It is very confusing these days determining just what dog food and treats we should be buying for our beloved furkids. Between all natural, human-grade, premium, and organic labels, there are sadly many ways that manufacturers and various small businesses can mislead us about the makeup of their products. And, their explanations as to why their product is really just fine should be making us buyers beware. So, take the time to read the information below, and to explore the referenced articles and resources.

We do not harp on too many things here at the Land of PureGold. But, one thing that is important to us is the quality of what we put into our bodies. That is why organic is so critical in our beliefs, as you can see at our pages on Organic Foods or Bust.

We do not believe in dog food or people food. It is just food, and whole foods are best. We utilize an organic pre-mix from Canine Life and then add organic ingredients to provide wonderful, low-temperature baked meals. We also like to be proactive so we provide a cancer-version of the diet. Read more about it here.

Dr. David A. Dzanis, in his article, Interpreting Pet Food Labels, indicates that "Many foods are labeled as 'premium,' and some now are 'super premium' and even 'ultra premium.' Other products are touted as 'gourmet' items. Products labeled as premium or gourmet are not required to contain any different or higher quality ingredients, nor are they held up to any higher nutritional standards than are any other complete and balanced products. The term 'natural' is often used on pet food labels, although that term does not have an official definition either. For the most part, 'natural' can be construed as equivalent to a lack of artificial flavors, artificial colors, or artificial preservatives in the product. As mentioned above, artificial flavors are rarely employed anyway. Artificial colors are not really necessary, except to please the pet owner's eye. If used, they must be from approved sources, the same as for human foods. 'Natural' is not the same as 'organic.' The latter term refers to the conditions under which the plants were grown or animals were raised. There are no official rules governing the labeling of organic foods for pets."

In the Natural Foods Merchandiser Volume XXVI/Number 3 (March 2005), Marty Traynor Spencer penned the following interesting article: "Old Dogs, New Tricks." Older dogs fed a diet rich in antioxidants, exercised twice a week, and given toys and other dogs to play with performed better on cognitive tests and were more likely to learn new tricks than inactive dogs fed regular chow. The study, published in the journal, Neurobiology of Aging, divided 42 beagles, ages 7 to 11, into four groups. One group got standard care and diet; a second ate dog food fortified with vitamins E and C, vegetables and citrus; a third got exercise and social play but a standard diet; and the fourth got the fortified diet and the exercise and play routine. After two years, the dogs were required to learn a new trick. The results: 100 percent of the dogs in the diet and exercise group, 80 percent in the exercise group and 66 percent in the diet group were able to perform the new task—but only 25 percent in the control group did. And the news may be just as good for the pets’ guardians as it is for the animals themselves. Dogs’ brains mature much like humans’ and are susceptible to age-related declines in learning and memory. The researchers speculate that an enriched diet and a stimulating environment could stave off aging for dogs and their people.

Handy Puppy Target Weight Chart

7 weeks
9 weeks
12 weeks
16 weeks
20 weeks
6 months
12 months (males)
12 months (females)
   8 lbs.
   10 to 11 lbs.
   15 to 16 lbs.
   25 to 26 lbs.
   32 to 43 lbs.
   40 to 50 lbs.
   65 to 70 lbs.
   55 to 60 lbs.


The Positives to Weight Control fat
Besides not understanding food labels and information, many people have difficulty knowing how much to feed to their dogs and how to tell if their dogs are too heavy? Well, try this method which comes from Martin Zucker's book, The Veterinarians' Guide to Natural Remedies for Dogs: Safe and Effective Alternative Treatments and Healing Techniques. Stand above your dog. Look down and see if the dog has a waist— that is, a visible indentation behind the ribs. You want to see an hourglass figure, with the rib cage wider than the abdomen. The stomach should be tucked up, not loose and flabby. Gently place the palms of both hands against the animal's ribs. You want to be able to feel the ribs. If you can't feel the ribs, your dog is probably too heavy. Many obese animals have fatty pouches in the groin area.

Weight Loss Hints and Resources
  Cut back your dog's regular food by cup, and instead add some yummy pureed vegetables instead.
       The weight will come off and your dog's appetite will be satiated.
  Give your dog a muffin in place of a portion of his regular food. He won't even know what he's missing!
  Provide parboiled carrots which are great for the munchies!
 Weight Control (article by Dr. Chris Zink)
 The Trail from Fat to Fit (article by Audi Donamor)
 Stop Itch: Food from Scratch (article by Audi Donamor)   
  Dr. Pitcairn: Calcium Supplementation
 Homemade Treat Recipes (from Suzi Beber)
 Books on Diet & Nutrition 

What To Know
Desired foods SHOULD contain . . .
Premium sources of protein These should be whole meats and if meal is used, it should be from a single source (chicken meal rather than poultry meal)
Whole-meat or meal should be one of the first two ingredients For canines, meat is the most important natural source of protein. Whole meat is always better than meal. And, chicken is always better than poultry, as this is a general term which could indicate any type of bird, such as turkey, duck, geese, or chicken.
Grains that are whole and unprocessed and also vegetables Nutrients and enzymes have a greater likelihood of remaining intact when they come from unprocessed food.

