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Working at Blankenships’ Universal Supply, I have sold dog food to Mobile residents in the midtown and downtown area for nine years. I obtained my expertise in dog food through research and years of customer feedback. It is very difficult to find accurate and unbiased information. Only through speaking with my customers over the years have I been able to identify information I can trust.

Most of my customers come to me looking for a better dog food because their pet is having issues. But what about those of you with pets who seem to be doing fine on inexpensive, low quality food? Or those of you who think it’s silly to spend money on premium food for your pet.

“Do I really need to feed my dog better food?”

Pet owners who are health conscience in their own food choices are generally health conscience in how they feed their pets. But what if you are not a “health nut?” Do you have anything to gain from feeding your dog better food?

How about Money? Poor nutrition can result in more trips to the vet. Many pets are allergic to the inexpensive fillers commonly used in pet foods and you never know when the symptoms will start to show. Poor nutrition not only causes a number of diseases and ailments on its own, but also makes it difficult for your animal to fight off external threats. Since you probably don’t have health insurance for your animal, you will be paying all these vet bills out of pocket. A healthy pet, barring any hereditary issues, should only need to go to the vet for accident related illnesses.

Paying a little more for better food can actually cost you less. Better foods have less fillers and more nutrients, meaning you can feed your animal much less. Where you may have to feed a 40 pound dog 5 cups per day of subpar food to get sufficient nutrition, you would feed the same dog 2 ½ cups per day of a nutrient rich food with minimal fillers. While the better food may cost $10 more, it’s worth it if the bag lasts twice as long.

You can also save by buying quality foods that do not advertise. The price of the manufacturer’s advertising is built in to the price you pay for the food, and profit margins are often maintained by sacrificing quality.

What about your pet’s Appearance? I almost always see a change in an animal’s coat and body mass after switching to a better food. A healthier coat will make your animal shine and its fur will be much softer for petting and snuggling. A more athletic build will have a positive effect on how your pet feels resulting in improved behavior.

And finally, what about Clean-Up? This one is extra important to me. I have a gravel courtyard where my girls go to potty. If clean-up wasn’t easy, I would have to walk them every time they need to go number 2 and use doggy bags (messy stool is not easy to clean from gravel). Your dog’s stool should be tight, clean, and relatively dry. Better foods will give you this consistency. There will also be less poop because your dog is not having to pass all those fillers. Every one of the breeders for whom I buy food judges the quality of their dog’s food by examining their stool.

There will also be less poop because your dog is not having to pass all those fillers. Every one of the breeders for whom I buy food judges the quality of their dog’s food by examining their stool.

“How do I find a good food and what information can I trust?”

I would love to tell you that in order to get a good food you have to come to Blankenships’ and let me sell you a dog food. But the truth is, you don’t need me. There is a great website, www.dogfoodadvisor.com. I urge you to look up whatever food you are using now. This is an unbiased web site which rates dog foods based on the AAFCO approved label. These labels aren’t perfect and can certainly be misleading. But without inspecting a pet food manufacturing facility yourself, this is the best indication available of what’s in your pet’s food. After reading a few of the reviews on www.dogfoodadvisor.com, you will know how to review the labels yourself. Some criticize the site’s designer for not being a vet. But you don’t need a doctorate in veterinary medicine to know about nutrition.

Ignore all information about a dog food except what’s on the AAFCO approved label. Everything else is garbage. I can’t tell you how many customers have come to me convinced that they are feeding the best food to their dogs based on a commercial, or because they bought it at a vet’s office. Many pet food manufacturers are owned by large parent corporations and use extensive marketing strategies to persuade consumers. For example, Colgate owns Hill’s who makes Science Diet. They sell it in vet offices and have a “Prescription” line. Have you ever asked whether this food really requires a prescription? This is an over-priced food with mediocre ingredients. There is a specific formulation of each “Prescription” diet designed to treat a condition, but this formulation can usually be found in other foods that use better ingredients and are much more reasonably priced.

Ignore statements on the bag like, “Puppy Formula,” “Active Dog,” or “Senior / Diet.” Unless your dog has a specific condition, a quality food is good for your dog at any age. Feed more when they are young, less when they are old, and always watch their weight. The food manufacturers simply add more grain to a food and market it for less active or senior dogs. More grain only lowers the effective calorie count and creates more poop. Bags marked “Puppy” or “Small Breed” simply use smaller kibble. Smaller kibble is actually better for dogs of any size because it helps with digestion since dogs don’t chew. I sold a grain-free dog food for years that marketed itself as an “all life stages diet.” Customers with puppies were so determined to buy a bag labeled “Puppy Formula” that the manufacturer finally gave in. They changed a couple insignificant ingredients and repackaged practically the same food, labeled it Puppy Formula, and increased sales.

If you are interested in trying a better food but are hesitant about the financial investment, come by Blankenships’. I offer free samples of a five star rated grain free food that I use for my own dogs.

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