Owning a dog in Korea has had it's challenges, one of them being trying to find a good quality, grain-free dog food that doesn't cost the earth. I am so happy to say that I have found a local Korean brand of dog food that is great quality at a fantastic price.
If you're looking for a really good site that reviews god food, head over to Dog Food Advisor. They rank dog foods from 1 to 5 star, and recommend feeding your dog food that is over 4 stars and above. Dog Food Advisor do thorough testing and have all the info you need to know more about the different brands of dog food.
Why Grain Free dog food?
Grain-free dog food has become a trend in the dog food industry (just like the term 'Organic' is for human food). Even though a lot of companies are jumping on the bandwagon to market their food as grain free (and charge a fortune!) I do choose to feed my dog a grain free food. Most of the popular (ie cheap) supermarket brands of dog food contain a lot of nasty fillers in their formulations. This means that you think you are buying a good quality food with lots of natural ingredients, when instead the proteins are last on the ingredient list, with a filler like corn being at the top of the list. Not only are a lot of dogs allergic to wheat (just like a lot of people) but there are lots of other nasty things inside those cheap foods. That's why I choose to feed Shadow a grain free formula. Another plus to grain free, high quality food is that your dogs waste is a lot smaller, 'tidier' and less smelly. If your dog is eating a poor quality food with lots of fillers, they tend to have those huge, smelly poo's as their bodies aren't absorbing the good stuff from the food (because there isn't much goodness actually in the food). The smaller and more 'compact' your pups poo, the more nutrients he is absorbing. That's a good way to see if the food you are feeding your dog is good for him/her.
Where to buy dog food in Korea
So the next biggest challenge, after finding a dog food you think will be suitable for you dog, is to find out if it's available in Korea. A lot of brands ARE available in Korea but you WILL pay a fortune for them, due to the high cost of companies importing and shipping them into Korea. A lot of vets and big pet stores stock the higher quality brands, and the big marts like Emart & Lotte Mart sometimes stock certain brands too. But as I don't stay anywhere near any one of those kind of stores I have had to buy online.
Before I found out about Iskhan, I was buying Taste Of the Wild online. Taste of The Wild is one of the brands of grain-free, high quality food that is recommended by a lot of dog owners. TOW (Taste of the Wild) is an American brand, and so the prices here in Korea are sky high. I fed Shadow the Salmon & Sweet Potato puppy formula for the first year which cost me W90 000 for a 13.5kg bag which lasted about 2 - 3 months. I just accepted that if I wanted to feed him a good quality food, it was going to cost more. I did also try the Kirkland Signature Nature's Domain brand from Costco (which I had read is actually made by the same company as Taste Of the Wild and supposedly has a very similar formulation) but I wasn't a big fan of it. It was just about half the price (about W40 000 for a 15kg bag) but we don't stay anywhere near a Costco, and the one trip we did to Costco to track down the food, they didn't have any in stock. So I reverted to paying the exorbitant cost of TOW.
Another problem I have with dog food is that my dog is an incredibly fussy eater. I wasn't sure if it was because he didn't like the food, or whether we was just being a typical Jindo. Jindo dogs are known for being picky eaters, choosing to eat and not eat at will. A lot of JIndo owners free feed their dogs (ie leave a bowl of food out for the dog to help themselves to) as they generally don't over eat and will only eat when they are hungry. Shadow would often go the whole day and night without eating anything. I learned not to worry that he was sick, and just leave his food out for him to nibble on. I did also try adding all kinds of tasty treats, bribing him to eat his food. But that just got ridiculous. The amount of time I spent boiling bones, cooking broth and fussing over adding coconut oil and other treats to his food was just crazy. When he was about 5 months old he would wolf down his food, so much so that we had to get him a special bowl to make him eat slower. Once he got to about 8 months he started being picky, refusing to eat unless his food was covered in coconut oil, or smothered in broth and meaty chunks.
I thought Shadow was in great condition while eating TOW. I thought his coat was shiny and soft, and that he generally looked healthy. That was until I met up with a friend and her husky and I touched her husky's gorgeous coat. It was silky smooth, softer than my own hair. I couldn't get over how amazing her dogs coat was. I asked her what she was feeding her, and how much it cost. She told me she was feeding her husky Iskhan Performance and that it only costs about W40 000 for a 15kg bag. She then helped me order it right away and I've just received our second order.
I am so happy to report that Shadow loves the Iskhan food. He still sometimes won't finish the entire bowl but he is now ALWAYS at least interested in his food and waits in his room at meal times (something he didn't do with the TOW). His coat is incredibly soft and shiny, his eyes bright and clear and he has filled out and has stopped looking like he has an eating problem. I am very happy with the food and highly recommend it. It's also great to support a local Korean company, rather than buying from imported brands.
Iskhan is made by Daehan Feed Co & ere is a little blurb about Iskhan from their website:
NEW ISKHAN - Holistic Pet Food with fresh deboned chicken meat and superior natural ingredients.
"NEW ISKHAN" product is made with superior natural ingredients such as fresh deboned chicken meat, flaxseed, kelp meal, fructo-oligosaccharides etc to give your dog healthy skin, a shiny coat, clear eyes and overall good health while reducing wastes.
Iskhan has a lot of different formulations (they are numbered 1 - 4 with #1 being for young puppies and 4 being for older dogs) and I have just seen on their website that they also make a grain-free cat food formula too. I fed Shadow the Junior formula, and have just ordered the adult range, Performance, pictured above:
I also like that they include English descriptions on their packaging, with their ingredient list being in English too. Here is a link find for Iskhan on Gmarket (click here). It's listed at W50 000 for the 15kg bag of Performance (adult formulation). I have a Korean friend help me order it from a company Wellcares. I just send them a a text message with my address and they send me their bank details to pay and then they send it to me. It's not much cheaper than Gmarket (I pay W43 000 for the 15kg Performance) and would suggest using Gmarket unless you have a Korean friend to help you order each time.
Here are some photographs of the Junior formula packaging so you can see the entire ingredient list. This is what I started Shadow on. He is now around 18 months old and as my order of Performance just arrived, that's what I will switch him to now.
Just a note when switching food, make sure to start off slowly with the new food. If you feed your dog a cup of food, start off with 1/4 of new food, and 3/4 of his old food. After a few days slowly increase the amount of new food and decrease their old food. The whole process should take about 2 weeks to transition them and let their tummies adjust to the new food. If you don't transition slowly your dog will have a very sick stomach and you'll probably have to deal with a lot of diarrhea until their bodies adjust to the new food. This is natural, but can be avoided by going slow.
I hope you found this post helpful. Click the images below to read my other posts on owning a dog in Korea: