Making the switch: Dog Foods

Discussion in 'Dog Health' started by tx_cowgirl, Oct 14, 2008.

  1. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Recently I've been exploring different foods because I may be interested in changing. My dogs are currently on Authority Harvest Baked, which is about middle of the road for premium foods and is fairly affordable. Some of the foods that I am wondering about that I have found in my area are:

    Nature's Variety---Instinct

    Wellness CORE


    Also, what are the benefits of raw diets? How are they better than other foods, if they are better than other foods? I realize your answers could be influenced widely by opinion, but I do know that both can be beneficial for the dog.

    I cannot pay $50 for a 30 pound bag of food. For one, this would not last long with my four dogs, and two, I simply can't afford it. If you have any suggestions I do want to hear them!! :) I'm going to discuss my thoughts with my vet tomorrow and pay a visit to these food suppliers...
    My dogs get quite a bit of exercise, and 2 of them are extremely high energy. They are all at healthy weights and range from 3-6. We jog daily for a bare minimum of 1 hour, then walk for at least another hour. One of them will hopefully soon be starting either agility or flyball. Occasionally they go swimming as well.
    Your help and suggestions are greatly appreciated. :dogsmile:

  2. snooks Experienced Member

    do u ever read whole dog jounal?? they have a 2008 food eval for grain free and those with grain. u can purchase the articles separately but they go over so much detail even sources of ingredients, country of origin, grain fed vs pasture fed beef etc. if you subscribe it's very cheap and the back articles down loads are $7.50. w/o a subscription the articles alone are $10. it's a great monthly, i've found soooo much that was very useful in it. thought it might help. i don't know where all you've researched. they actually went to each company and interviewed and will tell you which companies volunteered the info and which would not. www.wholedogjournal.com.

    I do really like wellnesss, it seems to have most everything I could want for a commercial food.
  3. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    No, I don't read Whole Dog Journal but I will certainly look into it! Thanks Snooks! I like both of the foods I listed above, but was curious to see what others had to say and what other brands might be recommended.
  4. leema New Member

    A lot of vets are not into raw diets as they don't sell them. ;)

    In my opinion, raw diets are benefical because it just makes sense. this is what dogs would get 'in the wild'. They may sample foods likes fruits or consequently eat some from the insides of their prey - but mostly it is meat, bones, and offal.

    I feed my dogs on a prey model - which is approximately 80% meat, 10% bone and 10% offal.

    Some insist that dogs need veggies... If you choose to feed this, they only get value from smashed veggies (eg blended). Orange and dark green veggies are best.

    Oh, and cost - costs me less than $1 a day for both dogs, though they are only little. :)
  5. snooks Experienced Member

    i have several friends that feed raw. i think u can do it cheaper or near the same cost with healthier results b/c the nutrients are natural, not synthetic and r absorbed more thoroughly. there's less crud that filters through the liver & kidneys, more water naturally in the food, & smaller droppings. this means u don't go buy free range organic chicken at a ridiculous cost at the supermarket. free range is a ridiculous term anyway since the definition of such is not that the chickens peck around a yard...only that they could step into a tiny bit of sun if they chance by. it would be better to buy local farm raised meats etc and probably cheaper & healthier 4 u and dogs.

    a lot of cheaper dog food is by weight filler that is not digested. calories/cup isn't the whole story. if a food needs to be fortified with vitamins and flavors its core ingredients are missing a lot. dogs r pooping out a lot of $$ unaltered with cheap food.

    i do combo raw and home cooked and am transitioning away from some kibble for both after both dogs being sick for several months. it was the tap water--to humor the vet i started using kibble, several vets insisted it was the raw diet. it was not.

    some people think it takes more time but i do things in bulk and freeze like yams etc. more for flavor and variety. buying meat i make baggies and freeze portions for a few days. so i really do not notice an impact. i think u r right about vets not selling raw. i think 98% of them are not nutritionists either; so they really don't know the right answer. as much as we respect them and trust them they are also not behaviorists either. i know my vets have made terrible training suggestions.

    a holistic vet is a better vet and a canine nutritionist for new raw feeders would be great since meat alone does not nutrition make. a balance of nutrition is necessary esp for puppies. it's like anything, once u understand it becomes 2nd nature.
  6. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Thank you both for the advice. I have noticed that many raw foods are quite inexpensive, but still of good quality. I'm considering mixing raw and kibbles, but still haven't decided...

