from the berner-l

Disclaimer - this is mainly for the newbies - people new to the breed and/or this list. If you are a 'seasoned' Berner owner, you probably already know the information contained herein. However, you may know someone for whom this email is relevant. If this is the case, feel free to forward this to anyone and everyone whose dogs could benefit. I am not a scientist or a vet, however common sense goes a long way and I am a big believer in the relationship between good health and a healthy diet, both in people and dogs. A couple years ago, I wrote a college paper on dog food. One point of my paper was the importance of reading ingredients, So while I had a few minutes, I read the label of a well known commercially accessible dog food.

What follows is my analysis:

The main (largest percentage - first on the list) ingredient is ground yellow corn. Dogs are primarily meat eaters. Meat should be number one on the list. The tenth ingredient is sugar; generally not healthy for people or dogs and can cause kidney failure in dogs, esp over long term use. The sugar is added to make the food taste better. I know my kids prefer candy to 'real food' but I only give candy as an occasional treat; not in every meal. The main meat source in the food is 'chicken by-product meal,' secondary meat source is animal fat (what kind of animal-the label doesn't say?), and tertiary meat source is 'meat and bone meal' (again, what kind of meat?). The definition of the primary meat source, which I found on the Internet said, "Chicken by-product consists of the ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered chicken, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines, exclusive of feathers, except in such amounts as might occur unavoidable in good processing practice." My dogs sometimes snack on flies (don't tell PETA) so I don't think chicken by-product would gross them out, but I certainly think there is value in a healthier meat source, like Beef or Chicken or Lamb (not meal - but real meat).

The food contains whole wheat flour. A family member recently tested allergic to wheat and there seems to be a correlation between intake of wheat and panic attacks - weird, but true. In dogs, wheat allergies can cause skin problems, including hot spots, yeasty ears, and digestive issues. Perhaps it could affect temperament in dogs as well - that would be an interesting study?

Some other 'good' ingredients, such as vegetables, which make the food appear "healthy", are surrounded by preservatives and 4 types of food coloring, including Red 40 and Yellow 5. Food coloring?? Last time my dogs ate, I'm pretty sure they didn't analyze it first to see if it looked appetizing or colorful. They just ate it. I remember hearing that Red 40 was temporarily removed from the US market due to concerns about increased risk of cancer. Red 40 and Yellow 5 are colorings banned from use in foods in Great Britain and Canada. The food does have folic acid, biotin and Vitamins A, B-12, D3, E, and garlic oil, but unfortunately, the poor protein sources make this bag of food a poor diet choice for dogs.

If you are going to feed kibble to your dogs, please consider a serious review of the ingredients. Don't rely on commercials on TV or just grabbing what looks good. I know plenty of people who eat junk food all the time and feed their kids the same, but if you are not one of those people and you care about what you put in your body, please consider the same courtesy for your pets and read the label.