Product Review: Kroger’s Pet Pride “Soft” Dog Foods

Fact of the matter is, when you work blue-collar jobs, but live with 12, sigh… currently 13 dogs, premium foods just aren’t possible.

Our method of insuring maximum nutritional value, while avoiding recall risks is to rotate and mix foods.  In doing this, we have maintained healthy and happy dogs, while at the same time avoiding any chance that if one of the foods does happen to be the subject of a recall, it’s not possible for the kids to get a concentration of bad stuff large enough to do harm.    Contrary to what the books say, this method has produced kids that can eat virtually anything, without getting sick.

Kroger’s Pet Pride soft foods were in our rotation for those kids that are fed soft in their diets.

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Vito is not one of the kids who regularly got soft food.   But, when he started getting sick, of course he was offered soft over kibble to keep him eating.  Two days before his emergency obstruction surgery, Vito was fed 1 packet each of the Pet Pride Beef in Gravy and Turkey in Gravy flavors.

I want to be very clear here:  The Pet Pride food did NOT cause Vito’s obstruction, but what I saw with my own eyes after the surgery was very disturbing:

Parts of the obstruction were unidentifiable to the operating veterinarian.  Since we wanted to know the source of the problem, we requested the materials removed be saved so that we could determine what they were to eliminate the source here at home.

I was presented with a zip lock bag of muck.  In that muck, I could see pieces of my work boots (the original cause of the obstruction), what appeared to be grasses, a lot of dog hair,  and, most disturbingly, the clearly identifiable solids from the Pet Pride dog food, these solids being previously described by the vet as ‘what looks like plastic’.

48 hours after eating the last packet of Pet Pride food, the ‘meat’ chunks of both flavors were removed, completely in tact, as originally fed, from Vito’s digestive tract.    The pieces of chicken and beef, cooked by me and eaten by Vito the day after he ate the Pet Pride food, and the day before his surgery, were gone.  There were no traces of kibble, Vito’s regular food.

Vito’s acute problem had nothing to do with the ability to digest food as evidenced by the fact that no previously fed kibble nor real meat cooked by me was found.  That the Pet Pride “meat” chunks remained wholly in tact clearly leads one to wonder just exactly what they are made of.

I need to be a fair here:

When I was finished freaking out over the fact that I had no idea what I was feeding my kids, I researched the other brands of soft foods we use in the rotation.  The disturbing information discovered there lead me to research many of the premium brands.

The result of my research on virtually all available canned and soft foods is thus:

I will never again feed commercially available soft foods.  Instead, I will get off my lazy butt and make the meals for the kids that require it.

For this product review, specifically for Kroger’s Pet Pride soft foods, my recommendation is to throw it away if you have it.   Though it didn’t cause Vito’s obstruction, I could see it as a cause of obstruction for other small dogs with compromised digestive systems.  If it is a case of cost – spread peanut butter on a toilet paper roll and feed it to your dog.   From what I saw in that zip lock bag – it would be safer – at least the toilet paper roll can be broken down by digestive processes.    (Don’t do it! I’m just trying to make a point!)

My recommendation to everyone is to really research the soft foods of any brand you feed your dogs.

For my part, I have already prepared a week’s worth of my special “feel better food” that will be used in place of commercial soft foods from here on in.

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23 thoughts on “Product Review: Kroger’s Pet Pride “Soft” Dog Foods

  1. Just so that I understand perfectly, ”The result of my research on virtually all available canned and soft foods is thus: I will never again feed commercially available soft foods. ” I’m kind of confused by the inclusion of canned food here since I thought wet food and soft food are two different categories. Thanks!!

    1. Soft foods (canned, moist or any foods that contain more than 25% moisture) are lumped in my discussion. For soft foods, we rotated canned and pouched – both with very high moisture content. We never did the semi-moist Gains Burger (is that the name of it??) type. That always reminded me to clay, and I wouldn’t serve clay to my kids.

      There is more in the literature – and I’m not referring to web sites – I’m talking peer reviewed journals, technical papers and FDA documents – many available on the web, concerning canned than ‘pouched’ though the 2 are pretty close when you put them in a bowl. I would have thunk, since cans were supposed to be sterilized after sealing, they would be safer, but I’m not so sure anymore. If I can’t be sure, I’m better off cooking the soft stuff myself.

      1. You are doing a great job of researching in order to keep your dogs safe and healthy! I still believe that raw feeding is the best choice, and it is not as expensive as people think. Purchasing raw, ground meat from the butcher/grocer adds up(monthly) to the same cost as good quality commercial foods. The cost can increase if one chooses to include other supplements, but I don’t.

      2. It’s not the raw that bothers me, it’s the chain of handling before that raw gets to me. There is a local co-op that supplies the local BARF set. Unfortunately, there have been more than a few food borne disease outbreaks. Where the breakdown occurred is hard to determine.

