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New Dog Owners: Dog Food 101
  • SangmortSangmort
    Posts: 1361
    I've noticed we had an influx of new members, many of whom are 1st time dog / puppy owners or people looking into getting pups. As such, I would like to stress the importance of food & how it effects your dog :) However, I am no expert so I leave it to the senior members & complete dog experts to correct me & put me in my place! :D

    ---

    Just like your own body, food is extremely important for dogs. Can you imagine if all you ever ate was Burger King every day how unhealthy you would be? Well, it's the same for your dog, if anything, dogs are even more sensitive to certain foods. In addition, many dogs, & the nihon ken are no exception, are very prone to what we call food allergies. Essentially, this means there are components in dog food that can cause harmful things to happen to your pup. Some are small such as runny stools [ poop ] but some can be large resulting in things like bald patches, skin irritation, & poor overall health.

    I assume everyone loves their puppies & want to give them the absolute best they can give them. This doesn't stop at love & attention, the exercise & food you give them are extremely important too! That is why it is essential to find the highest quality food that you can comfortably afford.

    Dogs, & their wild cousin the wolf, are carnivores; ie: they eat meat. Most of the cheap over the counter dog food you find in pet shops have what we call "fillers" or cheap "byproduct" in them that have anything but good meat. Mostly, these things are basically the leftover parts from the slaughterhouse [ think: snouts, hooves, organs, etc. ] that weren't fit for human consumption. Don't get pulled into the advertising; things like corn & grain, while good for you, can be the worst for your dog. Dogs are not humans, dogs are dogs. Most dogs have serious allergies to corn & grain, and any dog food that advertises the use of grains & corns as a benefit is not good dog food.

    Now, you may be wondering, if some dog food is so bad, why do most petshops sell it? Well, it's the same reason places like burger king, mcdonalds, taco bell, etc. exist. It may not be enough to kill you, but enough of it can make you seriously unhealthy & shorten your lifespan.

    What are some side-effects of low-quality dog food?
    - Bald Spots or "Patches" or "Hot Spots"
    - Loose, Runny Stool / Diarrhea
    - Smelly Stool
    - Little to No Energy / Fatigue
    - Needing to feed more food to make up for lack of nutrition.
    - Dogs eating their own poop. [ to try and get the nutrients that didn't digest ]
    - Obesity or Serious Weight Loss [ depending on the dog & situation ]

    What are some effects of feeding a premium food?
    - Overall better health
    - A shinier, more lustrous coat
    - Small, Firm [ not-so-smelly ] Stool
    - Feeding less food [ less then what you would feed normally ]
    - A happier, more energetic dog

    What are some food brands to stay away from? [ out of 6, with 6 being the best ]
    - Diamond [ 1 star ]
    - Eukanuba [ 1 star ]
    - Science Diet [ 1 star ]
    - Iams [ 1 star ]
    - Kibbles n Bits [ 1 star ]
    - Beneful [ 1 star ]

    What are some food brands that are good?
    - Innova Evo [ 6 star ]
    - Orijen [ 6 star ]
    - Solid Gold [ 6 star ]
    - Wellness Core [ 6 star ]
    - Canidae [ 5 star ]
    - Merrick [ 5 star ]

    Help! How can I tell how good my current dog food is?
    - Go here & you can search for your current dog food, find better dog food, & see what ingredients exactly are in each brand & formula.

    Help! I can't find any 4/5/6 Star premium foods in the petstore near my house!
    - If no store carries premium foods in your area you can always order online. Some good websites are petfooddirect.com & k9cuisine.com. You can also search coupons for these websites & get as much as 20% off your order. I have found that the big petstore chains [ petsmart, petco ] don't really carry the premium brands, try looking for small pet boutiques.

