The Good And The Bad And How To Tell The Difference

Healthy dog food brands > Brand Name Foods - The Good, The Bad, and the 'Oh God, you're dog's been eating this and is still ALIVE?!'

And I'm not kidding either and I'll explain why.

Some of those nasty ingredients listed in the previous post can lead to serious health problems and even death (in worst-case scenarios). Not too long ago, Diamond had to recall large quantities of their dog food for extremely high aflotoxin content that killed dozens of dogs. Aflotoxin comes from corn, one of the ingredients to avoid in your doggy healthcare plan. Another problem that can occur in dog and cat foods with high sugar-content is diabetes. Yep, your critter could be getting insulin shots, from you, for the rest of its life. My boyfriend's mothers cats are all becoming diabetic, and she still doesn't understand why.

Here's a list of DOG foods and the things you should know about them -

Ultra Premium
Merrick / Merrick 'Before Grains'
Taste of the Wild
TimberWolf Organics
Prairie / Instinct
Innova / Innova Evo / Evo / Ancestral

All these foods contain whole meats, fruits, vegetables, and often cater to sensitive stomachs and unusual allergies. These foods all have a wide range of flavours including bison, venison, salmon and trout, as well as chicken and turkey for the less fancy Many of these brands have come out with Grain-Free varieties of their original formulas, especially in canned foods. There's NO by-product, corn, wheat or mill runs in any of these foods. They are available at Petco (for Solid Gold), Canine Commissary (all three), or Pet Supplies Plus (all three).

Chicken Soup
Natural Balance
Blue Buffalo
Solid Gold

Admittedly, I'm hesitant to put Nutro on this list, as it DOES contain Corn and Corn-Meal. However, it's also a decent enough in-between from the 'Acceptable' to the 'Premium' foods. Chicken Soup and Natural Balance have the same no by-product, no-corn policy and are excellent foods as well. They don't have the lavish flavour choices of Ultra Premium foods, and tend to be more grain-heavy, but cater to some very picky critters. Natural Balance has a Potato and Duck for dogs allergic to chicken, and many of these brands are coming out with completely 'Grain Free' options and 95% meat-type canned foods. These are all easily available at your local Petco, and Blue Buffalo can be found at Petsmart. Removed Nutro from list due to large number of consumers reporting contaminated bags.- Lioness

Eagle Pack
Royal Canin

I hate to have to put Eagle Pack on here, but with the recent increase in corn on their ingredient list, they're falling fast. These are foods that're… well, they're okay. I guess. They contain corn and/or by-products, are generally cheaper and are available at grocery stores. This stuff wont necessarily KILL your dog (despite the Diamond mass-death thing earlier this year), but it's certainly not the best. If your vet tells you to buy this stuff, punch him.

Regular Science Diet (non-perscription)
Kibbles and Bits
Good Day Chunks

This is the worst of the worst. Usually no whole meats, or in the case of 'Good Day' no meat AT ALL. 90% of these foods are composed of corn, wheat, mill runs, followed by steamed bone-meal and by-product meal. Unfortunetly, a majority of the foods you'll see available to the public are this grade, and can lead to many health problems. Also, these foods are GREASY, they make your dog's coat oil and often smelly, and make waste large, frequent, and often nasty-smelling. Science Diet I'm probably opening a can of worms with. But seriously, next time you have a bag at your finger tips, especially Adult Maintanence, just look at it.

Edit: A note about Science Diet - If your vet has put your dog on a perscription Science Diet in relation to a medical issue (such as kidney or urinary problems), my suggestion is to heed his advice. Regular Science Diet is terrible for a day-to-day use, but these perscription formulas may be what saves your pet's life.

Next: Cat Food!

Source:Healthy dog food brands, courtesy of Labinnah

Cat food: Meat vs. oh god

Cats are carnivores. In the wild, they live purely off of meat, and off of the stomach contents of their prey. In your home, they also need a predominantly meat-filled diet. Cats do not need added carbohydrates, but in order to meet AAFCO nutrition guidelines and to produce sufficient shelf-life, manufacturers typically add some type of vegetable matter and starch - potatoes, grains, peas, carrots, etc. In cheaper foods, these ingredients motly act as filler; in high-quality foods, the starch and fruit/vegetable content is selected to help maintain healthy digestive and urinary tracts

High carbohydrate content makes cats fat, and corn can be hard to digest. High-quality foods contain no corn, and usually favor non-gran starch over grain.

