Dog trains man

Friday, September 24, 2010

Kibble quest

A quest for kibble? Yes. Kibble. Dog food conveniently delivered in a large bag. What about home cooked or going raw? It crossed my mind. But I have to admit that home cooked dog food in my case is wishful thinking. Feeding raw has my interest and I will keep my eyes and ears open on how it will develop further. But for now it is kibble. Because it is convenient. But how to find a quality that ensures a long and healthy life for my dogs. Surely that must be possible?

I chew this during your quest
Inconvenient doubts

The products we have been using so far were brought to us by the sponsored recommendations from the breeder (Techni-call), the dog training school (Olivers) and our vetenerian (Hill's Science Plan). My own clumsy attempts to find higher quality dog food lead me to Regal Pet Foods and CANIDAE.

Kenzo, our dog, thrived on all of the brands we have used so far and had no health issues what so ever. But would it stay that way on the long run? The list with recalled kibble is staggering long. And why use money on a bag that mainly contained cheap fillers like corn and wheat but was marketed well for a high price, if a bag of quality food could be attainable for almost the same amount?

Welcome to the jungle

Finding better information on dog nutrition to sustain my kibble quest was not easy. I went to a seminar on dog nutrition, read a couple of books, and spent hours of reading and browsing on the Internet, if not days. Only to find out that it would take a PhD. degree, preferably in nutrition, to be able to call myself capable of making a good choice. Suppliers are just to sophisticated in their marketing. As an example try to Google "corn in dog food". You will find as many experts arguing in favor of corn as you will find arguing against it.

I am not going to try to be another expert, you have to make up your own mind. If you go corn, or no corn. If you go organic or not. If you accept meat byproducts. Want fruits and vegetables in your dog food, and so on. That said, I hope you go no corn, organic, do not accept byproducts, want fruits and veggies. And while we are at it, lets add Omega3/6 fatty acids to that list. Sorry, I couldn't resist.

When it is time to find the kibble that meets you criteria you should try the Dog Food Rating Tool on the website. It was a big help to me.

How does it work

The Dog Food Rating Tool asks you 31 questions about the ingredients list of your dog food. It delivers a great recommendation of what could be improved, but also tells what was good about the ingredient list. Why certain questions are asked is explained along the way. Which helps to understand why a certain result is reached.

Here is an example of what the Dog Food Rating Tool told me about Orijen Adult, the brand I chose as the kibble we are going to use from now on:

Your score is: 109 out of 100

Grade: A+


Fruits: The grade was raised because the food contains fruit. Higher quality foods are adding fruits to maximize nutrients not found in other complex carbohydrate ingredients. This is another distinguishing characteristic of super premium pet foods.

Vegetables: The grade was raised because the food contains vegetables. Vegetables are a great source of complex carbohydrates and are being added to higher quality super premium foods to improve specific nutritional values.

Fish Oil: The grade was raised because the food contains fish oil. Fish oils are excellent sources of Omega 3 fatty acids. They contain Omega 3 Fatty Acid. They are excellent sources of much needed Essential Fatty Acids (EFA).

Hormone-free and Antibiotic-free: The grade was raised because the meats are hormone and antibiotic free. Some manufacturers of super premium foods are certifying the meats to be hormone and antibiotic free. We believe this is a good practice and helps distinguish super premium brands.

Glucosamine and/or Chondroitin: The grade was raised because it contains glucosamine and/or chondroitin?. Glucosamine and chondroitin are supplements which improve a pet’s joint health. Some super premium foods are incorporating these supplements in their ingredients. At K9 Cuisine we favor foods that contain glucosamine and chondroitin.

Above is the result for Orijen Adult. I was in doubt on two of the questions. One was the "is the food baked or extruded?". Orijen Adult is steam cooked. Which is a fancy name for extruded. And a question if the food contained salt. Orijen Adult contains a little sea-salt, but would that count as salt? Also I misunderstood their claim to be "biological appropiate" to be organic. Which it is not. I run the Tool twice with different answers and it scored lower as a result, but still an A, instead of an A+.

If you are on a quest too, try the Dog Food Rating Tool, it is a great help. Kudos to the people of for bringing this tool. Anthony Holloway, CEO and founder, even answered my questions on Twitter and gave me some leads to quality dog foods that are exported to Europe. That made it much easier for me as not all brands are available outside the US.

