January 31, 2011

Red meat and gin.

Nature's Variety Instinct - Beef &Lamb
The quest for a grain-free red meat dry food is over! As you know, we rotate proteins at Around the Dog Bowl but we've typically gravitated towards fish, chicken, turkey and duck. After talking to dogzoomies and reading labels, it was time to revisit red meat. We narrowed the field to these red meat dry foods: Acana Grasslands (lamb), Merrick Before Grain Buffalo, Nature's Variety Instinct Beef Meal & Lamb Meal and Solid Gold Barking at the Moon. This list was based on my criteria: must be grain-free; made current WDJ dry food review; received 5 stars from dogfoodadvisor.com; % protein less than or equal to 40% (with one exception); type of meat-based protein; and % carbs similar to current dry food, Acana Pacifica (fish). Here's a peek at our decision-making process:

Ruled out Solid Gold Barking at the Moon because it is not a true red meat formula because the first ingredient is ocean fish meal (BTW what is the fish species?) followed by beef, potatoes, potato protein etc. Merrick Before Grain Buffalo calories (383 kcal/cup) are lower [than current dry food by plus or minus 50 kcal] and % carbohydrates are higher.

Acana Grasslands is an obvious top contender because the BCs have done so well on Acana Pacifica (fish) but I am worried about the significant about of lamb being too rich for Lucas' gut. The new beef & lamb formula from NV Instinct is a clear winner with beef meal, lamb meal and turkey meal at the top of the ingredient list. The percentages of protein, fat and carbohydrates are closest to what I'm looking for. Calories are on the high end at 494 kcal/cup but my active BCs can use them. Prices for Acana Grasslands and NV Instinct Beef & Lamb are nearly identical but the latter is hard to find!

Local Store                   Acana Grasslands          NV Instinct Beef & Lamb
Incredible Pets             $34.99 (15.4 lb)             (none)
Pet Department Store  (none)                             $34.99 (15.4 lb)
Trends N Treats           (none)                             $34.99 (15.4 lb)
Western Feed               $35.99 (15.4 lb)             (none)

Acana Grasslands (1) 
Ingredients: Boneless lamb, lamb meal, salmon meal, herring meal, russet potato, peas, chicken fat (naturally preserved with vitamin E), sweet potato, boneless walleye, sun-cured alfalfa, natural lamb flavor, boneless duck, whole eggs, pumpkin, spinach, turnip greens, tomatoes, carrots, apples, organic kelp, cranberries, blueberries, juniper berries, black currants, chicory root, licorice root, angelica root, fenugreek, marigold flowers, sweet fennel, peppermint leaf, chamomile flowers, lavender flowers, summer savory, rosemary, vitamin A, vitamin D3, vitamin E, niacin, zinc proteinate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, vitamin B5, iron proteinate, vitamin B6, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12, selenium, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product.  Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein (min): 32.0%; Crude Fat (min): 18.0%; Crude Fiber (max): 3.5%; Moisture (max): 10.0%  Estimated carbs: 32% (2)  [Note: Acana reports 28% carbohydrates]  Calories: 430 kcal/cup

Merrick Before Grain Buffalo (1)
Ingredients: Buffalo Deboned, Chicken Meal, Potato Dehydrated, Turkey Meal, Canola Oil, Sweet Potato Dehydrated, (preserved with mixed tocopherols – a source of Natural Vitamin E and Ascorbic Acid, a source of Vitamin C), Yeast Culture, Natural Dried Chicken Liver, Dicalcium Phosphate, Lysine, Guar Gum, Sea Salt, Alfalfa, Salmon Oil, Choline Chloride, Acai Berry Freeze-Dried, Blueberry Dried, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Dried Venison Broth, Zinc Amino Acid Complex,Chondroitin Sulfate, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Natural Venison Flavor, Chicory Root, Marigold Extract, Rosemary Extract, Lactobacillus Plantarum, Enterococcus Faecium, Lactobacillus Casei, Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Natural Celery Flavor, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Vitamin E Supplement, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Natural Color (tumeric), Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Complex, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin D3, Niacin, Lecithin, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Ethylenediamine Dihydriodide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Cobalt Amino Acid Complex, Folic Acid, Thiamine Mononitrate, Sodium Selenite.  Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein, min 32.0%; Crude Fat, min 15.0%; Crude Fiber, max 3.0%; Moisture, max 11.0%  Estimated carbs: 34% (2) Calories: 383 kcal/cup