    Help! I can't really afford a 6 star food!
    - That's fine. You don't have to feed a 6 star premium food. Feed the highest of what you can comfortably afford. If you can afford a 5 star, feed 5 star, If 4, feed 4. Even a 3 star food is better than a 1 star food. You'd be surprised though, because dogs eat less when they're eating a higher quality food, it might not cost you as much as you think. [ plus, you may just start saving in vet bills if your dog has food allergies ]

    Help! I can barely afford a 1 star food!
    - If you can barely afford food for your dog then you need a bit of a reality check. Dogs are like babies. They are completely & 100% dependent on you. If you are not financially stable, then I implore you do not get a dog! If you are in a temporary situation, that's fine, but try to at least give your dog some vitamin supplements. Just remember: vitamins can not substitute the real deal!

    Ok! I bought a new brand of food, now what?
    - When you're starting your dog on a new brand of food, make the change slowly, don't just change it all in one go. Especially if your pup is young, the sudden switch may be harder on their stomach's to get used to & make your pup sick. The best way is to slowly mix in a little of the new brand of food with the old brand food every meal. Gradually over time, increase the amount of the new brand & decrease the amount of the old brand. This can be done over a period of one or two weeks, or even longer if you wish. Eventually, your dog will have successfully transitioned to the new brand.

    Help! I bought a 4/5/6 star brand but my dog doesn't like it!
    - Dogs are like people, they have taste preferences. It's fine if your pup doesn't like a certain food, try another one. Also, try to buy a small amount at first, this way if your pup doesn't like it you haven't got a huge bag of food sitting around.

    Should I feed kibble [ dry dog food ] or canned [ wet dog food ] ?
    - Both kibble & canned both have their advantages & disadvantages. Canned dog food, while very rich & nutritious, can become expensive over time & contains around 75% water. Kibble is cheaper & helps keep your dog's teeth clean, but you must ensure your dog is getting enough water since kibble has very little moisture in it. A good compromise is feeding your pup mostly kibble with the occasional canned food mixed in.

    So...what is BARF? D:
    - BARF stands for "Bones And Raw Food" or "Biologically Appropriate Raw Food" depending on who you ask. Essentially it entails feeding your dog [ &/or cat ] completely raw food. This includes, but is not limited to, raw meaty bones; chicken & turkey legs, thighs, & necks, lamb chops, ox tails, etc. as well as a number of healthy vegetables. The major goal of BARF is to create a natural diet akin to what the original dog [ read: the wolf ] eats.

    Do you cook the meat / bones before you feed it?
    - NO! Never ever give your dog cooked bones! Cooked bones can splinter very easily causing your dog to choke. The purpose of BARF is that the food is consumed RAW, as wolves eat in the wild. Animals do not normally cook their food before they eat it.

    Should I feed BARF?
    - Ultimately, the decision is up to you to decide, just as you might decide whether to feed kibble or canned; Innova or Eukanuba. There are many advantages to feeding RAW / BARF such as avoiding preservatives & chemicals that are present in dog food, as well as knowing exactly what your dog is eating. Regardless, research! research! research! before starting your dog on any new food! The BARF diet especially requires great attention to detail as to what your dog needs in nutrition & when to add healthy supplements.

    Help! I have another question!
    - Feel free to ask! SOMEONE on this forum should know the answer :D

    Some Useful Links
    - Dog Food Analysis
    - Dog Food Project
    - Label Information 101
    - Ingredients to Avoid
    - What do those Ingredients Mean?
    - So You Are Confused By Dog Food
    - BARF World

    ---

    Hope that all made sense. I wanted something easy-to-read. Hope people find some use for this :D!~
  • kektikekti
    Posts: 256
    thanks this is most helpful
  • SangmortSangmort
    Posts: 1361
    Glad to hear :)~
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2240
    This is a great post Osy! Thanx!

    Maybe we should make this an article????

    ----
  • SangmortSangmort
    Posts: 1361
    Thanks!

