What’s the best dry dog food for your Morkie?

What’s the best dry dog food for your Morkie?

What’s so bad about generic “meat”?

If a pet food label says “meat” instead of the specific source of meat like beef, lamb or chicken, and so on, then beware. You don’t know where the meat has come from, or what kind of animal it was.

If the meat is not named, it can be literally anything, including animals that didn’t make it to the slaughterhouse and died on the way (The infamous 4-D meats, dead, dying, diseased and disabled.)

It can be road kill. It can be cats or other dogs, picked up after they’ve been euthanized at the pound or shelter.

The best dry dog food for your Morkie can be described in two words.

Real &


The best dry dog food contains named meat – like beef or chicken. Not meat by-product meal.

Grains, if they’re even in the food, should be waaaay down on the ingredients list.

And the fat source in the food should be named as well, not simply listed as “fats” – otherwise the food could actually contain USED RESTAURANT GREASE.

The best dog food brands

Acana from Champion
Amicus from Horizon
Before Grain from Merrick
Blue Buffalo Chicken and Brown Rice Small Bite Adult
Frommfirst place dog foods
Go! Sensitivity
Holistic Precise
Life’s Abundance
Orjen from Champion
Wellness Core

*There are many more excellent products; these are just a few. They’re ranked as the best because they contained named meats and fats, and don’t contain dangerous preservatives, chemicals and unnecessary sweeteners.

We can thank RENDERING for this dog’s breakfast

We all agree: food has to be processed;  it has to be reasonably affordable; it has to be safe and it has to be nutritional. These factors all depend on HOW the ingredients in dog food are processed. Most pet foods start with a process called rendering, and this is where the problems begin.

Rendering has been around since ancient times. It’s a process of recycling food waste to make it useful for something else. That something else is often pet food. So far, so good.

Except that quality control is a huge problem. Anything that’s deemed too horrible for human consumption goes into the big grinders in rendering plants, to start the process.

This includes:

  • putrid flesh – dead, diseased and dying animal flesh – not allowed in our food (the pet food industry calls this the 3Ds of supply)
  • parts of animals not allowed in our food including hide, bones, digestive system and it contents, brain, feces and udders, hooves, chicken beaks… the list goes on
  • roadkill (which may have been drying in the sun for some time)
  • pets that have been euthanized, including the sodium pentobarbital used to kill them at shelters.
  • rotten meat from local grocery stores (Styrofoam packaging and all)

If the label says:

by-product, meal, tallow, animal fat, or grease

It’s probably from a rendering plant, and the quality can’t be trusted. Avoid, avoid, avoid.

Some of the worst dog foods…


…are the ones you see advertised on TV.

Poor quality dog food brands


Can dogs eat cat food?

Can dogs eat cat food?

If your Morkie is like most dogs, he LOVES cat food. But why? Novelty is one appeal of the cat’s dinner. Plus it smells different and has a much stronger, meatier taste. That’s because cat food has a much higher level of protein than dog food. It won’t hurt your dog to have the occasional bowl of cat food, but cats and dogs should stick to their own specialized meals.

Cat food versus dog food

What’s the difference?

Cats are obligate carnivores

That means they MUST have a lot of protein, in the form of meat.

Can cats eat dog food?

Cat food has high protein levels that they need

  • cats need a lot of meat protein; more than a dog and don’t tolerate the starchy ingredients in most dog food (wheat, ground corn, etc.)
  • their teeth aren’t suited to grinding, like a dog’s or a human’s
  • cat food contains vitamin A and taurine, two nutrients cats need to live healthy, happy lives
  • taurine is an amino acid which is necessary for cats for proper bile formation, eye health, and functioning of the heart muscle
  • dog food is also missing arachidonic acid  – this is one of the essential fatty acids cats need. Dogs need it too, but to put it simplistically, dogs can manufacture arachidonic acid.
  • cats also need higher levels of niacin, a B vitamin, in their food

Dogs are omnivores

That means they can get nutrition from more than just meat.

Can dogs eat cat food?

