What’s Oscar Eating? Bil-Jac – Small Breed Select Chicken, Oatmeal and Yam Formula

At the end of August, the Bzz Agent organization contacted me about an opening in their dog food campaign. I love my skincare and beauty products but I was coincidentally running low on dog food so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for Oscar to try something new and, hopefully, good.

[If you need more info about what Bzz Agent is and how to you can try products for free, please read my blog entry about the organization here.]

Before signing up for the campaign, though, I did a little Google research on the Bil-Jac company. After all, Oscar would be ingesting their products and I wanted to be certain that this wasn’t a shady brand of dog food. I’d actually never heard of Bil-Jac before. I tend to shop for dog food at supermarkets, Costco, or drugstores and the brands available there are limited to Mighty Dog, Dog Chow/Puppy Chow, Pedigree, and generic store brands.

My worries were put to rest. Bil-Jac is quite reputable. They’re a family owned and operated company that has been around since 1947. All of their products are made in the USA and can only be purchased from specialty pet stores like Petco and Petsmart, which explains why I wasn’t familiar with the brand name. Their company has also never had to issue a pet food recall, so they have a very good track record.

Here’s a quick look at the items that were included in my Bzz Kit:

Bzz Agent Bil-Jac Bzz Kit

I’ve scanned the brochure pages so you can read all of the info that was included:

In skincare/cosmetics terms, Bil-Jac would be considered mid-range to high-end dog food. The least expensive dog food comes in a 6-lb bag and sells for $16.99 and their most expensive Premium dog food in the 30-lb bag costs $50.99.

The reason behind the price tag is higher quality. According to Bil-Jac, their dog food contains “more real, fresh chicken than other dry dog foods” and “4 lbs. of chicken is used to make a 6 lb. bag” of Bil-Jac dog food. They claim that because their dog food is so crammed with nutrients, dogs will actually need to eat less (compared to your current dog food) in order to satisfy their hunger.

With all that said, for the past couple of months Oscar, my one year old Mal-Shi (mixed breed Maltese/Shih Tzu), has been dining on Bil-Jac’s dog food for small breeds. When Bzz Agent sent me my Bil-Jac Bzz Kit, they included an informational brochure about the brand, one voucher for a free bag of Bil-Jac dog food (up to a $16.99 value), and five $10-off coupons to share with friends. I used the voucher at Petsmart to get a 6-lb. bag of Bil-Jac Small Breed Select Chicken, Oatmeal and Yam Formula dry dog food. I ended up paying only a few cents for tax which is awesome for a deal hunter like me.

The dog food comes in a plastic sack with a ziploc closure that prevents the dry dog food from going hard and stale. It’s a small detail but one that I love. All of the dry dog foods that I’ve purchased in the past just come in a paper sack, and you either have to use a big Chip Clip which doesn’t guarantee freshness absolutely or you have to transfer the dog food into a air-tight container which is just a pain.

Generic dog food (left), Bil-Jac dog food (right)

I was a little surprised at seeing the actual dog food for the first time. I’m used to seeing kibble in round, square or triangular shapes in vivid red, brown, golden colors. The Bil-Jac dog food comes in drab colored pellets. It reminds me of the pellets you can feed the animals at a petting zoo. Thinking about it though, I suppose that since Bil-Jac is touted as a more natural dog food brand that they wouldn’t add “unnatural and fake” food coloring and dyes to their pellets, so I should perhaps adjust my thinking and realize that this is how dog food should look.

Bil-Jac dog food

Prior to trying Bil-Jac, Oscar had been eating a generic store brand of dog food. I never stick with the same dog food. Once one bag runs out, I switch to another brand. Maybe I’m humanizing animals too much, but I think Oscar gets bored with eating the same thing everyday — I know I would — so I like to change things up for him. He’s only a little over a year old and so far he’s tried Puppy Chow, Pedigree, Dog Chow, the generic store brand, and now Bil-Jac. I never buy wet dog food that comes in cans, only dry, and I supplement the dry dog food with fresh cooked chicken (or pork) and chopped cooked veggies (usually carrots and potatoes). I just mix a handful of fresh ingredients in with the dry dog food.

Generic dog food (top), Bil-Jac dog food (bottom)

Bil-Jac has a fun experiment called the Two Bowl Challenge. “Place a small amount of your dog’s current food in one bowl and a small amount of Bil-Jac in antoerh bowl.” They’re confident that your pets will choose Bil-Jac. I tried it on Oscar and it worked; he gobbled the food down like their was no tomorrow. But I think Oscar was getting bored of the generic dog food I had been feeding him; he was doing that thing where he pushes the dog food away from him, as if he’s saying, “Really?! This again?!” I’m pretty sure he would’ve been happy to eat anything new because when I gave him Bil-Jac again the next day, he pushed his food bowl away from him just like he’d done with the generic. Oscar was used to eating a mix of fresh and dry ingredients so I don’t think he liked going back to a completely dry dog food diet. I’m back to mixing fresh meat and veggies into his dog food and he appears to be doing well with that.

One thing I was especially impressed and surprised by was that — GROSSNESS ALERT — Oscar didn’t experience the runs or any digestive problems when I made the sudden change to Bil-Jac. In fact, if anything, his bowel movements are a lot more regular and a lot smaller since he’s started on this dog food. Yay for him and more for me since I’m the one trailing behind him with a pooper scooper.

For review purposes — well, actually because I’m just a curious person by nature — I took a tiny nibble from one of the dog food pellets. I’m embarrassed to admit this but I’ve taken a tiny, curious nibble from all of Oscar’s dry dog foods. Oscar’s my baby. I wouldn’t feel comfortable feeding him something that I wouldn’t at least try, and I want to know that I’m not giving him something that tastes vile (e.g. rancid). To keep my brain from being all grossed out, I try to think of it as a meat flavored cookie. I can say with 100% certainty that the Bil-Jac dog food tastes the most like real chicken out of any of Oscar’s dry dog foods. If you want me to get more descriptive, the Bil-Jac dog food tastes like cooked chicken livers…very bland chicken livers since there’s no salt or seasoning added. All dry dog foods are bland though.

Would I recommend Bil-Jac to others? Absolutely! Their company has a great reputation and their dog food contains high-quality nutritious ingredients that had a positive effect on the health of my pet. Would I repurchase? Definitely but only if their was a sale or coupon. I don’t think I would spend $17 or more for dog food regularly. I mean his previous generic dog food cost $7 (on sale, regularly $14) for 17.6 lbs. versus the 6 lb. Bil-Jac for $16.99. Also, I wish their dog food was more widely available. In order to even get my free bag of dog food I had to drive 10 miles out of my way to find a Petco or Petsmart. It would be wonderful if I could find the brand at a supermarket, drugstore or mass retailer. Imagine being able to use CVS Bucks (or any other store rewards program), a store coupon and manufacturer’s coupon in order to score some Bil-Jac dog food for less. That would be awesome!

P.S. Here’s a look at Oscar’s current fashion statement. He’s sporting a Winnie the Pooh hoodie, perfect for the cool weather. He’s been looking a little sad today. I think it’s because of the rain but maybe he knows that he’s scheduled to be neutered on Friday. Oh, noes!

Oscar the Pooh