Penny’s Tragic Story


In 1995 my wife and I adopted a precious little shelter dog named Penny. Her short but troubled life had been a featured story on a local morning television show.

Penny was a small poodle-terrier mix. Her deep brown eyes concealed the more than two years of daily abuse she had suffered under the care of her previous owner.

Penny quickly filled our home with joy and our hearts with love.

A Special Diet Gets Rejected

But sadly, not long after her adoption, Penny developed a digestive health issue. So, at the recommendation of her doctor, she was placed on a “special” diet… a prescription dog food supplied by her veterinarian.

Little did we know her dog food might eventually contribute to her downfall.

From the very beginning Penny rejected the food.

When we reported the problem to the vet, he suggested we ignore her “attitude”. He assured us she would eventually grow hungry enough to overcome her distaste for the dog food.

And we tried. But we just couldn’t do it.

We just didn’t have the heart to starve our sweet little girl. And yet we innocently trusted this doctor-recommended dog food. After all, the can even looked like medicine — complete with its “scientific” name.

A Sneaky Idea That Works… for a While

So we found a way to disguise the dog food by grinding up our own table meat with the prescription dog food.

And that seemed to do the trick.

For years we continued to feed Penny some form (or another) of that same brew of prescription dog food mixed with our own table food… chicken, beef or pork… even shrimp.

Penny never really welcomed her mealtime concoction. She simply tolerated it. Sometimes she would spend as much as fifteen minutes picking through the mixture trying to avoid the manufactured portion.

Well-Meaning Advice May Have Been Deadly

Then, in 2007, things changed. Following an injury, Penny gradually stopped eating altogether. No matter what we mixed with her food, she simply refused to eat.

So, our new vet suggested we try feeding her canned cat food. She felt the higher meat content would be more appealing to Penny.

And she was right. It worked. Penny began to eat again.

However, when she developed signs of severe weakness and visible weight loss we began to suspect her diet. So, we immediately returned to the old combination. 

But it was too late.

Penny’s condition became visibly worse. Her chronic ear infections (which she had suffered from most of her life) intensified wildly.

She lost even more weight.

Then, on December 1, Penny reached the point where she could no longer move. She was euthanized at 9:30 that morning.

The Biggest Mistake You Could Ever Make
When Choosing Dog Food

As I write this it’s still difficult to choke back the tears.

Because of what happened to Penny, I became painfully aware of something… something I had ignored over a lifetime of caring for all my family dogs.

I had taken for granted the nutritional design and safety of commercial dog food.

You see, 2007 was also the year of the U. S. government’s now infamous pet food recall. And we were shocked when weeks later, we found Penny’s brand of cat food was on the FDA’s list.

Unfortunately, we had already discarded the surviving cans. And it was too late to compare the published lot numbers against that official list.

Was this what took Penny’s life? Or was it what we later discovered to be the nutritional inferiority of her predominantly corn-based (nearly meatless) diet?

In all those years of caring for Penny it never once occurred to me that I might be feeding her anything that could jeopardize her life.

In fact, quite the opposite. I had always thought that because I was paying extra for a premium dog food, I was surely giving her the very best.

Yet it appears we may have unknowingly (for a lifetime) robbed Penny of proper nutrition.

Had we slowly (yet innocently) starved to death a beloved member of our own family?

How to Learn from Penny’s Story
and Add Years to Your Dog’s Life

I know your dog must certainly be a cherished member of your family, too. And I know you would never knowingly do anything to endanger your beloved pet.

But what you don’t know could do just that.

Well, now, I’ve finally found a more predictable, scientific way to recognize the better commercial pet foods to feed my dog.

That’s why I created The Dog Food Advisor… to share with you what I’ve learned. And to show you how to keep Penny’s tragic story from happening to your dog, too.

So, give your precious pet the best opportunity for living a long and healthy life. Provide her with a safer and more nutritious dog food. To do that you must…

  • Be aware of the enormous range of dog food quality
  • Recognize the better brands
  • Avoid choosing an inferior product

With a little effort, you can significantly improve the chances of feeding your dog a healthy and more biologically appropriate diet.

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  • LabsRawesome
  • Toxed2loss

    Wow… Have you no compassion or understanding? Don’t you get it? Everyone starts out with minimal understanding, and gains wisdom through experience. Sometimes those experiences break our hearts. If you even read the whole story, you’d realize he did everything he could, with what he knew at the time. And he learned everything he could, to prevent making the same mistakes. In Dr. Mike case, he took that heart breaking experience, and started this website to share what he learned with others.

    How hard hearted of you, that you would mock his pain, and heap recriminations upon his bent head.

    Woe to you, for you will reap what you sow.

  • Jay Anthony

     You’re a weirdo. Always will be. Mike makes a difference through a compassionate act (this website) while you sit on your @ss being rude and cruel. I’d pay good money to avoid being a person like yourself. It must get extremely lonely. Best of luck with that!

  • Debaucheeprey,

    Did you actually take the time to read this story? If you did, how could you possibly suggest that I let Penny die?

    And how could you look at this photo and conclude her tiny little feet were oversized?

    Throughout her life, Penny was always given an abundance of love and the very best professional veterinary care we could find. She was tested repeatedly and cared for by three different veterinarians.

    How anyone could read a story like this and post a comment like yours defies logic and human compassion.

  • Beth

    Thank you very much The Dog Food Advisor. It has helped to improve the life of my darling Clarice who is now 12 and going strong.

  • Pattyvaughn

    If these questions are aimed at Dr Mike, DUH, how do you think he got his dog on prescription food?  What kind of troll are you?  There are no miracle cures for some conditions, you just have to trust that vets know what they are talking about, until something happens that shows you sometimes they don’t.  He didn’t let his dog die, he did what a professional told him was the best thing to do. 

    Too bad there is no miracle cure for whatever your problem is either.

  • Debaucheeprey

    Why did you let your dog die. What was her diagnosis? Did you at least ask your vet to run diagnostics to find out what really was going on? Did you get a second opinion? And look at those feet. Did you ever think to assess her allergy condition?

  • Londonpetlodge

    Hi i forgot to mention above to everyone that reads this …i found an awesome food that has a 5 star rating here on the dog food advisor it is VICTOR Grain Free dog food and the price is very resonable…the Victor regular premium dog food has a 4 star rating it has no corn, wheat, soy or gluten this brand of dog food is so good i started selling it in my Pet boarding & grooming business and ive been feeding it to all my dogs and there cat food for all my cats and wow the difference it has made in the coats and skin issues…and the price will blow you away its not any more expensive than the food you buy from the grocery store (the bad food) just to give you an idea of price a 40lb bag of the Premium Victor is around $33 for 40lbs and the Grain Free is around $45 for 30lbs..i mean you cant beat this price and the quality is excellent!!!!  Just thought i would let you guys know what a great find this dog food is!!!!

  • Melissaandcrew

     Thank you for adopting Bruce-Rescues and shelter dogs have so much to give and offer when given a chance. Good luck with your new friend and family member.

  • fergusrb

    Thank you very much. Even having Coal for 3 days has made a difference. He is a loving dog and I am glad to have him.

    Thanks again
    Bruce Ferguson

  • Toxed2loss

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope your new dog brings you many happy loving days.