But, Desired foods Should NOT contain . . .
Meat byproducts Meat byproducts are not handled as carefully as whole meat, and are very poor in quality. They include such questionable parts as lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially defatted low temperature fatty tissue, stomachs and intestines. Digest is particularly bad to see in an ingredient list as this byproduct has been treated with heat and had water added to it to then create a slurry.
Generic fats or proteins Generic fats or proteins are a mixed bag as they can come from a number of combined sources. Therefore, beef or chicken fat is better than animal or poultry fat. And, lamb meal is better than meat meal. 
Food fragments   These include ingredients such as corn gluten, and brewer's rice. Anything with the word corn (corn meal, corn gluten, corn syrup) affixed to it is dangerous as many dogs have allergies to corn.
Artificial colors
Sweeteners To make unappealing kibbles more enticing, sweeteners such as glycyrrhizin, sucrose and corn syrup are added.
Propylene glycol This is a toxic ingredient when it is consumed in large amounts. It is sometimes seen in the ingredients of chewy foods as it helps them to keep moist.
Added salt Salt can be added to foods to function as a preservative. Just like added salt is not healthy for humans, it can upset your dog's calcium potassium balance.
Artificial preservatives (including BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin) This ingredient is not easily detected as companies do not have to mention that BHA & BHT have been utilized. This is due to the fact that they are needed to stabilize the fat in foods to keep them from spoiling. If you have a kibble with >12% fat, and animal fat is listed as an ingredient, then it must have BHA & BHT as stabilizers. However, there is an exception when the label indicates that the fat was preserved with "mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid" which happens to be Vitamins E & C. These are the the desired stabilizers.

BHA is actually butylated hydroxyanisole & BHT is butyhlated hydroxytoluene. In the literature, these preservatives have been associated with liver damage, fetal abnormalities, and metabolic stress. And, there may be a relationship to cancer. The chemical preserative, Ethoxyquin, also has alleged associations to liver, kidney & thyroid dysfunctions, reproductive failure, and cancer.

Web Articles and Resources  
  API: What's in Pet Food?
  API: Selecting a Dog Food and Sample Diets
  FDA: Interpreting Food Labels
  FDA: Interpreting Treat Labels
  FDA: Raw Food Labeling
  Organic Foods or Bust.
 Why Vets Recommend 'Designer' Chow  
 How to Know if the Poultry in Your Pet's Food is Chicken... or Roadkill
  Dog Food Project
 The Whole Dog Journal
 Seeds of Doubt
  Top 10 Fruits and Veggies for Your Best Friend
  Recall Must Lead to a Revolution (includes chart)
  Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkins: Pet Food Industry  
  Dr. Jean Hofve: Pet Food Industry, Mad Cow Disease & More
 Dr. Judith Herman: Home Cooking is Best  
 Top 5 Benefits of Natural Organic Pet Food for Your Dog
  Ann Martin: How safe is a raw diet? Not very  
  U.S. food imports rarely inspected  



Vital Choice Wild Alaskan Pure Sockeye Salmon Oil   
Our Golden Alfie has gotten 6000 units daily since 2007, before that getting 3000-4000 units a day. Boy, what a difference it has made. His coat is incredible, and at his now senior age of 9 (2008), the extra softgels keep down joint inflammation associated with increasing age and arthritis. It is a must-have supplement!

Derived exclusively from wild sockeye salmon caught in the cold, pristine waters off Alaska, this 100% PURE oil is not blended with any inferior salmon or other fish oils. Here's why this is unique: To achieve high ratios of EPA to DHA, commercially available salmon oil capsules are fortified with other fish oils. One benefit of Vital Choice Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon Oil is that it has the lowest cholesterol levels, in contrast to the higher levels found in farmed salmon oil. The freshest and purest oils available, Sockeye contains the highest amount of omega-3 fatty acids of any salmon.

It's orange color is due to the high levels of the carotenoid and astaxanthin (occurring naturally in sockeye) that helps the eyes and cardiovascular system. Alaskan sockeye salmon are the richest salmon species in the powerful biological antioxidant astaxanthin, a natural caroteniod that imparts a rich orange glow to the oil and eliminates the need for added tocopherols present in other brands. Astaxanthin is a natural carotenoid that gives our oil its rich orange color—and is up to 100 times more potent than Vitamin E at quenching singlet oxygen ‘free radicals’.

There are NO artificial preservatives, color or sweeteners; corn, dairy, starch, wheat, or yeast.


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