Pet Parenting: Rover’s diet


Denise Holmes is a local pet behavior counselor who owns Ain’t Misbehavin’. She trains animals and also answers pet questions sent in by local moms for us here on nwaMotherlode. Denise has been training for 25 years and is passionate about pets.

Denise uses her U of A degree in microbiology (minor in psychology) to further the health and well-being of pets and people in NWA and has initiated a variety of programs to help both in the area. To send her a question, email it to: Here’s the latest question about kitties and dogs:

Dear Denise,

I go back and forth about what kind of food to feed my pets. My daughters love them so much that I want them to be around as long as possible. But I can’t afford really expensive pet food. How important is high-end dog/cat food?

Dear Mama:

What to feed our pets is really a hot topic these days. There is everything from grocery store feed to premium, super premium, organic and raw, and most pet parents just don’t know the difference. To answer you question directly, before I go off on my food tangent, a good quality food is just as important to your pets’ health and longevity as it is to yours. What goes in, is what comes out, and I’m not just talking about the poop! If your pet has bad breath, bad skin, stinky ears, gas and so on, it could be your food.

At the very least, I recommend feeding a premium or super premium food without corn or by-products. Price doesn’t necessarily matter but quality does. Unfortunately, that IS going to be more expensive.

If you really want to know what you are feeding your pet then it’s important to read and understand labels. That means knowing what those ingredients listed really are. For example, chicken-by-product meal as defined by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, “consists 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.” Uhm…that’s not meat. For a complete listing of ingredients and their definitions you can check out this website:

Now, on to the next question. You didn’t ask but I know you’re thinking it. Can’t you just TELL me what kind of food is best? Well, first of all, it wouldn’t really be nice or professional for me to name names (in print), but secondly, there really isn’t ONE right choice. Different animals, even dog to dog or cat to cat, will have different needs. So, what is a conscientious parent to do? Again, your research.

Each year Whole Dog Journal releases a fairly comprehensive list of best and worst dog foods. They do not accept any advertising, so it is fair, unbiased and based on pretty strict standards. You can get that list or even subscribe to the journal (I do) at their website:

In the meantime, if you want to amp up the health of whatever you’re feeding, you can add things like fresh fruit and veggies, yogurt and raw eggs to your dogs meal. That’s what I do, in addition to one of those ‘high-end,’ super premium, extra-special, ridiculously expensive dog foods!

ar17710273184-1-pn.jpgMamas’ Note: We thought Pet Parenting would be a great place to feature a local pet up for adoption. Here’s Patience, a “dilute calico” from Lost Love Animal Rescue in Fayetteville. You can find other great adoptees at your local animal shelter or on (just type in your zip code).