  • fergusrb

    My lab Tango just died 8/6/12.  In 4 to 5 days she went from energetic running around to dieing and I don’t know why.  We have another dog Gigit a Shi Tzu and both dogs scratched and had red spots that I could not get rid of.  I found the site of Dr. Andrew Jones DVM  and that started me looking a dog food.  I switched to Blue Buffalo with chicken and Gigits skin cleared right up.  Tango and Gigit were fed Benteful Radiance as their stool was always firm and not runny.  I thought it was good dog food as it was made by Purina.  I don’t know if eating that contributed to her death, but I will never use it again.  I was Googling Ethoxyquin and found this site and love it.  I now find the dog food I fed Tango and Gigit was a 1 star,  the bottom of the barrel.  Also was full of the red indicaters  this site uses for questionable ingredients.  I now have a new friend Coal a rescue at a local shelter.  I now find he is a Labradane.  Never knew they were there.  We have had her for three days now and are fighting a case of kennel cough.  I am now very picky about the food I have given him.  Looks like Blue Buffalo has a good rating,  but don’t know how much he will eat.  Thanks Dog Food Advisor for this site.  I will be passing it on to all my family and friends

  • Cazz777

    Thank you so much for this helpful website. Sorry for your loss I was heart broken reading it and can’t imagine the pain you felt. We have a two year old Cavapoo that has a very sensitive stomach. After a ton of money on vet bills and many trips back and forth. The have him on a salmon and sweet potato diet Natural Balance Fish and Sweet Potato. It has worked great for his stomach but I am concerned about feeding him so much fish. When he first went on the diet I was cooking him fresh salmon and swt potato’s but after a week he began to act very strange and did not want to be around us and did not want to do anything he enjoyed doing like walking and car rides. He got really bad total change in his personality. So went back to vet and he said it was from to much Omega 3. His body was not processing it. So we put him on the Natural Balance. So I am concerned about still getting to much fish. So I have been using your website to help me change his diet. As to maybe throw in some chicken and lamb. Thanks for the info. It is a big help.

  • Kris

    I want to say THANK YOU…for this website it has really been an eye opener….And im so sorry that you had to go through what you did for this website to exist and say thank you for helping us pick a good qualtiy food for our beloved pets!!!!!

  • Wintili

    Thank you!!!!  My Senior girl, adopted 5 years ago, needs the best nutrition.  Beneful “looks” good, and she loves the lamb and turkey formulas, but I got an eye opener when I read the review!  Attempting to switch her over to Merricks Whole Earth Senior formula, and the occasional Premium Merricks Senior Medley and Mediterean Banquet.  We mix her food with dry food, right now its Rachel Rays… but I better use our site to ck that review! 
    Note on flax seed – bought ground flax seed (human vitamin supplement) and sprinkle a little on her food.  At first it was a “no go” but then she liked it!
    Note on chicken/duck jerky treats – DO NOT use them!  My girls triglycerides went from 127 to 852 and Vet said STOP feeding these treats to her, stop giving her anything made in China, IMMEDIATELY. 
    Her protein/creatin ratio is also 2.4 now… so, switching to Merricks Senior food (thank you for your reviews!), adding ground flax seed to her diet, and no more jerky treats!
    She goes for follow up blood work at the end of the month, praying for improved numbers!
    Thank you for this great website!  I am telling friends to ck out their dog food here too!  Thank you!!

  • Valerie Noyes

    Dear Mike, thank you for sharing your heartbreak with your
    precious Penny.  My husband and I have
    taken in 13 homeless/shelter dogs over the past 16 years ranging in age from 6
    weeks to 16 years.  I’ll never know if
    any of the food or treats I fed them over the years contributed to the several
    cases of renal failure or cancer that took their lives but the thought sickens
    me that I may have fed them the food that killed them.  We’ve been through many serious surgeries,
    chemo, acupuncture, all manner of medicines both Eastern and Western.  I’ve hung countless bags of lactated ringers
    from the ceiling fan to inject sub-q fluids…you name it, we’ve been there.  My heart has been broken so many times.  I will always wonder if so much suffering
    could have been avoided by feeding the healthiest foods we feed now, thanks in
    part to your wonderful website.  Thank you
    so much for compiling and publishing this valuable information.  I share this site with every dog person I

  • doggonefedup

     anyone at all who knows me also knows that I love dogs. As you celebrate
    this day, as you remember those who have sacrificed so much, please
    take a moment to also honor the courageous war dogs who stood at their
    side, often giving their own lives to save our soldiers. Don’t let
    anyone who has served – human or canine – be forgotten today.
    Happy Memorial Day.

  • Peartreebooks

    Check it out! Amber’s Dachshund Antics by Barbara Birenbaum (Peartree®, Clearwater, FL) ISBN 9780935343816.  Incredibly true story of how one mini-Dachshund kept beating the odds of survival with blue ball antics until ingesting tainted dog food. Her long life serves as inspiration to those who might want to give up when life throws them a curve ball. Life story also includes original saying, color photos and poem, “Devoted Dog.” Recommended by Mary Matalin, VP Humane Society of Washington, DC. http:[email protected]:disqus .com. Available from Follett, Brodart, barnesandnoble,

  • Melissa

    I was recommened to your site by Jim the owner of the Pet Fancy Pet Store, Roswell, GA!  I am a certified dog trainer who is education myself about canine nutrition because it can play a role in the dog’s behavior. 
    I am looking for a well balanced dog food for my aging border collie who is on thyroid medication and possibly has cushings disease.  He has shown a disinterest with his normal food and your site is helping me make an educated decission with what dry food to give him.  I also give my border collie raw human veggies/fruit, oatmeal and differnt meats with his dry food but I feel he needs a better dry food than what I am giving him.  You’re website is helping make an educated decission.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to educate the public with what dry dog foods are good and what aren’t so good.  Hogan is my buddy and I want to give him what he needs to feel good and enjoy his golden years. 

    Thank you,


  • Kristin Evans

    Dear Mike…
    What an amazing website/blog you have created!  There is a special place in heaven for angels like you!  Bless you for the immense time and effort you obviously invest in this informative, impartial, user-friendly site.

    My belated condolences for the loss of your beloved Penny~you have ensured that her life and tragic death were not in vain.

    Your great research, information, ratings, and helpful links were compelling and vital to my decision to switch my six “kids” (ages 2-14 y/o, all but 1 are JRTs) from what I thought was a quality product (Innova – used for 10+years and heretofore uninformed about Natura’s sale/sell-out to P&G almost 2 yrs ago-ugh!) to a healthier, grain-free kibble (Dogswell Nutrisca).  We are hopeful that this new diet will prove beneficial for our diabetic “son” and allow us to discontinue long-term Prednisone use for allergies not alleviated by the gluten-free (but NOT grain-free) food & treats we had adhered to for six years.

    Thank you, thank you, and thank you again for your dedication and passion to this subject.

    Kristin Evans
    (pet Mama to: Cassie, Peanut, Doc, Petunia, Conner, & Buttercup)

  • Beagle Mom

    Thank you so much for your response and articles. You  provided the information/answer I was asking for – there is no way to guarantee the origin or quality of ingredients. Your site is a goldmine of information – thank you.

  • Hi Beagle Mom,

    You asked, “How does one find out if any of the ingredients, including premixes, have been imported from China or other unregulated source?”

    Unfortunately, since each batch can be different, the manufacturer is the only reliable source of that information.

    For a better understanding of the futility of looking for ingredient sources, please be sure to read my two articles:

    The Problem with Dog Food Reviews

    Still Think Your Dog’s Food Is 100% China Free?

    Hope this helps.

