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Discussion Starter #1
How would you let a family member know they're feeding their dog bad food? Without sounding condescending/rude/know it all?
My sister in law is feeding her lab a kibble with its first two ingredients being corn and soybean meal. Meat is the third or fourth ingredient.
Her lab is also overweight.
I want to help but don't want to cause any issues.
Anyone else deal with something similar?

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I typically don't discuss things like training and diet with friends (my family doesn't have pets).

If I were going to, I'd approach it like a testimonial. "Hey, I tried this great new food for my dog and he loves it. His poops are better and he smells less. Best thing is it only costs this much and you can get it here.". I might even give them a sample to try or say my vet or trainer recommended it.

Anything else will come across as a judgment and likely turn the other person off to what you are saying before you even get the words out.
 

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You could approach her via surprised/sweet/happy and make her realize the problem. As in: "oh wow, she/he is a very big dog, I've never seen a "insert breed here", what and how much do you feed her/him?". Something along the lines of that, what brand etc. also ask if she has asked the vet to give the dog that brand/that amount?

I would add "vet" in there as a reference so you personally don't look like "know it all". You could even look at the food bag yourself as they have measurements there and show her that...

I understand it is your sister in law and all but you could always talk to your brother and tell her that she is doing it wrong.


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I really try not to judge people on what they feed their dogs without knowing the reason behind it, it might be a financial thing or just plain stubborn and there's nothing you can say that will change their mind. Also, most people treat their dogs like kids so coming out with "your dog is fat, you really should feed him better" can truly upset someone and needs to be handled with tact.

Now, if you truly want to say something I totally agree with Jamie. When I swapped to a new kibble I spoke to both my parents and sister about it, it wasn't the greatest of foods but at the time it was affordable and decent. Low and behold, since they were both struggling with their current food they decided to try it and it worked. My parents still feed that kibble, though my sister had to swap off of it as her dog was still having issues after a while. I've since swapped to a better one but it's much more expensive and they're feeding three large and one medium size dog so I understand why they wouldn't be looking to swap again and I haven't brought it up.

As for the dog's weight if you live nearby why don't you offer to do walks together, encourage by saying you're starting a new regime for getting both yourself and your dog healthier and are looking for support and people to join you. If they agree, even if it's just once a week you can talk about the new things you're trying regarding food, treats, new toys, etc. If they don't, why don't you offer to bring their dog along for the walk so it can get some exercise as long as it can keep up.

Encourage encourage encourage, just like a human. Point out how good the dog looks if they are starting to work with it more and laud the benefits of what they're doing! People love praise and so do animals

My family knows I researching dog things to death so most of the time they're asking me for my advice on certain things like food, nail clippers, brushes, rashes, etc. If I don't know I research it and give them my findings and let them make their own decisions. If they don't ask, I normally don't bring it up and I admit I do bite my tongue quite a bit but I remind myself that I'm not a expert and my opinion could easily be wrong.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you for the advice everyone.
I'm definitely having a hard time not judging (something I need to work on).
I guess because we were fostering the lab for several weeks before my SIL decided to take him. While he was with us he was very well mannered, healthy, listened, and was gaining confidence (he was a year and a half at that time).
Six months later we are dog sitting him while they're on vacation. He has zero manners left and is afraid of everything -he won't even walk past a baby gate-he shuts down. These are bigger issues than the type of dog food they're feeding him, I know...but again, I'm really not sure how to approach her with this. Especially since they've had dogs before so its not like they're new to dog ownership.
Its my husband's sister, so it might be a financial issue (in regards to feeding). They're a family of six, plus the lab.
But they do live in front of a golf course with beautiful walking trails that the kids ride their bikes on.
There should be no reason for him NOT to get exercise (imo).
They do live about 30min from us, but I will start offering to come over and have our dogs go for walks together. Hopefully that will help with his weight & help him become more confident by being out more.
Thanks again!

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I simply don't.

Just like I don't like being judged for not going raw or paying $80 for a bag of Orijen Six Fish, I simply don't judge people for feeding $26 bags of Pedigree. It's none of my business, and if it's proven to be poisonous to dogs to non allergic dogs, then it needs to be taken up with the AFFCO and FDA to ban it.

The vast majority of veterinarians which are the college educated and subject expertise recommend Science Diet which has only has 24% guaranteed protein and corn gluten meal. I definitely can't say anything judgemental to people feeding what their vets strongly recommends.

My opinion:
I've been self debating between the Kirkland Nature's Domain Salmon by Costco and Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon. I am convinced that fish as the primary ingredient and grain fee is the right food for dogs. My vet has no objection to either food even though her preference is Science Diet as her choice. I've only been asked to pay attention to recalls as both Blue Buffalo and Diamond have had histories of recalls in the past.

I have no desire to create a religion out of this like vegetarians and vegans have in the human world.

So it's pretty much the debate of 24% vs 34% of guaranteed protein, and whether the extra protein is worth $30 for a smaller bag.

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