Dog Foods

Help in making the choice easier

Definition: Dog Food Rollercoaster - that ride dog owners take trying to find the "perfect" food for their dogs. Just about the time you think you found one, something goes wrong and you're back at the pet food store, looking at labels trying to decide what to feed next.

Spend any time at the petstore lately and the choices of foods to feed your dog is enough to make your head spin. How do you know if a food is right for your dog? Unfortunately, you don't until you try it. There are some basics though that I recommend. Sorry, but due to the conditions of today's litigation happy world, I need insert the disclaimer (aka: Legal Mumbo Jumbo) here:

These are the recommendations of the owner of Woodhaven Labradors only. These recommendations are for the sole purpose of educating the dog owner. Use these recommendations at your own risk. My qualifications are below.

Having gotten that out of the way, if you got your dog from a breeder, ask that breeder what they recommend to feed. Chances are good that your breeder has been through the dog food rollercoaster and has found a food which they feel works best for their dogs. Use their knowledge. That's what they're there for.

If you are one of the wonderful people who chose to rescue a life by rescuing your dog, then you will have to find the right food for your dog through trial and error. Not all foods work well for all dogs. Remember that.

Where to start

First off, READ THE LABELS! You can learn a lot about foods, by just reading the label. You don't need a masters degree in nutrition to understand what you're seeing.

AAFCO DEFINITIONS OF DOG FOOD INGREDIENTS


AAFCO (The Association of American Feed Control Officials) sets guidelines and definitions for animal feed, including pet foods.