Avoid cat foods that use soy as a protein source. Soy has been shown to inhibit absorption of taurine, an essential nutrient for felines. (

Ultra Premium (regular)
Solid Gold
California Natural
Nature's Variety Prairie
Natural Balance
Evanger's (makes only wet) (NOT the vegetarian formula, duh.)
Tiki Cat (makes only wet)
Wysong (wet)

Ultra Premium (grain-free)
Innova EVO
Before Grain (B.G.), made by Merrick
Now! Grain Free
Wellness CORE
Nature's Variety Instinct
Taste of the Wild

These all come with a relatively hefty pricetag.

For the rare cat who's allergic to poultry, California Natural, Prairie, and Now! offer poultry-free formulas.

For other food ingredient allergies or sensitive stomachs, Natural Balance now makes a "Limited Ingredients" formula. Meat isn't the first ingredient, but if your cat can't tolerate other dry/wet foods, it might still be a good option.

Be careful with all of the grain-free Ultra Premium foods. They all have a very high protein content, and cats prone to kidney issues probably shouldn't eat them. Even healthy cats sometimes can't handle the richness of Innova EVO, and I personally had to rush to the e-vet because one of my cats had digestive issues related to Merrick's B.G.

However, for healthy cats who can hadle a grain-free diet, the grain-free foods have impressive ingredient lists.

Wysong's wet formula has a really nice ingredient list. And I believe Wysong is still the only premium food manufacturer with a prescription-foods line, and their ingredient list is much better than the Hill's Rx line.

Evanger's is just crazy. One variety is called "Whole Mackerel with Gravy." It is, in fact, an entire mackeral (including softened bones) cooked in a gravy to make it nutritionally-complete for cats. Other varieties are chock full of organic ingredients. And last I bought it, it costs less than Prairie's canned foods. Avoid the vegetarian diet, though - for some reason, they market their vegetarian food to cats as well as dogs. It might meet federal food guidelines, but it doesn't contain any animal protein, so it's not really suitable for a cat's diet.

Solid Gold has impressive wet and dry food. Solid Gold wet is similar in cost to Evangers, and has the consistency, odor, and appearance of regular canned tuna. (This is my cats' favorite wet food, and I've fed them lots.)

I've upgraded Natural Balance to the "Ultra Premium" category due to some of its new products. Its formulas still contain carrageenan, but considering how prevalent carrageenan is on the open market and how little we hear of any intolerance or side effects, I won't give the food a bad rap just because of personal preference.

Wellness has a good ingredient list, but it seems less tasty to a greater proportion of pets than other premium foods. My cats didn't care for it.

Chicken Soup
Blue Buffalo
Merrick (wet)
Pet Promise (wet)
Newman's Own Organics
Diamond Naturals (dry)

Premium cat foods contain no by-products.

Merrick's wet cat food formulas seem pretty good, but they use the binding agent carrageenan to give some of their foods sort of a more "Stewlike" consistency. Carrageenan isn't unhealthy per se, but I used to work in the deli business, and I've seen cold cut manufacturers do funky things with carrageenan to turn mismatching bits into culinary monstrosities. (More info on carrageenan:

Blue Buffalo is available at PetSmart, and Pet Promise is available at Petco. (And at my local supermarket - who'd'a thunkit.) Pet Promise's slogan is "Let By-Products be Bygones;" and Blue Buffalo has "nutrient clusters" (or whatever they call them), meaning the vitamins and minerals are cold-formed and not cooked with the meat, so they don't lose potency - but also that pets can avoid eating the vitamin-chunks if they don't like them.

I used to feed my own cats Chicken Soup, and I'd still recommend it as a food. When I lived near Albany, NY, I used to get it for about the same price as Iams. I free-fed the dry formula, and both my cats maintained a healthy weight. My cats didn't care as much for its wet formula, though.

Newman's Own contains some soy, but they don't appear to use it as a protein source.

Eagle Pack
Royal Canin
Wysong (dry)
Pet Promise (dry)

These formulas are sort of "in-between." They're not bad, and I wouldn't immediately try to convince someone to switch from these… but there's much better stuff on the market. For example, Eagle Pack contains some corn.