Dogs thrive on more variety in their food

  • dogs need a diet with more fiber than a strictly carnivorous diet (cat food) can provide
  • the level of protein in dog food is tempered with starch fillers, such as grains, ground corn, or produce like peas
  • over time, too high a concentration of protein, like what’s found in cat food, can cause serious health problems for dogs because all that protein puts a heavy load on internal organs like the kidneys, liver and pancreas
  • protein-dense cat food can cause stomach upset in your Morkie, although most dogs seem to get away with the occasional “treat” of stolen cat food without huge consequences
  • more on Small Dog Breed Food

Can dogs eat cat food? Can CATS each DOG food?

can dogs eat cat food or is it bad?

The downside of dog food for cats

Cats who exist on dog food will be seriously shortchanged when it comes to nutrition. Over time, their health will deteriorate quite drastically.   While dogs who eat too much cat food might get an upset stomach — and in extreme cases they could develop pancreatitis — it’s much more serious for cats to subsist on dog food.

The downside of cat food for dogs

Obviously cat food isn’t made for dogs. It doesn’t have the wider variety of ingredients, and more importantly it is too protein-dense. That can cause an upset stomach, diarrhea and vomiting. But all those symptoms will disappear fairly quickly. The more serious problem with cat food for dogs is, it could cause pancreatitis which is life-threatening. Symptoms of pancreatitis include:

Weakness; Lethargy; Appetite loss; Vomiting; Distended abdomen; Diarrhea; Fever

Can dogs eat Nutella?

Can dogs eat Nutella?

“Can dogs eat Nutella” has been a trending question recently, and the answer is easy: no. Morkies (and all other dogs) can’t have chocolate, and the other ingredients in Nutella aren’t very good for dogs either.

No, sorry dogs, you can’t have Nutella  🙁

history photo of where nutella was invented


Nutella was developed in Alba, Italy in 1944 by Pietro Ferrero in the back of his pastry shop (pictured above). Popular for generations, Nutella is a delicious chocolate and hazelnut spread, a favourite for breakfast in many families.


nutella history

What’s in Nutella?

  • sugar
  • modified palm oil
  • hazelnuts
  • cocoa powder
  • skimmed milk powder
  • whey powder
  • soy lecithin
  • vanillin

Here’s an excellent resource – put in your Morkie’s weight and amount of chocolate you think he’s eaten. The results will show you what action to take.

What about the hazelnuts – can dogs have nuts?


Nuts that are safe for dogs and nuts that are toxic for dogs

Nutella® is a registered trademark and exclusive property of Ferrero S.p.A. and/or of other Companies of the Ferrero Group.

Don’t be impressed with AAFCO “approval”

Don’t be impressed with AAFCO “approval”

The Association of American Feed Control Officials, called AAFCO, is a private organization of volunteers in the animal feed feed industry — including people from the pet food industry itself.

It is not mandated by any laws; it does not write laws or change them.

AAFCO sets standards for nutritional adequacy for a wide variety of animal feed, including cattle feed, feed for commercially raised rabbits, pig feed, dog and cat food, etc.
In my personal opinion, AAFCO regulation falls FAR short of protecting the welfare of our pets; here are some reasons why I say this.

1. How AAFCO tests pet foods

Food is either analyzed in the lab, or AAFCO runs feed trails.

  • the feed trial includes 8 dogs minimum, or more
  • 25% can be removed during the test – so the test could be conducted with just SIX DOGS
  • as long as the remaining animals don’t lose more than 15% of their body weight during the 26 week trial, the food is approved

AAFCO states clearly in its mandate, that it is setting standards for adequate nutrition. Not good nutrition, not particularly healthy. Adequate to keep the animal alive.


AAFCO food trials


2. FEED and FOOD is very different

There’s a big difference between FEED and FOOD.

AAFCO is mostly comprised of Feed Control Officials. These are state department of agriculture representatives who work together on feed that livestock eats. It’s nothing like our FOOD or what we think of as our pet’s FOOD. AAFCO is all about FEED.

