Monday, March 3, 2008

New Dog Food

I was at PetSmart this weekend and I ran into a sales representative selling dog food. Now, normally I just smile and nod and don’t tell them what I do for a living. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in dog food. I understand the whole reasoning behind the raw food diets, but I just can’t picture a toy poodle out on the range chasing down an antelope. I’m a big dog food fan: it’s easy to feed, the dog’s like it, and the pet food companies have spent millions and years researching the diets.

The main problem I have is with the advertising. Many of the dog foods that say, “Lamb and Rice” on the label actually have some other form of protein in them. Who knows what “meat meal”, “protein broth” or “animal fat” means? I’m not saying these are bad ingredients; I just want to know what I’m recommending to my clients. Needless to say, I’m a little picky about the dog food I put my name behind.

This brings me to a new diet on the market: WholeMeals. The ingredients are not new, but the concept is. Instead of kibble form the food is in the shape of a treat, with a hard outer shell and a chewy center. The shape of the bone, along with the hard out shell, has some distinct advantages. First, the dog can take the bone to the place where he wants to eat. I think this will be a great advantage to multiple dog households where there are food aggression issues.

The other places I really like this product is in large-breed, deep-chested dogs or dogs that gulp their food. While not proven, it’s suspected that dogs that eat their food to fast may be at higher risk of bloating. Giving them a food that needs to be worked on should decrease that risk.

The last use I can see for this food is in dogs that have separation anxiety. Since most of the damage done by dogs with this behavioral problem is done in the first few minutes, giving them this food may keep them occupied while they get over the fact that you are not home.

This food does have some drawback. For starters, it’s made with beef and chicken, so it may not be suitable for dogs with food allergy. The hard outer shell may make this food a problem for dogs with few or no teeth. And lastly, the food looks like it’s not a full meal. Some people may not feel good about giving their dog such a small amount of food. However, if the company is right and all that extra stuff is just fuller, not only will the dog get a complete diet, but you may have less to clean up after.

Dr. Lembo does not receive any compensation from the makers of this dog food and does not sell it at his clinic.

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