, and if it turns its nose up at it, well there’s nothing until the next meal time. A dog will soon get the message that it is expected to eat what it is given. The reality is that dogs are not naturally fussy and we have yet to hear of a dog that died of starvation because it wouldn’t eat the food it was given. If the food you are feeding is all that is available, the dog will soon get the message! It may be a battle of wills between you and your dog, but you want to make sure it is a battle that you win.

All this presupposes you are using a quality food to start with. A quality food is one that has all of the necessary ingredients to keep the dog healthy and happy, both short and long term. Just as with human food, however, there are many junk foods out there, and you’re not going to know from the claims made on the packaging whether or not the food is of good quality. You need to look at the ingredients – and know what they mean.

Pro Pac and Earthborn Holistic contain none of the ‘junk’ ingredients contained in the majority of pet foods. It’s why so many of our customers report a significant improvement in their dog’s health when they start feeding them these foods.

If your dog is fussy with food there are only two things to do:

Firstly, make sure you are feeding a food that is going to improve rather than harm their health, and

Secondly, refuse to give in to its fussy behaviour. (If you would like some tips on how to do this listen to our special audio report, “How to Deal with a Fussy Dog” which you can listen to here .)

Dogs are not naturally fussy. And if you’re really concerned for their health and wellbeing, you’ll make their diet be based on what is good for them, not what they tell you they like. They’re going to thank you for it in a happier, healthier, pain-free life that both you and they will enjoy.

Should I Feed My Dog Raw Food?

dogeatingMany of our customers supplement feeding Pro Pac or Earthborn Holistic to their dogs with raw food. But is it such a good idea? The fact is that there are many health risks associated with raw food, not least of which is salmonella contamination. This can cause illness to the person handling the food, and spread to other family members as well.

Unfortunately, any hint of criticism of raw food brings out a huge reaction from a fanatical, almost cult-like segment of dog owners who have a long list of reasons why raw is ‘natural’ and how their dog thrives on a raw food diet.

While it’s also true that there is an element of politics in any ‘official’ statement about dog food (or any other product in an industry with huge profits), it’s interesting to see what the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine in the US has recently said about raw food. In a new report they describe raw feeding as “dangerous”, stating that it could pose a serious health risk to pet owners and their families.

You can read the full report here:

http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/ResourcesforYou/AnimalHealthLiteracy/ucm373757.htm

If you’ve “heard” that raw food is good for your dog and are wondering whether you should use it or not there are a couple of things to bear in mind:

  1. Petfood is a highly confusing, emotional and political subject – and seemingly deliberately kept that way by interests that stand to benefit from selling inferior (even harmful) ingredients for profits instead of pet health. For every ten people you ask about pet food you will get at least twelve different answers, but you need to ask yourself: “Do they really know what they are talking about?”. At the end of the day you can only do your own research, which comes down to looking at ingredients in pet food and understanding what they actually are.
  2. A quality dried food is simply the best, most economical and most convenient food for your dog. If it has only high quality ingredients and has been made in such a way as to preserve the nutritional value, then your dog is going to get everything it needs (and nothing it doesn’t need) except of course water. Of course there is a vast range of dried foods (and probably the majority of them are not “only high quality ingredients”) so it’s important to choose wisely – based solely on the ingredients, not the claims, packaging and marketing of the producer.

Pro Pac and Earthborn Holistic are two of the highest quality foods available, with no fillers, by-products, artificial ingredients or allergy-causing foods such as beef or wheat. They also have the highest safety record of any food company in the world – not a single recall due to contamination in their 25-year history. They are the only major pet food company to achieve this.

Based on the facts, you can’t do better than feed these foods to your dog. To order in New Zealand (and for more information) visit the exclusive New Zealand supplier, Petfood Direct, online at www.petfooddirect.co.nz

When is Chicken Not “Chicken” in Dog Food?

anatomy-of-the-chicken-with-textOne of the main quality meat ingredients used in dog food is chicken. In fact, chicken may well be the ideal meat source for dogs. It offers all the necessary protein for health and is a food that dogs naturally eat.

However, when it comes to what goes into the finished product, not all “chicken” is the same in dog food. In an effort to reduce costs, many manufacturers use inferior forms of chicken (or different processing methods) to reduce the amount of chicken meat in the final food. The dog owner may be none the wiser, as the packaging on many poor grade foods doesn’t represent the actual quality of the product. As a result, many dog owners think the food “must be good” if the packaging says it is – when that can often be far from the case.