  • Alfalfa Meal - the aerial portion of the alfalfa plant, reasonably free from other crop plants, weeds and mold, which has been suncured and finely ground.
  • Animal Digest - material which results from chemical and/or enzymatic hydrolysis of clean and undecomposed animal tissue. The animal tissues used shall be exclusive of hair, horns, teeth, hooves and feathers, except in such trace amounts as might occur unavoidably in good factory practice and shall be suitable for animal feed.
  • Animal Fat - is obtained from the tissues of mammals and/or poultry in the commercial processes of rendering or extracting. It consists predominantly of glyceride esters of fatty acids and contains no additions of free fatty acids. If an antioxidant is used, the common name or names must be indicated, followed by the words "used as a preservative".
  • Barley - consists of at least 80 percent sound barley and must not contain more than 3 percent heat-damaged kernels, 6 percent foreign material, 20 percent other grains or 10 percent wild oats.
  • Barley Flour - soft, finely ground and bolted barley meal obtained from the milling of barley. It consists essentially of the starch and gluten of the endosperm.
  • Beef (meat) - is the clean flesh derived from slaughtered cattle, and is limited to that part of the striate muscle which is skeletal or that which is found in the tongue, in the diaphragm, in the heart, or in the esophagus; with or without the accompanying and overlying fat and the portions of the skin, sinew, nerve and blood vessels which normally accompany the flesh.
  • Beet Pulp ("beet pulp, dried molasses" and "beet pulp, dried, plain") - the dried residue from sugar beets.
  • Brewer's Rice - the dried extracted residue of rice resulting from the manufacture of wort (liquid portion of malted grain) or beer and may contain pulverized dried spent hops in an amount not to exceed 3 percent.
  • Brown Rice - unpolished rice after the kernels have been removed. Not a complete AAFCO definition.
  • Carrots - presumably carrots. No AAFCO definition.
  • Chicken - the clean combination of flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, derived from the parts or whole carcasses of chicken or a combination thereof, exclusive of feathers, heads, feet and entrails.
  • Chicken By-Product Meal - consists of the ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered chicken, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines, exclusive of feathers, except in such amounts as might occur unavoidable in good processing practice.
  • Chicken Liver Meal - chicken livers which have been ground or otherwise reduced in particle size.
  • Chicken Meal - chicken which has been ground or otherwise reduced in particle size.
  • Corn - unspecified corn product. Not a complete AAFCO definition.
  • Corn Bran - the outer coating of the corn kernel, with little or none of the starchy part of the germ.
  • Corn Germ Meal (Dry Milled) - ground corn germ which consists of corn germ with other parts of the corn kernel from which part of the oil has been removed and is the product obtained in the dry milling process of manufacture of corn meal, corn grits, hominy feed and other corn products.
  • Corn Gluten - that part of the commercial shelled corn that remains after the extraction of the larger portion of the starch, gluten, and term by the processes employed in the wet milling manufacture of corn starch or syrup.
  • Corn Gluten Meal - the dried residue from corn after the removal of the larger part of the starch and germ, and the separation of the bran by the process employed in the wet milling manufacture of corn starch or syrup, or by enzymatic treatment of the endosperm.
  • Corn Syrup - concentrated juice derived from corn.
  • Cracked Pearl Barley - cracked pearl barley resulting from the manufacture of pearl barley from clean barley.
  • Dehydrated Eggs - dried whole poultry eggs freed of moisture by thermal means.
  • Digest of Beef - material from beef which results from chemical and/or enzymatic hydrolysis of clean and undecomposed tissue. The tissues used shall be exclusive of hair, horns, teeth and hooves, except in such trace amounts as might occur unavoidably in good factory practice.
  • Digest of Beef By-Products - material from beef which results from chemical and/or enzymatic hydrolysis of clean and undecomposed tissue from non-rendered clean parts, other than meat, from cattle which includes, but is not limited to, lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially defated low-temperature fatty tissue, and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents. It does not include hair, horns, teeth and hoofs.
  • Digest of Poultry By-Products - material which results from chemical and/or enzymatic hydrolysis of clean and undecomposed tissue from non-rendered clean parts of carcasses of slaughtered poultry such as heads, feet, viscera, free from fecal content and foreign matter except in such trace amounts as might occur unavoidably in good factory practice.
  • Dried Animal Digest - dried material resulting from chemical and/or enzymatic hydrolysis of clean and undecomposed animal tissue. The animal tissue used shall be exclusive of hair, horns, teeth, hooves and feathers, except in such trace amounts as might occur unavoidably in good factory practice and shall be suitable for animal feed. If it bears a name descriptive of its kind or flavor(s), it must correspond thereto.
  • Dried Kelp - dried seaweed of the families Laminaricae and Fu-caeae. If the product is prepared by artificial drying, it may be called "dehydrated kelp".
  • Dried Milk Protein - obtained by drying the coagulated protein residue resulting from the controlled co-precipitation of casein, lactalbumin and minor mild proteins from defatted milk.
  • Dried Reduced Lactose Whey - no AAFCO definition available.
  • Dried Whey - the product obtained by removing water from the whey. It contains not less than 11 percent protein nor less than 61 percent lactose.
  • Feeding Oatmeal - obtained in the manufacture of rolled oat groats or rolled oats and consists of broken oat groats, oat groat chips, and floury portions of the oat groats, with only such quantity of finely ground oat hulls as is unavoidable in the usual process of commercial milling. It must not contain more than 4 percent crude fiber.
  • Fish Meal - the clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish or fish cuttings, either or both, with or without the extraction of part of the oil. (Be aware that according to US Coast Guard regulations, all fish meal must be preserved with Ethoxyquin)
