"The only problem we’re having with our food testing is the palatability,” I was told by Lindsay Richardson of Corey Nutrition, makers of the new Realtree dog food. “When we stop feeding it to the dogs, they won’t eat anything else.”
I had to see this for myself.
It just so happens that I, too, have a “test dog” in my home. A dog that tests my nerves, patience and training ability every day. Like many labs, he’s a garbage can when it comes to eating. But, rather than rely on bargain-bin foods, I’ve always felt it was important to feed him the best.
I look at it this way: assuming you’ve resisted the temptation to feed your dog from the table, for the most part, his intake should be strictly food and water. Therefore, there’s little chance of outside sources creating potential problems and the dog’s health can be strictly monitored and regulated simply by his diet.
My lab, Ernie, did not disappoint during “initial testing.” Upon opening the first bag of Realtree food, one thing was very apparent: this stuff smells like fish. And that’s a good thing.
The only problem we’re having with our food testing is the palatability...When we stop feeding it to the dogs, they won’t eat anything else”
For a few years now, I’ve fed Ernie foods that have very high levels of fatty fish, like herring, menhaden and anchovies. These are, by far, the best sources of the essential oils that are beneficial for a dog’s joints, skin and coat, namely the widely talked about glucosamine and chondroitin. While supplements containing these nutrients, as well as fish-oil tablets, can help, I feel getting the goods right from the source is far superior.
Early in his “career,” Ernie began to experience frequent, noticeable limping, caused by over-exertion on already worn bones and ligaments. A victim to likely poor lineage, both of his back knees contain numerous problems as discovered by x-rays at the vet. While I once did all I can to increase the essential oils in his food to offer relief, I’ve seen success lately simply by switching to Realtree’s performance food.
This new product is known as a “30/25” food, meaning it contains 30% protein and 25% fat. Consumers will immediately notice that the 30/25 ratio is very uncommon in most popular dog foods, even those designed for sporting needs.
Richardson let me in on his secret during our recent talk. It seems Corey Nutrition has a proprietary process that allows the food to “seal in” the oil much more efficiently than the processes used by most competitors. In fact, Richardson noted that other foods advertising high levels of fat often actually contain less, as some is “leached out” in the bag. Corey’s food, however, is guaranteed to contain the advertised numbers.
In addition, when consumers demand a lower cost dog food, the first thing cut out is fat, as this is the most costly ingredient. Customers may pay a little more for Realtree’s new product, but I can’t see how there’s any argument there. Do the math. Vet bills aren’t ever cheap. Consider the costs of everything else we spend money on to go waterfowling: hundreds of dollars for a dozen decoys, shotguns are in the thousands, and some shells are several dollars apiece, yet we burn through those as fast as we can load them.
Now ask yourself: Isn’t your best hunting buddy worth an extra twenty bucks a month? I’ve heard some guys pay that for a haircut…
In any case, when you see the new Realtree food on the shelves, give it a try. You might find you, too, quickly develop a “palatability problem” in your home.
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Realtree waterfowl editor Brian Lovett has been an obsessive duck and goose hunter for more than 30 years, chasing his passion on the Dakota prairies and the marshes and open water of his home state of Wisconsin. He's been a writer and editor in the outdoors industry since 1991.