Sunday, January 24, 2010

Rachael Ray's Nutrish: More thoughts about dog food.

For the second time in as many days someone who ought to know better has mentioned the new "Nutrish" line of dog food endorsed by Rachael Ray. Both of these reports have been glowing recommendations about the quality of the product. The first person received a free sample and reported that her dog "LOVED" it. Well it's basically coated with "Animal Fat" of course your dog likes it. The second person bought the food because she LOVES Rachael Ray and "Rach"** is someone who really cares about nutrition so the food MUST be good food. It doesn't help that Nutrish is also labeled as a "premium" dog food.
** Seriously, you're on a first name basis with television personality "Rach"?

I personally can't watch Rachael Ray, her sappy-happy terms "EVOO" and "DELISH" make me want to implant roofing nails into my skull. The annoying factor is only worsened by her habit of talking while chewing and rolling her eyes with her "delish face" - seriously, a little advice for Rach: not every morsel you try is orgasm-inducing yummy and I don't want to see you chew with your mouth open... Rachael Ray is probably a lovely person in real life, but her over the top stage persona is annoying and gets old really quickly...

Back to the food though - I looked at the ingredients, which are hard to find buried on the Nutrish website. The first ingredient is indeed Chicken, fair enough. The problem is that ingredients on labels are listed by weight - Chicken contains a lot of water, chicken meal doesn't contain as much - so while chicken might be the first ingredient by weight there's a good chance that the Chicken actually has had water added and there's not likely to be a lot of it by volume.

After the chicken there are fillers, fillers and fillers in the form of rice, Corn meal and soybean meal. Yummmm Soybean! Delish! When you consider that most goldens (and a lot of dogs of all breeds) have some degree of corn sensitivities (or allergies) that's a lot of corn to put into a dog food. Then when you consider the low digestibility of corn and corn products, there really isn't a justifiable reason to add corn (meal or gluten) to dog food unless to augment volume (filler).

Next in the list is "animal fat". That's right, some kind of animal, some kind of fat. They don't have to list the source if they call it "animal fat". It could be opossum fat, monkey fat - just animal fat. Yummy. Now in the grand scheme of things "Animal Fat" is likely to be rendered from beef, pork, lamb and/or poultry sources - but wouldn't you like to know what you're feeding your dog? What if you have a dog with an allergy to beef? Will one batch use chicken fat?

If you're still reading along the list of ingredients you'll find more fillers in the form of corn Gluten meal, more rice, oatmeal (which isn't bad until you realize it's just another filler), then beet pulp...

Next the mineral pack including calcium phosphate and salt, then a few ingredients down the list there are some vegetables: peas, tomatoes, carrots, etc - but read that again there is more SALT in this food by weight than vegetables. Again, no wonder your dog liked the food - it's salt and fat. It's a veritable canine Big Mac!

Look, junk food isn't all bad. Everyone loves a french fry from time to time - and our dogs like to eat junk food too. There's nothing wrong with junk food in moderation. But you can't feed your toddler McNuggets exclusively, there's got to be balance. The same concept holds through for our dogs - make decisions on the quality and quantity of the ingredients, not based on the face on the bag or the gloss of the ads promoting the food.

I know that some of the proceeds of Nutrish sales are donated to dog related charities (rescues). That's great and it's a noble thought - but - if you want to do right by your dog AND help other dogs in shelters (or rescues) there's a much easier way to do it: Feed your dog a food brand without all the garbage fillers, you'll feed less and you'll have a healthier dog. Then write a check for a monthly contribution to a local all-breed rescue or your neighborhood humane society.

From the Rachael Ray Website:
Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brewers Rice, Corn Meal, Soybean Meal, Animal Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Corn Gluten Meal, Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Dried Beet Pulp, Natural Flavor, Dicalcium Phosphate, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Dehydrated Alfalfa, Dried Peas, Dried Tomatoes, Dried Carrots, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Olive Oil, Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Oxide, Dried Parsley, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Mixed Tocopherols, Niacin, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Sodium Selenite, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Source of Vitamin K activity), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Sulfate, Folic Acid


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