        Since the Kroger post, all but 3 (and the neglected 3 are neglected only due to $ize, but still get 1/2 and 1/2) have been converted to a formulated home made plan. I say plan because it is made up of several coordinated meals. Since there’s no way to determine deficiencies or toxicities just by looking at a dog, I monitor them through repeated blood work. So far so good, and no additional supplementation necessary.

        Consider buying whole roasts rather than ground. By feeding ground, you are already starting at an amino acid loss due to oxidation. The greater the surface area, the faster the rate of breakdown. Also, except in rare circumstances, the thicker the cut, the less surface area for bacterial or viral contamination. In theory, you can flash boil a roast to kill any microbes on the outside and still have a raw interior. I know the raw people scream enzyme destruction with any form of cooking, but, at least according to a few years of blood results, the dog’s own production of pepsin seems to take up the slack.

      3. Great info, and I do feed whole parts sometimes, as well as organs, fat trimmings, etc.. I don’t worry about bacteria(Salmonella, E. Coli) as I believe the (healthy) canine digestive system efficiently processes these. How else do we think street dogs survive so well? Not that I would purposely feed bacteria-laden meats, but that I simply don’t worry about the fresh foods I do feed. Humans are much more susceptible to those bacteria than healthy dogs.

  2. I feel your pain about the price of dog food…The owner of my little country feed store went to great lengths to find me a ‘cheaper’ but healthier kibble. I was paying $21 for a 50lb. bag of Ol’ Roy from walmart…which I hated to feed. I’m currently paying $18 for a 40 lbs. bog of Country Time Dog Food…It has no corn and no soy, but it does still have wheat in it…but it is listed after Chicken and Chicken meal….It would almost be cheaper to feed raw chicken…but that has it’s own issues! It’s crazy when I look and I spend more on dog food every month than I do on human food lol

    1. It’s very hard for people with a single dog to understand that a rescue home might not have the ability to feed expensive. To often people have too narrow a view, not understanding the prize: Do I feed 1 expensive, or do I keep several that would have died without me alive? I will always choose to keep the ones others pass over, alive, and unless and until our feeding regimen causes harm, we are doing OK, despite opinions and what the books say… Besides, I think the pictures and the videos of the kids speak for themselves!

      Gotta chime in on the whole “raw food thing”:

      Yes, dogs evolved from wolves and wolves eat raw, but the raw wolves eat is so totally different from the raw that is in our food chain. In my humble opinion, a genetically natural, raw caribou is a heck of a lot safer than a genetically altered, raised in deplorable conditions, carcass going through a pretty extensive chain of custody, chicken. I would never feed raw, even from the grocery store, to my kids. Boil that chicken for quite a while, and then I will feed it.

      1. I’ve become a little hypocritical about raw bones, but at least they only come in once a month. Cooked bones break easier. If teeth and gums could be properly cared for with plastic and rubber, then why aren’t those particular dog dental tools growing on trees naturally? I have noticed a difference in teeth since offering marrow and knuckle bones fresh, once a month. By the time they are replaced, the flavor is pretty much shot anyway.

  3. Your points are well taken, but I don’t think that they should be interpreted to EXCLUDE kibble. Basically it comes to a choice. There have been some very well publicized cases in which questionable kibble has resulted in total disaster. From a practical point of view, it makes no sense to scrimp on the cheapest dog food if the end result is a sick pet. As you have well experienced over your many : ) years, vet bills can add up fast. So, is it going to be a “pay now, or pay later”? I am not an expert, but since my little buddy is totally indiscriminant in what he will eat, and what he eats is not always kind to him, the FIRST thing that I look at is the contents of the product. For Harley, wheat and corn are pretty much product eliminators. Next, I go on line and check any reviews the product may have. I check the country the food is processed in as well. Other countries may not have the same regulations that we have in the US. I check the recall record of the company that supplies the product and how many “product line” they produce. I also check out the listed calorie content. By eliminating ingredients that have been suspected as allergens to him previously, by staying generally within certain nutritional guidelines, and by having a planned weight control strategy, I then look at the last factor – – PRICE. If that is unacceptable, I start all over.

    I have spent quite a bit of time researching Harley’s food, but I work cheap. My vet doesn’t! I think my time has been pretty well spent, and Harley does too.

    Now if I would pay as much attention to what I eat, as I do to what Harley eats, I would be better off – – but that’s another story.

    1. I do agree with you as far as kibble being equally questionable, but we have put in place safeguards to protect against problems (mixing and rotating). However, I disagree with some of your other statements:

      Back in the day, we fed Science Diet – the first of the premium foods. Now it’s on the top 10 worst. Waltham was the best of the best when it came out, now it is only available mail order and doesn’t appear on any list. Back in the day, we fed Beneful when it was in the top 10 best foods. It sits on the bottom now. Iams is supposed to be primo, but it seems to fluctuate between lists. In other words, what is good today may be not so good tomorrow. Blue Buffalo is all the rage today – but it is still new. Give it time… That doesn’t mean it’s a bad food, it just means it hasn’t been around long enough yet to be really judged.

