1) Puppies need puppy food. 

No, they really don't. If you have your dog on a high-quality diet, it's actually better for them to go on an all-life-stages or adult diet. 

Why? Because the whole philosophy behind puppy food is flawed. Puppy food is there to "support" fast growth. It has higher levels of protein and fat that help a puppy grow faster and put on weight better.

But puppies don't NEED to grow faster. They're not cows, being fattened for market. They need to grow SLOWER. Slow, even growth and a later maturity is much, much better for dogs, as has been shown in multiple nutrition trials. It's especially good for joints and to prevent dysplasia and arthritis if a puppy is kept thin and grows slow and light. 

Puppies need to eat enough to keep their blood sugar stable, so you need to be sensible and make sure they don't go with empty stomachs for a long time, but they will do better over the long term on a food that gets them to adult size at 18 months, not nine months. 

2) It's bad to switch foods or mix them.

Nonsense. If you want to keep seventeen bags on your counter and feed some from each bag, go for it. 

What causes stomach upsets is when the dog has been fed the same thing for months or years and then switched. The gut isn't prepared for new ingredients and it gets inflamed and tries to push the unfamiliar food through faster (which causes diarrhea) or tries to enclose the new food with mucus (which causes jelly-ish stool).

The solution? Don't feed your dog the same thing for months or years. Dogs are built to handle a huge variety of protein sources and different animals. If you feed variety, they can handle variety. 

3) Boutique meats mean a better food. 

Hmmm... the regular adult formula is $20 a bag, and the lamb and rice is $22 a bag, and the venison and millet is $25 a bag. Venison and millet sound delicious, and I love to pamper my dog. I'll get it.


This is simple math. Boutique meats are expensive. Chicken is cheap. A dog food manufacturer can put more chicken in a bag than it can put venison (or lamb, or fish, or beaver, or whatever turns it from the regular yellow bag to the cool teal-colored one). In almost all cases, the regular adult formula is the highest-quality one the manufacturer makes. The boutique meats are for dogs who are allergic to or cannot tolerate the regular proteins; they are the second (or third or fourth) choice, not the first. 

4) Table scraps are bad.

Table scraps are FANTASTIC. If you read the side of a bag and it said "steak, romaine lettuce, green beans, gruyere cheese," you'd be congratulating yourself on finding the best food ever. Don't dismiss it because it sat on a plate for a couple of hours first!

In general, if you can kill it or harvest it with a sharp stick it's great for dogs. Meats (if possible, feed them raw - when you trim a steak or take the giblets out of a chicken, for example), eggs, green vegetables, most fruits, and the simple grains (oatmeal, for example) are great. If it required processing (breads, pastas, etc.) feed sparingly. If it came in a box with a label on it, don't feed it at all. Avoid feeding raw the things that don't taste good raw - potatoes, eggplant, etc. - because the reason they don't taste good is that they have alkaloids and other things in them that your mouth realizes are dangerous. In general a dog will avoid them too, but if they're mixed in with other things a dog will eat them without realizing it. So don't give him that chance. No onions, no grapes or raisins. You can feed yogurt and cheese, but avoid a lot of milk (tends to cause stomach upsets). 

As long as you follow those simple rules, table scraps can improve your dog's diet immensely. 

5) Diet foods are the way to keep your dogs slim. Senior foods are great for adult dogs.

Diet foods and senior foods are based on one thing and one thing alone - the fact that people like to give their dogs full bowls. It makes us feel good, and we worry that the dogs are not satisfied if they can't fill up. 

In short, we're thinking like humans, not like dogs. 

Pet food manufacturers know this - that we love full bowls - and so light and diet and senior foods (which are basically the same thing) have become a huge money-maker. They create a product that is dramatically lower in nutritive value, so you can fill up that bowl and the dog gets fewer calories. 

Don't spend more money giving your dog substantially ickier food. Buy the absolute best food you can find, or feed a raw diet, and then adjust portion size to keep your dog slim. If that means your dog gets 1/3 cup a day, great! Dogs DO NOT NEED FULL BOWLS. They need excellent, digestible food and less of it. 

6) Kibble is better for teeth than canned food.

This one has been around for a LONG time, and it's never been true. Kibble doesn't clean teeth any more than eating potato chips would brush yours. Most dogs swallow kibble whole, and the few pieces they do chew just break apart in their mouths. 

