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Discussion Starter #1
new here. my head is spinning at the information you great people have made available. but as i peruse, i wonder if there's a general starting point for one just dipping into better quality food?

for 14 years we fed our shep/chow/lab purina one. she was in good health other than seasonal skin allergies so i hadn't thought to look into better food. she's been gone a while and we just adopted a shep/boxer/akita 4mo.

but something the vet said at her first visit sounded off to me - he recommended feeding from the three companies that have spent the most on research of dog food, as they would have the highest quality: hills, purina and royal canin.

that struck a false chord with me, and not just because science diet was on his shelf. because a company spends more money they're better quality?

so i've embarked on a quest to learn more about what will be best for our new dog. i suspect a conclusion will take me quite some surfing and in the meantime i'd rather not feed her something too inferior. however, my husband is not keen on shelling out top price, especially when he's not sure i'm right.

so is there a middle of the road food, found at pet stores, which some here could recommend whilst i continue my research here and elsewhere? i think i'll be reading here quite some time.

thanks for reading.
 

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There are some very good "middle of the road" foods out there. We have had very good luck with Nature's Variety. Some others include Innova, Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's Soul, Canidae, Whole Earth Farms, Merrick, Solid Gold, Premium Edge, Healthwise, Taste of the Wild, Blue Buffalo, or Wellness. Most of these foods will be found at local specialty pet food stores. You can contact many of these companies to get free samples or coupons. Your local specialty stores carry several samples too. Good luck on your quest.
 

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When I pick a dog food, I look at a few different factors:

1. Avaliability. I am not going to pick something so hard to get in my area that buying dog food becomes an all-day event.

2. Reliability of the Company. What good does decent ingredients do if they are recalled every year? I don't want that kind of worry on my shoulders every time I feed my dogs. Nutro is a good example of this. The ONLY way to avoid recalls 100% is to do a homecooked diet, or raw.

3. Ingredients. I think some people make the istake of looking at this factor alone. It plays a huge role, yes, but what good do good ingredients do if it is out of my price range, unavaliable in my area, and recalled? Not much.

4. Price. We ALL want what's best for our dogs, and the fact we take the time to participate and learn from forums like this to me says we put a little more thought into our pets than the average owner, However, we must be realistic. If Evo and Orijen is out of the price range, I am not going to beat myself up over it.

5. Individual Needs. None of my dogs have handled any grain free foods, so they're out. Though higher quality, they're just too rich for my boys. My Corgi has a carbohydrate intolerence, so raw is the only option for him. My Beagle has such a sensitive tummy, so I feed him california natural to deal with that. The point is, different dogs have different needs, and it's important to find a diet that suits those needs. Champ has an iron gut and can handle absolutely anything, as well as Annie.




Avaliability isn't really an issue for me, so that didn't play much of a role. The only thing I can't get is basicly Orijen, but all others were a go. Next I looked at the reliability of the company. My favorites are those made by Wellness and Natura products. (Innova, Evo, Cali. Nat.) which also pass my standards for ingredients as well.
Now price. For me it came down to what I can buy at work, as I get our products wholesale. Evo did not sit well with my dogs at all, so I went with Innova. (I had them on Wellness before I started working there with good results) As time went by, my financial situation changed, and I had to re evaluate and put my foster Shepherd on Canidae due to price. Though I don't consider this as good of quality as innova, he suprisingly does better on it. Annie will be put on raw after we get through one 30lb bag of puppy food as a convenience for current living conditions and travel plans. Since it's not long term, Innova puppy was within the budget for this one bag.


Sorry this was long nd rambling. My point is, there is no one starting point for every dog. Take a few things into consideration, and decide what fits yours and your dogs needs best. Usually finding the right food is a lot of trial and error. Good luck!
 

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Kirkland is cheap. It's made by Diamond and is basically about the same as the Diamond Naturals. Some people have had good luck with it, but we had a terrible experience with it. We had the worst gas problem I have ever seen. It was beyond anything else I've ever experienced. I have talked to others that had the same experience too. If you want to feed it, it would be an upgrade from Pedigree.
 

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Kirkland is cheap. It's made by Diamond and is basically about the same as the Diamond Naturals. Some people have had good luck with it, but we had a terrible experience with it. We had the worst gas problem I have ever seen. It was beyond anything else I've ever experienced. I have talked to others that had the same experience too. If you want to feed it, it would be an upgrade from Pedigree.
I think people have experienced this with every single food. It's hit or miss I guess.
 

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Most of the dogs I've seen on the Kirkland food shed like crazy, but add a little salmon oil and they're fine.

sganow made very good food suggestions, I would look into all of those.

If your husband is questioning the goodness of not feeding some mainstream brand of food, explain to him that those companies were all bought out by giant corporations that care only about making money, which is why they're able to pay off so many vets to recommend it and are also able to afford so much advertising and fancy packaging. But that stuff is all expensive, as are huge corporate bonuses. So when all is said and done, in order to make the most profit, something has to be sacrificed and that is always the ingredients. Because as long as you can get people hooked on your product, they'll probably buy it. And having a nice vet recommendation always helps that right along.
 

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You should ask yourself, why is it that the companies that make toothpaste, diapers and household cleaning products also make dog food? seriosly..