    Do you think it's long enough? :o~
  • NekopanNekopan
    Posts: 403
    Aww, the kibble our breeder recommended is only a two star! I'll have to convince my mom to switch to a better food. Thanks Osy. :D
  • SangmortSangmort
    Posts: 1361
    No problem Kyla! :) You'd be surprised what some breeders & vets recommend. I know the vet that I was planning on taking my pup to recommended & sold Science Diet [ 1 star ]. Definitely changed my mind about using him when I do get my pup. I might have to drive a little further for a different vet, but at least Ill have a vet that knows what he's talking about D:~
  • ljowen123ljowen123
    Posts: 3105
    My breeder told me that Eukanuba Sensitive Skin was the best thing for my shiba. When I got her (she was a rescue/adoptee from the breeder), I kept her on the same food and saw no improvement in her condition. I switched to a rotation schedule that currently includes four 6-star foods. Her fur is finally growing in over her front paws, no hot spots and she's beginning to look really good. I do supplement with additional fish oil, as well. It's amazing the difference in Jazz.
    LJ - owned by Queen Jazz, a Shiba Inu, Atlanta, GA
    CSC_0144
  • SangmortSangmort
    Posts: 1361
    Awww poor Jazz! I bet she's super thankful to have a mother like you now LJ :D!~
  • ljowen123ljowen123
    Posts: 3105
    I think she's pretty happy to be as spoiled as she is.

    THX
    LJ - owned by Queen Jazz, a Shiba Inu, Atlanta, GA
    CSC_0144
  • NekopanNekopan
    Posts: 403
    One question, though. We've been feeding Go Natural Grain Free canned as our vet recommended it. It's a 5 star on that list, but if we don't mix it with kibble (the aformentioned 2 star) his stools are runny and usually quite smelly. Even though it's a premium food, isn't this indication that it doesn't agree with him?
  • SangmortSangmort
    Posts: 1361
    I'm not too sure, but I believe that issue is more along the lines that it is a canned product. Canned dog food is about 75% water I believe. That is why it is not recommended to feed canned alone. :)~
  • NekopanNekopan
    Posts: 403
    That would make sense. :) We're going to stop feeding the canned soon, it was only because he was sick and the vet recommended we take him off kibble for a bit. He also got liver and sardines, and other yummy things. As I think about it now, those made his stools less loose. I wonder if I can convince my mom that we should start feeding RAW. :D
  • SangmortSangmort
    Posts: 1361
    Canned food occasionally mixed with kibble is good. [ the reason being kibble is completely dry & can cause your dog to dehydrate if you don't give him enough water. The canned food helps alleviate this, as well as provided additional nutrients ]

    lol Everyone here seems to absolutely love raw. Personally, I don't think I have the stomach to cut up all the different meats lol :D~
  • RomiRomi
    Posts: 2722
    Some dogs just don't do well with certain foods. If you're plannin to keep feeding canned - try a different brand and see how that goes. Some advice I got from Jessica when I was trying out canned & kibble: "Canned food is normally pretty rich, it is the equivalent of us eating chili for dinner often. I would be pretty gassy too."
    Post edited by Romi at 2008-08-10 05:21:55
  • tsukitsunetsukitsune
    Posts: 6468
    Great post, Osy! I think this is article worthy for those who are starting on the dog food quest from scratch!
    - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Also be cautious of constant formula changes, i.e. Canidae, eagle pack holistic and Orijen. Canidae made some very serious changes that dog owners are seeing in their dogs, whereas Eagle Pack holistic (fish) and Orijen may just be lessening their fish content a little over time to accommodate rising prices.
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Perhaps someone can also put together a nifty segment on the correct way to TRANSITION from one food to the next? That is a big part of the dry dog food system.
    - - - - - -- - - - - - -
    **And by-products, I learned from a holistic nutritionist, that a by-product is a secondary or incidental product deriving from a manufacturing process, a chemical reaction or a biochemical pathway, and is not the primary product or service being produced. In dog food, this can take on many forms, as some people in Florida court case found out, by-product could mean "euthanized cat" or "roadkill".

