The evolution of dog food at our house has been going on for over forty years according to Mom. It started with the first family dog, Alfred, back in the seventies, and continues to this day. We are not dieticians for dogs, or food experts, and we are not being compensated by anyone for this post. We simply want to share what is in our dog bowls now, and how we got to this point. If we can help someone understand how to better feed their own dog it would make us all happy.
There is no right or wrong food for a dog. Food is something the pet parent needs to select for their own dog. There are a lot of factors that will come into play such as price, convenience, shelf life, travel, food allergies, just to name a few. Honestly, Mom says dog food is a real jungle, and knowing how to find the best fit in food for us has been a very tough process. There are many biased opinions from big companies, veterinarians, and others being paid to promote certain brands. The longer Mom has had dogs, the more she has learned about us, and how what we eat makes a difference in our lives.
Where Have We Been In Our Dog Food Evolution?
Let’s go back to the first dog, Alfred. First of all, the guy had a crazy name for a Siberian Husky, and he was totally the wrong dog for a family who knew nothing about dogs, but he was loved. Alfred was a finicky eater, and the food of choice, which everyone found to be perfect, was Gaines Burgers. Anyone remember this food? The food consisted of individually wrapped patties of soft-moist dog food which looked like raw hamburgers that could be stored indefinitely at room temperature. Just reading this makes Mom cringe, but no one knew any better. It looked like real meat, and it had lots of coloring to make it appealing to the human eye.
In defense of the family’s choice of food, remember it wasn’t long before Gaines Burgers came out in the sixties that dog food barely existed. Dogs just ate scraps the humans happened to give them, or they would eat things they found outside. Everything, even dog food, has to start somewhere.
It was quite a while until the dog food dilemma came up again for Mom. She adopted Trine in 1994 from the Humane Society. They told her the dog would eat Eukanabua. At the time, that was a premium food, but Mom bought it for the hundred pound lab/newfie mix. Trine was Mom’s first dog, and looking back she can’t believe how clueless she was about everything! Food wasn’t really questioned, but the evolution of dog food did happen later in Trina’s life. Living in Germany, it was easier to get Hills dog food. Mom switched to Hills and it was what Trine ate.
Katie came along and Hills was the choice for her as well. The veterinarian suggested a certain formula for her, and she ate Hills for many years. Emma also came along, and was a Hills puppy and hound. It wasn’t until they moved to the USA that their food started to change.
Mom began to hear things she didn’t like so much about Hills, so under the advice of breeders, she switched to Purina Pro Plan. This switch lasted a little less than a year. She was never a fan of Purina, but figured it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try. Emma started the blog, Mom went to BlogPaws, and Mom began to think more about dog food. Merrick was what Mom decided would be the best food for Katie and Emma. They loved it, and it seemed to be good for them. They also rotated in some Natural Balance food for more protein options. When grain free came out, that was also added to their food rotation.
A year ago we found Halo. This was the first time Mom had ever had anyone really explain dog food, and labels to her. It wasn’t a selling job, just pure facts. Raw would be the ultimate diet, but Mom isn’t ready for that, and she wanted to stick with kibble, so we switched to Halo. The difference in all of us was immediate. Aside from naturally raised proteins, organic fruits and vegetables, there is no meat meal in Halo.
Look at your kibble bag, and I bet there is meat meal as one of the first ingredients. This is not something anyone should be eating. Even most of the very expensive, highly regarded dog foods have meat meal. We didn’t believe this to be true, so we went to the store and checked labels. Sure enough, it is true!
Where Are Now With Our Food?
Halo was good to us, and we were happy, but Mom was starting to feel kibble was not what we should be eating. We tried several dog meal services, but we didn’t like getting shipments bi-weekly, storing the frozen meals, all the packaging waste, and it is expensive. Being bloggers, we are fortunate to get lots of different foods to test out. One day the light went on, and Mom decided to switch us to Dr. Harvey’s. Emma, Bailie, and Mom met with their team in Las Vegas back in 2014 at BlogPaws, but they were not ready for a switch at the time. Since then, friends like Bentley and Pierre swear by their food!
Mom actually called Dr. Harvey’s to ask a lot of questions before ordering the food. It is not cheap, and it means Mom would also need to buy proteins, and oil to add to our meals. How would we eat when we travel, so may questions!
In mid-February, we made the switch. Let me tell you, that after two months, it has been the best decision yet! We use their Canine Health as we don’t need grain free, and when we travel we use their Oracle where all you have to do is add hot water and wait. Bailie and I are loving the food, our teeth look shinier, Bailie has not had one anal gland issue since the switch, and she used to have them every couple weeks.
Mom feels good that we are getting real food. She has a system down now to freeze proteins so we have plenty on hand. We switch proteins every week or so for variety, like chicken, turkey, beef, eggs and pork. The good thing is, you can add whatever protein you would like. Mom will not have fish in her kitchen, so we use salmon oil for the oil in our food. There is not much waste since we use storage containers, and she can make up three days worth of meals in advance. We could also make more meals and freeze them, but we don’t see a need for that.
One day we may change to raw, but Mom can’t imagine that happening. Right now in our evolution of dog food we are super happy with Dr. Harvey’s. We also have almost exclusively natural treats, nothing full of meat meal, coloring or preservatives. Over the years Mom has been getting better and better food for us, and it is a good thing. In the long run, we will be healthier which will also save us on vet bills! What’s in your dog’s bowl? How do you decide what the best food is for your own pup?