There are a lot of options when it comes to feeding, as you'll come to find out some people are very passionate and opinionated about the diet that they feed their own pets. Whatever you pick, make sure its not the only flavor/brand that your dog eats their whole life, variety is very important when it comes to overall health and balance. I myself feed a combination of kibble/canned and raw ( not all at once of course) which I feel is best for my dog.
Heres a link to a easy to understand guideline when it comes to feeding kibble/canned:

http://www.4shared.com/file/104457243/796254f/Complete_and_Final.html
 

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Discussion Starter #11
thank you so much everyone!

i'm interested in hearing more about combining different foods. i can't get on that link unosmom provided (thank you) from here at work so i'll have to wait till i get home. but here's a question re: variety in the meantime...

would you combine smaller amounts of two or three different types of dog food at every meal, would you alternate days with two or three, or would you feed a whole bag of one kind at a time, then get a different brand the next time?



as for my husband, he wants to check out purina pro select (he's hoping it's as good as some of these. i assume it's not?) as he wants to make it easier for me to easily purchase since he works out of town and we live away from the city. while it's nice that he's concerned for the family's welfare while he's gone, i don't want that to be the only factor in our choice.
 

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If he's concerned about availablility, what kind of stores do you have in your area and we can tell you what you can get and where. Blue Buffalo is probably the most accessible since it's at Petsmart and PetCo. But if you have a PetCo, you have access to Wellness, Wellness Core, Solid Gold, and Pinnacle as well.

Purina Pro Plan Selects is pretty crappy because it's expensive as all those foods, but still has barely any meat in it and has menadione sodium bisulfite, just like ALL other Purina foods. This is a synthetic vitamin K supplement that is pretty toxic and has been banned by the FDA for use in human foods for just that reason, yet somehow, it is still allowed in our pets' foods. So switching to another Purina product or elongating the amount of time your dog stays on it while he decides to make you "do more research" is definitely a bad idea. Just sayin'. Your pup is too cute for Purina, she definitely deserves better!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
excellent - thanks for the purina info - that's a deciding factor and we just needed to know.

petsmart is the most available to us and i would prefer to shop there. there is a petland close but until i learn more about why they were sued by the SPCA, i'm not sure i'll go there.

petco and pet supplies plus are the next possiblilites. quite inconvenient, but depending on how mixing foods is done, it could work.
 

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Kirkland is cheap. It's made by Diamond and is basically about the same as the Diamond Naturals. Some people have had good luck with it, but we had a terrible experience with it. We had the worst gas problem I have ever seen. It was beyond anything else I've ever experienced. I have talked to others that had the same experience too. If you want to feed it, it would be an upgrade from Pedigree.
We used to feed Solid Gold, and obesides being to rich for ours, the gas was knocking us out! And thats supposed to be a "top of the line" food. All holistic. We now feed Diamond Naturals and ours do better than I have ever seen on it. (I believe it would be more than just a step up from pedigree, we have fed it in the past also). I think it really all depends on the dog, and what they can handle. I hear a lot of talk here raving about Natures Variety. one of ours nearly starved to death on it, When the others seemed to be okay on it. Just like us, we all handle foods different. Something your stomach might can handle, may upset mine. Depends on the dog as to what will work. Someones dog may do great on Ol' Roy, another not. One may do great on Orijen, another may not. Just depends.
 

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Also check feed stores/tractor supply in your area they generally carry some good brands as well, I know tractor supplies has taste of the wild, but I think feed stores vary from one area to the next.
You can also go on manufacturers sites and theres a link to store locator to find something near you. Depending on your budget some of the less expensive brands are:
1) Healthwise (by Natura)
2) Taste of the Wild
3) Premium Edge
4) Whole Earth Farms
5) Chicken soup for dog lovers soul
6) Diamond Naturals

I personally dont buy those foods anymore because I feel like they are highly protein defficient for proper development ( at least for high energy breeds), so I only feed grain free, I also feel that its more species appropriate and grain is hard to digest and can lead some issues down the road.

Keep in mind that grain free foods are generally higher protein (around 34-42%) vs ( 18-26%) so you'll be feeding a lot less since grainy foods ( grocery store ones in particular) are all filler.

So for example Orijen, which is one of the highest rated kibbles is $60 for 30 lb bag, its 40% protein. With something like purina, I'd be feeding my dog 4 cups a day, but he only eats 1.5 cups of Orijen total. So it may seem costly at first, it'll last you longer, so the price is justified. Not to mention less trips to the vets due to skin/coat, ear/eye problems associated with poor quality foods.

Some of the grain free foods are:
1) Orijen Orijen
2) Acana Provincial Champion Petfoods | ACANA
3)Horizon Legacy Horizon Pet Nutrition
4)Innova Evo The Healthiest Pet Foods in the World – Natural & Organic Pet Food – Natura Pet Products
5)Natures Variety Instinct Nature's Variety
6)Go! Natural Petcurean Pet Nutrition
7) Wellness Core( you can get this at petco) WELLNESS® - Healthy Dog and Cat Food
8) Blue Buffalo Wilderness( Petsmart) Blue Buffalo — Discover the Best Dog Food and Cat Foods with our Pet Food Comparison Tools
9) Canidae Grain Free Dog Food: All Natural, High Quality, Holistic Pet Food. Dog Foods, Cat Foods, Dog Biscuits
10)Taste of the Wild Taste of the Wild : Home
11) Merrick B.G Before Grain
12) Fromm Surf &Turf Fromm Family Foods - Gourmet Pet Food, Naturally Holistic
 
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