My dogs are not foodies. They’ll scarf up anything, including disgusting stuff they find in the woods. Even so, I like to feed them well. Most commercial kibbles contain a lot of corn, wheat, and whatever grisly thing “meat byproducts” might be. The best varieties list something recognizable as food for carnivores as the first ingredient — meat or fish — but there’s still a lot of grain in the mix that dogs and cats can’t easily digest, and wouldn’t be eating if they were hunting like their ancestors did instead of waiting for us to fill their bowls.
Pet Nutrition Plus in Ellenville is a terrific source for good brands, including Orijen, Merrick, Felidae, and the appealingly named Taste of the Wild. Steve Umbria, who opened the store in August, says the best dog food is frozen raw, followed by canned food, freeze-dried raw, and then kibble. “The Web site Dogfoodadvisor.com rates every dog food from one to five, with five being the best. We carry all five- and four-star foods,” he says. “Variety is good for your dog, too. We wouldn’t want to eat one food all the time, and neither do they.” It’s true that high quality pet food is on the pricey side, but the better it is, the less your pets need to eat. More important, Umbria points out, they’ll be healthier, so there will be fewer vet visits for ailments like skin and ear problems caused by grain-heavy diets.
I picked up a selection of samples to run a test on my pets, including Merrick’s Grammy’s Pot Pie for dogs (with chicken, ground rice, and dried blueberries among the ingredients), and Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover’s Soul (chicken, salmon, turkey, duck and vegetables). They all smelled much the same to me, but I set out small bowls of each food along with their regular brand to see which they’d go for. The cats, ever suspicious, finally settled on the Chicken Soup. The dogs ate whatever was in the first bowl they came to and inhaled the rest in no particular order. As I said, they’re not foodies. Canidae Platinum (with chicken meal, brown rice, peas, and potatoes) is formulated for seniors and chubby dogs, but my young, slender girls like it so much I’ve been using it as a training treat.
Pet Nutrition Plus also carries quality food for rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs, along with toys, treats, shampoos and other supplies. Check the Web site for more info: www.petnutritionplus.com