  • Ground Corn (ground ear corn) - the entire ear of corn ground, without husks, with no greater portion of cob than occurs in the ear corn in its natural state.
  • Ground Dehulled Oats - presumably ground cleaned oats with hulls removed (ground oat groats). Not an AAFCO definition.
  • Ground Wheat - presumably a coarser grind of wheat flour. Not an AAFCO definition.
  • Ground Whole Brown Rice (Ground Brown Rice) - the entire product obtained by grinding the rice kernels after the hulls have been removed.
  • Ground Whole Wheat - ground whole kernel, presumably equivalent to AAFCO's Wheat Mill Run, Wheat Middlings, Wheat Shorts or Wheat Red Dog, whose principal differences are in the percentage of crude fiber.
  • Ground Yellow Corn - same as ground corn, except that the corn used is yellow in color.
  • Kibbled Corn - obtained by cooking cracked corn under steam pressure and extruding from an expeller or other mechanical pressure device.
  • Lamb Bone Meal - (steamed) dried and ground product sterilized by cooking undecomposed bones with steam under pressure. Grease, gelatin and meat fiber may or may not be removed.
  • Lamb Digest - material resulting from chemical and/or enzymatic hydrolysis of clean and undecomposed lamb. The tissue used shall be exclusive of hair, horns, teeth and hooves, except in such trace amounts as might occur unavoidably in good factory practice and shall be suitable for animal feed.
  • Lamb Fat - obtained from the tissues of lamb in the commercial processes of rendering or extracting. It consists predominantly of glyceride esters of fatty acids and contains no additions of free fatty acids. If an antioxidant is used, the common name or names must be indicated, followed by the words "used as a preservative".
  • Lamb Meal - the rendered product from lamb tissues, exclusive of blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices.
  • Linseed Meal - the product obtained by grinding the cake or chips which remain after removal of most of the oil from flaxseed by a mechanical extraction process. It must contain no more than 10 percent fiber. The words "mechanical extracted" are not required when listing as an ingredient in the manufactured food.
  • Liver - the hepatic gland (of whatever species is listed).
  • Meat and Bone Meal - the rendered product from mammal tissues, including bone, exclusive of blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents, except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices.
  • Meat By-Products - the non rendered, clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but is not limited to, lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially defatted low-temperature fatty tissue and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents. It does not include hair, horns, teeth and hooves.
  • Meat Meal - the rendered product from mammal tissues, exclusive of blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices.
  • Peas - peas.
  • Potatoes - potatoes.
  • Poultry By-Product Meal - consists of the ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered poultry, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs, intestines, exclusive of feathers, except in such amounts as might occur unavoidably in good processing practices.
  • Poultry Digest - material which results from chemical and/or enzymatic hydrolysis of clean and undecomposed poultry tissue.
  • Poultry Fat (feed grade) - primarily obtained from the tissue of poultry in the commercial process of rendering or extracting. It shall contain only the fatty matter natural to the product produced under good manufacturing practices and shall contain no added free fatty acids or other materials obtained from fat. It must contain not less than 90 percent total fatty acids and not more than 3 percent of unsaponifiables and impurities. It shall have a minimum titer of 33 degrees Celsius. If an antioxidant is used, the common name or names must be indicated, followed by the word "preservative(s)".
  • Powdered Cellulose - purified, mechanically disintegrated cellulose prepared by processing alpha cellulose obtained as a pulp from fibrous plant materials.
  • Rice Bran - the pericarp or bran layer and germ of the rice, with only such quantity of hull fragments, chipped, broken, or brewer's rice, and calcium carbonate as is unavoidable in the regular milling of edible rice.
  • Rice Flour
  • Soy Flour
  • Soybean Hulls - consist primarily of the outer covering of the soybean.
  • Soybean Meal (Dehulled, solvent Extracted) - obtained by grinding the flakes remaining after removal of most of the oil from dehulled soybeans by a solvent extraction process.
  • Soybean Meal (Mechanical Extracted) - obtained by grinding the cake or chips which remain after removal of most of the oil from the soybeans by a mechanical extraction process.
  • Soybean Mill Run - composed of soybean hulls and such bean meats that adhere to the hulls and such bean meats that adhere to the hulls which results from normal milling operations in the production of dehulled soybean meal.
  • Tallow - animal fats with titer above 40 degrees Celsius.
  • Turkey - unspecified turkey. Not a complete AAFCO description.
  • Turkey Meal - the ground clean combination of flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, derived from the parts or whole carcasses of turkey or a combination thereof, exclusive of feathers, heads, feet and entrails.
  • Wheat Bran - the coarse outer covering of the wheat kernel as separated from cleaned and scoured wheat in the usual process of commercial milling.
  • Wheat Flour - wheat flour together with fine particles of wheat bran, wheat germ and the offal from the "tail of the mill". This product must be obtained in the usual process of commercial milling and must not contain more than 1.5 percent crude fiber.
  • Wheat Germ Meal - consists chiefly of wheat germ together with some bran and middlings or short. It must contain not less than 25 percent crude protein and 7 percent crude fat.
  • Wheat Mill Run - coarse wheat bran, fine particles of wheat bran, wheat shorts, wheat germ, wheat flour and the offal from the "tail of the mill". This product must be obtained in the usual process of commercial milling and must contain not more than 9.5 percent crude fiber.
  • Whey - the product obtained as a fluid by separating the coagulum from milk, cream or skimmed milk and from which a portion of the milk fat may have been removed.

