Throughout my life, I’ve had a variety of pets: dogs, cats (I traded my entire Christmas list of Barbies for my first cat), mice, a rat, hamsters, guinea pigs, parakeets, and more dogs. For the caged animals, the options for food are pretty simple; you basically buy the package that’s labeled “hamster food” or whatever. But when you get to dogs and cats, I swear there are hundreds of options, including making their food yourself.
Incidentally, I found it very cute that Rachel Ray’s magazine includes a recipe every month for dog-friendly dinners. You basically whip it up, feed half to your dog, and then add some salt and other seasonings to your portion.
Anyway, I’ve gone through numerous brands of dog (and cat) food since I’ve owned my own pets. I admit, I started out with grocery store brands (not, like, Vons-brand food, but the brands you can buy at grocery stores and Target) like Purina and Iams because they were very affordable. While I’m a big advocate for treating your pets well and not skimping on their care, I don’t really think I should spend more on their food than I do on mine. Anyway, from there I progressed to more expensive brands like Pro Plan and then Eukanuba. I started reading the food labels (I don’t even do this for my food) and paying attention to pet food recalls. I debated on organic vs. non-organic, price points vs. quality, and various other details. I even own a book on holistic dog food that included recipes for making your own dog food. It’s very involved and also requires that you feed your dogs actual meals, as opposed to letting them just eat their kibble from a bowl throughout the day. My dogs, oddly enough, don’t eat until they burst so I just fill their food container with food and they pick at it throughout the day.
Somehow, I ended up getting a sample of Castor & Pollux dog food, the Organix line. They liked it, so then I tried a bag of their Natural food, which adds bits of dried carrots and bananas and such. This one, the dogs love (Lexi sometimes roots through the kibble to pick out the bananas and eats them all), but I mix it with Eukanuba to save myself a few dollars every month.
Our cat, Clair (who is really my cat but loves T more, so I guess that qualifies as an “our” cat), prefers the Organix food over the Natural line, so that’s what she eats. Because we just have one cat and she is perfect (seriously, she’s the perfect cat), she gets 100% more expensive food. Plus nightly catnip, organic treats, and basically whatever else she wants.
There are still plenty of good brands of dog food out there (my mom feeds her dogs the Wellness brand) and if we had smaller dogs (i.e., dogs that ate less food) I would probably try and do more research. But, our dogs go through a 40 lb. bag in about a month, and that’s no small change. I think both the Eukanuba and Castor & Pollux are good brands (although 100% C&P would be my preference), the dogs like them, so it all works out for us.
Castor & Pollux often have coupons on their website (or through their e-mail list) and you can sometimes find “starter kits” in stores (I go to Petco) that has a small bag of dry food, cans of wet food, and some treats. I bought one of those for the dogs, but I reused the platic bin to hold Clair’s dry food.
They have also partnered with freekibble.com (or freekibblekat.com), an Oregon-based organization (started by a 12-year old!) that donates food to animal shelters. If you go to freekibble.com and play their daily trivia game (it’s just one questions), they will donate 10 pieces of kibble. I’m posting their badge in the left column so it’s easy to find. It takes just a few minutes every day, but you’ll be helping shelter animals get some good food (Castor & Pollux donates their food, not just any food).