Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Awkward Pause

I occasionally mention having a discussion with somebody at the library, where they mention Mr. Millan, and I end up able to steer them elsewhere. The same thing will occasionally happen on the topic of what dogs are fed.

Now, I'm not a nutritionist, canine or otherwise. But, as I described in What's For Dinner? , I do try to be right by Elka, in feeding her a high quality kibble. I also try to make sure her treats don't have sugar or creepy dyes in them, and give her veggies (which she loves, mysteriously!). You might imagine, then, that occasionally I'm in the store near somebody with a giant bag of Pedigree, or Kibbles 'n' Bits. What, then, do I do?

My cowardly answer is that, for the most part, I actually do nothing. I tend not to open conversation with strangers, in person. Online is different, obviously. It's hard for me to do nothing, when I see the Kibbles 'n' Bits, and Ol' Roy, and things like that get tossed onto the belt, especially if I'm in a place like Tractor Supply, holding the bag of Elka's good quality kibble. Because then I know that the dog owners is making that choice based on price tag, or habit, or what they think their dog will tolerate. Taste of the Wild is pricey, that's so, but a bag lasts Elka around 2 months, at around 3 cups a day. She loves it, is visibly healthy, with no coat or skin problems (though I do occasionally give her olive oil on the food as well, to prevent dry skin). I've also heard rumor that a healthy dog is less likely to have parasites or ticks or the like (Was that on Kol's Notes? Yup, it was the January Blog the Change entry that mentioned it.)

I've had the dubious pleasure of disillusioning a library buddy who reads my blog (thanks for reading!) Apparently, this individual thought that the dog and cat food being purchased was of a good quality; I believe it was 3 stars on Dog Food Analysis, and I can see how 3 out of 6 stars can be shocking and disappointing. It's still better than Ol' Roy, I'm willing to wager. 

The one time I did "talk to a stranger" on this topic was when I was ahead of him in line at Aldi (I love food shopping at Aldi. Just so we're all clear. I'm pretty much 100% happy with the products I get there, and can overlook the behavior of the other clientele). He was getting a bag of the dried chicken jerky (Which I don't get anymore for a variety of reasons; one, it's hard to find  a brand that isn't treated with irradiation, and two, a lot of dogs have been getting sick over that in the past few months). He then looked at me, and looked at the cashier, and said "oh, I need to get the food, I'll be right back."  He'd made eye contact, and I couldn't help it, I said "Please don't buy dog food at Aldi." He smiled and said "Oh, it's okay, I use it with beef broth to make gravy that I pour over the Pedigree. I tell you, this dog is spoiled." I paid, and left. He mant well, and thought he was doing well, and I just couldn't push myself to engage further. 

So, really, it's a hard decision to make. On one hand, it isn't my business at all what people feed their dogs. On the other, I could be doing them a service and educating them in a topic that they would appreciate. If a dog is loved and treated well and still fed Purina, that to me is less bad than being fed a premium kibble and jerked around by a choke chain and hissed at. If you can get both? Well, that's even better.


  1. Ah, the dog food. I also tend to keep my mouth shut on the subject.
    I myself, buy a mid-quality kibble as I also suppliment with home cooked food. I used to buy Orijin when Kyuss was a growing pup(I fed him Orijin adult) but he didn't enjoy it very much.

    With my friends however, I always tell them to buy the best quality kibble they can afford. They'll save money in the long run as you often times feed less of a good kibble due to less fillers, and your dog will be healthier and have to visit the vet less often. Also, I find dogs tend to stink on low quality kibble.. so they save money on bathing too! =D

  2. This is a pretty sticky subject for me. Perhaps because I have received some pretty negative comments from some agility snobs who criticize anyone who feeds kibble. I can get pretty defensive about it.

    Personally, I wouldn't even give advice on any subject, especially food, unless I am asked. Unsolicited advice is a pet peeve of mine and so I make a rule to never offer it, even when something someone else is doing bothers me. I try to assume everyone is doing the best they can. Short of actual abuse, I think it's best to wait until the person is ready to seek information himself. There certainly is enough of it out there!

    And as you say: I'd rather a dog eat Kibbles n' Bits for the rest of his life than be returned to a shelter because his owner couldn't afford higher quality food.

  3. @Pennypup none of our friends have dogs, and my aunt and cousin already feed well, so they're spared my tender mercies ;)

    @Kristine: Thank you for your reply. I do agree that there are fewer things that might get my back up than a well-intentioned stranger, in that special tone of voice, saying "can I make a suggestion....?" But yes, I found it a sticky topic, and other than the specific Aldi example, where my tone of voice was I guess okay, or the guy wasn't going to be bothered regardless, I haven't said anything. There's just too much that I don't know about peoples' dogs, situations, etc. I didn't know certain agility snobs were anti-kibble. Are they pro-raw instead, or home cooked?

  4. i'm always trying to find a quality of food that i think is good but isn't $55 for a 30-pound bag. the problem, i find, is that there aren't too many mid-range options--you can only save about $10 if you don't want to go down to the supermarket brand stuff. for $10, it's not worth it. we keep opening the wallet for the good stuff.

    that being said, we recently got a bag of taste of the wild for about $46 (OK, technically it was free from the Mr. Chewy review), so that's a good price as far as i'm concerned. we haven't switched desmond over yet, but i hope he likes it and his stomach likes it.