Royal Canin also contains corn, and I don't buy its claims that "scientific studies" show how individual cat breeds require "dramatically different diets to address significantly different nutritional requirements." I see Royal Canin as the biggest practitioner of marketing BS among all "quality" pet food manufacturers.

Wysong dry cat food contains corn, which is odd since Wysong's ingredient list is otherwise excellent. Wysong also makes a vegan cat food, which is just plan bad. Some Wysong dry formulas are fantastic, but because of the clear variations, I'm wary of even the better Wysong dry foods.

Science Diet
Purina One
Trader Joe's
Whole Paws

I don't like how Science Diet's main ingredient is corn, but let's face it - there's much worse crap out there than Science Diet.

Iams and Eukaneuba are practically the same, and Purina One and ordinary Diamond (not the Naturals) aren't much different.

Some Trader Joe's formulas may be better than the "acceptable" category, but recipes vary and some are better than others. I once went with a friend to Trader Joe's because she wants to start feeding better food to her cats. We looked at 4 varieties of wet, and 3 contained un-named "meat" ingredients; the dry contained corn. So if you want feed Trader Joe's, be sure to read the ingredient labels fully.

Whole Paws has an impressive ingredient list and excellent consistency, and I once picked up a whole ton of it at a great price at Big Lots. But - the label said "Made in China." (This was long before the major pet food recall and melamine scare.) My cats loved it and there was no indication of health-related issues, but domestically-manufactured foods have better regulation and safety (in theory).

Nutro has had its up and downs. Over the years it seems to have had spotty quality control, and it appears to have had occasional, unannounced recipe changes.

Many of these foods contain a significant amount of by-products as protein source, but they're still healthier than…

Fancy Feast
Cat Chow
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Special Kitty, or whatever Wal-Mart calls its house brand
Store Brands
Anything that includes the words "meat" or "animal" in its ingredients list

Basically, anything containing corn and by-products as the primary ingredients will damage your cat's health. Cheap foods cause poorer, less glossy coats with more matting and shedding, as well as more frequent and more aromatic defecation. Also, much as there's currently a human obesity epidemic, there seems to be a feline obesity epidemic - cats are indoors more and are less active, so they're getting fatter and are developing diabetes and other disorders at younger ages.

To put it another way: When trapping strays, I use these brands' wet formulas because they stay moist for an unnaturally long time. The food stays moist for an unnaturally long time. Would you eat that last slice of pizza the next morning if it was still warm and gooey and had a crispy crust after it'd sat in the box all night, or would it creep you out?

Jayded posted:

What about canned meats meant for human consumption. Are those a good supplement for a kitty's dry food diet or am I pretty much retarded for feeding my cat canned chicken and turkey? I figure if it's good enough for me it's ok for my cat right, plus it's not corn. Then I read somewhere that they're supposed to get raw meat instead. Now I dont know what the fuck.

Canned meat for humans is a good treat, but it's not nutritionally complete for cats. Many nutrients, such as taurine, are damaged or destroyed when the meat is cooked; a cat's diet typically needs to be either raw or cooked from a good recipe.

Also, keep in mind that many canned meats intended for human consumption have added salt and/or soybean oil, two things not good for cats. So, as always, read labels.
If you want to feed raw, look for brands such as Nature's Variety that make frozen raw feline diets. You can do your cat significant harm by feeding nutritionally-incomplete homemade cat food, so don't try it unless you really know what you're doing.

supercheesy posted:

Where do pounce cat treats stand? I have fed them to my kitties forever.
Surprisingly, Pounce doesn't make the worst cat treats on the market - though they are pretty bad.
The same rules for food apply for treats - avoid corn, soy, by-products, and digest. Look for named meats, plant matter, and other, more natural ingredients.

Aericina posted:

Can we put something at the end of the cat food brands that mention crappy food with bad ingredients can cause struvite crystals in male cats? I know if I would have known that, I wouldn't have been feeding my cats junky Purina Indoor Formula for 3 years. The extra expense of $5 more in food would have been better than $1000 worth of vet bills.
Good idea. But also keep in mind…
Shouganai posted:

Any dry food can cause stones if the cat does not take in sufficient water.

Probably a given, but plenty of fresh water should always be available.

Source: Pet Nutrition Megathread, courtesy of jbone

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