Gator is going to turn 14 years old this September. In terms of his health, he’s been very lucky. I attribute his good health to exercise and feeding him a proper diet. I’ve always fed Gator the best food I could afford. Have you ever looked at the ingredients in dog food? Most of the cheaper foods on the market are loaded with fillers (ground yellow corn, meat meal, and rice). Canines are very similar to humans, garbage in, garbage out. We’ve all had the experience of eating not so great for us food. The bad stuff tastes great going down, but will likely have you feeling less than your best later on. We control what we eat. We make a bad choice and make a better choice for our next meal. Our dogs don’t have that choice. They only eat what we provide for them. Imagine how awful you would feel on a steady diet of ground corn, meat meal and other additives? Do you know what “meat meal” is? Meat meal is the dried end product of the cooking process known as rendering. Rendering isn’t a bad process, it’s actually what we do when we make stew or a pot roast. The key is, what are you rendering your meat with? No meal product will ever be better quality than the raw ingredients used to make it. Some of the dog foods on the market use less than desirable ingredients in the rendering process. The end result is a dog food that is poor quality. As a consumer, what should you watch out for? Keep an eye out for generic terms, such as meat meal, blood meal, poultry meal, chicken by product, etc. The better foods give you exact sources of protein. You should see, chicken, lamb, venison, bison or similar terms. The key is whole ingredients: Meat, poultry, fish and vegetables. A high quality diet for your dog won’t guarantee that he won’t ever be sick. However, your dog should reap the rewards of good overall health. He or she won’t be overweight or develop health issues as they age. My Dad had a wonderful Collie mix dog named Cleo. Cleo was fed cheaper food for most of her life. She was a rescue dog, so my Dad continued to feed her what she ate at her previous home. She was fine for a number of years, until she developed kidney stones. Cleo needed surgery, and had to eat prescription dog food (provided by her Veterinarian) for the rest of her life. It was more expensive in the long run to feed her cheaper food. An educated consumer is the best customer; take time and read labels! A few dollar increase in the price of a bag of food can provide a significant difference in your dog’s overall health. Does your best friend deserve less than the best?