  • Beagle Mom

    Mike, I have just discovered your site – I am so thankful you are sharing this information. Thank You! My husband and I share your grief as we, too, lost a beloved pet as a result of toxic Chinese dog food ingredients. Bailey was a very sweet, active, seemingly healthy 7 year old AKC beagle when on a Thursday afternoon in 2007 he started shaking uncontrollably and by Monday morning he was gone – renal failure. The emergency care vet and our regular vets tried all they knew to do to reverse the failure, but it didn’t work, his system was totally overwhelmed. We did not know toxic dog food was the cause of his sudden death at the time. We continue to search for the best dog food (dry) for our beagle boys Charlie and Noah Dillon. Currently they are on Victor Dog Food products; they gobble it up and they have beautiful coats/skin. But there is always a question at the back of our minds, wondering if ALL the ingredients are safe? How does one find out if any of the ingredients, including premixes, have been imported from China or other unregulated source? From looking at your site today I do not see this addressed explicitly in the reviews or articles. What do you know about the source of premixes, safety, etc.? Thank you for any light you can shed on this.   

  • Cindybaughaprn

    I’d just like to thank you for taking the time to do the extensive research you’ve done here to assist us in making healthier and more knowledgible choices for our dogs/loved ones. It’s obvious that you are dedicated to a great cause, and for your time and comittment, I’m very grateful.

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  • Dianna E

    Hey Mike this one of your oldest (not in age) patients. My 2 small dogs, would rather starve than eat dry food. I am assuming that canned food is just as good for them. It seems that most people use dry food, but I leave the dry food there and it seems that they hardly eat any, so I have decided to give them canned food. They eat it fine. I have been feeding them canned Iams, but I think I will change to Blue Buffalo, because I can get it from PetSmart.

  • ShamelessRawFoodie

    Tracie – ‘Science Diet Scam’ referenced by Sandi is a good explanation of the problem that pet parents encounter with too many vets, and explains how a “self-respecting vet who cares about animals” could be “recommending a food” like Science Diet.

    On the ‘Commercial Dog Foods’ link referenced by Sandi, please read with caution the section on menadione. The writer, Mary Straus of DogAware, states “I would not avoid a food just because it contains this ingredient.” But Mike Sagman offers this article with information about synthetic vitamin K3, ‘The Controversy Over Menadione in Dog Food’ where Mike states “Until there’s a peer-reviewed scientific study proving the safety of menadione, I’d recommend shoppers give preference to products that don’t contain this potentially dangerous ingredient.”

  • Tracie – Congrats on your new arrival! Too bad we can’t post pictures – I love puppy pics.

    “Is the vet unaware, and is this common? …or could it be that she pushes it because it’s sold at her office?
    I can’t imagine any self-respecting vet who cares about animals recommending a food for that reason though… Any thoughts?”

    I’m assuming you are referring to Hills Science Diet.

    Once you learn what’s really in pet food and know how to read a label, you’ll be able to decide for yourself which brand is better. Mike has good articles for you to read. Check out Article Library.

    My breeder had my guy on Science Diet. I gave my Whippet one month to adjust to his new environment and then switched to an “holistic” kibble. Keep in mind each dog is different, some good well on a certain brand/diet while others do not. Do what works for you and your puppy.

  • Gordon

    Ahhh sorry Mike. I didn’t see that you just posted a response a minute before me.

  • Gordon

    Tracie – There’s been tons of posts on the very thoughts you’re after. But of course if you’re new, it would take a bit of sifting through the posts under various threads. I’ve got to go temporarily, and if someone doesn’t respond with an answer that closely resembles what is believed as the truth about this problem, I’ll shed my thoughts for you.

    People usually here that will be able to give you some good thoughts on this, including myself, are Jonathan, Shameless and Richard to name a few.

  • Hi Tracie… Your vet is probably recommending a dog food she’s had good results with. Our ratings are not based upon expected results but about the apparent quality of the ingredients and the amount of meat that were used to make the food. Why not ask your vet this question. She’s the only one that could possibly know the real answer to your question. Hope this helps.

  • Tracie

    I’m hoping someone here might be able to answer a question for me. My vet has recommended a food for my new puppy that has only rated 2 stars on this site. Does anyone know why that might be? I told her I wanted to transition the dog from a food that I considered low quality to a better quality food. When I came home and checked out the one she recommended, it rated no better than the one the breeder had been giving the pup.
    Is the vet unaware, and is this common? …or could it be that she pushes it because it’s sold at her office? I can’t imagine any self-respecting vet who cares about animals recommending a food for that reason though… Any thoughts?

  • Gordon

    Speaking of organic meats and to add to recent posted debates had with Sandi, I’m happy to report that BARF patties do indeed contain meats that are completely antibiotic, hormone, and sulphur (sulfur) dioxide free!

    I was refreshing up the Dr. B’s pdf product guide because it’s been a while since I last read it and I wanted to read more about the cat BARF patties, for the cat I recently rescued, and it confirms all meats are as stated above. Also every flavour has more than the one meat protein source as obviously does the combo flavour.

    BARF is actually suitable for many ailing and compromising immune disorders. For example, their is the new BARF combo Lite which is the combo version with less fat and along with the Kangaroo formula which is notably lower in fat, are ideal for dogs with pancreatic problems as well as diabetes etc.

    The guide also specifies and encourages for such disorders and others, that one can add low GI (non starchy veggies and fruits), and mashed in a juicer and added to the kangaroo or combo lite formula’s or any formulas for that matter as well as any other commercial raw brands as this also increases the alkaline (pH) level, that some dogs may otherwise find the natural acidity levels, a little too high.

    Anyway, I think I should be posting this type of info under the BARF thread.

    Also you can give cats BARF dog patties and vice versa, unlike processed kibbles which are not cross species advisable! That explains why the cat I rescued yesterday, smelt the BARF I was putting out for breakfast for my dogs this morning (well yesterday morning Sydney time as of writing this post), and was salivating over it. This also tells me whoever fed it previously, was feeding it home scraps of raw offcuts and why that cat happily ate the human grade can of sardines I had in the cupboard when I rescued it.

  • Jonathan

    I get what you’re saying Cathy. Organic is always better. But my main point was than “holistic” is an unregulated term that can be twisted and distorted to mean nearly anything. For the average partially educated dog food consumer, the words “holistic grain-free all natural” on a bag means “best possible kibble”. Even if it’s a bag of chicken-flavored potato. And likewise, while Newman’s Own Organic uses organic ingredients, there is precious little meat content in the food. So to me, I’d rather my dog had a higher meat content food then spend extra on a bag of organic rice. You know what I mean?

  • ShamelessRawFoodie

    Jonathan – “kibble can only be so good” is true since cooking diminishes some nutrients, even if the ingredients started out as ‘organic’. And this is why nutrient supplements are included in all cooked dog foods that are rated ‘complete and balanced’.

    But the more important aspect of ‘organic’ is what ISN’T in the food – synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, hormones, antibiotics, GMO, irradiation, and even nonsynthetic arsenic and strychnine. When these chemicals and treatments are part of plant or livestock growth, they don’t simply disappear when the food is cooked. So your mainstream, non-organic kibble is made with ingredients that have the remnants of all of these questionable substances. And your dog is ingesting, and oftentimes retaining, those poisons.

    There is always the argument that regulation is lacking, whereby certified organic farmers can violate the rules. Of course there are violators of any law, policy or rule, which is why I advocate KNOW YOUR FARMER, KNOW YOUR FOOD. But with ‘organic’, I feel confident that I’m avoiding most poisons.

  • Jonathan

    I have always been under the impression that the term “holistic” is kind of a wishy-washy type term anyways. It’s certainly a term the pet food industry has wiped it’s butt with. What is “holistic” about a bag of fish flavored rice as far as dogs are concerned? Yet there are tons of “holistic” branded dog foods that are nothing more than that. I think “holistic” and “natural” are hot-button marketing words. “Organic”, consequently, does have a government required meaning. Yet I still question why it’s necessary to use organic ingredients for their higher nutrient levels because that’s going to be cooked right out anyways. Organic Raw foods I get. But kibble? I think we can all agree that kibble can only be so good. As long as the ingredients listed are not industrial by-products and/or meat items that can potential contain dead pets and road kill, then I’m happy with it. As far as kibble goes. Holistic is commercial. It’s just an advertising term with no legal definition.

