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Hi, guys, this may sound like a really dumb question, but I could use some information on how to feed my dog. I've recently graduated from a dog walker to a first-time dog human ("dog owner" sounds weird to me). I have been googling online, but I don't know whether I'm getting good information. I welcome recommendations for website and books that can educate me on dog nutrition.

My dog is 7 years old and around 23 kg (50 lbs). We walk/exercise/train between 1-2 hours a day. She is in good shape. The vet says she's in good health. Under her previous human, she ate only once a day, and the food she ate was generally cheap and not well rated on sites like dogfoodadvisor. She ate one cup of kibble plus one 100 g packet of wet food. I've largely continued feeding her the same way, but I wonder whether I can do better.

Some questions that immediately occur to me include:

-- How much do I feed my dog? The internet says that a dog her size needs 2.5 cups per day, and that is certainly much more than she gets. I wonder whether calculating her daily caloric needs would help, but I know from doing this for myself that there can be a pretty significant distance between that number and what one's body actually needs.

-- How often should I feed my dog? Many websites seem to say twice a day or a dog might go hungry. But my dog doesn't seem hungry in between feedings. But then she seems less driven by food than other dogs, so I wonder whether I'm reading the situation right. Should I try changing her feeding frequency?

-- How important is it to feed highly rated food? I tried to switch to a highly rated food, but that resulted in diarrhea. The vet suggested probiotics and, when that made no difference, antibiotics. It makes no sense to me to make my dog take antibiotics in order to feed her better-rated food.

I will ask my vet the next time I see her, but it's always useful to get more input.
 

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This book title is a mouthful, but Dog Food Logic: Making Smart Decisions for Your Dog in an Age of Too Many Choices by canine nutritionist Linda Case might be worth a read.

If her body score is good (ribs feel like your knuckles with your hand flat, clear waist when viewed from above, tuck from the side), feeding her what she wants should be ok. She just may need less, and that is ok.

I would feed her twice, to at least to give her the opportunity if she is hungry. She may also find a different food brand or flavor more appealing, so her appetite might pick up then. Also, as she is new to you, it might take some time for her to settle in; wherein her appetite might pick up after that adjustment as well.

While quality is important, the biggest indicator is a food your dog does well on. So, clear eyes, good energy, good weight, good coat. The new food might have just not agreed with her, but it could have also been too much, or too high in fat, or something like that for her as well. So, comparing the percentages and ingredient differences might reveal something.

Congrats on the new addition.
 

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I suggest dogfoodadvisor.com for an unbiased review of many dog foods.
I have 3 dogs so price and quality are very important.
I don't go below a 4 star rated food and never feed any food that contains corn, wheat, or gluten. (cheap fillers). Being old fashioned I don't feed grain free, but that's me.

BTW: I remember trying Blue (5 stars) and my dogs all got gas too.

Always remember to check the label every time you buy as things have a habit of changing.
 

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Higher quality food generally equals more protein and fat. My pup for example doesn't need much of the higher quality food to maintain his weight. Always use the feeding guide on the package as you will see less food advised for the pricier brands. Even so, I feed my pup according to the lightest suggestion.

When you switched foods, did you do so gradually? It usually takes me a week to 2 weeks to change over.

For what it's worth, I would not do antibiotics because my dog didn't do well on a said food.
 

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Higher quality food generally equals more protein and fat. My pup for example doesn't need much of the higher quality food to maintain his weight. Always use the feeding guide on the package as you will see less food advised for the pricier brands. Even so, I feed my pup according to the lightest suggestion.

When you switched foods, did you do so gradually? It usually takes me a week to 2 weeks to change over.

For what it's worth, I would not do antibiotics because my dog didn't do well on a said food.
Higher quality foods also mean less poop so your dog is getting a better digestive return, so to speak.

Antibiotics are not for long term use and should only be used when they are truly needed.
 

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Not sure if this would be helpful, but I started out feeding my pup Acana Regionals (pretty heavily loaded with protein and fat). He had such big poops for a little guy, but didn't think too much about it. Then as he grew up, he was putting on too much weight so we changed over to a more basic "light and fit" formula. Guess what? Weight is so much better and less volume of poop! Not all dogs do well on the really expensive stuff. I wouldn't need to feed him very much at all to maintain his weight on the Regionals.
 