    In the defense of the vets, they aren't taught to be trainers or nutritionists...they're taught to do surgeries and care for minor injuries and the like. Some of them may have chosen to pursue nutrition and training to help their patients and their own pets, but most are probably pretty burnt out after a minimum of 8 years of schooling. Veterinarians should be required to learn more of this, because proper training and nutrition would avoid sveral accidents that bring a dog to the vet....but then again, vets would be losing a bit of business. When Rover gets carried in with a broken leg because his owners didn't teach him not to run out the door and come when called, the clinic is getting money. If every dog owner that came in was thoroughly taught how to train their dogs, and did so successfully....well, very few bum legs would be coming in.

    NOT that I think that this is the sole reason they don't learn more about training and nutrition....just one point. And I'm not wishing harm on all the untrained animals of the world, and have yet to meet a vet who would. Just rambling. :)

    But as for foods....going to visit the one place in town that carries both the foods mentioned in the original post and see if they have a preference. Thanks for your tips!
  7. snooks Experienced Member

    ur welcome..i also did not mean to criticize vets. :) that's why some specialize as u say. there's too much detail for one person to know in medicine as there was in my field before i retired. i tire sometimes of the vets that fight and fight with me about it yet when i ask why don't have a reason. most of them don't object to the content but that it's uncooked and that i might get sick.

    honestly i think most worry that the dog won't get the right nutrition so they advise against it esp for puppies. it i certainly something that takes some research. so they do get points for good intent. FWIW my puppy was raw weaned and chews much more softly than the older dog so i think she'll have less risk of tooth damage. i watch them both with bones and buy big raw knuckles too large for them to fit into their mouths. the leg long bones tend to be harder and more brittle b/c they are weight bearing bone. a lot of places sell the knuckles sliced which to me is just a recipe for disaster since it makes shards of the bones.

    if you include kibble that are made of human grade foods that you would eat. i don't see anything wrong with leaving some of that in the diet. for people that don't add bone meal it is an important source of calcium if they do raw but no bone or ground bone. i like bravo's frozen raw, but as with most raw meat it does not meet AAFCO standards alone. there are several frozen good raw foods that may be quick cheap alternatives to local meat in a pinch.

    i read a lot about people that buy out of date meat or feed spoiled meat as a really cheap alternative and i just don't want to go there. eww
  8. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Ugh...out of date is definitely not an option. Fortunately my vet is quite open-minded and understands why I've pursued some of the foods that I have. I don't really do bones for whatever reason...not exactly sure why, I just haven't ever really gone and made a point of buying bones regularly for my pups to chew. I have Kongs which I stuff with my own quick little healthy homemade treat, and several chew toys. As for chews that's about it.

    I am not interested in buying kibbles with low-grade meats, which is why I'm looking into the foods that I am. My thinking is, if I wouldn't eat it, I'd prefer that my dog didn't either. Not that I would really want to eat my dog's food, and I'm an extremely picky eater myself anyway. Lol!

    I'm a bowhunter, and I normally save at least part of the edible, quality meat as a special mid-meal treat for my dogs. This is usually venison. (Call me cruel, but I have nothing against hunting as long as all of the animal is used and the hunting has a purpose--food or other--rather than simply sport and wasting most of the body. As for the killing of wolves, yes I'm very against it because certain kinds are endangered anyway....but well I'm getting off topic, lol.) So anyway, my pups get spoiled every now and then. And yes, I do make sure that animal showed no signs of illness and the meat is good. What I like about this is that it is as close to natural as it gets! The deer lived on clover, fruits, NATURALLY growing foods all its life. The ones on my lease lived on clover, fruits, naturally growing foods, and corn--of course not good for dogs, but is great for the development of the deer and especially the meat. Nothing's processed, no additives, no fillers...just plain, simple, pure meat. And I know exactly how it was made.
  9. snooks Experienced Member

    ur right bones are fairly controversial and not totally safe. Most canine dentists really recommend against them. to me it's a risk/benefit proposition. they have some outlet and don't chew on other things. i've had two slab fractures to doggie molars with nylabones which are harder. so i give only raw knuckles with a lot of meat attached so there is interest other than in just cracking the bone. and i throw them away after a couple of days when they start to dry out and become more brittle. usually i let them chew for a couple of hours supervised them pick them up and refrigerate in baggies. I'll scoop the marrow out before tossing and use it in a kong later. i don't use dried, sterilized, or smoked either since they are harder and more brittle. The small edible bones like chicken backs/wings etc just seem too risky to me since they aren't chewed but ingested whole or broken in chewing.

    puppies esp need to chew something and if taught from a young age on raw, most people see as I did a softer approach to the whole chewing thing. are they totally safe? no, so you are right to exercise care. but as with almost any other toy including the nylabones, there is danger. nylabones say they are safe to eat but they specify in pieces no bigger than a grain of rice. mine puke up small pieces to so that's no fun. the softer nyla's they just break into large bits and devour and puke so i worry about blockage.

