"Dog Food" is a very complicated topic. I first became concerned about the dog food I was feeding in 2010. I “THOUGHT” I was feeding good dog food, but I was very wrong. When some of our dogs refused to eat their food, I started researching it and found online that an alarming number of dogs had already died from the food I was feeding. Evidently, there was too much of some additive accidentally added to a large batch of food, and it was very acidic. It was literally burning the throats and insides of the dogs. The dogs that died had owners who tried to entice their dogs to eat the food by adding yogurt or something to it to mask the taste. When autopsied their stomachs were badly burned. What was most concerning to me is that the dog food was never recalled. I started researching “Why” the food was never recalled.
What I discovered was that in 2007 MANY dogs died from dog food that was contaminated with salmonella. One woman, Susan Thixton, learned the “truth” about dog food the hard way. Her dog died of bone cancer that same year. The vet told her it was the dog food she was feeding. She started researching the problem with dog food and discovered that our government considers dog food ANIMAL FEED. This means that dog food companies can legally put dead diseased cows, chickens, etc., in their dog food, and they do. Here is a link to a video where the FDA admits humans can get sick just from handling their dog food: YouTube Link No pet deserves to eat drug-laden, pesticide-contaminated, or rendered diseased animals. And it especially should not be sold to us implying it is made from fresh healthy ingredients. But until regulations force manufacturers to disclose the true quality of ingredients (food or feed grade), and then those regulations are enforced – we must continue to be our own private detective and keep asking questions.
Susan has created an organization The Association for Truth about Pet Food to try and force our government to make changes. They have been battling with the FDA, AAFCO, and State pet food regulatory authorities. Fighting on behalf of pet food consumers for more than 10 years. Susan recorded an FDA official saying, “What would we do with all the dead animals if we did not allow them to be put into pet food?” In other words, they consider our dogs’ landfills. In fact, they have a written provision that reads, “Pet food consisting of material from diseased animals or animals which have died otherwise than by slaughter, will be considered fit for animal consumption.”
This policy is attracting many unscrupulous people into the pet food market that spend most of their money on advertising, and little money on the ingredients they are putting in the dog food. Dog food companies are allowed to say "Made in the USA" on the outside of their packaging, but still buy their ingredients from China, which is one reason there are over 60 dog food recalls a year. Pet food labels are misleading and difficult to decipher. No one monitors what dog food companies say about their products. They use words like natural, premium, holistic, and gourmet when their products are anything but holistic. Another problem is just because a dog food meets the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) nutritional adequacy guidelines doesn't mean it promotes optimum health. The AAFCO has no regulatory authority. They merely provide a model of pet food regulations that each state can choose to adopt and enforce, or not. I guesstimate that 95% of dog food companies are very loosely regulated much like the herbal supplement industry. They make feed-grade dog foods, and no one questions where they get their ingredients, the levels of the ingredients, or what they claim in their advertising and packaging. The other 5% of the dog food companies manufacture foods that are made in a USDA inspected facility, and their food is made with human-grade ingredients fit for human consumption.
I don’t have time to vet every dog food manufacturer, but fortunately, Susan Thixton does this for us. Susan contacts each company every year, with her list of questions aimed at ensuring each company meets her standards. Questions about the quality and sourcing of ingredients, frequency of testing, and other important factors. She produces a list every year of her approved foods that use organic human-grade ingredients, are humanely raised, that use packaging that is BPA-free, etc. The list changes from year to year because sometimes a big dog food conglomerate will buy out a good dog food company. This is what happened to Primal. I was using Primal and then I noticed that she quit recommending it. They were bought out, changed their ingredients, and upped the price. You can get her list online at this link: https://truthaboutpetfood.com/the-list/
What I have learned, is that wholesome nutrition is the key to a healthy, balanced body and a strong immune system that is able to resist disease. This applies to our pets and to ourselves. The body is not meant to operate efficiently on sub-optimum nutrition. It might “get by” for a while, but eventually it will begin to break down and a host of illnesses will start to develop.
What Should You Feed Your Dog?
I. Raw Food:
Feeding your dog a raw diet represents the most nutritionally bio-available and natural diet for dogs. It is without question a great option for your dog, and there are several reputable commercial producers of raw canine diets. Unfortunately, fear of raw foods has been purposefully passed on by nutrition spokespeople from the large commercial pet food manufacturers to veterinarians who then pass that fear along to their clients. The campaign against raw pet diets continues unabated, and many misinformed veterinarians remain on the wrong side of the argument. The raw food manufacturers use a "kill step" to eliminate harmful pathogens from their foods, creating a "safe Raw" product. Following safe handling protocols will help prevent against potential cross-contamination of harmful bacteria between your dog's food and your family members. I recommend Small Batch frozen sliders or patties, which can be found in the frozen section of Pet Stores. Small Batch also has a store locator where you can just put in your zip code and find stores in your area. LINK: https://smallbatchpets.com/where-to-buy. However, there are many other approved brands on Susan Thixton (Truth about Pet Food) approved list.
Benefits of a Raw Diet
More closely mirrors the evolutionary diet of wolves and wild dogs.
