California Jacks Keep
Like nearly everyone who has been involved with these dogs for more than a few years, I am usually asked by newer gamedog fanciers "What do you feed your dogs?" When the opportunity to write an article for this magazine presented itself to me, I decided I would write an article dealing with a basic component of building a performance dog, DOG FOOD!
The much used cliche "You are what you eat", applies as much to our dogs as it does us. Our dogs however have no choice of what they eat, they depend on our ability to find a good well balanced dog food for them and to give them the proper amount of that food along with any vitamin and mineral supplements that may be necessary. The choices you make in the realm of dog food and exercise has a significant impact on the overall health of your dog. Remember in order to win, you have to feed them right and condition them right. The purpose of this article is to give you some guidelines to use as an aide in determining which dog food is the best for your dog.
Dogs need a complete and balanced diet to grow, to develop properly, to repair any injuries, and in general to perform efficiently.
Dry food is the basis for most dog foods in America. The shelves of our grocery stores, feed stores and pet food retailers are full from one end to the other with an overwhelming selection of dry dog foods. You MUST go in the store armed with the right information on Dog foods in order to make the best choice on which brand to choice for your dog, one that will give him all the requirement she needs for top performance.
In selecting a brand of dry food, the first place we start is the label on the bag of food itself. Dog food labels like those on human foods, are by law required to list ingredients in order by weight. The ingredient that weighs the most is listed first and the rest follow in descending order.
The ingredients on dog food labels have specific meanings as defined by the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) it is important that you have an understanding of these terms before buying your next bag of dog food. Here are some of the most important terms and definitions:
Meat (e.g., lamb, beef) -- "Meat is the clean flesh derived from slaughtered mammals and is limited to that part of the striate muscle which is skeletal or that which is found in the tongue, in the diaphragm, in the heart, or in the esophagus; with or without that accompanying and overlying fat and the portions of the skin, sinew, nerve, and blood vessels which normally accompany the flesh. It shall be suitable for use in animal food. If it bears a name descriptive of its kind, it must correspond thereto."
Poultry (Turkey, Chicken, etc)-- "Poultry is the clean combination of flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, derived from the parts or whole carcasses of poultry or a combination thereof, exclusive of feathers, heads, feet and entrails. It shall be suitable for use in animal food. If it bears a name descriptive of its kind, it must correspond thereto. If the bone has been removed, the process may be so designated by use of the appropriate feed term."
Meat and Bone Meal -- "Meat and Bone Meal is the rendered product from mammal tissues, including bone, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents, except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices."
Meat By-products -- "Meat by-products is the non-rendered, clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but is not limited to, lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially defatted low temperature fatty tissue, and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents. It does not include hair, horns, teeth and hoofs. It shall be suitable for use in animal food."
Poultry By-products -- "Poultry By-Products must consist of non-rendered clean parts of carcasses of slaughtered poultry such as heads, feet, viscera, free from fecal content and foreign matter except in such trace amounts as might occur unavoidably in good factory practice."
Wherever you see the term "meal" used in conjunction with any of the above terms it is simply a product from one of the above definitions that has been dried and ground into meal form.
The key point to learn from those definitions is that the only quality meat or poultry based ingredient is meat, poultry, or meat meal, or poultry meal. Anything else (By-Products) may include things such as; feathers, hoofs, heads, feet, stomachs and intestines, and many other undesirable and potentially infected meat. By products are in general the parts of an animal considered unfit for human consumption and can be diseased and can pose a health hazard for you dog. Get a food with meat (meal) or poultry (meal) listed first. You will notice an improvement in your dog’s health, appearance, and energy level!
Many of the allergies that dogs experience are food born, not the food itself but one or more ingredients contained in the food. The most common food ingredients that cause dog allergies, are CORN, SOY (derived from Soybeans), and WHEAT! So avoid any dog food that lists one of those ingredients first. If your budget allows avoid those ingredients all together!
A common practice used by pet food manufactures called " splitting" can give the impressions that an undesirable ingredient is not the top ingredient in a dog food when indeed it is. What this legal practice does is to take an ingredient, corn for example and to split it into several ingredients such as corn, corn gluten, and corn gluten meal. Now if you were to see a dog food label that lists the ingredients in this order, Poultry by product meal, corn, rice, corn gluten. You would think that Poultry by product meal is the number one ingredient in the food, when in fact the combined weight of the corn and corn gluten is more than the poultry by product meal and is in fact the primary ingredient. Watch for this practice and take it into consideration when selecting a dog food.
I am not going to recommend any particular brand of food as we all have our favorites and there are local/regional brands that are very good but limited to folks that live in the area that they are manufactured in.
I hope this article will help you the next time you go to buy food for your dog. A quality food goes a long way towards maintaining a healthy dog.
Key Points to remember:
1. Feed your dog the best food you can get!
2. Generally, you get what you pay for!
3. When possible get a true meat based food!
4. Avoid "By-Products" at all costs!
5. Avoid any grains as the first ingredient!
6. FEED your dog two small meals per day, instead of one meal.
7. ENSURE that YOUR DOG has fresh water at all times.
8. A chopped boiled egg is great to add to your dog’s food.