How to Prevent Allergies and Other Health Problems in Dogs

The Truth About Sensitivity to Food in Dogs

The most important decision you will make for your dog’s health is the food you choose to feed him or her. Most people do not realise the huge impact the choice of food has. It can literally mean the difference between a lifetime of health problems, getting progressively worse as the dog gets older and a pain-free, happy, energetic dog that lives comfortably into old age (without big vet bills).

Just as with humans, if your dog spends a lifetime only eating “junk” foods, it’s simply not going to end up in a healthy physical condition. The difference is, a dog can’t tell you if it is starting to get pain or other symptoms. That’s why it is vital that you, the owner, take your responsibility for your dog’s health very seriously.
But with the vast number of food brands and types available, how do you decide? After all, every single producer tells you theirs is “100% complete nutrition”, “natural” and “filled with everything a dog needs.”
The only answer is for you, the owner, to look beyond the marketing hype and educate yourself on the only thing that matters: the ingredients.
What is in the food and will it help or harm my dog?
Here are some of the facts about dog food that will help you understand how to prevent allergies and other health problems in dogs.
  1. Choose a food with a named meat as the main ingredient.
    Dogs need a diet that is primarily meat. But do you want to know the difference between a high quality food and a cheap supermarket or bulk brand? The amount of meat. Check the labels out yourself and you will see that for a high-quality brand a named meat is first on the ingredients list, whereas in a cheap food meat is way down the list.
    Ideally you want a food with meat that is both specified (chicken, lamb, fish, etc) and in “meal” (pre-dehydrated) form. This has the highest meat content.Fact: All Pro Pac Ultimates and Earthborn Holistic formulas use a named meat meal is the main ingredient. This ensures a very high content of high-quality meat.

  2. Avoid “filler” ingredients with low (or no) nutritional value.
    What good are cereals, grain husks, gluten and other “waste” products for your dog? Virtually no good at all. But check the label of any cheap food and that will be the first (and main) ingredient. You wouldn’t eat this stuff (in fact most of these ingredients are classed as “unfit for human consumption”) so don’t give them to your dog either. It’s not doing him any good!Fact: Pro Pac Ultimates and Earthborn Holistic do not contain any “filler” ingredients. All of the ingredients in these foods are of high-quality and chosen specifically for their nutritional value for dogs.

  3. Avoid ingredients with general and vague names.
    Do you know what “meat products and fats”, “meat meal”, “meat by-products”, “poultry by-product meal”, “bone meal” or “animal by-products” are? All parts of all types of animals (including those not good for a dog to eat) that are “unfit for human consumption”. Waste products and cheap to produce – so they end up in cheap dog foods.

    Fact: Pro Pac Ultimates and Earthborn Holistic contain none of these ingredients. There are NO waste animal products, just high quality meats of the kind that are also fit for human consumption.

  4. Avoid the main allergy-causing ingredients: wheat, soy, beef, corn and dairy.
    If your dog is scratching or biting or has a coat in poor condition, check to see if the food you are using contains any of these. They are the main culprits in food-based allergies in dogs. We have seen almost miraculous changes in dogs taken off these ingredients.
    And if you think your dog is healthy and is eating any of these anyway, try removing them from their diet. You may be surprised at the difference!

    Fact: Pro Pac Ultimates and Earthborn Holistic contain none of these ingredients. It’s why all of our formulas are easy on digestion and help minimise or eliminate allergies.

You’ve made a big investment in your dog! You want him or her to enjoy life and provide the both of you with great pleasure for years to come. Don’t ruin your investment by “saving money” on food. It’s going to cost you more in the long run (in vet bills) and be a lot less enjoyable along the way. Give your dog what he deserves, a happy, pain-free life from a healthy food.
Pro Pac Ultimates and Earthborn Holistic are available exclusively in New Zealand from Petfood Direct. There is a full range of formulas to suit every dog age and type. Order (with free delivery nationwide) from www.petfooddirect.co.nz

Grains or Grain Free – Which is the Best Dog Food?

grainnograinWe are often asked the question: “Which is better – dog food with or without grains?”

As you will know, Pro Pac Ultimates has a range of formulas for both, and both are high quality foods that tens of thousands of dogs worldwide eat daily and thrive on. So the answer to the question, “Grains or no grains?” is really “It depends.”

Many people would assume that grain free is more natural, but this is not necessarily the case. It also does not necessarily mean your dog will do better than a grain-inclusive food. Here are some important things to remember when you consider which food to feed your dog, especially if it contains grains.