Feed is all about fattening commercially raised animals for slaughter with the minimum resources possible; food is about building and maintaining good health.

One difference alone – FEED is allowed, per FDA, to contain euthanized pets and pesticide-laden grains and vegetables that wouldn’t be allowed for human consumption. (www.truthaboutpetfoods)


3. AAFCO doesn’t actually approve pet food

AAFCO does not approve, certify or reject pet food. Wording on pet food actually says that it MEETS the nutritional requirements established by AAFCO. Those standards, as mentioned, are what’s needed for adequate nutrition, in highly processed pet foods.


What does AAFCO really mean


4. These are the people who brought you the Label Laws

Remember these rules? You can read about them in detail on my blog, What’s on Your Dog’s Menu, but basically it’s a serious of weasel statements that tell manufactures what to call their products when they don’t contain a lot of meat.

For example, let’s look at Cesar Classics Filet Mignon Flavor, made by food giant Mars. 


It contains no filet mignon; it contains nothing like what we think of as beef.

Instead, this Cesar Classics flavour contains:

  • beef by-products – this is leftover, non-meat which can include lungs, stomach, and intestines (required to be freed of feces) from slaughtered mammals. It is not the flesh or ‘meat’ which has been removed for human food or other animal feed products.

It’s not even the ‘acceptable’ kinds of slaughterhouse leftovers like gristle, pieces of fatty tissue, meat from the animal’s head and feet; connective tissue – all of this goes into hot dogs and processed meat for people.

  • animal liver – liver is a good source of protein; the problem here is, what kind of animal?
  • meat by-products – again, the leftover waste from the slaughterhouse, but what kind of animal(s) are we talking about?
  • chicken by-products – this is not chicken ‘meat;’ it is the scrap, and can include feet, backs, livers, lungs, chicken heads, undeveloped eggs, etc.

….along with artificial colouring, sodium nitrite and more.

The total protein content of this food: 8%.

Remember, it’s the food name that counts


More reading on AAFCO and its role

Dog Food Advisor – https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/choosing-dog-food/animal-by-products/

Truth About Pet Food – http://truthaboutpetfood.com/should-my-pets-food-be-aafco-approved/

AAFCO official site – http://www.aafco.org/Consumers

What’s on YOUR dog’s menu?

What’s on YOUR dog’s menu?

If you buy commercial dog food for your Morkie, you’ll want to read the label very carefully. That’s because the HUUUUGGGGEEE pet food industry is a little… shady… when it comes to truth in advertising.

For example, the industry has set its own rules for WHAT TO CALL dog food, based on what’s in it.


Dog food names and what they mean

The rules and regulations set out by the industry itself seem designed to confuse us! Just look at these examples below. You might think you’re buying a quality food, but take a closer look.

Packaging rules are defined by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). AAFCO
is “a voluntary membership association of local, state and federal agencies charged by law to regulate the sale and distribution of animal feeds and animal drug remedies.” In other words, it’s the industry regulating itself.  Conflict of interest anyone???


The 95% Rule

The food must be made up of at least 95% of what’s named.

For example, Beef Dog Food means that the food is 95% BEEF. Sounds sensible, but from here, it goes down hill.

95% meat


The 25% or “dinner” rule

The meat that’s named has to be only 25% of the food. So for example, Turkey Dinner is 25% turkey meat 
and 75% other ingredients.

Watch for any descriptors like dinner, entree, feast, platter, nuggets, formula, etc.

BUT…it can also mean that Meat + something else like rice, makes up the 25% of the food together. Lamb & Rice Feast could be 1% lamb, 24% rice and 75% other.  It’s not usual, but it COULD happen.
25% meat


The 3% or “with” rule

Anything named after the word “with” is only 3% of the food. Dog Dinner Delight With Liver means that the food can be just 3% liver, and 97% other ingredients.

Watch for “with” or “plus.”

3% food that is meat



The “flavor” rule

This just means that there is a ‘noticeable’ amount to imbue flavor. Beef Flavour Dog Food means there’s just enough beef to give some flavour, according tot he testing dog. How do they know the dog thinks it tastes like beef? Good question.