  • ShamelessRawFoodie

    Sandi – You oddly requested “Gordon & Cathy – can you tell us your background and involvement with this site.” It now seems you made this inquiry because you thought we were enlisted to generate “a large amount of traffic, time spent on the site, etc”?

    It’s a shame that disagreeing with you leads you to believe that we have covert motives. I have no ulterior motive and have made comments about my background on many DFA posts. Like Gordon, I have some experience with legal, court, government business. My background also includes auditing, financial counseling and investigative work. We probably tend to notice the ‘details’ more than some.

    Sandi, you also write “since you don’t have a medical or nutrition background, I think it wise to be careful what you write, people tend to believe what they read.”
    I don’t need a medical or nutrition background to know how to eat, which is one of the most basic functions we humans, and wolves, have managed for eons without ‘expert’ assistance.

  • Gordon

    Could be Shameless? I would just prefer she keep an open mind and not jump to conclusions. We’ve both, including others have said nice things about her, as well as freely admitting that she indeed has input a great deal of interesting information.

    I just don’t understand why some are just so sensitive when questioned. We’re all human and we can all and do learn from each other!

  • ShamelessRawFoodie

    Hey Gordon – Nice to see that you gave the ‘long version’ answer to Sandi of holistic/commercial.
    I’ve also wondered about Sandi ‘wanting to just promote her book here as the be all end all’.
    I don’t doubt that her book has a pile of helpful information to pet parents. But I’m guessing that we are piercing some holes in some of her logic presented in her book. Maybe her book is printed with her comment “holistic foods are better than commercial” and now we are pointing out a problem with using this phrase. IDK.

  • Gordon

    Wow, Shameless, talk about submitting a comment in the exact same minute. You must have just beaten me by seconds, lol

  • ShamelessRawFoodie

    Sandi – About me and Gordon, you write that we “don’t know the difference between holistic & commercial. It’s not a terminology I made up.”

    For pet food, there isn’t any regulation or legal definition of ‘holistic’. You can research FDA, AAFCO, etc.
    So, any pet food brand labeled as holistic is a commercial pet food.
    Certain manufacturers label their products with terms such as premium, ultra premium, natural and holistic. Such terms currently have no legal definitions. #

  • Gordon

    So Sandi – It seems to have bothered you plenty. You wrote “FADE OUT” and yet you still want the last word.

    Calm down. Try not to be so defensive. I’ve made plenty of errors myself and admit I, too, have learned quite a bit from this site as well as many others. It’s OK to make an error and someone else to correct it or at least explain why they think you got it wrong. Wasn’t I objective and nice to you in my elaboration of what I know to be “commercial”? I mean, I only have an Associate Diploma in Electrical Engineering, a Bachelor degree in Electrical Technology and when I’m ready, only need another 6 months at Uni to complete my degree in Electrical Engineering. I also deal with solicitors (Lawyers) in my current profession and know and how the legal courts operate, and you’d then be surprised and disappointed to know that my argument that “holistic” marketplace foods are commercial items for the public to have purchase access to! It’s not an opinion. It is a fact.

    You just don’t seem to understand that anything available for purchase in the market place to the public is “commercial”. To write a book, should take one to have a basic vocabulary, and understanding of legal meanings, surely?

    A product can be marketed as “holistic”, but is still a commercial product. How can you not see this?

    And regarding Shameless’s (Cathy’s) ‘HUH’ remark, I get plenty of that type of attitude from a particular someone else here. It’s as if they just don’t have anything nice to say about you and just knit pick on what you say may be debatable. I won’t mention that person’s name because it did bother me at first, but I don’t give this person a second thought anymore, because he or she seems to wait in the shadows then pounce on a questionable statement and yet has hardly ever gave any substantial and helpful advice.

    This is not the same about Cathy, to you Sandi, nor anyone else, and she has also at times commended on your informative input.

    I may have now been mistaken in my impression that you’re a “caring and warm hearted person”. It appears to me, that you may be only accepting that it is your way or the highway, and that you could be wanting to just promote your book here as the be all end all. IDK.

    incorporating the concept of holism in theory or practice: holistic psychology.
    identifying with principles of holism in a system of therapeutics, especially one considered outside the mainstream of scientific medicine, as naturopathy or chiropractic, and usually involving nutritional measures.”

    World English Dictionary:-

    “— adj
    1. of or relating to a doctrine of holism
    2. of or relating to the the medical consideration of the complete person, physically and psychologically, in the treatment of a disease”

    “Definition of HOLISTIC
    : of or relating to holism
    : relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts ”

    of, pertaining to, or characteristic of commerce.
    engaged in commerce.
    prepared, done, or acting with sole or chief emphasis on salability, profit, or success: a commercial product; His attitude toward the theater is very commercial.”

    Radio and Television . a paid advertisement or promotional announcement.
    (in U.S. government grading of beef)
    a low-quality grade of beef between standard and utility.
    a cut of beef of this grade.
    British Informal . a traveling salesperson.”

    World English Dictionary:-

    “— adj
    1. of, connected with, or engaged in commerce; mercantile
    2. sponsored or paid for by an advertiser: commercial television
    3. having profit as the main aim: commercial music
    4. (of goods, chemicals, etc) of unrefined quality or presentation and produced in bulk for use in industry”

    “Definition of COMMERCIAL
    a (1) : occupied with or engaged in commerce or work intended for commerce (2) : of or relating to commerce (3) : characteristic of commerce (4) : suitable, adequate, or prepared for commerce b (1) : being of an average or inferior quality (2) : producing artistic work of low standards for quick market success
    a : viewed with regard to profit
    b : designed for a large market
    : emphasizing skills and subjects useful in business

    : supported by advertisers ”

    “Legal Dictionary

    Main Entry: com·mer·cial
    Function: adjective
    : of or relating to commerce — com·mer·cial·ly adverb
    Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Law, © 1996 Merriam-Webster, Inc. ”

    Now, sure, holistic is a good choice of word to advertise foods that a manufacturer wants to be seen a an alternative holistically healthier food that may be seen as even medicinal. However, same is a commercial product by its very definition, as such are available to be accessed by the public and therefore are also commercial products, be it “holistic’ alternatives to mainstream commercial counterparts.

    So you don’t feel bad at all. That’s good. I’m glad for you. I am happy to continue to discuss or even further elaborate the facts and will not use “FADE OUT”. 🙂

  • ShamelessRawFoodie

    Whoa! Yes, Jonathan, a wee bit confusing. I’ve missed your comments! We’ll soon know how well, and how often, you can type while holding 2 babies!
    I think you missed the thread about dried herbs and feng shui! Reading that would help shed some light on this thread.

  • Jonathan

    Um, I have no idea what she’s talking about. anyone else lost?

  • Mike & Gordon – Not an odd question at all. I’m referring to the dialogue between myself, Cathy & Gordon on:

    ShamelessRawFoodie July 20, 2011 at 12:52 pm
    Sandy – You write “I think the holistic foods are better than commercial . . .”? HUH ? What is a holistic food? In what aspects is a ‘holistic’ food better than a ‘commercial’ food? Aren’t the DFA-reviewed foods all ‘commercial’ foods? Or are some foods ‘holistic’ and some foods ‘commercial?”

    I was shocked by that response and Gordon’s follow-up since both are constantly providing advice to others yet they don’t know the difference between holistic & commercial. It’s not a terminology I made up. I worked for a pet related internet company & I know in order to get sponsors, you need to have a large amount of traffic, time spent on the site, etc. I thought that was their MO to keep that thread going.

