We have spent quite a bit of time researching helpful dog care information and articles because we want to save you some time and give you the fruit of our labors. After all, we want to see everyone providing the best possible care for their dog that they can, and we believe the first step in that direction is equipping you to make a well-informed decision. We think one of the most important areas of dog care is the food you feed your dog each day. Therefore, we have scoured the internet for web sites that provide reviews, ratings, and consumer feedback on dog food products. Take a look at the list of Helpful Articles on the right. Below is Emery-n-Denise's first installment to help dog owners learn about dog food and equipping you to be able to make wise choices when buying food for your dog.
Our second installment of research articles is entitled, "Caring for Your New Puppy – Important Things to Remember so That You and Your New Puppy are Happy." In this new article, we try to answer just about every question a new owner might have when they first buy a puppy. You can read the article by clicking here.
Our third research article provides information on proper storage of dog food, selecting a dog bowl for food and water, and proper methods of cleaning your dog bowls. You can read the article by clicking here.
Our next article is a guide for crate training your new Golden Retriever puppy. It helps you to decide if this method is right for your family to use, and helps you select the right crate for your new Golden puppy. You can read the article by clicking here.
Here are some of our thoughts on dog food; see if this makes sense to you and maybe you'll agree…
The old cliché, "You are what you eat," not only bears a lot of wisdom for us as humans, but also rightly applies to your dog. Many regard their dog as an equally important family member. Some have even adopted a philosophy that their dog should be allowed to eat the same foods as the rest of the family, and regularly feed it table scraps and leftovers from the family meal. You've heard this statement before, and maybe you would agree with it:
"If the food at our table is good enough for our family,
it's certainly good enough for our dog! "
One would think so, right? Well if one understood some of the vital differences between a human's digestive track and that of a dog, one would probably have a different view about what is healthy for their dog's diet. Please bear with me for just a minute and allow me to get just a little technical, not too much, but enough to make a point: Probably the single strongest argument for determining the best content in a dog's diet is the fact that a dog is a carnivore. In contrast, humans are omnivores. This means that the main ingredients in dog food needs to consist primarily and largely of meat products. Humans on the other hand, require a balanced diet of meats, dairy, grains, fruits, and vegetables. There are huge differences between human and canine stomach acids and digestive enzymes. These determine how well the digestive track is able to properly break down various food types so that their bodies can efficiently absorb the nutrients. A human's digestive break down starts right in the mouth because of the enzymes in human saliva. These enzymes are missing in dog saliva. A dog's digestive track is designed to efficiently digest and absorb nutrients from meat products. The stomach acid in dogs is far more acidic than humans so that it can break down raw meat faster and kill more bacteria. In addition, the average length of a human's intestines is about 26 to 28 feet long, whereas a 50 to 75 pound dog has intestines of only about 4 to 5 feet in length. The digestive juices and shorter length of the dog's intestines prevent it from being able to fully break down many human foods so that they can be absorbed for proper nutrition. This includes many if not most grains, starches, and complex carbohydrates. It has been shown that a dog's diet can consist entirely of animal proteins and fats. OK, enough technical already.
So now you're thinking that table food may not be as good for your dog as you thought, right? And, your thinking you might run down to the supermarket and buy some Alpo, or Kibbles and Bits, or Ol' Roy, right? Or maybe you've decided to spend a little extra for your canine family member and you are going to get some Pedigree, Purina, Eukanuba, Iams, Science Diet, or Beneful, right? After all, these are the so-called premium brands, right? Right? Hello?
OK, I may have lost you, or perhaps you're starting to move your mouse to click off this window as you detect a bit of sarcasm in the text here… my apologies, no intellectual insult intended. You're probably saying, "Would you please just tell me what I should be feeding my dog?" Sure, I thought you'd never ask! I am going to give you my recommendation on several brands in a moment. However there are two good reasons why what works for my dogs may not work for your dogs: (1) different dogs even within the same breed have different taste pallets with different likes and dislikes in terms of how much they want the food, and their bodies may also have different cravings/needs; and (2) you may not have a store convenient to you which carries my recommendations. Therefore, I have prepared some guidelines listed below that will help you make a wise selection from the choices of what's available in your area, and you will probably need to try more than one dog food if your dog doesn't seem to be liking what I recommend or what you choose at the pet store. Therefore, you may want to buy a small bag of the product to begin with to see if it is welcomed by your dogs taste preferences. When you go to the dog food aisle, you need to be prepared to spend some time looking at the packaging and labeling:
You'll need to look at the package labeling under two main headings which are required by law to be printed on all dog food products: first, the Guaranteed Analysis, and second, the Ingredients. We recommend dry dog food because it is better for your dog's teeth and typically has higher levels of nutrients than canned dog food. Here is what you want to look for:
Things you DO want to see in the Guaranteed Analysis:
Things you DO NOT want to see in the Guaranteed Analysis:
Things you DO want to see in the list of Ingredients:
Keep in mind that the items are ordered according to their amounts or percentage by weight of their content; items appearing first have the highest content, and items thereafter contain lesser and lesser amounts as you go down the list.