You're eyes crossed yet? Head spinning around in confusion? (laughs) Don't worry, I believe in the KISS method. Keep It Simple Stupid. That list was just for your reference on what is on the labels.

Some of the things to look for

You want to see a meat such as Chicken or Lamb as the first ingredient. Not plain old Meat or Meat Meal which can be anything including road kill, but Chicken or if you prefer a Lamb based dog food, Lamb. Most nutritionists prefer a chicken based diet as dogs tend to digest chicken better than lamb.

I would prefer to see Chicken Meal as the first ingredient, but I wouldn't throw out a food based on the fact that Chicken (without the meal) is the first ingredient.

A lot of foods have by-products which are usually heads, necks, stomach contents, organs, etc. That turns some people off though I've yet to see a dog not eat that stuff if they come across a carcass in a field. Frankly, to me its everything people feeding their dogs a raw diet would give and I don't see the big deal if say, chicken by-product meal, is included in a dog food's ingredients. Watch a nature program with wild dogs and wolves and you'll see them eating these parts of the animal. I would make sure the by-product meal was specific such as chicken or lamb by-product meal and not just listed as "poultry", "meat" or "animal" by-product meal.

Someone I know used to work at a rendering plant and the chicken feet were immediately removed and sent to another country as they were considered to be a delicacy. 

I read this somewhere and thought it described by-products perfectly:

It's not meat, but the organ matter from the chicken, the guts, liver, heart, brains, intestines, stomach etc. I think this is a human thing, because those organs are always the first to be eaten by wild canids, wild felines, and pretty much any other. They don't go for the 'meaty haunch', they go for the gut and pull out all that gooey stuff and eat it.

Meat byproducts in dog food by law do not include hair, horn, teeth or hooves, feathers or manure. It does include organs, including the lungs, spleen, intestines, brains, kidneys and liver, and in the case of chicken byproducts will include the head and feet. About 50 percent of a slaughtered cow will not go for human use, most of this leftover goes into the pet food industry, not because it's unhealthy. How many of us rush out to the grocery store to eat a daily meal with tripe (stomach), chitlins (intestines), and scrambled brains? Believe it or not, while organ meats are gross to think of eating to humans, they are also extremely high in natural vitamins and minerals.

From the FDA site:

Some people prefer to pass up animal by-products, which are proteins that have not been heat processed (unrendered) and may contain heads, feet, viscera and other animal parts not particularly appetizing. But protein quality of by-products sometimes is better than that from muscle meat.

Whether or not you want by-products in your dog's food is a choice you'll have to make for yourself.

Also you may or may not see corn or some type of corn product in the food. Corn is a protein source the dog food makers use to keep the price reasonable. Some dogs don't have any problems with corn, some do. You might see a dog start itching, licking its feet, scooting its butt, or getting ear infections. That's a pretty good indication the dog might not be tolerating the corn in the food.

Wheat tends to be more of an irritant/allergen with some dogs than corn does. So you need to be careful of it if your dog is known to have a problem with wheat.

You don't want soy in the dog's food for the same reason as the above. Some dogs have real problems with it.  I personally will not feed a food that contains soy.