    Gordon & Cathy – Here’s another opinion, in addition to my holistic vets & Melissa, re: feeding raw to a dog with a compromised immune system:

    IMO, since you don’t have a medical or nutrition background, I think it wise to be careful what you write, people tend to believe what they read.

    My last remark on this subject for Gordon: “When I say “raw is king”, I do, because it is.”

    If that is the case, I wouldn’t think you’d be feeding Artemis and would feed totally raw. To me, feeding raw is grinding up fresh organic meats, organs, bones in a balanced diet not opening a frozen patty. There is another risk in buying store bought “raw” if it’s not stored properly or something happens in-transit, but that’s another discussion I’m not getting into. Once again, and if you go back to read what I wrote, I’m not trying to convince you not to feed raw.

    “So Sandi – Don’t feel bad about people disagreeing with you. It’s a right and forms part of freedom and liberty to do so.”

    I don’t feel bad at all. Everyone is entitled to their opinion! I previously wrote FADE OUT – means picture darkens & disappears. I’m not further debating any of the above. FADE OUT

  • Robin Senor

    Mike, I had no idea that was why you started this site. I cannot begin to fathom your loss, and then to have corporate lackeys like Samantha above add insult to injury…well…you’re a saint for not having yanked that nonsense the day it went up.

    I hope you gain some comfort in knowing your efforts have truly helped enrich, and I’m sure in many cases, save the lives of millions of dogs. I know thanks to your research my dogs have lived longer and healthier lives; I’ve been feeding them Orijen for three years. We just switched vets due to a move and after her senior blood panel came back, our vet told us our corgi is extrodinarily healthy for her age based on her medical profile (and she was happy to hear we are feeding orijen!).

    Now, we have helped save the life of another dog who had miserable food intolerances…unfortunately his vet had him on a hills low-allergen formula, so we are slowly moving him off that onto something better. Thank you for all you do.

  • Gordon

    Sandi – That is an odd question, but you just may be mistakenly thinking that we’re some sort of affiliates with Mike’s website. Not the case at all.

    Our, or perhaps I should just speak for myself on this one. I have no further or less involvement with this website than you, Sandi. I’m just another commenter/poster, posting comments on this site just like you.

    Jonathan’s comment about being knocked out of the top spot is only because I’ve made more recent postings in the last 60 days. That’s all. Even you can take the top spot if you were to make more postings than anyone else in any given last 60 day lot. Jonathan, just hasn’t been making as many postings as he usually does because let’s face it, he has a much bigger priority with his partner expecting twins any day.

    As for my back ground? That’s for me to know and you to not find out, lol. 😛

    Seriously though, my education has nothing to do with canine nutrition or canine related. I have an avid interest in it, and one doesn’t have to be a qualified expert in same to comment and impart any knowledge on the subject. Mike is a good example of that, being a human dentist.

    My current profession/occupation is not related to my education either. Let’s just say I’m in surveillance type work. And no, not website surveillance.

  • Mike P

    Sandi , the flies seem to have been alot less lately . Why the backround check on Cathy and Gordo ? Seems odd u would ask that …

  • Jonathan – Best of luck with your babies. I’m sure your newborns will keep you pretty busy – we’ll understand if we never hear from you again. 🙂

    Hi Mike P. – how’s the fly situation???

  • Gordon & Cathy – can you tell us your background and involvement with this site. Thanks!

  • Mike P

    Jonathan thanks , and all the best to you , your wife , and the babies . Hi Sadie … Keep me posted

  • Jonathan

    Hey Mike P, no babies yet… but any day now! That’s why i haven’t been posting much… Gordo and Cathy both knocked me outta the number one spot! lol oh well. As far as grain free, yes, I think TOTW is the cheapest. Perfectly Natural has a grain-free coming out that should be in the price ball-park, I just don’t know when or how much.

  • Gordon

    Actually, I take your points, Michelle, Jonathan, and J Aaron. Such unwarranted comments do need to be addressed, for the reasons you mention J Aaron.

    Yes I’m all for symbolically ‘bashing’ Samantha for her ridiculous trouble stirring comments!

  • Mike P

    Jonathan , good to hear from ya ! I always read your post . Did you have your babies ??? To make this ok , as I ripped people here in the past for not talking about the food lol . What is the most affordable grain free dog food ? Fromms went up 7 bucks as did Before grain and Wellness Core . Thinking TOTW is the lowest cost …

  • J Aaron

    I think false and ignorant statements need to be addressed, otherwise other ignorant people reading here may think she’s right and we’re unable to answer her charges. My intent was to call into question her “expertise” on the matter and who’s feeding her her information.

    Of course, as always, Mike handled it well, and I’ve appreciated the other comments also.

  • Jonathan

    While I do sort of agree with Gordon, I also love all the bashing of Samantha and her mean-spirited crap that every one has thrown at her. Hey Samantha, how about you eat Science Diet for 30 days then let us know how you’re feeling? Hey, when your anal glands become inflamed, do you scooch across the living-room carpet or just troll on blogs until you feel better? lol

  • Michelle

    Richard Darlington- WELL SAID!!!!!!! To Gordon- maybe your right, but when someone writes something so completely distasteful and ignorant, you just really feel the need to respond to their outrageous comments. You really have to question her motives and sometimes you just have to call a bitch a bitch……….

  • Gordon

    Guys – You have just provided Samantha with the attention she hoped for, and is being entertained by. She has done a runner and is no doubt reading the fallout.

    I wouldn’t have even paid any attention to such a comment, let alone dignify it with a response.

  • There’s nothing I can add after reading everyone’s comments except:

    “What you didn’t mention was how the manufacturers of the veterinary food diets financially supported the owners of animals that were suffering from renal failure caused by the contaminated food. ”

    Well isn’t that nice of them….do you think the lawsuit had anything to do with them coming up with a small amount to compensate the owners for losing their best friend???

    “For example, Medical Royal Canin now screens every raw ingredient that comes into their factor to ensure there are no contaminants. Any abnormality noted and the entire shipment is turned away. They use the same technology as used in the manufacturing of human food. ”

    Isn’t that lovely – why haven’t all pet food companies been doing this before the tragic loss of pets – huh Samantha???

    Mike is educating pet parents in the harmful ingredients that are in pet food. I’m not a Vet or nutritionist, but I know when I see certain ingredients to stay away from that brand. My Vet recommended RC for an issue we had at that time. After reading the ingredients, I didn’t listen to him – didn’t want to present anymore problems.

    Hey Sam, how about telling us about the silent recalls pet food does?

    Mike, I hope you don’t take her comments to heart. We are all grateful for all the time you put into your website. I believe in karma – what goes around comes around – you better duck Samantha!!!!

  • Samantha

    Mike has worked hard and tirelessly and sacrificed the time required to bring this site to life in an honest and heartfelt effort to help others avoid the tradegy that he and his wife experienced with their beloved pet. Most of us have made the mistake over the years of trusting our Vets where diet was concerned. My step dad graduated from the University of Pa. Vet school (rated the highest in the country I have heard) and freely admitted that he got zero nutritional training. If he wanted to know anything about nutrition it was up to him to do the research.

    The vast majority of Vets out there have little to no knowledge of nutrition or they would not recommend Hills dog food to anything but a rat – only someone who is truly ignorant of canine nutrition, or greedy to the point of not actually caring for the dogs entrusted to them, would recommend such absolute crap. Mike is far too professional to describe it as crap but I’ll be only too happy to point out the obvious to you…since you seem to have your head so far up your butt.