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I have found dogfoodadvisor (DFA) to be a factual source of information ... Every now and then I look at the list of 5's and run them but bets, shelter buddies, breeders and dog park friends. Dog owners have very string opinions on what's best for dogs but much of what's relied upon in making those choices is anecdotal. We usea Kibble + Raw prepackaged formulation along with a joint supplement and add safe raw ingredients such as eggs, yougurt veggies, fresh cut meat trimmings ... our past dogs loved grapes... these two not at all.

DFA his a good resource for many of your questions, if ya go to this link and scroll down past all the reviews,you will find

1 How much dry food should I feed my dog?
2 What’s the safest way to switch my dog to a new dry food?
3 What risky ingredients should I avoid when buying dry dog food?
4 When should I switch my dog to senior dog food?

www.dogfoodadvisor.com/best-dog-foods/best-dry-dog-foods/

Our GDD / Husky mix dogs are 62 and 63 pounds, ages are 4 months either side of 3 years. They eat at around 6 pm and almost never finish their 2 cups leaving about a third for breakfast. Note that the higher quality the food,the less they willeat and the less you have to worry about stepping on in your yard

When you switched, did you follow the transitions guidelines... see Item 2 above.

When we started our family, we bought our 1st food at the wholesale club thing we fot a deal ... year,we got a deal alright ... a a great deal of poop. As I brought the shoivel and wheelbarrow into the yard wife quoted Jaws..."I think we need a bigger boat".....yard lookedlikewe were stabling Budweiser Cydesdales.
 

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We need to keep in mind that dogs are primarily carnivores - designed by nature both physically and physiologically to thrive on a meat based diet, with little to no need for carbohydrates in their diet.

When I look for a food to feed my dogs, I look for a food that is free of wheat, corn, rice and soy, (common in high carbohydrate foods) and is also free of unspecified/unnamed ingredients such as animal fat, animal digest, meat, meat byproducts and artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. I look for a food that has at least 25% protein content and that has named meat protein source (or sources) (meat and/or meat meal) first on the list of ingredients (bearing in mind that ingredients are listed by weight) (and fresh meat is approximately 70 % or more moisture content - so once processed (and most of the moisture is removed) it loses it's position of first on the ingredient list).
 

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We need to keep in mind that dogs are primarily carnivores - designed by nature both physically and physiologically to thrive on a meat based diet, with little to no need for carbohydrates in their diet.

When I look for a food to feed my dogs, I look for a food that is free of wheat, corn, rice and soy, (common in high carbohydrate foods) and is also free of unspecified/unnamed ingredients such as animal fat, animal digest, meat, meat byproducts and artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. I look for a food that has at least 25% protein content and that has named meat protein source (or sources) (meat and/or meat meal) first on the list of ingredients (bearing in mind that ingredients are listed by weight) (and fresh meat is approximately 70 % or more moisture content - so once processed (and most of the moisture is removed) it loses it's position of first on the ingredient list).
Thank you for your consice and factual answer!:)
 

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We need to keep in mind that dogs are primarily carnivores - designed by nature both physically and physiologically to thrive on a meat based diet, .... I look for a food that has at least 25% protein content and that has named meat protein source.
I have yet to hear anyone suggest, at least in this thread, that dogs are not primarily oriented to a carnivore diet... one look at their teeth should dispel that notion from anyone's mind.. But that doesn't negate nature's design process ... aka evolution. If we go back enough along the evolutionary trail, and look at their DNA 10's of thousands of years ago, that they had no ability to digest starches. But none of those dogs are alive today. That being the case ... the mantra that dogs must be fed like wolves is without any scientific foundation.

Due to their alliance with humans over hundreds of generations, dogs have evolved. We also should keep in mind that humans are far more carnivorous today than they were going back along in that same evolutionary chain. We need look no further than our teeth. You don't have to wait long if you frequently visit dog forums to see a post looking for vegan diet for their dog. As a pescatarian myself for over 50 years, I can admire the folks concern for the animal kingdom but it takes some careful planning on my part to combine foods which supply each of the necessary amino acids necessary to form proteins. My dogs don't eat what I eat, other then healthy portions of fish. But other than the fish,our dogs don't each a large % of what I eat (well a bit of yougurt, vegies and a lil fruit now and then as a topping) ... their mainstay kibble + raw formulation typically has dry matter protein content of between 36 and 41%.