  1. Look at the complete ingredient list. A quality food must have a quality meat as the first ingredient. This means chicken, lamb or fish (not beef). Preferably it should be as “meal”, which is the concentrated form of meat. Meat should be the basis of any dog’s diet so don’t choose any food that does not list meat as the first ingredient on the label.
    All Pro Pac Ultimates formulas have chicken, lamb or fish meal as the first and main ingredient.
  2. Beware of “red flag” ingredients. These are the ingredients that may cause allergies and other health problems in dogs. They are not suitable to feed your dog, but unfortunately are in many foods. They are often used to create a lower cost food, so price can be a good indicator of the quality of the final product. “Red flag” ingredients to avoid include beef, soy, wheat and gluten, sorghum, anything labelled a “by-product”, dairy products and artificial preservatives, flavorings and colourings.
    No Pro Pac Ultimates formula contains any of these “red flag” ingredients.
  3. Choose soft, whole grains. The best grain in dog food is rice. This is easy on digestion, helps to regulate blood sugars and has other health benefits. A food with rice is perfectly fine just avoid wheat and other grains.

All Pro Pac Ultimates formulas that are not grain free contain rice as the only grain.

If you follow the above guidelines, then whether you use a formula with or without grains is largely a matter of personal choice. You may find your dog does better on one type or another. All Pro Pac Ultimates formulas have been created to combine the finest ingredients to create the best health possible for your dog. All natural, holistic foods – whichever you choose, your dog will do well!

To purchase Pro Pac Ultimates for your dog, visit www.petfooddirect.co.nz. As the sole importer and distributor of Pro Pac Ultimates in New Zealand, we bring you these exceptional foods at a price lower than you might expect.

Is This the Future of Pet Food?

Interzoo
Entrance to Interzoo 2016 in Nüremberg

Recently we attended Interzoo in Nuremberg, Germany. Held every two years, this is the largest trade show for the pet industry in the world, with more than 1700 exhibitors showcasing a vast number of products and services for pets.

We were there primarily to meet with our suppliers, Midwestern Petfoods, the manufacturers of Pro Pac Ultimates and Earthborn Holistic. Their stand was very popular, with the reputation and quality of these foods generating a lot of interest. We also had the opportunity to view some exciting new products in their range which we will be introducing to New Zealand soon. Watch this space!

However, we also spent some exploring the rest of the exhibition. The products on show gave us a definite feel for the direction that pet food is heading in and what is in store for the future. There are some very interesting and exciting developments afoot that are set to transform the industry over the next few years. Here are some of our observations:

  1. The world is moving very rapidly towards “natural” and “holistic” pet foods. Virtually all of the hundreds of brands on show used these words somewhere on their packaging and emphasized the quality of the ingredients used. Petfood is becoming a lot more natural. Just as with human foods, dog and cat owners are demanding better quality and more natural ingredients. Owners want their pets to eat a natural diet, with all of the health benefits such a diet gives. This is in fact the fastest-growing segment of the pet food market.
  2. Companies with lower quality foods were nowhere to be seen at the show. Statistics show that sales of low-quality foods are rapidly declining around the world. Although previously pet owners would mainly buy their foods on price (the lowest) and convenience (the supermarket), people are becoming much more aware of the damage such foods can do to their pet (the recent lawsuit against Purina Beneful in the US, claiming it has been responsible for the death of more than 4000 dogs, is a good example).
  3. Pet owners are losing trust in the big pet food brands owned by multinational conglomerates. There is a definite move to products from smaller companies which make only pet food. Interestingly, at Interzoo, the likes of Hills, Eukanuba, Purina and Royal Canin were nowhere to be seen.
  4. Although there is a huge growth in the number of new brands – all hoping to cash in on the “natural, holistic” trend – there are actually very few that will stand the test of time. This is because most of these companies don’t actually produce their own products. They are made for them under their own label by large manufacturers. This can cause problems with consistency and quality. Most of these brands also struggle to sell their products because they are unknown, untrusted and too similar to many other brands on the market. So they come and go – usually about half of these brands are no longer around within two years of startup.
Liam Naden from Petfood Direct NZ (left) with Warren Hill, International Sales Director at Midwestern Petfoods, at the Pro Pac Ultimates/Earthborn Holistic stand at Interzoo in Nuremberg, Germany, 2016.
Liam Naden from Petfood Direct NZ (right) with Warren Hill, International Sales Director at Midwestern Petfoods, at the Pro Pac Ultimates/Earthborn Holistic stand at Interzoo in Nuremberg, Germany, 2016.

So what does all this mean for you as a dog or cat owner?

You, our customer, are among the new generation of pet owners who are making the best choice for you pet, with food that mimics your pet’s natural diet. You recognize the unquestionable health benefits to your pet for a longer, happier, healthier life.