    As Mike has so astutely pointed out – the contents of your post reveal more about you than any meaningful information about nutrition. That you are such an insecure and base individual is truly sad. That you feel the need to share your rude and cruel viewpoint with others is most unfortunate for all of us who witnessed it. That you spend your energy typing such patently idiotic verbiage in an attempt to protect your financial interests while consciously attempting to hurt someone is a reflection of a damaged, sick, twisted mind and spirit. To attack a man who only means to help others, rather than you electing to get the help necessary to deal with the emotional devastation that must be behind your need to be so inappropriate and hurtful, is the cowardly behavior of a bully…and reveals much about your true character…which in and of itself is quite sad. After all is said and done you will still be the pathetic, vindictive, miserable person you have revealed yourself to be. Mike, on the other hand, will remain a kind and considerate human being who is proud of who he is and what he represents.


    I regret that your efforts to help others must also expose you to the lowest common denominator of human beings – but know that for each of these emotionally and spiritually bankrupt people that feel compelled to project their misery and self hatred on you there are hundreds and thousands of us who stand beside you and who admire and support your commendable efforts to educate dog owners about dog food. I say “Keep truckin Mike, and don’t let the bloody bastards get you down.”

    You always deal with the random criticisms (which are usually incorrect or faulty anyway) very well and are quite capable of taking care of yourself – but in this case you must forgive me my need for a little self expression – I find this kind of self serving, incredibly ignorant, totally erroneous, disgustingly vile, mean spirited, cruel and vicious, vitriolic rhetoric totally inexcusable. A moron too damn stupid to know she’s a total moron is forgiveable to some extent, but this is completely vile behavior by an educated adult – one can only hope she neither has dogs nor children.

  • melissa


    Shading in cream poodles is NORMAL and not indicative of unresolved food allergies. Just as you wish to say that training is required to judge qualities of foods, I would suggest that you go back and learn some color genetics, particularly of the poodle before making such ignorant comments. Since you were able to “pick up” the subtle shadings and immediately equate that to the typical “rust colored” discolorations of feet normally associated with licking/chewing of food allergies, I would have to agree with Mike that it seems very likely that you are in the veterinary field. Unfortunetly for you, the shadings also repeat themselves on the nose hair, throat area and ears-all common areas for darker shadings/highlights to remain as the main coat color faded.

    With that said, it does not take a vet or nutritionist to read and interpret labels. Anyone with half a brain and the capability of researching would be able to(eventually) determine exactly what is in a product and potential issues of feeding that product. Mike has done all the hard work for us and presents that information in a concise and precise manner-of which anyone can access with a few clicks. I would suggest RIF to you-reading is fundamental-nowhere does Mike advise people on dog foods to feed, but rather simply dissects the food itself according to its ingrediant label.

    Mike-I am truly sorry for your loss of this adorable little lady and while shameful that you even had to respond to such comments, you handled it alot nicer than I would have.

  • J Aaron

    C’mon now, I doubt she’s a bitch, if she was she would know better than to eat cheap dog food. A bitch would be smart enough to know which food is better.

    So enough with the name calling and insulting dogs.

    Maybe she’s a nutritionist with Royal Canin? Or a professional food taster for Ol’ Roy?

    Sorry, I was really trying hard to avoid responding in a mean way with my last post, but all this insulting of dogs just got to me. I love dogs, Samantha is not a dog.

  • ShamelessRawFoodie

    Samantha – You can be scheduled for an examination tomorrow to determine if you are evil or just psychologically unstable. Preliminary handwriting analysis results indicate an imbalance.

  • Michelle

    Samantha, What is your problem? Do you get a thrill from being a TROLL? Why are you such a BITCH? Being a vet doesn’t mean that you know anything about nutrition, just like being a MD doesn’t mean you know anything about human nutrition. Most vets and doctors just want to give out prescription medication-they get kickbacks from drug companies, not whole food or natural remedies……. Your comments are not welcome here, and are really uncalled for.

  • Mike P

    Sam must be a professional B@%#H . Anyone who can comment so mean spirited on someones tragic loss is mind boggling to me . When I lost my two dogs to cancer , I was devastated . I mourn them to this day and that was over a year ago I lost my Roxy girl . If Sam is indeed a vet , I would rather treat my dog myself than let that cold hearted person look at her . Sorry Mike that you had to read and respond to Sam’s post …

  • Mary Lou

    Wow, Samantha ~ I don’t know what you do professionally, and I personally have no interest. However, what you said to Mike was so unkind, unnecessary and cold hearted. Are you having a bad day?

  • Samantha… I was disappointed to read the mean-spirited nature of your remarks.

    For example, your casual and unscientific “diagnosis” of my dog having allergies was made from a thumbnail photo of her without any clinical information whatsoever. And your suggestion that I could have been (in any way) negligent in the care of my beloved Penny tells me much about you as a human being.

    I find your groundless remarks even more disturbing if you are (as I believe) a member of the veterinary profession (which based upon the tone of your comments certainly appears to be a distinct possibility).

    In any case, as I state on every one of the more than 500 reports on this website, our reviews are based upon an analysis of the company’s published label information only. And nothing more. My reviews are accurate. And based on fact. Not on their appropriateness for specific conditions.

    What’s more, nowhere on this website do I ever claim to suggest that feeding any one dog food (especially the “prescription” type) guarantees any specific result.

    In addition, your unscientific (and biased) suggestion that a “background in veterinary medicine or nutrition” is required in order to read and interpret a US government-regulated pet food label defies logic.

    Like some physicians who routinely receive much of their drug prescribing information from the pharmaceutical industry, many veterinarians get a significant amount of their own pet food education directly from pet food manufacturers themselves.

    For proof, I refer you to this recent comment posted on our review of Hill’s Prescription Diet I/D Canine formula by a practicing veterinarian…

    Hi Mike,

    I am a veterinarian. Though I see that you are not, I share your views regarding the low quality ingredients in Hills’ foods. This was not always the case. Once upon a time, they were a great, much smaller company. However, in veterinary school most of our nutrition education comes from these big companies who “brainwash” us and schmooze us by offering free food for reading their “educational material” and taking quizzes. I think what you have done here is a good thing in trying to make people more aware of these ingredients. I personally try not to recommend any food that I would not feed to my own pets and this includes all of Hill’s diets and most of the other highly commercialized brands. Most holistic veterinarians have taken extra time to become more knowledgeably about food since what an animal eats can have a tremendous impact on their health, much the same as humans.

    Elisa Katz, DVM

    Samantha… Since it is your professional opinion that only a veterinarian can have the knowledge to judge the quality of a dog food product, don’t forget to check with your family physician before you buy your next box of corn flakes. After all, he went to school to be able to do this. Right?

  • J Aaron

    Hi Samantha,

    Why don’t you tell us exactly what your expertise is, and what is your relation to the pet food industry?

  • Samantha

    I am so sorry to hear about the loss of Penny. I can only imagine how tragic it must have been for you. Based on the picture you shared of your beautiful girl, I highly suspect she had untreated food allergies; no wonder she was rejecting her food. It probably made her feel like garbage on a daily basis. If you were really worried about her lack of appetite, why didn’t you seek a second opinion?

    FYI, thousands of diets, both prescription and over-the-counter, were recalled. What you didn’t mention was how the manufacturers of the veterinary food diets financially supported the owners of animals that were suffering from renal failure caused by the contaminated food. And although there was no undoing the damage caused by the contaminated food, veterinary pet food companies made significant changes to the way they manufacture food to ensure that this never happens again. For example, Medical Royal Canin now screens every raw ingredient that comes into their factor to ensure there are no contaminants. Any abnormality noted and the entire shipment is turned away. They use the same technology as used in the manufacturing of human food.

    You have no background in veterinary medicine OR nutrition, yet somehow you think you have the expertise to advise people on pet food diets. Clearly you don’t need a background in a subject to be considered an expert. In fact, I’m starting to book people in for oral surgery on my kitchen table this week. Would you like to be my first patient?

