Changes in Dog Food – Better or Just More Expensive?

We all know that I’m pretty damn old, but while that age brings with it a gray beard and a sore back, it also brings along some institutional memory. The other day while listening to a pet parent checking in their camper to Pet Camp go over all the food requirements for their dog, I was thinking about how what we feed our dogs has changed since I had my first dog as a kid.

Back then we served our German Shepard Gravy Train dry dog food mixed with a Gaines-Burger. Gravy Train is still around (though I admit in the almost 18 years of preparing dog meals at Pet Camp I’ve never seen a pet parent bring it in), but for those of you too young to know, a Gaines-Burger was an individually wrapped patty of moist (but not canned) food in the shape of a hamburger. Of course, unlike real hamburger, Gaines-Burgers could be stored at room temperature. Frankly, I have no idea what was in Gaines-Burgers or any of the other food we served our dog growing up. But whatever it was, she lived a long and healthy life.

How different things are today. Almost every pet parent checking into Pet Camp can tell the counselors the protein source of the food they use–from basic chicken or lamb to bison, whitefish or salmon. Of course there is the corn free, wheat free, gluten free, and grain free varieties; the hypo-allergenic version and the vegan variety. Added to this are the vegetables, raw meat, pumpkin, chicken broth and a host of other things we happily mix into the dogs’ food. Then we’ve got those dog food labels: “all human quality,” “holistic,” “no byproducts,” and “all natural” – whatever those terms mean when it comes to dog food.

I know that everything has changed since I was a kid –heck when I was a kid we didn’t have computers let alone something called the internet or a blog! But sometimes I wonder if all change is actually progress. I’m not questioning the love or wisdom of the pet parents bringing in all these amazing food products (heck, I feed Splash a salmon based food so I’m certainly not throwing stones).

So, what do you think? Have we simply gone bonkers with what we feed our dogs? Have we bought into marketing blitz not based on science, or are all these changes good for our dogs and worth the hit on our wallets?

Thanks for reading!