Things you DO NOT want to see in the list of Ingredients:
One last bit of advice before we go on to our recommended dog food choices… The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recalls pet food products that have been found to be in violation of certain quality standards, food contaminations, or containing banned ingredients which may cause adverse health effects to your pet or even cause death. You will be surprised to see the list of numerous products and the manufacturers who have had products recalled between 2007 and 2010. Some of the other web sites that rate dog food products are still giving high ratings to products that have been recalled. Sometimes the manufacturer initiates the recall, and sometimes the FDA issues a recall after a manufacturing plant inspection or a reporting incident is filed and investigated. We have included a link to the Pet Food Recall Products List website for your convenience. The list of violators is mainly comprised of violations that occurred in 2007 (which some refer to as the massive Melamine Pet Food Recall of 2007), but there were quite a few more recalls added to the list in 2010. Between 2011 and 2016, there were over 2600 pet food recalls by the FDA, and from 2017 through 2019, there were 96 additional pet food recalls. Please check the FDA list regularly so that you don't end up buying your dog something that could have serious health affects.
Here is our recommend list of dog food products. We don't necessarily recommend the 5 and 6 star products on other web sites, but we think our recommendations are healthy, likeable to your pet, and price competitive.
We have also used this product with our pups and it is excellent. They gained weight gradually and consistently. All seem to like the taste very much. The price is below average for super premium dog foods, but the analysis and ingredients are very good.
Ingredients: Duck, Chicken Meal, Chicken, Oatmeal, Pearled Barley, Brown Rice, Menhaden Fish Meal, Lamb, Potato, Tomato Pomace, Whole Egg, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Salmon Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Cheese, Flaxseed, Brewers Dried Yeast, Alfalfa Meal, Carrots, Lettuce, Celery, Lecithin, Chicken Cartilage, Calcium Sulfate, Salt, Potassium Chloride, DL-Methionine, Chicory Root Extract, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Bifidobacterium Longum, Lactobacillus Plantarum, Enterococcous Faecium, Vitamin A, D3, E, B12 Supplements, Choline Chloride, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Riboflavin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Biotin, Zinc Sulfate, Iron Carbonate, Manganous Oxide, Copper Oxide, Cobalt Carbonate, Calcium Iodate, Sorbic Acid, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite.
Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein – 26.00% (min); Crude Fat – 14.00% (min); Crude Fiber – 3.50% (max); Moisture – 10.00% (max); Ash (K) – 6.50% (max); Calcium (Ca) – 1.30% (min); Phosphorus (P) – 1.00% (min); Cal/Phos Ratio - 1.3:1; Omega-6 Fatty Acids – 2.30% (min); Omega-3 Fatty Acids – 0.40% (min); Lactobacillus Acidophilus – 100,000,000 CFU/lb (min); Bifidobacterium Longum – 100,000,000 CFU/lb (min); Lactobacillus Plantarum – 100,000,000 CFU/lb (min); Zinc – 135 mg/kg (min); Enterococcous Faecium – 100,000,000 CFU/lb (min); Selenium 0.47 mg/kg (min); Vitamin E 190 IU/kg (min); Glucosamine – 400 ppm; Chondroitin – 40 ppm; 400 calories/cup (ME)
Mfd. by Fromm Family Foods
Ingredients: Duck, Chicken Meal, Chicken, Brown Rice, Pearled Barley, Oatmeal, Menhaden Fish Meal, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Lamb, Potato, Tomato Pomace, Whole Egg, Salmon Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Cheese, Flaxseed, Brewers Dried Yeast, Alfalfa Meal, Carrots, Lettuce, Celery, Lecithin, Chicken Cartilage, Monocalcium Phosphate, Salt, Potassium Chloride, DL-Methionine, Chicory Root Extract, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Bifidobacterium Longum, Lactobacillus Plantarum, Enterococcous Faecium, Vitamin A, D3, E, B12 Supplements, Choline Chloride, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Riboflavin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Biotin, Zinc Sulfate, Iron Carbonate, Manganous Oxide, Copper Oxide, Cobalt Carbonate, Calcium Iodate, Sorbic Acid, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite.
Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein – 24.00% (min); Crude Fat – 16.00% (min); Crude Fiber – 3.50% (max); Moisture – 10.00% (max); Ash (K) – 6.50% (max); Calcium (Ca) – 1.20% (min); Phosphorus (P) – 1.00% (min); Cal/Phos Ratio - 1.2:1; Taurine – 0.12% (min); Omega-6 Fatty Acids – 2.60% (min); Omega-3 Fatty Acids – 0.40% (min); Lactobacillus Acidophilus – 100,000,000 CFU/lb (min); Bifidobacterium Longum – 100,000,000 CFU/lb (min); Lactobacillus Plantarum – 100,000,000 CFU/lb (min); Zinc – 135 mg/kg (min); Enterococcous Faecium – 100,000,000 CFU/lb (min); Selenium 0.47 mg/kg (min); Vitamin E 180 IU/kg (min); Glucosamine – 400 ppm; Chondroitin – 40 ppm; 405 calories/cup (ME)
Mfd. by Fromm Family Foods
Ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, Chicken Meal, Peas, Potatoes, Dried Ground Potatoes, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Tomato Pomace, Chicken Liver, Natural Chicken Flavor, Flaxseed, Salmon Oil, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Kale, Broccoli, Spinach, Parsley, Apples, Blueberries, Vitamins [Vitamin E Supplement, Beta-Carotene, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin, Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Biotin, Folic Acid], Minerals [Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate], Choline Chloride, Mixed Tocopherols added to preserve freshness, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Chondroitin Sulfate, Taurine, Chicory Root Extract, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract.
Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein – 34.0% (min); Crude Fat – 14.0%; Crude Fiber – 4.0% (max); Moisture – 10.0% (max); Calcium – 2.0% (max); Phosphorus – 1.40% (max); Cal/Phos Ratio - 1.4:1; Vitamin E – 500 IU/kg (min); Omega 6 Fatty Acids – 3.25% (min); Omega 3 Fatty Acids – 0.70% (min); Glucosamine Hydorchloride – 250 mg/kg (min); Chondoitin Sulfate – 200 mg/kg (min); Beta Carotene – 5 mg/kg (min); Total Micro-organisms – 80,000,000 CFU/lb (min); 430 calories/cup (ME)
Mfd. by WellPet LLC
Although this formula is recommended for puppies (not large breed puppies), the manufacturer states it is suitable for all life stages of dogs. We use this product for our nursing momma dogs because of its extremely high calorie and fat content. Nursing momma dogs (especially those who have litters of more than 4 or 5 puppies to nurse), have a very difficult time keeping their weight up and by the 4th or 5th week of nursing, the momma begins to look substantially under weight. When a momma dog has 6 to 10 puppies nursing on her throughout the day and night, the pups are litterally depleting huge amounts of calories from the momma and she begins dropping weight fast. This dog food formula helps us stay ahead of that problem and has all the right ingredients; the mommas love the taste. IMPORTANT NOTE: WE DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS FORMULA FOR LARGE BREED PUPPIES under 18 months of age due to the high calorie and fat content. This will cause a large breed puppy to put on too much weight too rapidly which will over stress a puppy's skeletal frame. We also don't recommend it for senior dogs whose metabolism has slowed down and are unable to burn calories as fast as younger dogs. This dog food is very pricey at approximately $4.50 per pound (Mar 2023), but we think it is one of the best dog foods on the market (short of freeze-dried raw dog food diets which cost even more). But if you look at the ingredients, the first seven in this dog food are all meats and fish. For a carnivourous animal's diet, you can't get better than that!
