Choosy Mothers Choose...

What is the best dog food to feed a 2-3 year old Border Collie? If it is Science Diet like I've seen in pet stores, exactly why is it better? Which ingredients make it so? Inasmuch as it is much more expensive than Purina, etc. And why is standard dog food plus vitamin pills not as good a choice?

Ugh. This is a nightmare of a question. I keep swearing that one day I'm gonna write a book on this stuff cause no one ever seems to understand it.

Let me put it this way - if the question were instead "What is the best people food to feed a 20-30 year old person?", would you get a better sense of the difficulty of the answer? I don't know, you won't know, dog food companies will tell you they know but they don't, vets will do the same - the bottom line is... no one knows. Granted, there are some foods that are better than others, for certain dogs, for a certain stage in their life, etc. But what works best for you is what's best. I wouldn't recommend that everyone in the world eat what I do. I do alright on it but I'm sure others would suffer. I wouldn't want to eat what some other folks eat. So basically, if your dog food works for you and your dog, hurray! And keep on using it.

Science Diet is good - better than the crummy ones, not as good as others. Things that are important in dog foods are protein levels, fat levels, moisture content, fillers, types of ingredients (i.e. chicken vs. lamb), added vitamins, oils, etc. The list is long and complicated. Certain things will be important for certain people or individual dogs. For example, protein levels, fat content, protein sources, and cost weigh heavily in my own decision what to feed my dogs. (Rescue dogs get all the donated food - no matter what the brand). If I had different dogs or was a different person, the decision would likely be different. There is no one right answer - no matter what anyone tells you.

Your last question about the lower quality and added vitamins is actually a bit easier to answer. The reason is balance. Both in levels and quality. We have the tendency in the US to think that if 2 mgs. of copper a day in my diet is good, then 500 mg. a day must be great. Unfortunately, there is too much of a good thing and oftentimes, by adding extra quantities of one vitamin or mineral, you can actually inhibit the production or usage of another compound that might be even more important. And there is also something intrinsically important about foods that researchers have a hard time putting their finger on. Eating certain forms of foods are important not just solely for their nutrient and/or vitamin components. Otherwise we'd all be eating those nutrient pills like they do on the "Jetsons".

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