  • Michelle

    If you would like to sign a petition against animal cruelty, you can do it here.

  • Ren

    I would like to thank you for this site. Like you, my experience with a dog’s death linked to poor nutrition is what made me want to research dog nutrition. I’ve been scouring labels and reading articles for years, and was also certified as a pet nutrition counselor (ironically my program was funded by Hills, and I’ve used that education to reccommend against their foods). Your site is an asset and I send folks its way constantly, because it portrays honest, accurate information without bias or guilt-tripping. The latter is hugely important to me; there is a nasty atitude of elitism and snobbery when it comes to pet food that can really turn people away. Most people do not feed their pets poorly out of a lack of caring; like you did with Penny, most folks simply don’t know better and have been mislead by the pet food industry. I know I was, and our childhood dog died fat with a bad coat, rotted out teeth, and multi-system organ failure for it.

  • sandy

    On their website, click Home, click FAQ, and choose “why is brushtail meat used and what are it’s benefits” and there’s a link that will bring up the info page on brushtail.

  • Hi Carol… Brushtail is a type of possum.

  • Carol Smith

    I recently switched my three yorkies to addiction brand dog food I was wondering if anyone knows what the brushtail ingredient is?

  • Lexi Blevins

    Thank you so much for your website. This website had helped me learn so much about dog food. I never knew that Iamms for was so bad for my dog. Now my little Strider is happier than ever and has way too much energy! Thanks for giving me a brand new dog!

  • Dr. Sagman, I’m sorry for the loss of your dear Penny. It is a heartbreaking story! I still can’t get a handle on how people abuse their pets. Thanks for creating this website to educate pet parents about pet food and thanks to everyone sharing their story, that is how we all learn. I also appreciate telling us your background.

    I wrote “Who’s Your Vet” to encourage pet parents to be proactive not only in getting other Vet opinions, and that is all it is, their opinion, but to learn about the food they are feeding their pet. I ask people what they are feeding their pet and some don’t know the brand name, just the color of the bag. We must always be proactive in our health as well as our pets. If your Vet/Dr. prescribes a medication, google the side effects before you start on it. Sometimes you can be worse off than when you started out.

    We are all here to learn from each other!


    I am so sorry about little Penny. Over the years when I have lost my precious four legged children, I’ve tried to think about Christ’s return. He will be riding White horses….that tells me that there ARE animals in Heaven, even though many say Dog’s don’t go to heaven. I BELIEVE they do. I often see my “best friend” McMuffin, in the cloud formations and I know he is running like the wind with my other babies…
    God is with Penny now. You were great parents.

  • Pingback: Mike Sagman: Dog Food Advisor | Bradley Howington | Blog()

  • Carolyn P

    Thank you for sharing Penny’s story. I am so sorry for your loss.

    May I ask what you feed Bailey?

    I am desperate to find a good food for my 8 mo. old Chi and currently the Vets are recommending Hills.

    She is scheduled for Surgery Thursday and I want her to be put on something that is good for her, and will help her in her recovery. High protein is not a good thing for her as we witnessed with Orijen.

    I’m stumped and on information overload. Am feeling the guilt over the homecooking we did for her that may have been inadequately supplemented.

    With thanks

  • Bill

    Dear Mike, yes, it is sad to lose a pet, especially when you think you are doing your best to care for it. I discovered your site about 3 weeks ago and immediately switched to a 5 star brand. My step son has a new German Shepard puppy, I told him what I was feeding and he said he never heard of it. I said, well, you probably haven’t heard of most of the top rated foods because they don’t run the “hype” campaigns like the other companies. Also, it’s truly a shame companies are not required to list the country of origin for all ingredients!

  • Maureen

    Thank you for your empowering story! It makes me feel confident in taking responsibility for my puppy’s diet!

  • Hi Sindy… You may wish to consider a quality grain free or hypoallergenic dog food. If you decide to use a kibble, try mixing it with a nice canned good, too. Our Bailey loves this combination.

  • sindy

    I cried as I read your story regarding penny. I to lost my sweet little girl last year. I recently added a standard poodle put to our home and I am having a terrible time with food for him. The breeder was giving him Natural Balance and he did OK for a short time and then had very loose stools. I was then told to use Verus and he has flaking skin, red ears and terrible gas. I did some research and found verus is not the best dog food. I also have a 12 year old bichon who just will not eat. I try everything, mixing chicken etc but she will only eat the human food and leave the dog food…anyone have any suggestions. At my wits end!!!

  • kat vogel

    somehow the above entry omitted the book I was is Reigning Cats and Dogs by Pat McKay!

  • kat vogel

    I have been breeding and showing Bichon Frise’ since 1970 and have no hot spots or eye stains due to rotating high quality foods (mainly Wysong) and partial raw. We would not feed ourselves the same food daily so however does one conclude that our 4 legged pets can be healthy fed the same diet over and over? I love this site! Thank you!McKay addresses many food and innoculation issues-order through Amazon.
    multi BIS BISS Vogelflight Bichon Frise’ since 1970
    AKC breeder of merit

  • Helyn Pick

    Thank you for sharing your story of Penny. You have honored her memory by researching and devoting your time to helping others find the answers they need to be able to maintain their own pet’s nutritional wellness…

    In search of answers myself, my groomer recommended your site to me today. I have a standard Wirehaired Dachshund and a West Highland Terrier. Our 1 1/2 yr old Dachshund, Zoey, was a rescue from Our Westie, Scooter, was a puppy from a litter born in a family home. Both were being fed Nutro Max before coming to our home. Scooter, is a love, but is finicky and was having loose stools on his walks. Zoey, a sweet and determined girl, will eat anything that’s put in front of her…in seconds – obviously not finicky (I am very careful to keep her weight in balance so as to avoid back problems). I didn’t particularly like the idea of feeding them Nutro Max so I originally began feeding them Science Diet. I still felt the need to find a better food.

    At the recommendation of my groomer I began feeding them both Natural Balance Sweet Potato and Fish (for the past 6 months). I noticed recently that my Dachshund’s hair has become dull and seems to be thinning on her back end. She is by no means balding but I have noticed a difference. I am wondering if the diet she is on is contributing to this problem. The groomer said it could simply be shedding due to the time of year. Rather than adding supplements to their food I would rather find a food that fed them appropriately.
    I originally was in search of a single dog food for both but I am quickly realiizing that this may not be the answer. I will begin reading the information you have provided and will be back with my questions.

    Thank you! Helyn

  • Hi Lori… We were feeding Penny one of the prescription dog foods (not I/D). But that’s not what finally killed her. It was a popular product (I’d rather not name) that had been suggested to us when Penny refused to eat her prescribed dog food. Unfortunately, that brand was one of the foods listed by the government in the massive 2007 pet food recall. Thanks for your encouraging comment. 🙂

  • Lori Kutlik

    Hello. Thanks for sharing the story about Penny. I am sorry for your loss. You did not mention the food that Penny was eating. I am assuming that it was Prescription ID (Pedigree) or the Purina version of the same. My dog was prescribed this for sensitive stomach (vomiting). He liked it at first – but not after a while. I did not keep him on it for long. Can you reveal the brand of dog food that made your dog ill? I am very curious. I have only recently become somewhat knowledgeable about dog food and am completely disgusted with the major dog foods – as they are all inferior – Purina, Pedigree, Iams, Eukanuba… I have switched to Verus, Blue Buffalo, Wellness, Innova, Evo, Merrick, Dogwell, and am happy with the results. I switched around foods and mix several dry foods together – keeps my dogs from getting bored. Thanks for your wonderful site. It is very informative and I have referred many people to it. I have been trying to get everyone I know to feed their dogs better. Unfortunately, most vets do not do much to promote the better foods. I am still trying to figure that one out..have a few Proctor and Gamble must provide a lot of funding to the vets schools… Thanks again! Lori

  • Tracie

    I’m so sorry for your loss. But thank you for sharing your knowledge with us. I have 3 precious dogs and I’m always on the lookout for quality treats and dog food. I’ve subscribed to a magazine called The Whole Dog Journal which gives yearly reviews on dog food since my co-worker’s labs have died from cancer and could be caused by poor diet from bad doh food. I came across your informative website and love the reviews and the knowledge I’ve gained. Thank you for what you do!!