    Not all by-products are harmful, I feed my animals raw organs, fresh pig ears, beef tongue, raw hooves and pigs feet, chicken feet, rabbit fur, raw bones, and i intend of giving them feathers on a whole pheasant I have on order :)

    what IS SCARY about by-products in a commercial pet food is that you do not know WHICH parts they are using, their condition and to what extent - some harmful parts that can be in are manure, poultry litter, lanolin, dried blood, gelatin, etc. There are also vegetation by-products like from brewer's yeast, wheat germ, bran.
    Post edited by tsukitsune at 2008-08-10 10:27:29
  • ljowen123ljowen123
    Posts: 3105
    My system is a bit drawn out, but I've had no problems when transitioning Jazz.
    Week 1: 75% of Food Choice #1, 25% of Food Choice #2
    Week 2: 50% of Food Choice #1, 50% of Food Choice #2
    Week 3: 25% of Food Choice #1, 75% of Food Choice #2

    I try to make sure Jazz spends about 6 weeks on each food choice before the transitioning.
    LJ - owned by Queen Jazz, a Shiba Inu, Atlanta, GA
    CSC_0144
  • ddowdemersddowdemers
    Posts: 670
    Osy, that was a great posting. So informative and helpful to new (and some old) dog owners.
  • Well done Osy! I agree, I think it should be an article.

    We may have to appoint you our official article editor. ;-)
  • tsukitsunetsukitsune
    Posts: 6468
    Osy, you did a fabulous job!
    Here's a link I had bookmarked for a friend that needed a great dry dog food explanation: http://www.dogster.com/forums/Food_and_Nutrition/thread/518898
  • tobyshibatobyshiba
    Posts: 1121
    I just visited this pet store called Braxton's in Wayne, PA.

    http://www.braxtons.com/index.htm

    Wow, this store was 2 stories high, and almost all the stuff there was for dogs, and only dogs! They sold Orijen, so I picked up a small bag. I might try it with Toby once his puppy food runs out. :)
  • SangmortSangmort
    Posts: 1361
    Jen - Thanks! Oh! There's nothing wrong at all with by products. [ hell, my grandfather LOVES cooked beef tongue. I think it's gross, personally ;p ] it's just that, as you said, you don't know WHAT is wrong with those by=products that are not fit for human consumption, & let's face it, they put bad things in our own food as it is. [ think: hot dogs ;p ]

    LJ - I've seen people draw out similar scales [ yours is pretty gradual though, I've seen some transition in as short as a week D:! Personally, I'd probably do it more slowly like you ]

    Dorothy - Thanks <3! I'm glad :D<br />
    Dave - lol I'm just trying to help as best as I can :) To be honest, I was expecting 5-6 replies correcting me :D Glad to see I'm no the right track, so when I finally get my pup I'll know what I'm doing :)

    Steph - It'd be awesome if we had a store like that down here! We do have an amazing little boutique though, & the owner even bakes tons of healthy treats. The best part is he sells only quality, holistic foods :)

    Ok guys, I did edit the article a bit [ grammar & the like ] & I also added a few more questions. [ canned vs. kibble & regarding BARF, since I'm sure tons of people here us talk about BARF & are a little confused ] ;p I also posted the link Jen provided :)

    Thanks so much for the compliments guys <3! I'm really glad you liked my post, as long as it proves helpful that's all I can ask for :D!~</b>
    Post edited by Sangmort at 2008-08-11 00:04:38
  • ljowen123ljowen123
    Posts: 3105
    Osy - on the gradual nature of transition: As I mentioned before, Jazz wasn't on a good food (Eukanuba Sensitive Skin) - I decided to go super slow as I transitioned foods to make sure that there were no problems. Once I've rotated the foods all through twice, I'll probably reduce the time down to a week to 10 days. I just wanted to make sure we weren't going to have any problems.
    LJ - owned by Queen Jazz, a Shiba Inu, Atlanta, GA
    CSC_0144
  • Very interesting, I think this should definitely be a sticky... It's funny that Eukanuba ranks so low, my vet (of all people) recommended it but we wound up throwing out almost the whole bag after her food transition because Mylie HATED it and would not eat. She would literally pick around the Eukanuba to eat the other food when both were in her dish.
  • BTW, Merrick Puppy Plate, WONDERFUL for the lil ones. Mylie loves it, and when I upgrade her from puppy food, there's a variety of flavors, and you can order right from the Merrick website. Not too terribly expensive either :)
    Post edited by LoveMyMylie at 2008-08-11 02:28:05
  • SangmortSangmort
    Posts: 1361
    I've heard pretty good things about Merrick, Melissa :)