No chemical preservatives listed on the label like Ethoxyquin, BHA, BHT or Propyl Gallate. You want the food preserved with mixed Tocopherols which is Vitamin E. NOTE: (and this is VERY important to read): A dog food company DOES NOT have to list a preservative that they themselves did not add. Read that again: A dog food company DOES NOT have to list a preservative that they themselves did not add. What that means is there still could be Ethoxiquin or other chemical preservatives in that dog food. As stated above under Fish Meal US Coast Guard regulations state that any fish meal must be preserved with Ethoxyquin. This was news to me too until someone actually pointed out the regulation on the US Coast Guard site.

Some people claim there is no scientific proof that Ethoxyquin is bad or will harm your dog. Others claim it will kill your dog.  You need read up on it, then make your decision regarding it in your dog's food.

From the FDA site:

Some consumers try to avoid pet foods with synthetic preservatives, such as butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), and ethoxyquin. Ethoxyquin, in particular, has been hotly debated. Current scientific data suggest that ethoxyquin is safe, but some pet owners avoid this additive because of a suspected link to liver damage and other health problems in dogs. CVM has asked pet food producers to voluntarily lower their maximum level of ethoxyquin in dog food while more studies are being conducted on this preservative, and the industry is cooperating.

From the FDA site:

Another pet food additive of some controversy is ethoxyquin, which was approved as a food additive over thirty-five years ago for use as an antioxidant chemical preservative in animal feeds. Approximately ten years ago, CVM began receiving reports from dog owners attributing the presence of ethoxyquin in the dog food with a myriad of adverse effects, such as allergic reactions, skin problems, major organ failure, behavior problems, and cancer. However, there was a paucity of available scientific data to support these contentions, or to show other adverse effects in dogs at levels approved for use in dog foods. More recent studies by the manufacturer of ethoxyquin showed a dose-dependent accumulation of a hemoglobin-related pigment in the liver, as well as increases in the levels of liver-related enzymes in the blood. Although these changes are due to ethoxyquin in the diet, the pigment is not made from ethoxyquin itself, and the health significance of these findings is unknown. More information on the utility of ethoxyquin is still needed in order for CVM to amend the maximum allowable level to below that which would cause these effects, but which still would be useful in preserving the food. While studies are being conducted to ascertain a more accurate minimum effective level of ethoxyquin in dog foods, CVM has asked the pet food industry to voluntarily lower the maximum level of use of ethoxyquin in dog foods from 150 ppm (0.015%) to 75 ppm. Regardless, most pet foods that contained ethoxyquin never exceeded the lower amount, even before this recommended change.

I will be honest here.  I think every dog food has traces of ethoxyquin in it.  One way or another it is my belief that its there and you just pray its at trace amounts. (site owner's opinion only)  This is why I clarified my comments above regarding ethoxyquin.  Its probably in the food, you just don't want to see it also on the label.  That means the dog food company added it.  Remember, they don't have to list it if THEY didn't add it.

We have ethoxyquin in some human foods and its used also in animal feed.  So that chicken that is used for your dog's food might very well have ethoxyquin in it. 

Feeding Trials

Next you're going to look on the label for "AAFCO feeding trials confirm that Dog Food Name is complete and balanced for adult dogs or all life stages" ¹.  This means the food was actually fed to dogs to determine it meets the nutritional needs for adult dogs or for all life stages of the dog.

Some foods determine the nutritional values in the laboratory.  What this means is that YOUR dog is the guinea pig.  The statement regarding AAFCO might read something like this "Dog Food Name has been shown to be complete and balanced using testing procedures as outlined by AAFCO" ¹.  See the subtle difference? 

If you aren't sure, call the company and ask them directly if their food was actually fed to dogs during an AAFCO feeding trial.

I prefer to feed a food that was actually fed to dogs in a feeding trial.  Again, that's just me.

In General

I personally prefer for my dogs a protein amount of around 22-26% and a fat content of around 13-15% in an adult food.