    i do a mostly frozen kongs like you do too...they seem fairly satisfying and are safe. puppy will chew hers but my big dog just licks. it sounds like the more i read lately the more canine dentists are a good idea every few years just to check for cracks, chips, etc that may be painful and we aren't able to see them.

    fresh venison....yummm. do you ever save bones and crack the marrow out. that would be reallllly tasty i bet. we always had the deer processed and never even thought about asking them to save big bones or marrow. hubby is still really grossed out by all the raw stuff and tripe. It's funny to see his reaction. I have a friend that hides carcasses in her yard. If i did that I can just imagine his reaction...still laffing. :msngiggle: my dogs love the tripe so much that when they just smell it through the unopened package they are hypnotized. so they get it anyway.
  10. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Yes occassionally I do save the bones, but haven't ever cracked the marrow out...how is this done, and what are the benefits of the marrow other than perhaps calcium?

    Lol, don't think I've ever felt the desire to hide carcasses in my yard...haha! If I had a wolf or wolf hybrid, especially a rescue, then perhaps this would seem incredibly beneficial and fun, but otherwise... Lol! I do occasionally hide pieces of meat somewhere, and just for a game I'll have them find it. I've heard that dogs really love duck, so I'm hoping I'll come across a duck hunter who'd like to swap or sell some meat. I'm strictly a bowhunter, so I never use guns but I do bring one as a backup with certain game like bear or large wild Russian boar. I've always been very interested in training bird dogs and blood trail dogs though.
  11. snooks Experienced Member

    with marrow there is no real benefit if they have other calcium sources. the taste of fresh marrow makes mine go sort of nuts though. they love the way it tastes. I buy butchered bones and often they are frozen. fresher marrow just sounds like they might love love love it. I usually just get a melon baller or butter knife and scrape it out since the knuckles have the long bones cut off you can get it out of the bone ends where the dog wasn't able to reach. with long bones a large bone cutting kitchen chopper can cut the ends off and just dig out what you can reach.

    mine surprisingly didn't like duck. sometimes what I think should be really good they look at me like i'm surely joking. i love fresh game birds. we used to have pheasant and quail for the holidays every year when my grandparents were still alive. he was quite the hunter.
  12. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Thanks for the tips.

    Lol, one of mine is very picky too....he loooooves apples, which is the only thing I've found that he goes nuts for. Everything else he's okay with but isn't all that excited about it. Lol. I treat my dogs to the little Nutro desserts every now and then and they really like them. Zeke likes the Apple Torte, Mud likes the Berry Cobbler, and Rusty likes anything edible.

    I haven't eaten much bird really other than chicken. I've heard pheasant is delicious though.
  13. Jean Cote Administrator

    I've recently switched my dogs to Horizon Legacy, a canadian dog food which is grain free. So far so good, in fact, they go more nuts on this food than any other food I've given them. I tried Orijen but got soft stools from it.
  14. snooks Experienced Member

    hmm I heard that about one other dog and orijen. i wish i could get some of those canadian foods here. they sound really great.

    mine love apples too. have you every tried chopping in big pieces and dropping in a big water bucket or similar. what a blast, do it outside though. and get your camera. both dogs go nuts over it now; though the older shy dog was a little unsure at first she now dives in. dog bob. :doglaugh:
  15. beingnothing7 New Member

    sorry, it's my first post

    tx_cowgirl, is there an email address where I may contact you since I'm not allowed to PM yet? Thanks!
  16. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Hmm, Jean I haven't found that one around here...

    Lol, Snooks Rusty loves apple and ice bobbing. ^^ He sticks his whole head, ears and all in the bucket. :doglaugh: It's very funny.

    Beingnothing7, yes, I'll get to you. :)
  17. snooks Experienced Member

    I finally gave up on wellness and getting puppy to eat it even though its a good kibble and big dog likes it. puppy just does NOT like poultry. i went through all the ingredients again to try and find a beef kibble to add to her other foods. evo meat was just a tad high in calcium for my likes and her age. i tried canidae beef and she ate every kibble. i also liked the fact that they test for some of the common contaminants, melamine and cyanuric acid, and have specifically excluded one of the worst preservatives, ethoxyquin, which is carcinogenic. I was also surprised to find several of the great kibbles for sale on Amazon and now have consumer decipherable best-by dates. there is also a greater deal of ingredient source disclosure this year.

    whole dog journal's 2008 review was nice as was http://www.dogfoodanalysis.com/dog_food_reviews/showcat.php/cat/8/page/1

    just a little more info for anyone else out there considering. ziwi peak sounds great but wow sticker shock. i think i'd go full raw or home cooked for the protein before paying for that. i also noticed that most the new fad add-in mixes where you cook meat and mix in are not AAFCO nutritionally complete diets. it seems rather disappointingly misleading, if you buy an add in it seems counter intuitive that it's no more nutritious than fatty sawdust. :dogwacko:
  18. teenyweeny New Member

    my experience...