You are with Pro Pac and Earthborn Holistic, two brands that are amongst the world leaders in the move to natural, holistic foods. Midwestern Petfoods, the manufacturer, are among the very few pet food companies worldwide who only make pet food, and only make them in their own facilities. This allows them to control the quality at every level. The foods continue to receive accolades as amongst the best foods available and are sold in more than 70 countries around the world. And having been in business for more than 30 years, their products are going to be around for many years to come.

image1
Pro Pac Ultimates stand at Interzoo 2016

It was exciting for us to see at Interzoo confirmation of what we are seeing in New Zealand: the world is moving rapidly towards healthier, natural and holistic foods for their pets. Owners are seeing that nothing does more for the health of their pet than the quality of the food they are feeding.

Pro Pac Ultimates and Earthborn Holistic are at the forefront of this revolution. At Petfood Direct, we’re very proud to represent them in New Zealand – and to have you as our customer helping to lead the way! Thank you for your support!

For more information and to purchase Pro Pac Ultimates or Earthborn Holistic, visit our website at www.petfooddirect.co.nz

The Five-Point Checklist for Choosing the Right Dogfood

Not all dog foods are created the same! In fact, independent researchers (such as dogfoodadvisor.com) point out that a significant proportion of the brands available contain poor quality ingredients that not only don’t help your dog’s health, but they may actually be harmful. Don’t rely on any brand claims, advertising or even the “taste test” (whether or not your dog “seems” to like it). Use the following five points to make the right decision for your dog’s health:

 

 

  1. Does it have a high meat content? It is logical that your dog’s diet should be based on meat. However, many brands actually contain little meat. Look for a brand that firstly has a named meat (such as chicken, lamb or fish) as the first listed ingredient on the label. That is a start. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean there is more meat than anything else in the food. Preferably, ensure the food has meat in “meal” form as it means the meat is much more concentrated than “ordinary” meat.
    Also, avoid beef. This is one of the major causes of allergies in dogs.
    Both Pro Pac and Earthborn Holistic use named meat meals as the first ingredient, ensuring there is a high amount of real meat in the food. Not only is it better for the dog, but they love the taste too. And there is no beef or beef derivatives used in any of the formulas.
  2. What is the protein content and source? Dogs need a decent amount of protein. Make sure the food contains at least 23% protein. However, it is equally important that the protein comes from a quality source – meat. Many companies boost the protein content using inferior sources such as by-products (which are the parts of the animal “unfit for human consumption”).
    Pro Pac and Earthborn Holistic both have high protein content sources, well above the recommended minimums. And there are no by-products – the protein comes from real human-grade meat.
  3. Are the ingredients natural? If you want a healthy and problem-free dog, you must feed it foods that it is designed to eat naturally. Unfortunately, many companies use poor quality ingredients that can actually be harmful to dogs, but which of course are much cheaper to produce. Look for foods with natural meats and grains.
    Pro Pac and Earthborn Holistic use only natural ingredients. The meats are all human grade and the grains (if used) come from non-GMO sources. Everything in these foods is what dogs are designed to eat, naturally. This means the nutrients are absorbed very efficiently and the dog maintains the best health possible.
  4. Are there any “hidden” ingredients? Petfood companies have a tendency to hide inferior and even harmful ingredients behind fancy or vague names that pet owners don’t understand. Just because a food (or ingredient) is legal doesn’t mean it is beneficial! Ingredients to avoid (or at least be wary of) include by-products, “meat meal”, “animal fat”, “animal digest” and all artificial ingredients, including colourings and preservatives.
    Of course, Pro Pac and Earthborn Holistic uses none of these “hidden” ingredients. There are no “waste products” or artificial ingredients. This means not only a healthier dog in the long term, but no allergy problems and much higher energy.
  5. Does the manufacturer have a good safety record? The safety of dog foods are an increasing concern. There are more and more cases each year of dogs (and also their owners) becoming ill and even dying from contaminated food. Food recalls (where the company withdraws a food from sale because of contamination) are becoming more frequent and the risks of sickness cannot be ignored.
    Pro Pac and Earthborn Holistic are produced by the ONLY company to never have had a contamination problem with their food, and they have held that record for more than 25 years. This comes down to their rigorous selection of ingredients (none from Asia for example, where many contaminated ingredients come from) and also their testing process. Everh batch of Pro Pac or Earthborn Holistic undergoes five independent laboratory tests before it is released for sale.

Both Pro Pac and Earthborn Holistic have established themselves worldwide as in the top category of dog food. They are the ideal choice for your dog too. And they are surprisingly well priced – Petfood Direct imports directly from the manufacturer and sells directly to you the customer, avoiding any retailer markups (it is not available in stores).

For more information about these products and to order for your dog, visit Petfood Direct online at www.petfooddirect.co.nz

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/

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