My dogs tend to do better on what I consider medium grade foods. Not the best/priciest stuff (Innova, California Natural, Canidae) but not the really cheap stuff either (Hi-Pro, Dog Chow). Remember price has nothing to do with what might work for your dog.   Just because a food is listed in a magazine as their 10 best, doesn't mean its better than another food that isn't listed. They do no testing of the food, they base their opinions on the ingredients. My dogs have not done well on any of those foods. Think for yourself and don't get brainwashed into thinking you are a horrible pet owner if you don't buy these foods for your dog.

This website has a very down to earth attitude on dog food. PetDiets.com  Though the owner offers nutritional consultation, therefore making it a commercial site, they have a lot of good information on the site. 

Remember, what works for my dogs or anyone else's dog might not work for yours. Buy the smallest bag you can find of what you want to start trying and if the dog doesn't eat it or you don't like the results, then you aren't out much and you can donate the rest to a shelter. I swear this last year I have to have donated more food that didn't work out with my dogs to shelters than anyone else in my county. (laughs)

I'm also not going to tell you what I feed my dogs. I haven gotten email from people mad at me for not saying what I feed my dogs, though this information is located elsewhere on my site.  I don't want people buying a food just because I feed it.  What you feed has to be your own choice. I'm just here to help you understand the choices so you can make a relatively informed decision.

RAW DIET (or BARF)

Some people don't feed a commercial diet but would rather feed a raw diet which is sometimes called BARF (Bones and Raw Food). You really need to read up on feeding raw before you decide to do it though. Its not as easy as just throwing a raw chicken on the floor and letting your dog eat it.  Personally, I am not a fan of raw feeding (except to add a bit to a commercial diet) but hey, that's just me. You need to make up your own mind about it.

Anti-BARF viewpoint

Pro-BARF viewpoint

Supplements

Personally, I do not believe in supplementing if you are feeding a premium dog food.  For the most part, doing so could throw off the balance of the food you are feeding. 

However, sometimes a dog might have a special need and you might need to supplement its diet. So I'll touch on them below.

You might see Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratios on the labels or you might see where a dog food adds Probiotics to its food. These are great, but what do they really mean?

Most foods have plenty of Omega 6's. Too many O6's and not enough O3's can cause itching and inflamation. You want a dog food that adds Omega 3's and has a ratio to Omega 6 of no more than 5:1.

About fatty acids

Probiotics: Having them in a food is nice, but they are delicate and for the most part don't survive the cooking process. Its best to add those to the food when you feed. The best probiotics need to be refridgerated.   Adding yogurt is fine for the average dog, but does not have the same amount of good bacteria as the probiotics sold at most health food stores.

If your dog is taking antibiotics, its important that you add yogurt or commercial probiotics to your dog's diet.  Antibiotics kill bacteria.  All bacteria, even the good bacteria in a dog's digestive system which helps digest its food.  So you need to put the good bacteria back.  Hence, adding yogurt (only yogurt with live cultures) or a commercial probiotic to the dog's food while on antibiotics.

IMPORTANT: Do not give antibiotic and a probiotic at the same time.  They will counteract each other.  Make sure that the antibiotic and the probiotic are separated by at least 4 hours.

Commercial Probiotics:

Human grade foods 

What does this mean?  If you're starving, you will eat garbage so does that make garbage human grade food?  Some countries eat chicken feet or other things that we might not eat.  So that would make chicken feet human grade food, right?  Heck, I won't touch broccoli so in my opinion its not human grade.  See my point? 

Its all relative.  Don't get sucked into buying a food because they claim to be "human grade".  Your dog won't care and there is no scientific proof that the "human grade" foods are better than any other premium food.

If a company claims "human grade", it just means they buy their food from the same places which sell to humans, not that their products could be consumed by humans. Once they hit the property of the pet food manufacturing plant, they are considered animal grade products, since pet food processing plants are not required to be inspected the way human plants are, there is no way a product could be considered "human grade" after production. So, watch the labels.

Mostly, in my opinion, people who insist that human grade ingedients and foods are better are trying to guilt you into spending more money than you need to. 