      People believe that 100% balanced = 100% requirements met. That is not the case. Balanced means only that the nutrients are in the proper proportions, not that they are in the proper amounts. The statement “No single food can supply all” (applied to all foods, even the premium and super premiums) can be found in the literature – not web pages, but peer reviewed journals and technical papers done by independent researchers. Because the labels don’t say 100% complete nutritional requirements, they are not in violation of FDA rules. Check the labels next time you are in a pet store. You’ll see how carefully manufacturers choose their words. If you do find one that makes such a claim, look for the asterisk that directs you to a footnote which states that neither the FDA nor AAFCO have evaluated the claim.

      As can be seen from our videos, our kids are healthy and happy, eating a mix. The illnesses you referred to are not nutritionally related: 4 Valley Fevers, 1 Neurological, possibly related to Valley Fever, possibly not, a few stings, a snake bite, and now 2 intestinal obstructions. OK, so the obstructions were related to eating, but what was eaten was not supposed to be! There have been several Mommy freaked over nothing instances as well. Oh, and Maude’s old lady eye problem, and her aged difficulties in expressing her anal glands. Indeed, in the case of Maude, our current vet said, looking at her blood work, she appeared much younger than she actually was at age 12. Otis living 2 years past his breed’s average life span – with cancer no less – is another boast.

      We lost our Arrrmando (the second ‘r’ is silent) a few years back to a sudden onset condition. 2 weeks after his passing, his sole food, still listed in the top 10 today, was recalled, one of the symptoms being what Arrrmando (the second ‘r’ is silent) was admitted to the hospital with. When the recall was announced, I checked the batch numbers on Arrrmando’s (the second ‘r’ is silent) food. Sure enough, they were of the recalled batch. Because his death was 2 weeks before the recall announcement, there was no way to determine whether the food killed him, or if he simply got sick with similar symptoms. Since that time we have become very leery of feeding ANY food as a single source. It takes a build up to cause toxicity and it takes deaths to trigger a recall. At least the way we feed now, we have a fighting chance of not losing a kid before we find out the food is bad.

      Sad fact of the matter is, with so many recalls of late, even on human foods, it is just a matter of time before any of the available foods on the market have a recall.

      In dog food there are many opportunities for something to go wrong in canned that are not as likely in kibble.

      Since most of the problems were caused by a build up of whatever issue was had with the food, thereby preventing an immediate notice, we sleep better simply diluting whatever we feed.

  4. 🙂 Seeing as I’m pretty sure my guys have a dead baby hog under the house I can’t see, but only smell…I’m thankful for Kibble, no matter where it comes from…also very thankful for wormer….lol 🙂 I keep hoping that the Dog Food Fairy will magically deliver a full palette of something(anything?) eatable to my house…I would love to have that extra $300+ that I spend on dog food back into my pocket every month…but I can’t imagine giving up any of my babies because of the price of food…even the fosters that I can’t wait to see go. lol

    1. Sorry Edgar… this just popped up in my comments tab today. I see it is dated May 17… not sure what’s up with that. not seeing another comment either..

  5. Great post. I often struggle with trying to find the best food for Joey that is within my budget. I also tend to rotate foods, depending on sales and coupons. He seems to like the rotation better. If I try feeding him the same food all the time, he gets tired of it and doesn’t want to eat it.

    1. With an infestation of K9’s, even healthy, at least one is going to spit up something from time to time. Since we started rotating and mixing, rarely, if ever does anyone get sick.

      Have you seen a difference in Joey since you started rotating?

    1. Look into commercial cat foods… if we dared bring a cat into The Hoard, I would be looking for recipes I could make myself. It’s scary out there!

  6. Our oldest 4 of our 5 dogs had skin tags, gaining in size and number over the years. The oldest 2 developed cancer. The 13 year old puppy I called “my heart” passed away last year from esophageal cancer on the anniversary of my mother’s death. The 2nd oldest had a cancerous tumor in the eye which was removed last June. The vet said he had a mass in his chest and his best guess was that the Gentle Giant had months to live.

    Our puppies were rarely given soft dog food, but the circumstantial evidence pointed to a problem with the dog foods we had been feeding them. Like you, we rotated different foods, too.

    We changed to Diamond no soy/wheat/corn. So far, the youngest of the dogs has no skin tags. The Gentle Giant who had the eye removed was given chicken liver, gizzard and soft food made from soaking the Diamond food in water and mixing the liver/gizzard mixture in with it (along with a supplement). With a great deal of tender, loving care on the part of my husband (who carried an 82 pound dog everywhere with him) he’s now running again and has learned how to compensate for the loss of an eye.

    I can understand why it’s hard to give your 4-footed family the expensive stuff. We have 4 puppies and 2 kitties. Between the cost of food, flea and tick control, normal care and vet bills I guarantee that our 4-footed family eats better than we do. 🙂

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