Analysis of canine DNA in dogs alive today shows that, after scavenging for eons around human settlements have evolved such that they are perfectly capable of digesting and obtaining nutritional benefit from non-meat sources. That doesn't suggest that a 100% carb diet is OK but looking at the dry matter content analysis, for this month's variety flavor, it's 41% protein, 23% fat and 29% carbs with chicken, chicken meal, chicken fat, herring meal, freeze dried chicken, menhaden fish meal, freeze dried chicken liver, and freeze dried chicken heart.

We look for a grain free food formulation generally from Canidae or Instinct (w/ 5 rating on DFA) which includes salmon and sweet potatoes ... good move for any large breed owner as not only does it prevent joint deterioration, it helps rebuild them. Our recent adoptee began limping about 2 weeks after we got her home ... after visiting the shelter and inquiring, we learned some additional information about her history. The gave us a joint supplement recommending a double dose for 4-6 weeks and putting salmon (omega-3 fatty acids) and sweet potato back into her diet. Not being satisfied with her progress, we switched to a salmon and sweet potato food formulation and that's done wonders. We mix two formulations, 1 cup of the Salmon / Sweet Potato and 1 cup of another formulation (Lamb / Chicken / Duck / Goat / Venison / Bison / Boar) which we rotate for variety... they also get raw fresh toppings every day. It should be noted that sweet potato is a well recognized aid for pregnant and lactating doggie mommies, these complex corbohydrate energy stores are also reported to ease the birth process. And dietary fiber is a good thing.... complex carbs = good / simple carbs = bad.

Yes,there are cheap dog food formulations where 60% of what goes in goes out, but if one does their research, checks with their vet, breeders and other dog enthusiasts there are certainly highly nutritious alternatives available.
 

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Just a heads up, grapes are toxic to many dogs.

I like it when a formula breaks down and mentions animal protein amounts. Like the one we feed our pup is 65% animal protein.
I noticed it when I dropped one ... dog thought it was something to chase and went after it. When I'd eat some, I'd pop one to her now and then)

As to the protein... remember it's ad men who put the words on the bags .... and they all evil :) Many play games with the numbers. A 1 pound box of pasta or a pint of OJ now only has 14.5 ounces !

I dunno what the dry weight content for that food is but if ya wanan check ....

Here's a quote from DogFoodAdvisor

"The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken. Although it is a quality item, raw chicken contains up to 73% water. After cooking, most of that moisture is lost, reducing the meat content to just a fraction of its original weight.... The seventh ingredient is freeze-dried chicken. Although it is a quality item, raw chicken contains up to 73% water. After freeze-drying, most of that moisture is lost, reducing the meat content to just a fraction of its original weight. "

So even tho chicken was the 1st item making up most of the ingredients ... in the end, that formulation only had a 41% on a Dry Matter Basis... and 33% on a Calorie Weighted Basis. So if the label is based upon the "raw weight basis" and was all raw chicken, then all that's left is 27% (100-73) of the 65% after the water is gone ... they beef that up with various protein concentrates....Chicken meal is considered a high quality ingredient and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken. Herring meal is anothe hi protein concentrate and a high quality ingredient..

We find the protein content after dehydration / freeze drying is mostly less than half. Looking at that chicken If you want to check the dry weight analysis, can check on www.dogfoodadvisor.com
 

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'As to the protein... remember it's ad men who put the words on the bags .... and they all evil :) '

Pet food package labelling is regulated by both the FDA and AAFCO, (and presumably (to avoid court cases and law suits) must be accurate and factual in regards to the contents of the package.

Pet Food Labels - General | FDA
 
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'As to the protein... remember it's ad men who put the words on the bags .... and they all evil :) '

Pet food package labelling is regulated by both the FDA and AAFCO, (and presumably (to avoid court cases and law suits) must be accurate and factual in regards to the contents of the package.

Pet Food Labels - General | FDA
Yep!
 