The prices of dog foods vary widely. There are two factors which determine the price of dog food:

  1. the quality of the ingredients. Obviously, the better the ingredients used the more expensive it is to produce the food, and
  2. marketing. If a company spends more on marketing their product, then this is a cost that they must recoup from the only place possible – the customer. That is why there is not always a direct correlation between price and quality.

Because of this, it is important for the dog owner to understand the ingredients in the food, and what they actually mean on the label. With most health problems in dogs caused by food, understanding what you are really feeding your pet is the most important decision you can make for its health and wellbeing.

Dog food labels are confusing and this is particularly so when it comes to the use of “chicken”. This is by far the most expensive ingredient in a dog food and manufacturers go to some length to ‘disguise’ the reduced amounts of actual chicken meat in their food by describing “chicken” in different ways.

There is a lot of confusion out there, even among pet professionals. Here are the different types of “chicken” found in dog food and how they affect the quality of the final product:

  • “Chicken flavour”. This is the least amount of chicken. In fact, legally (and therefore virtually always), a food with “chicken flavour” need have no chicken in it at all. The producer is merely adding some flavour as a way of getting the dog to eat what are unappetising ingredients (usually cereals and waste products) – and as a way of making you think there is some chicken in the food. There isn’t.
  • “With real chicken”. There is something called the “with rule”. By law, for a food to use the word “with” it needs to contain a minimum amount of that ingredient. And that amount is? Just 3%! If the food you are feeding says “with real chicken” that will be all your dog is getting – and again the rest of the food is going to be made up of low nutrition (and even harmful) fillers.
  • “Chicken”. Well at last we’re getting to food that has a decent amount of actual chicken meat in it. For a food to say it contains chicken it must have actual chicken flesh in it. If it is the first ingredient on the label, it must be the greatest by weight in the food… or must it?
    In fact, if the food is based on “chicken” there is not nearly so much chicken as you might expect. The reason is that chicken meat contains 70% water. When the food is processed it is of course dehydrated, meaning it loses up to 80% of its weight and volume. So if chicken is the main ingredient by weight BEFORE processing then it certainly won’t be AFTER it has been dehydrated. Foods based on “chicken” actually end up with quite a low amount of chicken in the final product.
  • “Chicken meal”. This is the highest quality form of chicken of all. Chicken meal is simply chicken meat that has been dehydrated BEFORE it is added to the food for processing. It reduces the moisture from 70% to 10%, also killing many harmful bacteria in the process. If “chicken meal” is the first stated ingredient on a food, there is actually FOUR TIMES the amount of actual chicken in the final food than a food based on “chicken.” These are the ideal foods for dogs – and of course they love the taste too because there is lots of meat in it, not tasteless cereals and fillers.
  •  “Chicken by-product.” Many people (including vets) confuse “chicken meal” with “chicken by-product” but they are at opposite ends of the scale when it comes to quality. “Chicken by products” are all the bits of the animal that are left when the actual meat is taken off. The include organs, feet, beaks and even undeveloped eggs. Chicken by products are not necessarily bad and do have a high protein content. But they are only added as a way of reducing cost – which points to the fact that there are undoubtedly other low-cost ingredients in the food as well.

If you want a dog with minimal health problems, stick to a food that uses “chicken MEAL” at the first ingredient. The bonuses are that your dog will enjoy the food more and you won’t need to feed as much either (so a bag will go further).

Pro Pac and Earthborn Holistic both use ONLY chicken meal as the first ingredient in their foods (and no by-products either). It’s why these brands have led the field in dog nutrition for decades.

For more information about Pro Pac and Earthborn Holistic call 0800 DOG FOOD (within New Zealand) or visit www.petfooddirect.co.nz

Iams/Eukanuba Food Recall: Could Pro Pac be next?

Iams and Eukanuba are two of the latest brands of dog food to be recalled due to potential contamination. They are not alone – there have been more than 600 food recalls so far this year in North America alone!

Salmonella contamination is particularly concerning, as it causes health problems in humans as well as dogs. In fact, simply handling contaminated food can infect the person, causing such symptoms as diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever. In some cases it can result in hospitalisation.

