To Blog or Not to Blog: Pedigree Adoption Drive

To Blog or Not to Blog:  The Pedigree Adoption Drive

Pedigree Adoption Drive Ad

Perusing some dog-related blogs this week, I stumbled upon this campaign.  Blog about the campaign by Sunday, September 19, 2010, and Pedigree will donate a 20 lb bag of dog food to a shelter.  “Like” them on Facebook and they’ll donate 8 oz. of dog food.  Watch their video online, and they donate $1.00.

Granted, the last two actions can be completed by anyone, and the Facebook campaign lasts all year.  But as far as the blogging campaign goes, it is organized by BlogPaws, which is a Pedigree-sponsored organization, so I’m not sure if every blog by just anyone count or not – I tried to find some fine print, but still remain unclear.

And you know what?  I think I’m okay with the idea that this won’t count.  Actually, I know I am.

Yes, the advertised sentiment behind the Pedigree campaign is great.  No one can argue that.  Supporting shelters and adopting rescue dogs is an important cause.  And Pedigree’s marketing department has amazing skill when pulling at the heart strings of animal lovers.  Their impervious tagline is “PEDIGREE® Brand. Everything we do is for the love of dogs, from the nutritious dog food we make to the dog adoption drive we support.”  Who could disagree with that?

But before I decided to jump on board and declare my undying support for their campaign, I looked up the food they were donating, as the campaign also seems to serve as advertising for some of their new kibbles.  The dog food donated with our support is PEDIGREE® Healthy Longevity Food for Dogs.  Sounds great, doesn’t it?  Healthy.  Longevity.  Both things I want for my dog, don’t you?  They go on to advertise the food includes “special nutrients” like antioxidants, fish oil, and Omega3s.  That’s great!  In fact, the spin is almost enough for me to compulsively “Like”… or is it?

Pedigree is a well-known brand.  We’ve all seen their commercials, and they have a wide range of products that you can find in most pet stores… and even grocery stores.  Are alarm bells ringing yet?

The ingredients of PEDIGREE® Healthy Longevity Food for Dogs are posted online (http://www.pedigree.com/really-good-food/product-page.aspx?id=1037). 

They are, in the exact order as found online and presumably as on the packaging:

Ground Yellow Corn, Chicken By-Product Meal, Brewers Rice, Ground Whole Wheat, Corn Gluten Meal, Animal Fat (Preserved with BHA and Citric Acid), Lamb, Plain Dried Beet Pulp, Vegetable Oil (Source of Linoleic Acid), Natural Flavor, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, Monocalcium Phosphate, Fish Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, a Source of Vitamin E), Vitamins (dl-Alpha Tocopherol Acetate [Source of Vitamin E], Choline Chloride, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate [Source of Vitamin C*], Vitamin A Acetate, Thiamine Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Biotin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement [Vitamin B2], Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Dried Vegetables (Peas, Carrots), Minerals (Zinc, Sulfate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Potassium Iodide), Added FD&C Colors (Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Blue 2).

Well now.

The guaranteed analysis shows:

Crude Protein – Min 25.0%
Crude Fat – Min 12.0%
Crude Fiber – Max 4.0%
Moisture – Max 12.0%
Linoleic Acid (omega-6 Fatty Acid) – Min 3.0%
Vitamin A – Min 10,000 Iu/kg
Vitamin E – Min 350 Iu/kg
Docosahexaenoic Acid* (DHA) – Min 0.05%
Ascorbic Acid (vit. C*) – Min 100 Mg/kg
Omega 3 Fatty Acid* – Min 0.30%
Glucosamine* – Min 400 Iu/kg
Chondroitin* – Min 300 Iu/kg
*not required as an essential nutrient by The AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles.

And we have officially entered the realm of dog food controversy.

25% protein?  But isn’t my dog largely a meat-eater?  Why do they want to give him corn?  Or wheat?  If left to his own devices in the wilderness, he certainly wouldn’t go devour the nearest farmer’s crop.

