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Least Cost Recipe

by May 17, 2019

A standard practice in the livestock feed industry is to formulate diets on a “least cost formulation”. In short the formulator for the feed manufacturer establishes a set of minimum nutrient standards for the diet (or recipe) and they may even set minimum and/or maximum allowable amounts of various feed ingredient restrictions. The various ingredients are priced to establish a value and then a computer program least cost formulates the diet. This means the lowest cost that meets the minimum specifications of the diet using the available ingredients. This may be fine for feedlot cattle and hogs on a finishing diet but many companies utilize the same strategy for your family pet foods. This is especially true of grocery store and big box store offerings which are merely focused on price. Do you want your family pet subject to ever changing formulas and the “cheapest” diet a manufacturer can produce?

The Farmers Dog Myth

by August 21, 2022

The Farmers Dog                             

We get an occasional question about “The Farmers Dog” product and they do spend a lot of money marketing on television so they are noticed.   In fact, there appears to be much about marketing associated with this product and maybe not so much about feeding your pet any differently than if you bought a lesser kibble.   

Here is the typical ingredient list for “The Farmers Dog” Turkey:


USDA Turkey, Chickpeas, Carrot, Broccoli, Spinach, Parsnip, TFD Nutrient Blend, Salmon Oil [Tricalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Choline Bitartrate, Magnesium Amino Acid Chelate, Taurine, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin E Supplement, Selenium Yeast, Potassium Iodide, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Folic Acid]

Note that Chickpeas are the second ingredient so they provide a considerable amount of vegetable protein to the diet.    Most supplemental minerals and vitamins are provided by synthetic sources.  

Compare to our Northwest Naturals Turkey:   (frozen)


Turkey, Ground Turkey Bone, Turkey Heart, Turkey Liver, Apples, Carrots, Romaine Lettuce, Watermelon, Egg, Ground Flaxseed, Fish Oil*, Apple Cider Vinegar, Blueberry, Cranberry, Inulin, Dried Kelp, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Chloride, Ginger, Parsley, Garlic, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Mixed Tocopherols (as preservative), Vitamin D Supplement.

*Fish Oil – Is a blend of  Fish Oils from Salmon, Herring and Pollock.

Meat provides the protein source!   No chickpeas in this one.   Most of the mineral and vitamin supplementation are from natural sources.    80% Meat – 18.75% Produce – 1.25% Supplements

Clearly the frozen Northwest Naturals is a superior product.  

How about cost?    The Farmers Dog would cost $4.67 per day to feed my 20# dog according to their own website calculations.    Northwest Naturals $2.88 per day! 

Why Local and Independent?

by June 17, 2022

We frequently point out that we are a local family-owned independent business. But what does that mean for you?

Perhaps a less obvious consideration is that we are personally invested in the goods and services we offer for you furry friend. There is no ROI “test” by a corporate buyer to determine if a good enough profit margin can be made on a product. There is no corporate buyer being swayed by a vendor or product manufacturer incentives to sell you what they want you to buy rather than what your pet needs. We select your dog or cat’s goodies based on what is good and safe for them! We don’t even have to listen to a franchise office in our selection process. And you won’t get frequent buyer rewards are the big box centers.

So the next time the lure of the “big box” store or that huge on-line store creeps into your vision please remind yourself that their massive assortment doesn’t mean they really have more to offer. The inventory may be deeper but not more diverse and pound for pound of nutrition no less expensive.

Itching Dog?

by April 20, 2022

If you’ve ever been associated with someone with allergies, you know it can be a very confusing topic and diagnosis and treatment can be extremely frustrating.  Naturally it is even more so with your pet since they can’t verbally describe symptoms (or relief) to you.  

Allergy testing done by veterinarians can be highly effective in diagnosing environmental allergies but are typically less effective when dealing with food issues.  There are now several at-home test kits available that use sample of hair or saliva (depending on the brand) and are mailed into a lab.  From what we’ve read and heard of these tests the results are highly suspect.  There have even been reports that fake hair and saliva have been submitted and not detected by the lab(s).  So, we are not convinced these home test kits are of great value.  Maybe someday.  

Environmental allergies are probably more prevalent than food allergies and as previously mentioned vet testing is quite effective at identifying them.    However, if food is suspect then a “food trial” is the most accurate test.   This requires feeding a highly restricted diet for a period of 6-8 weeks to see if your dog’s allergy signs improve.   Highly restricted is referring to the ingredients in the diet…INCLUDING treats.   Chicken is the most common allergen and it’s not a coincidence that many dog foods use a lot of chicken.   The amino acid profile is good and chicken products have been readily available and relatively inexpensive for many years.   

There’s a good chance your vet would recommend a product from Hills or Royal Canin or even Purina as a “hypoallergenic” food.   Many of these diets utilized a hydrolyzed protein that has been broken down in many cases by acid(s) into fragments too small to trigger an allergic reaction.  That process has been used for years to make chicken feather meal usable in beef feedlot diets.     We prefer to use a higher quality protein that your pet has not been familiar with to accomplish this.   There are several choices from quality manufacturers like Zignature and Pure Vita that are much more price friendly and utilize a single source quality protein and work very well for these “trials”.    There are also many raw options available!

The First Ingredient is Meat?

by January 12, 2022

The first ingredient is meat. Is it? Pet food manufacturers are required to list ingredients on the bag in order decreasing by weight. However, raw meat ingredients are listed as WET weight while everything else is on an “as fed” basis (usually 10% moisture). So the first ingredient may not be the largest ingredient by weight in the food. In fact it rarely is. So read ON!!!!!!!

One popular grain free brand shows the following:

De-boned turkey, potatoes, peas, whole dried egg, potato flour, pea fiber, flaxseed,…..etc.