    & I think it's so cute she picked out the "good stuff" lol~
  • tsukitsunetsukitsune
    Posts: 6468
    bump!
  • kektikekti
    Posts: 256
    we just bought roxy some wellness, and she took to it instantly didn't have to bother with a transition, I know its not the best thats out there but its alot better than purenia and iam, which is what her old diet was....I only hope it helps with her shedding...
  • ddowdemersddowdemers
    Posts: 670
    Wellness is fine. Good for you for switching. But you really should think about a gradual change instead of a sudden change. It will be better for her tummy.
  • The point of the slow transition is not to make sure they like the new food, its to make sure they don't get an upset stomach, diarrhea, or vomiting. I would rethink your abrupt change for future meals.
  • SangmortSangmort
    Posts: 1361
    Alex - I'm glad to hear you've started her on a better quality food. :)


    Ok, I added / edited a question about gradually changing dogs over to new brands of food. Just in case it was a little confusing before D:~
  • tobyshibatobyshiba
    Posts: 1121
    I had to make a sudden change to Wellness a month ago ( because I couldn't get Eagle Pack and we were leaving for our camping trip in less than an hour ), and Toby had diarrhea for more than a week. We had to keep giving him yogurt and pumpkin so he wasn't pooping total liquid. So, its not the best thing to do. Roxy might have an accident, or get the farts. Toby farts all the time when his tummy is upset. It's really gross. D:

    And actually, Wellness is one of the better foods out there. It's not grain free, but its 1,000 times better and healthier than Purina and Iams.
    Post edited by tobyshiba at 2008-08-11 22:15:12
  • SangmortSangmort
    Posts: 1361
    Awwww poor Toby! [ & poor you, too Steph! ] That must have been awful :(~
  • tobyshibatobyshiba
    Posts: 1121
    Yeah, on vacation ... I had to get up @ 5:30 am every morning because he would whine. He had to poop! Bad thing is that he is so darn picky, that for most of the time we were camping, he refused to poop. He resulted to pooping in the middle of the road, a pile of rocks, and on trails. He doesn't like when people watch him, either. We would take him to the grass @ the campground ... and he'd look around, sniff forever and then go once everyone left.
  • kektikekti
    Posts: 256
    ok, well she has the farts, well what I ment by we didn't have to transition is well she instantly took to the new food, I had put a very small ammount in a bowl for her to try and she ate it all up, we just got a new bowl for her and we'll try the transitioning....thanks for all the info.
  • has any ever heard of halo and is it good?
  • I give some of the Halo treats occasionally (my dogs like the dehydrated salmon) although I typically just give them a couple frozen raspberries. Their food is definitely better then supermarket food.

    I just looked at the ingredients list for the wild salmon, it doesn't look bad. It is not grain free, which is not ideal but at least it is not wheat or corn.
  • TeamLaikaTeamLaika
    Posts: 188
    Some more sites of possible interest:
    www.petdiets.com
    Dr. Remillard isn't on the raw food bandwagon, but there are still good tidbits in the FAQs and "nutrition facts" sections, including label interpretation.

    Here's a source for all you raw feeders out there!
    http://www.hare-today.com/

    The Trio gets really excited about Dogswell jerky treats. I like them since they don't make my pockets all gross!
    http://www.dogswell.com/

    They are also big fans of Dr. Becker's Bison Bites
    http://www.drbeckersbites.com/products.htm
  • tsukitsunetsukitsune
    Posts: 6468
    Do you order from Hare-Today.com?? I LOVE their service! Shipping kills me, but if comes perfect and frozen so its all good!
    Have your ordered full carcass rabbit yet? we're considering it..
  • cas12cas12
    Posts: 103
    I have noticed that you have got iams on your list of premium food I agree it is a good food I used to give it to my cat untilsome one showed me a link about Iams. Five pet shops in my area alone has now taken iams off the shelves due to this.

