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How to Read a Dog Food Label

Merrick Grain Free DuckWith all the latest news about bad dog food, we thought it was important to do a post on reading dog food labels. There are so many dog foods out there today. How do you pick the right one for your dog?

The best way is to start by reading the dog food label for the list of ingredients. Dog food manufacturers are required by federal law to list all ingredients on the dog food label in descending order of their pre-cooking weights. Unfortunately, they do not have to list the exact amount or percentage of the ingredients, so this is not really an exact science, but it’s a good guideline and definitely the place you want to start. Also check the bag to see where the dog food is manufactured. To be safe, we recommend staying with U.S. produced dog food and avoiding foods made in China due to some prior quality issues.

Wellness CoreAs stated by the Dog Food Advisor and many other experts, when evaluating any dog food you want to look for high quality, digestible meat-based proteins. These should be at the top of the list. Proteins such as beef, chicken, turkey, lamb and fish are ideal. Avoid foods that list “meat” or meat by-products as these are often a combination of unwanted meats and have little nutritional value for your pet.

It’s fine to have some good vegetables in your dog food, for example sweet potato, green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, squash, carrots and peas. Fruits such as apples, cranberries and bananas can also be included.

Tuscan Natural Carne Grain Free Dry Dog Food You want to avoid preservatives and dog food “fillers” which contain little to no nutritional value, for example: wheat, corn, cornmeal, white flour, soy, wheat gluten, cottonseed hulls, peanut hulls, citrus pulp, screening, weeds, straw, BHA, and BHT. In addition, avoid added sugar, artificial flavors, colors and dyes.

Last but definitely not least – make sure your dog likes it. There are so many choices out there you should be able to find a dog food your dog likes!

Now that we have dog food covered, learn about which human foods dogs should avoid.

Paws Up For Merrick Chunky Can Recipes

Merrick Chunky Can Recipes

You can definitely see the chunks!

Merrick recently came out with new Chunky Can Recipes and we were very excited to try them out! Our dog, Kobi, just loves their Cowboy Cookout Can Recipe, which has a 5 star rating on DogFoodAdvisor.com, so we knew there was a good chance our picky eater might like these Chunky Can Recipes too.

If you’re wondering, how “chunky” are these recipes? Well check out our photo – you can easily see the meat chunks! All four new recipes are 100% grain-free and feature deboned meat as the #1 ingredient. You can see some real carrots and potatoes in the recipe too.

Merrick Chunky Can Recipes

Initial Sniff and Lick Test

We tried out all 4 Merrick Chunky Can Recipes: Big Texas Steak Tips Dinner, Carvers Delight Dinner, Colossal Chicken Dinner and Pappy’s Pot Roast Dinner. We try to make this as scientific / neutral as possible by putting each recipe in an identical bowl and putting them in a circle so as not to give any bowl preference in the line up.

Merrick Chunky Can Recipes

I really liked these two!

In the initial test, Kobi took his time sniffing all 4 Merrick Chunky Can Recipes and then really dove into the Colossal Chicken Dinner, followed by the Carvers Delight Dinner.

On the next day, we added Kobi’s favorite Cowboy Cookout Can Recipe to the taste test to see if he would go for his old favorite or one of the new recipes. After the overall sniff and lick test, Kobi first happily chowed down Pappy’s Pot Roast Dinner followed by the Colossal Chicken Dinner. Cowboy Cookout, Big Texas Steak Tips Dinner and Carvers Delight Dinner all tied for third place.

Merrick Chunky Can Recipes

Merrick Taste Test Day 2

Merrick Chunky Can Recipes were paws up approved!

Kobi’s picky palate was heartfully pleased with these recipes. We also feel rest assured with these recipes as they are made in the U.S. with no ingredients from China. They’re also grain free and gluten free.

Great Dry Dog Food – LiveFree by Dogswell

Dry Dog FoodDogswell recently sent us 3 bags of premium LiveFree dry dog food in salmon, lamb and chicken recipes to test. We are very careful about testing out dog food. First of all, we want our dog to have the best health and we understand you need to be very careful about switching a dog’s diet.

Secondly, our dog, Kobi, is really picky about food and treats. About 90% of the treats he’s offered, he does not eat. Sometimes, we’ll put out his food in the morning and he won’t eat it until later in the afternoon. As such, Kobi is a very discerning dog food taste tester – an aspirational NY Times (dog) food critic.

Dry Dog Food

Taste Testing Begins!

We always check out the ingredients to make sure they’re top quality. Dog Food Advisor gave Dogswell LiveFree Dry Dog Food a 5 star rating (out of 5 stars).  Kobi already eats Dogswell Nutrisca, so we were very comfortable in trying out another Dogwell food brand. LiveFree is also made in the U.S.A..

What we also like about this dry dog food is that it’s ultra low glyemic, grain and potato free. It has NO grain, corn, wheat, soy, gluten, potatoes, tapioca, BHA/BHT, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Our dog has a lot of allergies and since switching him to a grain free diet about a year ago, he has less allergy symptoms, i.e. less scratching.

So how did the test go?

[Read more…]

Treat Dispenser Toys – Fun & Yum!

Dog Toy - Twist 'n Treat

Twist ‘n Treat

Give your dog some mental exercise and fun with a treat dispenser toy – put your dog’s food or tasty treats in a toy and your dog works to get to the food. Especially for puppies, it’s a great way to keep dogs entertained.

Dog Treat Toy

Star Spinner

By nature, dogs are made to hunt, scavenge and work for their food. So these treat dispenser toys will give your dog some work and opportunity to use their problem solving skills. They are especially helpful for puppies as they can keep them entertain for long periods of time and as a result they are less likely to destroy other things in your home. They’re also great for dogs that have behavior problems which might be a result of sheer boredom, often due to a lack of physical exercise, problem solving opportunities and outdoor exploration. We’re sure you’d prefer him chewing on a food toy rather than your shoes.

Food stuffed dog toys

Food Stuffed Bone

You can get something as simple as a food stuffed bone to an interactive dog puzzle such as a Star Spinner or Kibble Drop Treat Dog Toy. Some dog trainers even recommend that you give up feeding your dog from a bowl and instead use these interactive dog food and treat dispenser toys to give your dog more mental challenges.

Atomic Ball

Atomic Ball

If your dog is quick to figure these toys out, an excellent way to keep them busy for a long time is to get a food stuffed bone or classic Kong, fill it with the treat (e.g. peanut butter or wet dog food) and then freeze it. Since the treat is frozen, it’s going to take much longer for your puppy or dog to finish it. Another tip – if the food is stuck in the toy, I use a strong, plastic chopstick to get it out.

Check out our category of Treat Dispenser Toys