Dogs are carnivores designed to consume raw meat, bones, & viscera.
Dog guardian controls the ingredient selection and sourcing.
Higher in enzymes, vitamins, and minerals than cooked foods.
Greater nutrient availability than cooked foods.
Improved skin and coat.
Reduced or eliminated ear infections.
Fewer, less bulky, less foul-smelling stools.
Increased energy levels.
Reduced incidences of chronic disease.
Enhanced immune function and overall optimum health.
II. Freeze Dried and Dehydrated:
Dehydrated and Freeze-dried products begin with raw, fresh ingredients such as meats, fruits, vegetables, and herbs. The water content of the raw foods is then removed, resulting in a shelf-stable product that, when combined with water, rehydrates to closely resemble its original form. Dehydration uses warm air to slowly evaporate a food's water content, so dehydrated foods are not raw. Because freeze-drying removes the water content without the use of heat, it most closely resembles raw food. Making it perfect for people who want to feed their dogs raw, but who want a more convenient option than defrosting and handling raw frozen meat. Safe handling practices should still be followed, however, since freeze-dried meats are raw. Again, I recommend Small Batch. You can also find it on Amazon.
III. Homemade Diet:
Home-prepared diets are superior to canned and kibble in their ability to provide optimum nutrition for several reasons including freshness, quality, and the ability to control the ingredients. The key is to purchase the freshest meats, dairy, fruits, and vegetables your budget allows (preferably organic), and then add necessary supplements to make the diet well balanced. Home prepared diets must be supplemented with calcium and other essential nutrients. Homemade diets benefit dogs with food intolerances/sensitivities as you can adjust the protein and carbohydrate sources to avoid reactive ingredients. It is just important to understand that if you want to cook for your dog, you do need to give them a balanced diet by adding Calcium and minerals, fish oil, and other supplements. I no longer recommend Farmer's Dog, as Susan removed that from her 2023 list. For a commercial homemade diet I recommend "Lucky Dog Cuisine”, https://luckydogcuisine.com/ But again there are others on Susan's Approved list.
Benefits of a Homemade Diet:
1. Dog guardian controls the ingredient selection & sourcing.
2. Fresh, whole foods provide higher levels of nutrients than
processed commercial foods.
3. Nutrients contained in fresh foods are more bioavailable
than those contained in processed commercial foods.
4. Fresh meat, fruits, and vegetables are more species-
appropriate than commercial foods, especially kibble.
5. Improved skin and coat.
6. Reduced or eliminated ear infections.
7. Improved breath.
8. Fewer, less bulky, less foul-smelling stools than with
9. Increased energy levels.
10. Reduced incidences of chronic disease.
In my view, neither a raw nor cooked diet is inherently “better” than the other. Many dogs thrive on raw food diets, and others that do not do well on raw foods will thrive on freshly prepared cooked foods. Every dog is an individual, and I believe that individual needs should outweigh a devotion to any one way of feeding.
IV. Canned/Wet Diets:
Canned foods tend to cause fewer food intolerance/sensitivities than kibble, and they contain more protein than kibble. The meats are less processed and tend to be closer to their natural state than those found in kibble. Because they are pressure sterilized and sealed, the contents are naturally protected from rancidity, so manufacturers don't need to add potentially harmful chemical preservatives. They are also typically free of artificial colors and flavors, making them more "natural" than kibble. I recommend Bixbi canned foods which are on Susan Thixton’s list and are the only Bixbi product that has the right amount of fat content for miniature schnauzers. Some of their canned food can be found on Chewy.com
Kibble is the most highly processed form of commercial dog food. It is also the most likely food to cause intolerances or
sensitivities because it contains many potentially antigenic ingredients condensed into each nugget. The high temps used to "cook" the kibble destroys the nutritional value in the kibble and kill valuable enzymes and probiotics necessary for a healthy digestive tract and immune system. Even a company that uses "premium" ingredients (like Fromm) is still altering them beyond anything our pets' bodies can normally identify.
Always select a kibble that is made in a USDA-approved Facility. Stay away from kibble that relies on inferior ingredients such as wheat, corn, or soy. Kibble is the most convenient and economical way to feed your dog, and for a lot of people, it is the most logical choice. I wish I could afford to feed my dogs Raw, but I can’t. Don't stress about that, you can make small dietary changes that will translate into huge health benefits by simply "dressing up" the kibble. If you are feeding kibble on a regular basis, try incorporating some fresh, wholesome ingredients, such as fresh meat, fruits, and vegetables into your dog's kibble to pump up the nutritional content, as well as to add taste and variety to his/her diet.
What we feed our dogs here at Texas T's Toy Schnauzers
We use Fromm kibble, which is a family-run business for over 70 years. They have never had (to date) any recalls. It is a premium dog food that is sold in specialty pet retail stores and some local pet retail chains. Fromm contains no corn, wheat, meat by-products, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, or Chinese ingredients. Of all the USDA-approved dog foods, Fromm is the only one that I found that has an acceptable fat content for Schnauzers (8-12%). All the others I checked, were too high in fat. To find out where you can purchase it, go to Fromm Where To Buy & enter your zip code into their store locater. You can also purchase online from: www.Petflow.com, www.GoFromm.com, or Amazon. In addition to the kibble, we add a variety of protein, vegetables, dairy, and supplements which we rotate for variety.
