Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Feeding Our Dog - or - Dozer Deserves an A!

Now that Dozer is a member of the family, I've stepped up my research and learning about all things dog. Prior to bringing him home, I became a fan of "It's Me or The Dog" on TV, learning about proper socialization and training. I lurked all over the AKC and other websites learning the major differences in temperament and breed standards for the large working breed dogs. But when Dozer came home, I started researching Bull Mastiffs and Boxers in particular (he is a mix of the two), and paying particular attention to the best foods for him.

At the website GoliathMastiffs.com, I found a page that gave TONS of information about the ingredients in commercial, vet, and holistic dog foods. Some of the information turned my stomach, to be honest. I learned that almost all commercial dog foods are made of ingredients that I don't want my dog to eat!

At the end of the page, the author provided a way to grade your dog's food from A to F. I found out that Dozer's food is only a C or C- and may possibly be contributing to skin issues and a probable reason for his stinkiness. Since then I've found a food that we'll be starting him on this week - it grade an A+ and doesn't have any corn or wheat - common allergens for dogs. Who knows - maybe cats, too.

Because I've learned so much from this, I give to you the Dog Food Grader. I encourage you to check out the web page where I found it, and then grab your dog's bag of food and check out the ingredients against the score card. Who knows? You may find yourself heading to the local feed store sooner than you think!

How to grade your dog's food

Start with a grade of 100:

1. For every listing of "by-product", subtract 10 points
2. For every non-specific animal source ("meat" or "poultry", meat, meal or fat) reference, subtract 10 points
3. If the food contains BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin, subtract 10 points
4. For every grain "mill run" or non-specific grain source, subtract 5 points
5. If the same grain ingredient is used 2 or more times in the first five ingredients (i.e. "ground brown rice", "brewer's rice", "rice flour" are all the same grain), subtract 5 points
6. If the protein sources are not meat meal and there are less than 2 meats in the top 3 ingredients, subtract 3 points
7. If it contains any artificial colorants, subtract 3 points
8. If it contains ground corn or whole grain corn, subtract 3points
9. If corn is listed in the top 5 ingredients, subtract 2 more points
10. If the food contains any animal fat other than fish oil, subtract 2 points
11. If lamb is the only animal protein source (unless your dog is allergic to other protein sources), subtract 2 points
12. If it contains soy or soybeans, subtract 2 points
13. If it contains wheat (unless you know that your dog isn't allergic to wheat), subtract 2 points
14. If it contains beef (unless you know that your dog isn't allergic to beef), subtract 1 point
15. If it contains salt, subtract 1 point

Extra Credit:

1. If any of the meat sources are organic, add 5 points
2. If the food is endorsed by any major breed group or nutritionist, add 5 points
3. If the food is baked not extruded, add 5 points
4. If the food contains probiotics, add 3 points
5. If the food contains fruit, add 3 points
6. If the food contains vegetables (NOT corn or other grains), add 3 points
7. If the animal sources are hormone-free and antibiotic-free, add 2 points
8. If the food contains barley, add 2 points
9. If the food contains flax seed oil (not just the seeds), add 2 points
10. If the food contains oats or oatmeal, add 1 point
11. If the food contains sunflower oil, add 1 point
12. For every different specific animal protein source (other than the first one; count "chicken" and "chicken meal" as only one protein source, but "chicken" and "" as 2 different sources), add 1 point
13. If it contains glucosamine and chondroitin, add 1 point
14. If the vegetables have been tested for pesticides and are pesticide-free, add 1 point

94-100+ = A
86-93 = B
78-85 = C
70-77 = D
69 = F

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