But is it convenient?

The downside of my whole quest is that I did find quality, but found myself challenged on the convenience side. I learned that in Denmark, we are way behind the US on dog nutrition. Walking in a pet shop brings the usual brands: Hill's, Royal Canin and Eukanuba, together with one or two more obscure ones. But not necessarily of a better quality then the former mentioned.

The brands that deliver quality are usually from the US and Canada and are hard to get. They don't run all the products from a brand, but only one or two. With Regal Pet Foods I ran into a delivery problem. With CANIDAE I couldn't get a bag that hadn't passed the expiration date. For Orijen I found only 3 shops (thankfully with Internet shops) that carried the brand.

I guess that on my quest I found a business opportunity too, that would just need some good marketing ... ahum.



  1. This post is seriously awesome - I love the informative content, the layout, and how you write. It makes it interesting, educational, and fun to read.

    We feed Orijin, Nature's Logic (no added ANYTHING - just food,) Acana (which is the same as Orijin, only 3 fish instead of 6, or 3 wild game instead of 6, etc.)

    Currently, Koda is on Taste of Wild, which is a good food, all in all. (We're waiting for our boss to order in the Acana, and I ran out of Orijin puppy food...which she shouldn't be getting anymore anyway.)

    Orijin and our other dog foods are SO GOOD in our dogs' minds that we can use them as treats. They do entire agility, flyball, rally, obedience...and now treiball routines all for a dish of yummy food.

    Which makes me want to ask, "Can your dog food do that?" (I think because something similar is on a commercial?)

    Uhm. You'll have to forgive the book I just wrote you. I haven't been able to say hi half the time, so I got excited just because I can talk to you! Woo.

    Let us know how Kenzo and Viva do on the new food.

    OH! And don't forget to check the suggested amount of food per meal. It'll probably be quite a bit different from your normal food. As you go up in quality, you should be going down in quantity, otherwise your dogs will have way too much energy or they'll get fat! And Orijin in specific is just jammed full of good stuff.


  2. Orijen is a really good choice and it's what I give to jersey as a snack in her treat ball. If my local shop is out of Orijen, Before Grain is a good choice, too.

  3. If I did feed kibble I'd probably go with Orijen. And, it is the kibble I use for Sadie's food ball in which I put 1/4 cup of kibble. I forget the name of the ball, but I fill it with kibble and she rolls it around with her nose and the kibble drops out. She plays with her treat ball about 2x week, maybe 3.

    No small task finding a food to feed our dogs that we feel good about and is healthy for them.

  4. I'm with you regarding kibble, though I need to put some real food -- usually chicken or some low fat meat -- on top in order to get Frankie to eat it.

    And good for you for doing all that research.

    Before I got to the part about K9Cuisine I was thinking, Oh, I have to mention that site and all the great nutrition bloggers on it, including Roxanne Hawn. And then you described it and the dog food tool.

    So I agree, it's a terrific site and Anthony Holloway is one of the nicest people in the universe. I met him at BlogPaws -- and he's just as nice in person!

  5. Nice post! Like Edie, I too kept meaning to write about the tool and dog food in general. Now I don't have to!

    It's nice to know the process you went through. I used the tool to check out my mom's dog food (prescribed by the vet for weight loss) and discovered that it was full of all the usual crap - corn, corn gluten, wheat gluten, etc. My mother was shocked. She brought the dog food back to the vet and got an A+ diet dog food for her dog.

    I've also been toying with raw, but right now my dogs love The Honest Kitchen, so we'll stick with that. It's got all the same things you were looking for. I'm going to check out Orijen for kibble since so many people have mentioned it.

    Good luck with your business opportunity! :)

  6. Thank you for your comments !

    The 6 fish was out of stock. I was planning to use that one too to bring some variation in Kenzo's diet. If I remember correctly it scored higher in the Rating Tool.

    @Karen and @Melf
    Before Grain and The Honest Kitchen are two of those brands that are not available in Denmark. Heard a lot of good things about The Honest Kitchen too. Hope they will come to Denmark.

    Good idea, I should run Viva's allergy kibble through the tool too. Discarded it as we have not many alternatives with her. But need to know.

    What do you feed Sadie? Home cooked or do you use a raw diet?

    Kenzo also only eats it with some cooked liver on top. Before we had Viva he was even a difficult eater. The competition has done wonders for his appetite :)


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