Canned food is absolutely fine for dogs, when fed as an addition to dry food or even as the entire diet. It's expensive, but your dog would be fine. 

What cleans teeth is having to chew THROUGH something. You can spend tons of money on the new Hills product for teeth, which is a giant-sized kibble baked so that it is like a little loofah that the dog has to chew through, or you can go spend ninety cents on a package of pork neck bones or beef knuckle bones. If you go the bone route (which is certainly what I'd recommend!) make sure you are buying RAW bone that can be completely eaten. This is not a bone the dog is supposed to gnaw on. The most easily available are pork neck bones, beef neck bones, chicken necks, turkey necks, soft beef short ribs, and END knuckle bones (the ones that are round and soft, not the tube-type beef leg bones). 

If you've been feeding a variety of foods (see above) you can add an edible bone twice a week and the dog will be fine. If you've had him or her on one thing forever, expect some loose stool but it's nothing to worry about. As soon as her system is used to it the stool will firm up. 

Then just start looking for those piano-key-white teeth; it's amazing how fast they clean up and look gorgeous. 

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Hmmm. My breeder recommended a large-breed puppy food (because it has lower protein levels and supports slower growth). She's been doing this for 30 years. I read the label and there were some small differences.

The protein and fat levels were within a point of the regular variety of the food.

I also want to add that table scraps can be great if you are feeing leftover portions of food. If you are feeding just fat and skin, you are likely adding a lot of empty calories. For some hard keepers this could be beneficial, but for an easy keeper like a Corgi, empty calories is about the last thing you need. :)

When people used to feed scraps regularly, a lot of what they scraped into the bowl was just that: scraps. Things that were not fit for human consumption. So leftovers= good. The gristly ends of things probably not so much.
The "gristly ends" are great. It's all connective tissue and cartilage, wonderful sources of chondroitin and very healthy for dogs.

Large-breed puppy foods are relatively new; they were new on the market 12 years ago when I was first switching to raw. And, again, they're completely unnecessary. People want to have the word "puppy" on the bag because they feel like it's magic.

Innova is the only company that makes a puppy food that's actually LOWER in protein than its adult formula. Orijen makes a puppy food that is virtually identical to its adult food (my guess is that people kept clamoring for that magic word on the package, so they made a batch that had two more pounds of chicken in it and put it in a different-colored bag). But the vast majority of brands make a puppy food that is just like growth food for cows - more protein, more fat. When that's the exact opposite of what a puppy needs.
Finnigan's breeder was feeding a large breed puppy food as well. I was of the same belief that you don't want a young puppy to have as much protein.
The problem is that not all large breed puppy foods are created equal. Most are way overdone, in my opinion. I only stock one brand in the store because it's one that three of my customers are on... and won't switch. I'm not going to tell them to do so; they're their dogs and they do what they feel is best for them (the particular breeder they come from will only feed that food) so I can only make suggestions.

I think large breed puppy is completely a marketing tool. In fact I've been in the industry for 20 years now, and large breed puppy did not exist when I started. I will not recommend it to folks with Shepherds at all, and got into a huge fight with a rep from one of the companies - flipping over the bag to show him the higher numbers on their large breed version of puppy than their regular puppy, even. My manager here did agility with her Dane and had the same arguments.

I have always been of the firm belief that you just use a good high quality dog food with a lower to average protein content - all of my working dogs were raised that way. The corgis here all have gotten a good quality puppy food to start, and at 12 weeks I did pull them off of puppy and onto a good adult food, and I tend to mix and match everything, like I always have. I have never had a German Shepherd with pano, never had a hip/shoulder issue in my dogs from several different bloodlines (and that includes the Cardis) and never have had overweight puppies. So many of my customers have fat puppies that at five months look like dog sausages.

I agree with Joanna on the things she's said about food here, and I own a pet supply/food store.

The one thing you didn't touch on -- the feeding recommendations for most bags? Watch it! The calorie counts are on there, but most of the time, they're giving you the base for a working or active dog. Not the average pet. It's a pain in the tail - it's one of the things that annoys me the most about food -- people wil say, "my dog is overweight..." Okay, what are you feeding? Five cups a day like the bag says for a 60lb dog? Yikes!

