For lunch today, I had leftovers I found in the back of my refrigerator. My kid had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Murray, though, had a gourmet meal that included organic lamb and quinoa. Oh, Murray is my dog.
When we first got Murray, we were advised to feed him food called “Diamond Naturals” (there’s also a dog food called “Solid Gold”, if diamonds aren’t fancy enough for your pooch) – so that’s what we feed him, “Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food”. Diamond Naturals claims the kibble has “superior taste” (superior to what? A dog will literally eat garbage).
Here are some actual names of dog foods you can buy: Wellness. Natural Balance. Freedom. Does this sound familiar? Maybe it’s because snacks for kids have names like Yummy Earth, Happy Baby, NuturMe, or Earth’s Best. A lot of snacks for people claim to be healthy, natural, organic, gluten free, or low in fat, sodium, or sugar. Now dog foods do the same. The truth is, any food that comes in a package is not “all natural”. A piece of fruit is all natural.
I was in the pet store recently with my son and we were browsing for treats for Murray. My son, who has been learning to read and delights in reading anything he can, was proudly telling me what the dog food and treat packaging said. We saw Fruitables Natural Dog Treats; the label says they are “All Natural – Nothing Artificial. Deliciously healthy dog treats.” Canidae dog food is “grain-free” and “made with fresh salmon”. Another one we saw was “Zuke’s Crunchy Naturals Baked With Peanut Butter & Bananas Dog Treats”.
“This one has peanut butter and bananas,” my son said. “That reminds me – when we get home, will you make me toast with peanut butter and bananas?”
“Did you just get hungry while looking at dog treats?” I asked him.
“Yes,” he responded.
At the checkout counter, there was a bin of gourmet dog cookies. My son – a cookie fiend – started salivating.
“Those are for dogs, not people,” I informed him.
“Actually,” the cashier told me, “there’s nothing in them humans couldn’t eat.”
I draw the line at letting my son eat dog cookies – only because they’re more expensive than regular cookies.
Here is the description of Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food from Chewy.com: “Highly nutritious super foods like kale, blueberries, chia seeds and pumpkin – along with real fruits and vegetables including carrots, spinach and papaya – provide essential natural antioxidants, vitamins and minerals for a complete and balanced holistic diet for large breed puppies”. Lamb, rice, and peas are the first ingredients. That’s not dog food, that’s a Sunday supper. It also has quinoa. Since when do dogs eat quinoa? A lot of people only started eating quinoa a few years ago, and I’m still not sure they’re all pronouncing it correctly.
As for the “highly nutritious super foods”, I don’t want my dog to be a super dog. Just a regular old dog is fine with me, because a super dog probably eats more. The dog food also “contains a source of live, naturally occurring microorganisms.” I mean, honestly. If I wanted to feed Murray live, naturally occurring microorganisms, I’d feed him yogurt (organic yogurt, of course; I’m not a monster).
Maybe one day, someone will invent Dog/Person Yogurt. It would probably cost less than gourmet dog cookies and have less sugar than a lot of yogurt on the market now. Of course, it will be “all natural”.
– Janine Annett
Janine Annett is a writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Weekly Humorist, Real Simple, and many other places. She lives in New York with her husband, son, and dog. Learn more about Janine at www.janineannett.com.