    Well, I don't normally get involved in controversial topics, however, since I have recently done a lot of research on dog foods lately, I thought I would add my two cents. :-)

    I have two Border Collies ~ a 13 year old and a 11 month old and up until I got my new pup I didn't always feed the best. Ditto, my 13 year old, was always a finicky eater and for years I was only ever able to get her to eat Pedigree. I tried several times over the years to get her on something much better, but she would always have crazy reactions, so finally I just gave up and figured if it ain't broke, don't fix it ~ thankfully, she has always been a healthy girl!

    Then, when I decided to get a new pup, I also decided that I would only feed her the best...thankfully just after I got her, I started working at a holistic pet store and so began the never ending info out there on dog foods!!! It was so overwhelming and there was so many different opinions ~ I didn't know which one to choose. I was told to check out the Dog Food Analysis website and it was a great help. It is an independently owned website that reviews many of the dry kibbles out there...including some "vet" ones. They are quite bias to grain-free diets, however, the info is still there for you make up your own mind.

    In the end I decided to go with RAW for their morning feeding and Orijen for their evening feeding...yes, I said "their", I decided to try Ditto again and alas, she loves it!!! And she is now acting like a youngster again! Her skin/coat are healthy and shiny, her teeth have less tartar, her breath is much nicer, her eyes are clearer (she was starting to develop glaucoma in both eyes), and she runs and play on hour longs walks now...AMAZING difference!

    Now, to get on the topic of RAW ~ their are lots of great frozen options out there...some are just the animal (bones and all) and some have veggies, fruits, oils and yogurt/cottage cheese. I decided to go with one called Natural Chow, it is just the animal and it offers several types ~ Beef, Chicken, Buffalo, Elk, Lamb, Goat and will soon be offering Venison. I add my own veggies, fruits, oils and yogurt/cottage cheese. When I was doing research on RAW, I had read that for the fruits and veggies it should be a puree form...because in the wild these sources would be from the gut of the animal they killed which would have already been digested...one suggestion was to use the pulp from your juicer. I personally use jar baby foods...if it is good enough for a human baby, then it is good enough for my furbabies! =D Anyhoo, here is a sampling of my girl, Charlee's breakfast...

    1/2 pound of meat
    heaping tsp of peas
    heaping tsp of carrots
    heaping tsp of applesauce
    tsp of fish oil
    tsp of flax seed oil
    tbsp of yogurt

    ...now of course, sometimes I switch up the fruits/veggies and sometimes I use cottage cheese instead of yogurt and sometimes I will add a tbsp of pumpkin. As you can see, this is a grain-free diet, but if you didn't want to do grain-free, you can simply add brown rice, oats, barley or something similar.

    It really isn't that more expensive or much more work...it's actually kinda fun to see what they like. If you want to know how much to feed, it is a simple calculation...

    - For adults you take their weight and multiply it by 2 or 2.5% (depending on his/her activity level)
    - For seniors it is their weight multiplied by 1.5%
    - And for puppies or extremely high energy dogs, it is their weight multiplied by 3%.

    Anyhoo, that is my two cents, hope it was helpful...cheers!
  19. teenyweeny New Member

    one more thing to add...

    When switching to a grain-free or higher protein food, you will feed a lot less...if you don't it can result in loose stool or vomiting. Usually even the amounts listed on the bags are too generous. =D
  20. snooks Experienced Member

    Thanks for the info...I plan to go back to raw or a combo of raw and home cooked. I had a huge problem when we moved with chronic diarrhea with both dogs for 8 months. Every vet I spoke to insisted I take them off raw because it was making them sick. I disagreed very vehemently but did anyway because I was really worried about a growing puppy and nutrition with such a severe problem. It's been a real battle here with vets and raw diets I just couldn't believe it. I finally in the last couple of months discovered through my own research that the tap water was the culprit after months of allergy testing feeding etc. I wanted to few months of stable eating and digestion before I started really mixing everything up on them and going more raw. My puppy was raw weaned and I was transitioning my older dog to raw when this whole thing happened.

    Whether it's healthier or not it's just fact that most people feed kibble due to time constraints. It's a lot of research to make sure your dog gets to right nutrients esp if a puppy when you raw feed without a good bit of research. At least I'm retired now and have time to cook and/or spend more time preparing meals. So yes this is helpful> :msnohyes:

    I cook/prepare all my own treats from organic/natural meats. All the fatty treats that many people feed in my classes I don't use.

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