  • Claire Sellers

    it is sooooo tragic to see a dog die from a food like a commerical one. and bad dog food does suck.

  • tina

    how tragic. as an only child with deceased parents and no kids, my two rescue dogs are my family and making sure they are well cared for is a high priority.

    recently my 7 1/2 year old lab mix and my 6 year old shepard mix started trying to eat their own poop. not catastropic, but wierd given they never did it before. they had been having some diahrrea problems and the vet put them on one of the “special prescription low residue” formulas that cost a fortune but lack a lot of nutrients. when i told the vet about the new poop eating problem she just shrugged and said they don’t understand why that happens and proceeded to sell me a bottle of $30 tablets to put in their food to discourage the practice (the pills lasted about 2 weeks).

    on my own i finally figured out they couldn’t handle the high protein levels in their original food and using your rating system and trial and error have been working to find something that works for each dog. i tried to get it so both dogs could be on the same food but it isn’t working and just like your disclaimer states, it looks like each dog will end up on her own food. fortunately i have your ratings to help.

    thank you.

  • Jill Serr

    We began feeding “raw” when we had a “Carolina Dog” that had terrible diarrhea continually. A local dog trainer recommended AFS “Majestic Raw” . Our dog, Dixie, never had a diarrhea stool again after the first feding of raw food. Our next dog, a standard poodle, had Irritable bowel disease diagnosed by a vet. Same story, started on a raw diet and no more diarrhea! When you stop to think about it, all dry kibble is “dead” food. It’s all missing enzymes.

    Thanks for sharing the story of your dog.


  • Andrew

    I am sorry for the loss of Penny.
    I’ve been feeding Pedigree to my previous dog for the 15 years he lived, and I still regret and sometimes cry about it every night when I hug and pat my 6 month old Katie good night. I’ve always wondered why my dog always had so much stools, but the vet assured that it was fine, “just feed less”.

    I regret not researching more about the pet food industry, and not learning more about reading pet food labels. I always read labels for MY food, but I feel so ignorant and ashamed that I never stopped to think about reading what my pet was eating.

    From then on, starting with Katie, I’ve done a lot of reading and found sites like this that helps pet owners learn about what’s really out there. I’ve also signed up for the ASPCA newsletter and help send letters to the Government lobbying animal rights and treatment, and hopefully regulated dog food industry.

    I’ve been taking Katie to Petco at least 2-3 times a week, and the pet trainer there who watched Katie “grow” tells me that her coat is getting shinier, and better looking. I am glad Katie is no longer on “cheap junk” that companies like Purina “donate” to animal shelters. I don’t blame animal shelters because of their budget, but I am glad Katie is nowhere near that stuff.

    As a broke college student, I was scared at the price of the rated 4 stars and above dog food listed on this site at first. Although it MAY be more “Expensive”, in the long run, I know I’ll be saving money on unneeded vet visits, and I can feed less because my dog will digest the kibble better than kibble that contains corn and other stuff.

    I’ve been telling my friends who are also dogowners about this site, and various other ones. After reading, they too are shocked at what they’re really paying for in their “premium dog food”. Although the friend count I’ve informed is only 2, I’m sure they’ll be telling their friends, and so on.

    Thank you Mike for this site, and I wish everyone out there a happy, healthy, and long enjoyable journey with their families and their pets.

    – Andrew in Southern California

  • Chester Leonhardt

    Thank you! for your story of care and Love, but most of all your Hard work . on good and bad as well as poor pet foods. with love care and Frendship! Chester and Morgan Dill Leonhardt. Brookings OR 97415

  • Judy Zellers

    Thanks so much for your site! I can see its benefits in my two dogs, which we got from a shelter (which feeds Science Diet) a couple of months ago. The dog who’d been there for two months had vasculitis in his ears, dandruff, tufts of hair missing on the edges of his ears, and very little hair on his chest. Now the vasculitis is gone, there’s no trace of dandruff, and his hair has grown back on his ears and chest….

  • Kathy

    Thank you Dr. Sagman! I share your passion for pet food (which is lacking in many “old school” vets). We have two dogs and three cats, all rescues and all thriving. Range in age from 7 to 15. When we first hired a pet sitter, she mentioned a pet store in town and Innova, Evo foods. We fed brands that were famous, so we assumed healthy. Funny, the truly wholesome brands do no national marketing, other than their web sites! I thought going to a special store for pet food was silly. We went and met the owner who, like you, has a degree (from Hopkins) in chemistry, specializing in what’s in our food. As a dog parent, he became inspired as you did. We’ve shopped there for years now. At the very least, I seek foods that are all natural, and ideally, from companies that have their own US facilities and use only domestic ingredients such as Natura Pet Products, Merrick, BG. Tricky to find companies that process their own canned but Wellness is very good for cats. We supplement with skinless chicken, turkey, occasional eggs. Thanks for sharing your story and the fruits of your labor of love!

  • Brian

    THANK YOU for this website! Finally, a place where people like me can go to find clear, objective advice on dog food! We’re in the process of switching foods (to Diamond Naturals) based on your advice and I couldn’t feel better to know that I am providing a much better food to our dog for even less money than what we were spending before! To everyone out there, you don’t need to spend a fortune to give your dog good nutrition! Thanks again!

  • Hi Cathy… your experience with homemade dog food does much to support our theory regarding the little-understood cause of atopic dermatitis… feed-grade cereal grains. These inferior ingredients can be frequently contaminated with insects, mites and molds.

    Many blame cereal grains (like wheat and corn) for chronic canine allergies. But those allergies are probably more a result of what’s in the grain… than the grain itself.

    By the way, we’ve already succumbed to the love of our new family addition… a sweet little shelter mix named “Bailey”.

    Thanks for sharing with our readers how good food has improved the quality of your dogs’ lives.

  • Cathy Whitney

    Thank you for your sad story of your beautiful Penny. I have been feeding my 3 girls a raw homemade diet for over 8 years now. My 9 year Jack Russel Bailey started me on this. She had a severe reaction to a DHLPP vacc. when she was 12 weeks old. The vet told me it was minor. REALLY? I don’t think soooo!!! She developed atopic dermatitis.I changed Vets!! I tried many packaged dog foods, and thru a holistic vet developed a homemade raw diet. It changed her life, and as we acquired the other 2 girls, they have been on this diet as well. One other thing for you to consider is watching vaccinations. Vets love to give them and collect money for them, despite what they do to our babies. The first set of vaccinations in their puppy age is really all you need. Check it out on the internet. My holistic vet confirms this. Rabies is something you need to weigh. I am on a quest for a dry dog food for an inherited 8 year old lab from my husbands brother who passed away last year in Dec. She is currently at my inlaws being fed purina or some other junk. She is a big girl and putting in the labor for a pure raw diet for her would be huge, so I thank you for your site, as I am looking to do a combo of raw and commerical diet for her. I will be looking for Orijen ,based on your recommendation. I hope you got another fur child to be a part of your life, you seem like you have a lot of love to give. Thank you again, Cathy

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