There is a great website, www.dogfoodanalysis.com.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t added this particular Pedigree brand to the reviews yet, but here is the review of Pedigree Complete Nutrition (Adult) kibble, which has a strikingly similar ingredient list, though guarantees 21% protein instead of the 25% promised by the Healthy Longevity stuff:

Pros: None
Cons:  Insufficient meat content, by-products, low quality grains, fat and meat products of unidentifiable origin, carcinogenic preservative, artificial colourant.
Recommended?  No.

They gave this kibble a one star rating out of a possible six.  Why? Well, they can explain it better than I:

This food receives a 1 star rating simply because there is nothing lower.

 
The primary ingredients in the food are grains (it should be meat!). Corn is a problematic grain that is difficult for dogs to digest and thought to be the cause of a great many allergy and yeast infection problems. We prefer not to see this used in dog food.

 
Meat and bone meal is a low quality meat product for which it is impossible to determine the source.

 
Corn appears a second time as corn gluten meal. The AAFCO definition of corn gluten meal is “the dried residue from corn after the removal of the larger part of the starch and germ, and the separation of the bran by the process employed in the wet milling manufacture of corn starch or syrup, or by enzymatic treatment of the endosperm”. In plain English, that which remains after all the nutritious bits have been removed.

 
The next ingredient is by-products. It is impossible to ascertain the quality of by-products and these are usually products that are of such low quality as to be rejected for use in the human food chain, or else are those parts that have so little value that they cannot be used elsewhere in either the human or pet food industries. The AAFCO definition of chicken by-product meal is “a meal consisting of the ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered chicken, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines, exclusive of feathers, except in such amounts as might occur unavoidable in good processing practice.”

 
Animal fat is a further low quality ingredient and is impossible to determine the source. Unidentified ingredients are usually very low quality. AAFCO define this as “obtained from the tissues of mammals and/or poultry in the commercial processes of rendering or extracting. It consists predominantly of glyceride esters of fatty acids and contains no additions of free fatty acids. If an antioxidant is used, the common name or names must be indicated, followed by the words “used as a preservative”.

 
This food uses chemical preservatives (BHA, BHT) which is believed to be carcinogenic, and is banned from use in human food. It also uses artificial colourants.

 
The 6th and 12th ingredients are fragments of wheat. The use of wheat is a significant negative: wheat is believed to be the number one cause of allergy problems in dog food. This is another ingredient we prefer not to see used at all in dog food.

 

For more information on bad ingredients often found in commercial dog food, visit http://www.dogfoodproject.com/index.php?page=badingredients.  Many of the ingredients in Pedigree kibble are listed.

So, a very brief look into the ingredients and now we find that Pedigree is not so great after all.  Sure, they use a lot of positive words, but this only redirects your attention to your own affection for your pet rather than the details of the product they’re selling you.

I invite you to check out your own dog food against these sources, and the many other good resources out there.  There is a plethora of information about dog food nutrition, and poor quality kibble recalls have been common occurrences in the recent years.  There are many good quality options out when it comes to what to feed your dog, and what is actually good for them.  Take a moment and look into raw diets and their many benefits, or if that’s just not an option for you, check out the brands given 6 star ratings by the Dog Food Analysis folks (Origen and Innova make that list along with a few others).

So, should I support this campaign?  The sentiment of helping rescue dogs still seems worthwhile, but the associated marketing and promoting of the Pedigree brand doesn’t sit well with me.  And I imagine the shelters supported by this promotion receive a lot of financial help from Pedigree and therefore are obligated to promote it to the adopters of their rescue dogs. 

Do I want to see people feeding this food to dogs?  Absolutely Not.  On the other hand, is Pedigree food better than no food at all?  Well… you got me there.  Do I just wish our support guaranteed the donation of a good quality dog food?  Of course, but I won’t hold my breath.  Pedigree is out there to make money, you know.

In the end, though, I’ve still blogged about the campaign, so perhaps they’ve bested me there.  Touché, Pedigree, touché.