Okay, I have so much to get caught up on, but I thought I would pass this info on. The last few times I have picked up a foster animal from the Humane Society they have not been able to provide me with food for the animals as they usually can. Unfortunately, if I have to buy food, I will not be able to foster nearly as many as I do because it can get quite expensive (especially feeding litters of puppies or kittens), and I am sure many other volunteers are in the same circumstances. Many shelters are having greater than usual animal turn in and lower than usual donations (financial as well as food and supplies) and adoptions due to the current economy. This means that there is a whole lot less to go around.
What I want to share is a way that people can sponsor an animal at the Humane Society (Arizona). They have just made it very easy to donate online and you can pick out a specific animal or just sponsor any animal and even write a little note if you would like. There are also many other ways to help or donate, and I encourage you to check out their website AZHumane.org to see what other possibilities there are. Even donating your old towels, pet food bowls, crates and many other items can help the shelters. If nothing else, a small bag of decent quality food (usually about a dollar or two a pound) can go a long way towards giving an animal the nutrition it needs. Call your shelter to find out what types of food they currently have a need for (puppy/kitten/adult/senior…).
About Pet Food:
While any brand of food donation is usually accepted, the better quality foods really are nutritionally much better and will give the animals a better chance of staying or becoming healthy. My personal favorites are Nutro and Blue Buffalo. If you are not sure about the nutritional quality of a food, look at the first few ingredients and the serving size. Meat and meat products should be first and, if possible, stay away from corn. The serving size of a better food will be smaller, sometimes by a lot, making it a better value than first thought.
Here are the first 3 ingredients of a very cheap dog food, (Ol’ Roy): Ground Yellow Corn, Meat and Bone Meal, Soybean Meal. Sounds Delicious and nutritious doesn’t it? You feed a 51-100 pound dog 3.25 to 5.5 cups daily.
Here are the first three ingredients of Blue Buffalo Chicken and Rice: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Ground Brown Rice. The serving for a 51-100 pound dog is 2.75 to 4.25 cups (one of our dogs that is 55 pounds maintains weight well at 2 cups/day, the other is 70 pounds and he needs about 2.75 cups/day).
Which food would you rather eat? Which one likely has the nutrients needed by a carnivore? Or for healthy growth for young animals? You can see that you need to feed quite a bit more of the cheaper foods to meet an animal’s nutritional needs. With nearly all pet foods, you do actually get what you pay for. Having said all that, there are many animals that do just fine on the lower quality foods. One of our dogs can eat just about anything without having any problems. The other has a very sensitive stomach and a poor diet causes a lot of digestive upset which is not pleasant for any of us. Gas, loose stools, and a “grainy” or “seedy” appearance to the stool can all be signs that the food may not be what the animal needs.
Also keep in mind that there are no rules that say you must pick one type of food to feed and stick with it. We usually mix two or three brands together. You can add a better food to a lesser to give it a little more value, or add the one with the taste that they prefer to the not so yummy, but better for them food. I always hear people say that their dogs or cats won’t eat anything other that the one type that they have been feeding, but a pet that is not overfed will almost always eat whatever it can (dogs especially). It isn’t in their nature to only eat one food. Also, don’t rely on your pet to pick the one that tastes the best. A lot of foods have flavors added. That’s like telling your kids that they can pick between carrots or potato chips. They’re not going to choose based on their nutritional values, but on smell and taste. I know I would vote for the potato chips!