 

Gimmicks

Let's see. There are many coming out and I'm sure more to come. Let's take them in order.

1.  Large Breed adult foods. GIMMICK. Your dog should already be full grown if feeding an adult food. Why do you need to feed a LB adult food? For the Glucosamine/Chrondritin in it? (See that entry below) I think Large Breed puppy foods are also not needed and don't recommend them to my puppy people either.  I've seen pano and uneven growth in Labradors on LBP foods which is why I don't feed or recommend them, despite the dog food companies statements that these foods prevent these things. I feel the whole LB thing is a marketing gimmick. Most of them have more fillers in it. Pass this one by.

2.  Glucosamine/Chrondritin in a food. GIMMICK. The G/C levels in most foods aren't theraputic. They don't help. They can't hurt, but certainly won't help. You're better off adding your own G/C.

3.  Dental/Teeth cleaning formulas. Mostly GIMMICK. Oh please. Dogs don't chew anyway. How can a food keep the teeth clean? If you eat a bunch of crackers are your teeth cleaner? Use common sense here and don't rely only on the food to keep your dog's teeth clean. The best thing for your dog's teeth is a raw bone.

4.  Lite/Diet formulas. GIMMICK. Do you want to totally ruin your dog's coat? Feed a lite or diet formula. They are filled with fillers. That's how they keep the fat and protein levels down. Instead of feeding a lite or diet formula, cut back on the regular formula and add Green Beans to the food. You can use canned, fresh or frozen. If you use canned, please try to get the sodium-free. If you can't get the sodium-free, then make sure you drain and rinse the beans thoroughly before giving them in your dog's food. Try a 1/2 can of beans per feeding to help cut back the dog's weight.

See now, that wasn't so hard was it? Once you find a food you like and your dogs are doing well on, stick with it and pray the manufacturer doesn't change the formula. Keep checking those labels since a dog food manufacturer has 6 months before they have to actually notify you the consumer via the label, that they made a change to the formula. If your dog suddenly is having problems (digestive or with its coat) that isn't normal and you haven't switched foods or done anything differently, then you should suspect the food manufacturer has tweaked the formula. Then you have the pleasure of having to jump back on the dog food rollercoaster and try to find another food which works for your dog. Isn't this fun? NOT! Why they can't just leave things alone is beyond me and aggravates me to no end.

DOG FOOD LINKS

¹ What's the best dog food? — Read the label by Joe Bartges, DVM

What makes me qualified to write this article.

I've been a "nutrition nut" for years.  I read everything regarding nutrition as well as talk to as many breeders and veterinarians about this subject as I can.  Mostly my experience comes from trial and error in my own dogs and talking to others to find what is working for their dogs.

I am a believer in keeping things simple.  My dog food guides are The Dog Food Book and Dog Health & Nutrition for Dummies by Christine Zink DVMBoth are no nonsense and to the point. Neither gets caught up in "fads" unlike some of the others out there who say you are killing your dog if you don't feed a super (read: expensive) premium food. 

Oh I tried to be a better dog mom.  I tried most if not all of the foods listed in a certain magazine as being the 10 best (based on ingredients - not testing). I felt guilty for feeding a food that can be found in most pet food stores.  I felt guilty unless I did the best I could for my dogs which meant feeding an expensive dog food.    I also spent hundreds of dollars trying to get my dogs back into shape afterwards.  For the most part, feeding these foods was a disaster for my dogs.  I learned my lesson.

Something else to think about......one of the most successful Lab breeders in the world feeds Purina Dog Chow.   While its not something I would feed my dogs (I prefer something with actual meat in it), you cannot argue with their success.   They're feeding what works for them.

I feed what works for my dogs!  Whether that's Purina, Iams, Eukanuba, Diamond or whatever.  This is my advice for you.  FEED WHAT WORKS!!!  Don't let anyone guilt you into or suck you into buying a food based on a magazine's 10 best foods or prejudice towards certain dog food companies.  If it works for your dog, then feed it.

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