Here is a list of the different foods that we add as toppers to beef up their kibble:
Yogurt or cottage cheese (Fat-Free)
White or Brown Organic Rice
Canned Alaskan Salmon, Sardines, Tuna, and Chicken
Fruit: Organic Apples, pears, blueberries, watermelon, strawberries, bananas (no grapes, raisins, or citrus)
Vegetables: Carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, kale, etc. Studies have proved that adding vegetables to your dog’s meal three times a week will significantly lower the chances of getting cancer.
Organic eggs (hard-boiled) or scrambled
Coconut oil (organic virgin cold-pressed) to every meal
Omega 3's: from (sardines, mackerel, salmon) with every meal
I also feed some of my dogs Small Batch Frozen Sliders which come in a variety of different proteins: Chicken, Turkey, Duck, Rabbit, Lamb, Pork and Beef. I've also used it as a topper to their kibble.
The Four Dog Foods that I recommend to my new owners
Small Batch Frozen Raw and Freeze-Dried
Bixbi “Liberty” Canned Dog foods
Lucky Dog Cuisine
Fromm Kibble (Classic Dry Recipe Puppy) for adults (Gold Weight Management)
In January of 2015, a group of pet consumers got together to fund the most detailed examination of pet food ever performed. Two well-respected research scientists volunteered to check 12 of the leading pet foods in the US & Canada. What was found in this consumer-funded testing were violations of pet food regulations (nutrient imbalances), dangerously high levels of mold (mycotoxins), and very concerning bacterial contamination (bacteria determined by the FDA and CDC to be antibiotic-resistant).
You will notice that Hill’s Science Diet and Royal Canine which are frequently found in veterinarian offices are two of the worst offenders. They have been sued numerous times as well as recalled. My rule of thumb is that if you have heard of the dog through advertising, you do NOT want to feed that food to your dog. You will notice that you have probably never heard of any of the foods listed on Susan Thixton’s approved list. None of the dog foods that I recommend have ever been recalled.
Just as an example, here are the ingredients of a “Prescription” Hill’s Science Diet digestive dog food, called ID: Keep in mind that the first ingredient present in the dog food is present in the highest percent, and the other ingredients follow in order: Water, Turkey, Rice, Pork Liver, Egg Product, Whole Grain Corn, Chicken Liver Flavor, Ground Pecan Shells, Potassium Chloride, Caramel color, Flaxseed, Dried Beet Pulp, Fish Oil, Dried Citrus Pulp, L-Threonine, Dicalcium Phosphate, Iodized Salt, L-Lysine, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Ascorbic Acid (source of Vitamin C), L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (source of Vitamin K), Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Pressed Cranberries, L-Tryptophan, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Taurine, minerals (Zinc Oxide, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate), Choline Chloride, Beta-Carotene.
These are the ingredients in the Small Batch Chicken that I feed my dogs which is 88% humanely raised and harvested chicken, 10% organic produce, 2% natural supplements: chicken, skinless chicken necks, chicken backs, chicken livers, chicken hearts, chicken gizzards, organic carrots, organic yams, organic broccoli, organic squash, salmon oil, organic kale, organic collards, organic apple cider vinegar, organic kelp*, organic bee pollen, organic parsley, organic wheatgrass, organic bilberry, organic garlic, organic rosemary, organic basil, vitamin e supplement
Notice the lack of CHEMICALS in the Small Batch and the lack of odd ingredients like ground pecan shells, whole grain corn, and dried citrus pulp. You should never even feed your dog citrus! There are 26 chemical additives. I can’t begin to emphasize the lack of nutrition in these so-called “Prescription Diets”. There is nothing “Prescription” about these diets. It’s a made-up advertising term. You don’t need a prescription from your vet to purchase any of them. What you want in dog food is organic, human-grade ingredients with a minimum number of chemicals and additives. There are 9 lines of food/chemicals in ID. There are 4 lines of organic foods, no chemicals, and one vitamin supplement in Small Batch. Which do you think is better for your dog? Do you want to know what your vet knows about nutrition? Read this article which was written by a vet: What your dog knows about nutrition I'm not trying to pick on veterinarians. As a pharmacist, I got no training in nutrition. Medical students also get very little training in nutrition. Fortunately, there are veterinarians who specialize in nutrition to helps us through this maze we call Dog Food, which very, unfortunately, our government calls "Animal Feed".
Today, pet parents around the world can visit Susan Thixton’s website to research their pet’s food, learn about ingredients, be alerted to recalls, as well as access to Susan’s annual list of trusted pet food brands for the year. My husband says our dogs eat better than we do because they can only eat what WE feed them. Whereas we are constantly making poor dietary choices.
PLEASE BE AN ADVOCATE FOR YOUR PET!
If you feed your pet a more expensive nutritionally sound diet now, you will most likely avoid costly veterinarian bills in the future.