Ingredients: Chicken, turkey, whole mackerel, whole herring, salmon, dehydrated chicken, dehydrated chicken liver, oat groats, millet, chicken liver, eggs, turkey giblets (liver, heart, gizzard), chicken fat, dehydrated herring, dehydrated eggs, natural chicken flavor, whole oats, ground whole flaxseed, pollock oil, quinoa seed, chia seed, chicken heart, inulin, salt, vitamin E supplement, whole pumpkin, whole butternut squash, collard greens, whole apples, whole pears, whole cranberries, dried kelp, zinc proteinate, mixed tocopherols (preservative), niacin, thiamine mononitrate, calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin, folic acid, vitamin B12 supplement, copper proteinate, turmeric, sarsaparilla root, althea root, rosehips, juniper berries, citric acid (preservative), rosemary extract, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Bifidobacterium animalis fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product.
Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein – 38.0% (min); Crude Fat – 20.0%; Crude Fiber – 4.0% (max); Moisture – 12.0% (max); Calcium – 1.3% (max); Phosphorus – 1.00% (max); Cal/Phos Ratio - 1.3:1; Vitamin E – 750 IU/kg (min); Omega 6 Fatty Acids – 3.00% (min); Omega 3 Fatty Acids – 1.20% (min); Glucosamine Hydorchloride – 500 mg/kg (min); Taurine – 0.1%; Total Micro-organisms – 1,000,000,000 CFU/lb (min); 528 calories/cup (ME)
Mfd. by Orijen Pet Foods
As time goes on, we'll be adding to the list of recommended dog foods. We're glad you have managed to read this far. I know it's a lot of information to take in, but both you and your best friend will be all the better for putting forth the effort. And oh by the way, once you decide on a dog food that your best friend likes really well, should you just stick with that for years and years to come? My opinion is, "No." One dog food product can only contain a limited number of nutrients and beneficial elements for your dog because it's just not practical nor economically possible to make one product that contains every possible nutrient your dog needs over time. Over time, your dog may begin to develop a deficiency in certain nutrients or minerals if you keep it on the same food product year after year. Question: "If you don't change the food choice periodically, will your dog become ill?" No, but you want to do everything you can to insure good health for the longevity of your dog. You want to do everything you can to minimize the possibility that your dog would spend the final years of its life suffering with physical ailments. Good nutrition and regular physical exercise are the best steps you can take to lower the chances of this happening. Therefore, we try to change our dog's food product about every 3 to 4 months. For example, if we are using a chicken based product, we usually try something like beef, lamb, or fish at the next 3 to 4 month interval. Also, when making the change over, we make sure we have enough of the old product left in the bag so that we can make a gradual change to the new product by mixing the two together. We start mixing a little of the new food at first and slowly increase it until I've made the complete change over. This takes about 4 or 5 feedings if you are feeding your adult dog once a day, or about 8 to 12 feedings for puppies that are eating multiple times a day. If this is not done, it's almost guaranteed your dog will end up with diarrhea for a few days which is no fun at all. The slow transition minimizes the possibility of this happening.
It seems this article keeps growing longer and longer but, we feel that we must fit this extremely vital paragraph in about feeding puppies between 6 weeks and 18 months of age. There are a lot of growing concerns by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and other leading organizations and veterinary sources, who believe that large breed puppy owners should not allow their puppy to gain weight too rapidly. The calcium content in large breed puppy food should not exceed 1.5% (max), and the calcium to phosphorus ratio should be between 1:1 and 1.3:1 to prevent irregular growth patterns in the skeletal frame and problematic bone development. Some nutritional experts recommend a maximum Cal/Phos ratio of 1.2:1 for large breed puppies such as Golden Retrievers. The reason for concern in large breeds such as Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Labrador Retrievers is that they grow in size and weight much more rapidly than small and medium breeds. However, the skeletal structure in the large breeds does not develop as rapidly as the overall body weight, compared to the small and medium breeds. This creates an increased potential for hip, elbow, and joint problems because the frame is too immature and underdeveloped to support the body weight due to the rapid growth of large breed puppies. To avoid this potential problem, sources say that the caloric intake should be lower for large breed puppies than it is for small and medium breed puppies, assuming puppies of equal weight within these different breeds. So if a person is going to follow the feeding guidelines listed on the bag of dog food according to dog weight and age, they should also keep in mind whether they have a large breed dog or not. It is also to advisable to compare the caloric analyses provided on the dog food bags. We have updated all the dog foods listed above with the number of calories contained in one cup of the dog food. This will allow you to consider dog foods that have lower calories for large breed puppies.