How many folks really have active, working dogs? I mean, not just bursts of energy after a ball or frapping around the yard -- but dogs that run five miles plus every day rain or shine, work hard after that, and need that energy? I've only had one dog out of all of my crew who used that 7 cups for a German Shepherd, plus anything else she'd eat and I had to resort to Satin Balls to keep the weight on her a bit. She was so ripped a judge laughingly once told me if she was human she'd have washboard abs or be a steroid junkie, ahah. I could have bounced a quarter off her bum. ;)

Gabe - who was 115-125 lbs, ate 2 cups a day with odds and ends off the table mixed in, and did do that five miles. He was a super easy keeper. Totally different metabolisms on both those dogs. Heck right now, even my Corgis are all very different. Piper's fit and keeps it off effortlessly, Riley you have to monitor everything you feed him down to the last drop. Simon picks up weight easy but luckily is equally easy to get it right off of him, thank goodness... and Caleb -- well, Caleb's a wiry little rascal who does eat nearly three times what everyone else does and still is a string bean. ;)
That's something I never understood. Why do large breed puppy foods have more protein? The biggest difference between regular and large breed puppy food is that large breed has nigher protein, lower fat and will often throw in some glucosamine.
Actually, chicken by-product meal should not be feathers in any large degree. From AAFCO:

"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."


I wouldn't want it at the top of the ingredients, but personally I have no problem with it further down the list.

Snouts are probably in hot dogs. :-)
They've checked food for dog and cat DNA and never found any.

I have trouble believing that, capitalism being what it is, if a major company like Purina or Eukanuba was using dead dogs in its food, the other companies would not be all over that. I don't feed dog food that has unnamed "meat" in it, as a rule, but I've never seen anything to indicate there are dead shelter dogs, collar and all, in the food. I have read internet memes claiming that, mostly made by animal rights groups and repeated endlessly by other people quoting the same few sources. What is "legal" and what is done are two different things.
Sadly, I totally believe this one. There apparently have been a few times that food has been checked for dog and cat DNA and never found, however it has never been shown that the DNA can even survive the high heat of the rendering process. For me it's not even that food could possibly contain dogs and cats (sad but animals eat eachother all the time) but that so many animals that are rendered even in a named meat source are diseased or killed with poisons (biggest issue with using euthanized pets). It's the
main reason why I'm so crazy about picking a kibble. I know no company is going to be 100% safe, but there are a few I trust to go the extra mile to buy good meat.
Both CVM and FDA have acknowledged the 4Ds.

In reality, both FDA and AAFCO just don't have enough manpower to keep the industry honest. My sister in law is a biochemist and she used to be the QA that meet with the FDA inspectors annually. The company she worked for was not in compliance with the FDA requirement for more than 3 years and was only given several warnings with no penalty.
Considering the fact that they have found instances of downer cows making it into the human food supply, I have no doubt the 4D's are there. As I said, I won't feed anything that says "meat" or "meat by-products" on a regular basis. I like my protein sources to be named!

That said, enforcement is lax, there is no regulation covering "human grade" sources on pet labeling, and in large part we rely on the reputation of the companies we deal with, I think.
My own pups were fed the large breed puppy food also along with a dab of yogurt each am.I have recently switched to an all life stages dog food which my new pups are starting on. 12 dogs 1 food...all right!
Kerry brings up some very interesting facts about the by products...I never knew that they would stick in ground up feathers to increase the protein content until a couple years ago. I have had some food that contains by-products but on the bag it states...organ meat!
The best thing we can do for our dogs as well as ourselves is read labels and as Joanne said stay away from that "boxed" food!
Did you see organ meat as a good or bad thing? Just curious. Some people think thats gross but really, it isn't all that bad. not that I go around eating intestines for lunch but it is in our daily lives and maybe even more so in other cultures. Even the heart is an organ, and if you read on some of the cheaper premade hamburger patties, it will say contains, beef and beef hearts and this is human food we're talking about. Then they used to and some probably still do use the intestines as meat casings on stuff like link sausage. I know my dogs love to chew on dead deer inards if they get the chance when cleaning out a deer i've harvested and they think they are just lovely. They probably also have more nutritional value than we give them credit for, it is the sinue texture we can't seem to get over for our own comsumption. Back in the good ole days, it wasn't uncommon to make a kidney pie for supper.


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