When it's your turn to wield the scooper, you have a lot of time to think about whether or not your dog's food is contributing to the amount of scooping you have to do. While your dog's activity level can affect how much or how little waste he produces, overall it's a quality, digestible diet that will mean less scooper work for you.
High quality doesn't have to mean a high price tag when it comes to dog food, but typically, you pay more for a dog food that produces less waste. That's because those foods contain ingredients from animal protein like chicken, beef, venison or rabbit, a vital ingredient in an optimal food for a meat-eater. According to Dr. Marty Becker in his 2011 book, "Your Dog: The Owner's Manual," dogs who eat an optimal diet use most of it during digestion and have very little left to deposit on your lawn. When reading dog food labels to determine the level of quality, you should be able easily recognize the names of the ingredients. The source of protein should be listed first, indicating that it's the main ingredient in the food.
Avoid the Cereal Fillers
Unless you make your dog's food yourself, there's probably no way to get around a dog food that contains filler ingredients like corn meal, bone meal, soy or other grains. But your dog doesn't process plant-based protein efficiently so much of what he eats of a food full of fillers won't be used. Feeding him a food that is low in filler ingredients or one that doesn't contain any at all will result in less landmines to pick up and avoid stepping in.
Bottom Line: Digestibility
In her 2005 book, "Bring Me Home! Dogs Make Great Pets," Margaret H. Bonham tells readers that premium dogs foods that are highly digestible result in feeding your dog less and having less waste to scoop up. Because of the differing levels of various ingredients that different manufacturers use, some are more digestible than others. Sometimes you can find a dog food label that states it's made specifically to be digestible, but most dog foods don't include that information on the packaging. Puppy parents who want to know for sure can contact dog food manufacturers to ask about the digestibility of their products and should look for ones that are over 80 percent digestible.
Semisoft, Canned or Dry?
There's also the issue of what form dog food should take: semisoft, dry or canned. A premium dry dog food is your best bet if you're looking to decrease the amount of waste your dog produces without breaking the bank. He'll process it efficiently, plus dry dog food tends to be less expensive than canned. Canned foods can be high quality, but you still may need to feed Fido more canned food than dry, which is where you run into higher expenses. Semisoft foods are the ones to steer clear of, as they contain preservatives, corn syrup and sugar, all non-essential elements you don't want to feed your dog, and that can result in more waste than the other two options.
- Your Dog; Marty Becker
- Bring Me Home! Dogs Make Great Pets; Margaret H. Bonham
- The Complete Guide to Mutts; Margaret H. Bonham
- United States Department of Agriculture: Composting Dog Waste
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Pet Food Labels - General
- Puppy's First Steps; Edited by Nicholas H. Dodman and Lawrence Lindner
- 42 Rules to Fight Dog Cancer; Aimee Quemuel
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images