Watch for the word ‘flavor.’

No real meat at all

How to read a dog food label – Part I

How to read a dog food label – Part I

First in an informal series on commercial dog foods.

When you’re shopping for commercial dog food – canned or kibble – here is an important place to start: the first 5 ingredients listed on the label.

Even though dog food labels may list dozens of ingredients, it’s the first 5 that matter.

That’s because dog food ingredients are listed in order of weight, so the closer to the top of the list, the more of that ingredient in the dog food.

Let’s look at one notably horrible dog food and one notably good commercial dog food.

Ol’ Roy Complete Nutrition (dry food)

Ol’ Roy is the store brand, or private label brand, of Walmart. It’s manufactured by Doane Pet Food, which is owned by Mars Pet Food Division. Virtually any website that compares commercial dog foods rates this one at the bottom of the list. (Mars makes other cheap pet foods like Pedigree, Cesar and Nutro.)


The first 5 ingredients in Ol’ Roy

  1. Ground Yellow Corn
  2. Meat and Bone Meal
  3. Soybean Meal
  4. Poultry By-Product Meal
  5. Animal Fat


Are dogs corn eaters? No, but that’s the first ingredient and it’s CHEAP filler.

Meat and bone meal is a nasty mix of waste animal tissues, including bone. Very hard for dogs to digest. And what kind of animal does the meat and bone meal come from? Could be any combination of cattle, pigs, sheep, goats…

Soybean meal does contain 48% protein. It’s probably included to boost the overall protein content of this food but it’s much lower quality than protein from meat.

Poultry by-product meal is made from slaughterhouse leftovers like chicken feet, backs, lungs and heads. If these leftovers are edible, they’re added to people food like bologna, sausage and hot dogs.

Not edible? Then add it to dog food, where it’s rendered (cooked at very high temperatures) until it is a dry meal.

Animal fat – again, what kind of a animal are we talking about?? If it doesn’t say, you don’t know.

And that means it can be spoiled supermarket meat, dead, diseased or dying cattle (the Three Ds of the meat world); road kill and even euthanized pets!!! It’s all legal.

AND, generic animal fat is often preserved with BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole). BHA is a suspected cancer causing agent. It’s also used in making rubber and cosmetics.


Mystery Meat

MEAT is great for dogs because it’s a source of protein that’s complete. It contains all all ten essential amino acids — nutrients dogs cannot live without. Plus, dogs can easily digest it, especially compared to inferior protein sources like corn or grain. But if the meat is not named, it can be literally anything, including


Whenever a pet food does not name the TYPE of animal, but just says “animal” or “meat” instead of, for example,  “beef” or “chicken,” your guard should go up. That’s because the meat can be almost anything, and changes depending on what’s the cheapest in the marketplace.

MEAT BY-PRODUCTS are even scarier – by-products are slaughterhouse waste. The stuff that they won’t even put in hot dogs! The stuff they sweep up off the floor at the end of the day.

Purina calls this –

“nutrient-rich organ meats”

Sorry, but the rest of the world calls it crap! For example… “deboned chicken” is  literally chicken meat that we’d eat. “Poultry by-products” can be what’s left after the ‘real’ meat is stripped off. Stuff like the head, the feet, neck and internal organs that no other food processor wants.




In summary, AVOID –

  • commercial dog food that has “meat”
  • instead, go for a named product, like beef, chicken, lamb, etc.
  • and avoid poultry, and go for chicken, turkey, duck, etc.
  • avoid by-products, meat or otherwise


Here’s an example of a label that you can understand, and that actually looks good.

Blue Life Protection Formula Chicken & Brown Rice

Blue Life Protection Formula Chicken & Brown Rice

Top 5 ingredients:

  1. Deboned Chicken
  2. Chicken Meal
  3. Brown Rice
  4. Barley
  5. Oatmeal

Now THAT sounds like something you’d want to feed to your Morkie!


To see how your dog’s food compares, check out Blue Buffalo’s web page Take the Test.

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