Do you want to feed more potatoes and peas to your pet than meat protein?

Compare to a Nulo product which we carry:

Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, Salmon Meal, Chickpeas, Chicken Fat…..etc.

Turkey meal and salmon meal constitute by far the greatest part of this diet!

So read the label and understand the “wet meat” story. If you’re unsure come talk to us.

Feeding High Protein Kibble

by June 2, 2021

We are going to talk a bit about protein and try to keep it brief and to the point.    Protein is the number one key body building block in the guaranteed analysis panel of your pet food label for a reason.   As a key macro nutrient dietary protein is essential for the growth and maintenance of almost all tissues in your dog’s body.   Protein supplies the amino acids necessary for the dog’s body to build hair, skin, muscles, cartilage, tendons and ligaments.   Protein makes up the enzymes that drive all metabolic reactions, the hormones that act as the body’s chemical messengers and antibodies that comprise the immune system.   It helps ensure a soft and shiny coat, lean strong muscles and a strong immune system.   The quality of the protein fed to your dog also helps ensure a healthy appetite.   We have selected the brands we carry at Wholesome Pet Essentials in great part because we have confidence in our manufacturers to deliver a quality protein product.   However, within our walls we have products that vary widely in the crude protein level as well as the source.   Rest well assured that the source of the protein we offer in our pet foods is appropriate for you dog and/or cat.  

But what protein level does your dog need?   An organization called AAFCO (Association of American Feed Controls Officials) determine the minimum requirements for nutritional adequacy and have said the adult maintenance minimum requirement is 18% Crude Protein (CP) for survival and 22.5% CP for dogs that are growing and reproducing.   But we want dogs to thrive, not just survive so we frequently feed higher levels of crude protein from high quality sources.   (AAFCO) does not define quality.   We trust our companies to provide what is needed providing we match an appropriate food to your dog’s age, activity level and other factors.   And we must remember that the dog’s actual protein requirement is in grams not percentages.   So it is important you feed the proper amount of food!  Most quality diets for the “typical” dog very from 22-28%.   However, high protein offerings can increase to 30-37% or more.   Why would you feed a high protein food?


               *Senior dogs…   tend to eat less

               *Gestating and lactating dogs….   Need both high protein and high calorie diets

               *Overweight dogs…  research shows higher protein diets help dogs burn fat and calories and helps them feel satisfied longer.   Of course, you must manage how much you feed and remember that 54% of dogs are considered obese!

               *Performance dogs…  muscular protein is built and broken down at a faster rate when exercising

Are there dogs that should not be fed a “high protein” diet?    Of course.   However, there are a few myths/facts to keep in mind:

  1. There is no direct link that protein contributes to musculoskeletal growth disorders in large breed dogs.   Excess caloric intake is directly correlated with orthopedic problems.  
  2. Higher protein diets promote superior weight loss and body condition maintenance.
  3. Older dogs benefit from high protein dog food with no risk to their kidney health as long as they are not already suffering from chronic kidney failure.  

We will have more specifics on high protein foods as we move forward but we currently have 4 quality lines of “high protein foods” in kibble form for your consideration:

  • Nulo Challenger
  • Orijen
  • NutriSource Element
  • Natures Logic

These lines offer products from 30-40% crude protein and more than 80% of the protein in these diets come from quality animal origin!   Options include complete grain free or inclusion of some ancient grains.  

More on the individual products later along with some special offers on these premium high protein products. 

House Training Your Puppy-One Method

by March 16, 2021

All puppies have different personalities, social skills, and learning abilities thus training “rules” don’t necessarily apply in every case.   However, in general we believe the best method to house train a puppy is to “crate-train” them.  

  1. Puppies have a “den” instinct and do not eliminate in the crate
  2. Puppies are safe in the crate and thereby avoid injury in the home while they are learning
  3. Puppies do not damage your home by chewing or eliminating
  4. Puppies learn contentment and control of body functions
  5. Healthy puppies sleep 18-20 hours per day but while awake can be very destructive
  6. Key…when let out of the crate the puppy needs to relieve itself and is praised for doing so in the yard!

Do NOT paper train!  For one they learn it is ok to relieve themselves inside.   Secondly they then do so when they want and do not wait for the owner.

Each morning the puppy should be taken straight from the crate on a lead to a place in the yard where you wish them to eliminate.   The same place each time!  Given them a one minute opportunity to eliminate and if it does not then return them to their crate for 30 minutes and then return outside for another try.  If it does relieve itself praise the puppy extensively (and include a “potty” treat)  and return inside for breakfast.   Follow the meal with supervised play time out of the crate for 20-30 minutes followed by another trip outside and then time for nap in their crate.   Repeat this procedure at mid-day, again in the evening and of course prior to bedtime.   By following this procedure you are giving your puppy an opportunity to eliminate outside in your presence, at your convenience and they getting lavish praise for doing so.   By using the crate you have facilitated all of these positive training occurrences while preventing the negative factor of “accidents”.   They will likely still happen but they should be kept to a minimum.   It is important NOT to punish the puppy for an inside accident as this may cause them to avoid relieving themselves in your presence.   They may associate the reprimand with your presence and decide to sneak away or totally avoid eliminating while you are around.   As the puppy matures and shows more trustworthiness allow more and more free time.    This whole crate training process can take as little as a week or as long as few months depending on your consistency and the ability of your puppy to adapt.   Some breeds typically adapt quicker than others.

Note:  Some puppies will not crate train.  If accidents continue to happen in the crate after several days or they cry for more than an hour we’d suggest an alternative method.  

Also please remember that crate training is a heavy responsibility for the owner and is not to be used as a “punishment” for the puppy.   This is their safe and cozy home.   They will likely continue to use it as such over their lifetime.   

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