Would you believe it? We got to shop for dog food at PetSmart! We have never, not once, bought food for our dogs at PetSmart before. We sometimes shopped there for collars, harnesses, leashes or toys but never for food. The reason was simple—they didn't carry any we'd be interested in buying.
I was quite surprised and excited when I found out that PetSmart now carries Nature's Variety Instinct® Raw dog food.
More and more people strive to feed their dogs a better, more natural diet and, as a result, it is becoming more available. Today, there are many choices for anybody who wants to try raw. And now, PetSmart is one of the places where you can get it. Even our rural local store had some.
What criteria do I use when choosing food for our dogs?
I appreciate the sentiment that nutrients matter but I disagree that ingredients don't.
Ingredients do matter.
For a minute I don't believe that a diet consisting of identical nutrients derived from corn, soy, vitamin supplement mix, and who knows what else is just as good as a diet made of real meat, organs, bones and veggies. If our dogs really had a choice, what do you think they'd choose? I know what our dogs choose. "We want real food, momma. We won't food we can't recognize."
What I want for my dogs is food made of ingredients as close as possible to what would make up their diet in the wild. Because that's what they have evolved to live on.
Here is the thing about food and evolution. For a body that evolved to live on certain foods, those foods contain exactly what the body needs, in the form and proportions it needs them in. It's a match made by evolution. There is no substitute for that. And you know what? Species appropriate ingredients naturally contain the nutrients dogs need.
Yes, cooking, even freezing food technically qualifies as processing. Anything one does to food qualifies as processing. Some processing will always be necessary. The key is to do as little to the ingredients as possible.
What I want for my dogs is food that still retains its integrity. Whole foods with all their nutrients and non-nutrients. There is much more to food that the few nutrients we decided to count.
For a long time I was hesitant about raw diet.
While deep inside I understood the benefits, being bombarded from all sides about the horrible risks kept me from trying it. So Jasmine and Cookie were both on home-cooked diets. This was as close to what I considered ideal as I dared to get.
Then we moved up North and Cookie got her own ideas.
She would catch and eat small critters. She was transitioning herself to raw diet. Who was I to argue? I figured I ought to take a hint. Gingerly, I got a couple of pre-made raw foods and tried them out. "Ah, now we're talking," said Cookie.
Cookie has been on raw for about a year now and she's thriving on it. She enjoys her meals, her coat is lush and shiny and her teeth, which we had a hard time keeping under control in spite of daily brushing are looking so much better.
How does Nature's Variety Instinct® Raw measure up to what I consider ideal diet for my dog?
For our review we got the try Nature's Variety Instinct® Raw Bites for dogs. Of course, before I'd even consider trying it I headed over to their website to see what's in it. What I found made me very happy.
The foods contain 95% meat, organs and bone, and 5% vegetables, fruits and a few other goodies such as flaxseed, montmorillonite clay, kelp, cod liver oil, salmon oil, apple cider vinegar, and chicory root. The diets are all complete and balanced and designed to reflect dogs' ancestral diet. Which, of course, also means grain free. Food dogs were intended to eat. High protein, healthy amount of fats and very little carbs.
So what did Cookie think of it?
"Yeah, momma, this is good stuff." Overall, the food isn't all that different from some others we used in the past year. That's a good thing, because I've been very selective about my choices.
In some ways it is different, particularly in terms of its appeal to Cookie.
However awesome they'd look on paper, Cookie turned her nose up on some of them. The culprit being, for example, very strong apple smell. I like having apples as an ingredient, but, apparently, it can be too much. When the food smells more like apples than meat, Cookie will not eat it without having it embellished.
She will eat Nature's Variety Instinct® Raw Bites just as they come out of the bag.
That is quite a compliment. She got to try beef and turkey. Unfortunately, other than chicken, those were the only choices available at our local rural PetSmart.
Meanwhile, there are many more available. Beef, turkey, lamb, duck, venison, rabbit and tuna. They do have all of these at the store where we normally shop. Which is good because I like offering variety.
Cookie's favorite is rabbit which is good because it's cooling as well and Cookie tends to run a bit hot.
We normally use patties but we liked the bites.
Cookie seems to enjoy the little bites as opposed to patties. Perhaps she finds them more fun, perhaps they are easier to eat. They are certainly easier to portion out because with patties you can really either use whole or a half and if you want something in between than you have such a ridiculous amount left you might just as well feed a whole or a half. For the sake of keeping the calories on the lower side, I just use half and add something to it.
The little bites are also quite handy if you want to introduce a little bit of raw as a food topper.
The bites also thaw out faster than patties. I prefer thawing out raw food in the fridge and some of the patties are still half frozen 18 hours later.
Here is the main verdict: will I continue feeding Cookie Instinct® Raw?
Yes. She likes it and I like what's in it. It will not be the only food she gets (I never feed just one type of food) but I will be including Instinct® Raw in the range of products we use.
To find out more information about Nature's Variety Instinct® Raw check out their website at www.instinctpetfood.com or connect with them on Facebook.