    the lik is below

    www.iamscruelty.com
  • tobyshibatobyshiba
    Posts: 1121
    Actually, Iams is on the 'brands to stay away from' list. xD ( its 1 star out of 6 )

    Generally, if its advertised/commercialized, then its produced by a company that makes products for humans. I'd rather trust a company that -only- makes dog food and knows what goes into the food.
    Check the back of the bag on some commercialized dog foods. You'll recognize the company names. Because you buy their shampoo, their hygiene products, and well ... everything else.

    ex. Proctor and Gamble owns/makes a few brand names of commercial dog foods. Ever heard of that company before? Here's also what they make:
    "Multinational manufacturer of product ranges including personal care, household cleaning, laundry detergents, prescription drugs and disposable nappies"

    Trust them to make your dog food?
  • My only complaint with the Dogswell is it is made in China. I try to avoid meats packaged over there. But the product is great and is organic.

    Hare Today seems AWESOME. If I don't fall in love with this shop in little italy I know where I will be ordering. Thanks for that source!
  • tsukitsunetsukitsune
    Posts: 6468
    PETFOOD RECALL!!!!
    Regarding Salmonella in Kibble:
    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2008/08/pet_food_recalls100.html
  • SangmortSangmort
    Posts: 1361
    Thanks for the alert Jen :)~
  • KaddyKaddy
    Posts: 1248
    I mostly skimmed this so I apologize if I missed the answer to my question!!!

    We're down to the last 3 weeks worth of Belles current food (I have NO idea what it is to be honest (it's in a rubbermaid thingy... not the bag), James has been feeding it to her for years...)

    That being said - I decided that I eventually want Keiko and Belle to be eating the same food, and now seems like the best time to transition Belle since we'll be purchasing new food for her anyway. After some research I'm leaning toward the Innova EVO Small Bite dry food (we're in no position to keep raw food in our crappy kitchen, so that's out of the question for a while.)

    Has anyone had first hand experience (positive/negative) with this brand? All of the reading I could find highly recommend it, but knowing someone else who's actually had experience with it would make me happier :o)
    Post edited by Kaddy at 2008-08-18 00:35:02
  • SangmortSangmort
    Posts: 1361
    Evan - I don't know if this is any help, but I know one or two of the members on the forum [ don't remember which ] occasionally mix in canned Innova with their kibble & said they had good results. Doesn't really say anything about the particular recipe, but it's all I could remember. I'm sure someone with firsthand experience will be able to help you out more :)~
  • KaddyKaddy
    Posts: 1248
    I hate to bump/beg... but .. ummm.... bump/beg!! :o)

    I'll have to pick it up tomorrow or Tuesday at the latest, so I'd like to hear anything y'all have to say :oDD (Yes I value your opinion THAT much!)

    Thanks ;o)
  • ljowen123ljowen123
    Posts: 3105
    Evo is in the rotation that I'm feeding - I use the red meat small bites and the fluffbunnies love it. I tried Jazz out with it as a treat and she went nuts over it. Fletch wasn't as quick of a convert. Based on the fact that he started off begging at the table, I have a feeling he may have been a recipient of treats from the table. He did settle in pretty quickly when he learned that he has to eat the food in the bowl.
    LJ - owned by Queen Jazz, a Shiba Inu, Atlanta, GA
    CSC_0144
  • KaddyKaddy
    Posts: 1248
    Thanks so much LJ! :o)
  • ljowen123ljowen123
    Posts: 3105
    No problem - are you planning to rotate your kibble? I have three different shops that I use to buy food - between them, I can get the rotation that I like and that seems to works for the dogs.
    LJ - owned by Queen Jazz, a Shiba Inu, Atlanta, GA
    CSC_0144
  • ljowen123ljowen123
    Posts: 3105
    BTW, Here's a site that Rachael sent me: http://www.urbanpetguide.com - I don't know if your city is listed, but I found several shops in Atlanta (that I didn't know about) that were close by that carried the foods I wanted.
    LJ - owned by Queen Jazz, a Shiba Inu, Atlanta, GA
    CSC_0144

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