Food companies are usually quite prompt in recalling their products when they detect there is a problem. However the issue remains that recalls usually happen after a problem has started to appear and it is only detected after the food has been released into the market. This means that there are no guarantees that the food you are handling and feeding your dog won’t make the both of you sick.

So how can you minimise the risk of infection from contaminated dog food? One of the best ways is to look at the safety record of the company who produces it. How common are their food recalls? The fewer there are, the more likely that your batch will also be safe.

There is one company that stands head and shoulders above any other major dogfood company when it comes to safety. Pro Pac and Earthborn Holistic are the ONLY major brands of dog food that have NEVER had a food recall due to contamination. It’s a remarkable feat – and all the more impressive when you consider that Pro Pac has been in production for 25 years. A quarter of a century with no incidents of contamination is an incredible achievement.

The reason for this is that the company go to great lengths to ensure they never have a problem. The production facitlity, at Chickasha, Oklahoma, has some of the most stringent cleanliness procedures of any petfood company and has been described as a benchmark and the envy of the industry.

But the safeguards for Pro Pac and Earthborn Holistic go much further than that. The company takes the unusual (and much more expensive step) of having every single batch of food tested for salmonella and enterobacteriaceae contamination. The products are ONLY released for shipment after acceptable results are received from an independent laboratory. In addition, there are frequent tests for other potential toxins such as aflatoxin, botulin toxin, clostridium and high plate counts.

What all this means for you as a dog owner is that you can be as assured as is possible that Pro Pac and Earthborn Holistic are the safest foods on the market. The chances of you or your dog becoming ill from these foods is virtually nil.

With food recalls escalating – and contamination causing illnesses in dogs and humans around the world – this is very comforting to know. Not only do these foods contain the highest quality natural ingredients, but the chances of contamination are less than any other food on the market.

For more information, and to purchase Pro Pac or Earthborn Holistic for your dog direct from the New Zealand importer, visit www.petfooddirect.co.nz or call tollfree 0800 DOG FOOD (0800 364 366).

Dogs That Aren’t Right: Is Your Dog Really Healthy?

little-dogOne of the sad truths in our modern society is that the majority of our pet dogs are living below optimum health. Many of their problems aren’t necessarily obvious (and many owners seem to be unaware of it). The consequences of these health problems are reduced life expectancy, discomfort and unhappiness for the dog, and higher vet bills and distress for the owner.

The other sad truth is that many of these health problems are avoidable. The saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is so true when it comes to pet health.

The major preventable health problems in dogs are:

  • overweight or obesity
  • joint pain and stiffness
  • lethargy
  • hyperactivity
  • skin problems: rashes, itching, flaking
  • ear infections
  • paw irritations (shown by biting and licking)
  • bad odour (in coat, breath and rear end)
  • dull coat

The way to prevent (or at least minimise) health problems in dogs is to play close attention to its nutrition and lifestyle. As an owner, you have total responsibility for this – after all, a dog can’t make health decisions for itself. Here are the main things to do to ensure your dog has the best health possible.

  1. Feed a quality food. Poor nutrition is the #1 cause in health problems for dogs. Avoid foods that contain by-products and are low in actual meat content (this includes virtually all supermarket foods). Also steer clear of anything with artificial flavourings, colourings or preservatives. If you were to eat nothing but junk food you would expect to have health problems. The same is true of your dog.
  2. Don’t over feed. Don’t leave a bowl lying around with food in it for your dog to eat during the day and if you’re not sure how much to feed, feed less than you think. It is very easy for a dog to be overfed, which is why the majority of dogs, sadly, are overweight. For more information on how much to feed your dog (and the signs to look for for overfeeding) go here.
  3. Make sure fresh water is always available. Dogs often drink a surprising amount of water and it is vital to their health that it is on hand when they need it. Keep the water bowl filled, especially if you are going out for the day.
  4. Don’t over-exercise your dog. Dogs absolutely love to play. The problem is, they don’t know how to tell you when they need to stop. It is not a good idea to tire your dog out through walking or playing as this will put a strain on their body. Obviously moderate exercise is important, but keep it at that – moderate.

Just doing these few simple things will go a very long way to keeping your dog in optimum physical condition for a long and happy life.

Pro Pac Superpremium and Earthborn Holistic Grain Free are two of the healthiest and most affordable quality dog foods on the market. Feeding these foods will help ensure your dog stays in great physical condition. For more information visit Petfood Direct at www.petfooddirect.co.nz