Nature's Variety Instinct Beef Meal & Lamb Meal (1)
Ingredients: Beef Meal, Lamb Meal, Turkey Meal, Tapioca, Beef Fat, Pea Starch, Beef Liver, Beef Plasma, Natural Lamb Flavor, Coconut Oil, Sun-Cured Alfalfa Meal, Tomato Pomace, Montmorillonite Clay, Vitamins (Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Ascorbic Acid, Biotin, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin A Acetate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Carotene, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), Potassium Chloride, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Ethylenediamine Dihydriodide), Sea Salt, Dried Kelp, Direct-Fed Microorganisms (Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Yeast Culture, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Aspergillus Niger Fermentation Extract, Dried Trichoderma Longibrachiatum Fermentation Extract, Dried Bacillus Subtilis Fermentation Extract), Taurine, Carrots, Garlic, Apples, Pumpkin, Inulin, Mixed Tocopherols with Citric Acid (a natural preservative), Rosemary Extract, Freeze Dried Beef, Freeze Dried Beef Heart, Freeze Dried Beef Liver, Pumpkinseeds, Ground Beef Bone, Butternut Squash, Ground Flaxseeds, Chicken Eggs, Broccoli, Lettuce, Spinach, Apple Cider Vinegar, Parsley, Honey, Salmon Oil, Olive Oil, Blueberries, Alfalfa Sprouts, Persimmons, Duck Eggs, Pheasant Eggs, Quail Eggs, Rosemary, Sage, Clove.  Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein (min): 37.0%; Crude Fat (min): 20.0%; Crude Fiber (max): 3.5%; Moisture (max): 10.0%  Estimated carbs: 25% (2)  Calories: 494 kcal/cup Note: An email from NV stated that all their Instinct formulas have 15-16% carbohydrates.

Solid Gold Barking at the Moon (1)
Ingredients: Ocean Fish Meal, Beef, Potatoes, Potato Protein, Canola Oil, Tomato Pomace, Natural Flavoring, Salmon Oil (source of DHA), Choline Chloride, Taurine, Dried Chicory Root, Parsley Flakes, Pumpkin Meal, Almond Oil, Sesame Oil, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Thyme, Blueberries, Cranberries, Carrots, Broccoli, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Thiamine Mononitrate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganous Oxide, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Calcium Panthothenate, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin), Riboflavin, Vitamin D Supplement, Folic Acid.  Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein, min 41%; Crude Fat, min 20%; Crude Fiber, max 4%; Moisture, max 10%  Estimated carbs: 21% (2)  Calories: 465 kcal/cup

Bottom Line: We'll start with a 15.4 pound bag of NV Instinct Beef & Lamb and transition slowly to red meat. Doing the research helped me make the best decision for my dogs and remind me what is important in a dry food. Also stocked up on Natural Balance canned foods to mix/rotate with dry, dehydrated, cooked and raw foods.

Resources: (1) Ingredients list, guaranteed analysis and calories pulled from manufacturer's websites. (2) Estimated carbohydrates calculated by starting with 100 and subtracting the percentages of protein, fat, moisture and ash (used 8%). This method was provided by dogfoodadvisor.com.

Notes: Revisit two previous posts about carbs: 11/18/20 and 11/19/2010. This post was updated on 2/1/2011. Thanks!

January 30, 2011

A list is only as strong as its weakest link.

FYI only - The Whole Dog Journal released its new 2011 Dry Dog Food Review! When I consider a new dry dog food for Josey & Lucas' rotation, I do the following:
  • Review the latest WDJ dry food list
  • Visit manufacturer's website to find: % protein/% fat/% carbohydrates; kcals per cup; and list of ingredients
  • Check websites of third party dog food reviews
  • Compare dog food prices on-line and in-stores
  • Talk to folks
Sum of all the information I collect on a new dry dog food helps me quickly sort the good and the bad. The extra homework is worth the hassle!

January 22, 2011

When you know better you do better.

Recently, two articles caught my eye: The New York Times  "A Sniff of Home Cooking for Dogs and Cats" and The Whole Dog Journal "No Bones About It" (January 2011). An article for the masses and another for the informed which combined balances what I know already. Variety and rotation of good food (and lots of love & exercise) are right for my border collies.

Also, I've been in touch with Natasha's Food For Paws who make quality cooked foods for dogs (and cats). They may consider entering the Sacramento market after achieving success in San Francisco. Food For Paws has three formulas for dogs: Turkey & Buckwheat, Beef & Millet, and Chicken & Oats. Each formula is approximately 75% protein, 15% grains, and 10% vegetables.

I'm excited about the word getting out about healthier pet food options. Personal testimonials are positive and prolific but still anecdotal to the pet food industry and their vets. And that's okay.  I'm going to keep reading up on good food for my dogs (just as I do for myself)!

Lucas waits patiently for dinner to be served....

Josey pouts while she waits for her dinner...

January 5, 2011

There are no rules in fights with girls. Just hurting.

There are good girls and there are bad girls.
Josey & Tess put their differences aside
- just for a few seconds-
and let me take their photo.

This is the best I can do with all three together .


Yes, that's right Tess...gotta go.
Good-bye my darling!
Tomorrow Tess will begin her journey
to her Forever Home in Oregon!

I'm going to miss her so very much.
Lucas too.

January 1, 2011

Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. And today? Today is a gift. That's why we call it the present.

Happy New Year 
from Around the Dog Bowl!

Don't look back and dwell in the past...
Don't worry about the future too much...
Enjoy the right now...it is a lot more fun!

Thank you for visiting! 
Looking forward to  sharing 2011 with you!