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How to hold a dog food taste test

Thinking about switching your dog’s regular food?

Give your beloved a choice in the matter. Hold a dog food taste test.

The lack of enthusiasm both of our dogs (but especially suddenly snobby Scooby) have recently shown for their Innova Prime inspired us to let them choose their own new food.

Which of these is yummiest?

Step 1: Get dog food samples

Many pet food purveyors stock sample sizes of their products. If you’re considering a change, ask about these before commiting to a big, possibly expensive quantity of food your dog might not even like.

I brought home four sample bags of USA- or Canada-made high quality grain-free dog food from neighborhood pet stuff store Brookside Barkery.

On our menu:

Step 2: Wait until your dog is already full

A hungry dog is apt to eat anything you put in front of him. In order to get a sense for what truly appeals to him, hold a taste test after he’s already eaten a regular meal. Ideally, in this setting, he will be more motivated by the food that smells and tastes the best.

Step 3: Line up the samples

When it’s time for the test, put out a similar amount of each variety of food in close proximity. Be sure to make note of which brand is where. Especially if you’re not sure you want to change foods, include the old food in your line-up. In our test, the little pile of Innova Prime is the only one without a sample bag directly behind it.

Mmmm, pork!

Step 4: Test!

When you’re ready, set your dog loose on the little buffet. Watch how he responds to each sample. Which food does he go to first? Does he just vacuum up the kibble, or does he sniff and move on to the next? Does he spit some of the food out? Does he totally refrain from eating any varieties?

Om nom nom.

Step 5: Repeat

For any kind of experiment, it’s always a good idea to try a couple of times to see if your results are the same. Once you are relatively sure which food your dog prefers, you will likely feel more comfortable springing for a big bag.

Of course, as with any dietary change, you’ll want to transition gradually from the old food to the new in order to minimize digestive problems.

In our case, we submitted both Scooby and Luke to the taste test twice. While Scooby seemed to like the Petcurean Go! food quite a bit more than Luke did, they both seemed to agree that the Precise Holistic Complete pork formula was extra savory.

The Lotus bites were just too big and hard for tender-mouthed Scooby to manage at all.

Big thanks to the in-store expert at Brookside Barkery for giving me guidance on setting up a successful dog food taste test!

Have you ever given your pets a kibble taste test? How did it go?

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We created a monster

Oh, did you miss the memo?

Well, let me just spell it out for you.

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Eggs for breakfast AND dinner? Only if they’re over easy.

Buttermilk-soaked kibbles? Just the buttermilk, please.

Canned dog food? If I must — but don’t try to feed me the same brand two days in a row.

Blue Buffalo banana and yogurt Mini Blue Bars? Break them up into crumb-size pieces.

A bit of brisket? I’ll take my own slice, thanks.

A few weeks ago, Scooby, a typically voracious dog known around our house as a blaccum — a little black kitchen vaccum — turned into a snob.

His disinterest in dry food coincided with a change from EVO to Innova Prime, a stay at Resort de Mom and a prescription for antibiotics to treat a urinary tract infection.

Also, this 10,000-year-old dog doesn’t have  many teeth to begin with and is due for a dental.

So maybe the demands for softer food are warranted.

But now he seems to have us trained — tasty meats or a hunger strike!

The vet is aware of the situation, and we are headed back to see her in a couple days.

In the meantime, tell me how you get your finicky eaters to clean their bowls.

Mele Kalikimaka for the dogs

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Although I didn’t go all out buying a bunch of Christmas presents for the pups this year, I did pick up a special treat for them that I had been eyeing for months.

I am obsessed with all things Hawaiian, so I have been looking for a reason to buy Tiki Dog canned food since I noticed Brookside Barkery had begun stocking it. I sprung for a few cans of Tiki Cat back when Luxor still lived with us and was very sick. But I could never justify adding canned food to the dogs’ diet. Grain-free Innova and Evo dry kibble is already a budgetary stretch given the size of our pack. (Oh, Charlie Machete‘s forever family, where are you?)

However, on Christmas Eve, as I was picking out an assortment of locally made baked treats for the dogs, I noticed that several cans of Tiki Dog were on clearance, marked down to $1 each because they expire in January. Finally, I had a reason to spring for the fancy food — doggie Christmas dinner!

Dinner turned out to be dinners. So as not to upset anyone’s stomach through the introduction of new food, we’ve been splitting each of the two cans I bought between all four dogs over the past few days, mixed with the kibble. Just like the cat, the canines seem uber-pleased by the moist, whole food.

Tiki products do not consist of meat-like mush but rather actual chunks of fish, poultry, eggs and vegetables. In fact, the food looks and smells appetizing enough that I would even taste it if I weren’t a fairly strict vegetarian. (Dog food just doesn’t seem like a good enough reason to cheat.)

I wish I could afford to incorporate wet food into the dogs’ diet full-time, but right now that just doesn’t make sense for us. We try to vary their diets by giving them appropriate garden and table scraps. Someday, I would like to do more home cooking for the dogs, but lately we haven’t had time for that. I would also like to find high-quality dog food — wet or dry — that doesn’t have to be shipped from several states away.

So far, I haven’t had much luck digging up locally-made edibles for dogs other than treats.

Do you know of grain-free, organic and/or natural dog food — that’s local to your area or mine?

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