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What I am trying to convey is that the nutritional label (GA) and the advertising are two different things. More importantly, the GA and the dry weight analysis are two different things. The GA, since it contains moisture, does not accurately represent the true nutritional content. It's the proverbial apples and oranges comparison. Comparing canned and dry, the differences are huge but comparing canned to canned and kibble to kibble, the differences are also significant.

Many companies do their best to hide the GA and ingredients in tiny letters while the misleading advertising is in HUGE fonts.... in addition, on line shoppers often can not see the "Guaranteed Analysis" on the label. The on line ads often show the front and back and the GA is relegated to the side, where ya can't see it. Some also list only protein and fat. Not carbs. For example ...Many dog food say in big large letters on front 70 % "real animal ingredients" ....where most consumers infer that this is all protein. All of the animal ingredients could be pork fat and that label is not incorrect. Also, as the provided FDA link says not all foods can be compared due to different analysis methods. More about the GA and problems with comparisons at link below:


In the example given above that kibble actually has 13% more protein (26/23) than the GA says it does:

Published FDA GA Kibble Results: Protein 23% / Fat 10% / Fiber 5%
Real Dry Weight Kibble Analysis: Protein 26% / Fat 11% / Fiber 6%

I hate to say that there's also a difference between the law and reality, unfortunately little we can do with that. In one year alone, and just testing imports, there were over 5,000 violations on labeling issued by the FDA. The FDA's authority comes from the Food Safety Modernization Act ..... but they do not test ingredients or perform audits during inspections to assure ingredients stated on the labels are actually used on their pet foods.

"But…while the FSMA inspections sound promising, the reality for pet owners is these inspections are little more than a paperwork check. The FDA wants manufacturers to have written procedures in place, but the Agency does not verify companies are actually following the procedures. No audits are performed, no verification of quality of ingredients is performed. "

I doubt that most reputable companies would take the risk as a recall or contamination incident would warrant testing and if that were to occur they'd be exposed but another common "oversight" in all industries is that, if that the component makeup changes during the product run the recipe and test analyses are often late to the presses or sometimes not done at all. Best we can do is collect the most accurate information we can and hope we are not being misled. And the most accurate tool for doing so is the dry weight analysis.

One of the classic advertising techniques intended to mislead is entitled "Omission of Material Facts". A label stating "65% animal protein" while not necessarily inaccurate does fall into that category as it will be interpreted different ways by different people. People who put the T & E into thoroughly understanding canine diets may look at at "65% animal protein" and, having already verified the total protein content, make an conscious choice preferring that 65% of the protein be from animal sources. Most consumers will not have that understanding and simply make the purchase on "more is better". Schnauzaluv, having been active here for some time, I'd assume is more attuned to the furry children than most and likely has done so but, to anyone following, I think it's important not to rely solely on "65% animal protein" and seek out the dry weight analysis ...before purchasing and keeping in mind that, especially online, that it may take some effort.

What does "65% animal protein" mean ? ... Is that off the GA or the other 95% of bag space ? When I read "65% animal protein" it was unclear what that means. And that's why I consider it worth verifying.

a) 65% of the food is actually animal protein ? ... That scares me .... if that's the case, I'd worry about the side effects. Many people think the higher the protein content the better. That's is not the case.
b) 65% of the protein is animal protein ? .... that's advertising, not GA .... Not that it's bad thing. But if the dry weight protein content was say 22%, that breaks down to about 14% animal protein and 8% other sources. It's not necessarily a better thing either. Meat contains all 8 of the nutritionally necessary amino acids (our bodies make the rest), while the various plant based sources will contain a subset of those 8 requiring that the nutritional formulation balance the various sources to provide all 8.

I suspect it's a) as that high a protein level would be irresponsible. If it's b), is it enough for a balanced canine diet ? because it doesn't tell us how much total protein is in the formulation. Dog Foods, even those listed as "High protein" hover in the 35 to 43% range. When I read "65% animal protein", I was struck by the abnormally high number .... especially in reference to a puppy. As large breed owners, our vet recommends not exceeding 35 % - 45% protein because of skeletal concerns especially with puppies. The short version being that high-protein foods (red meat, poultry, fish, or eggs) tilt the body's acid / base balance heavily to the acid side and the dog's body counters to balance the acid with alkaline to by leaching an alkaline buffer (calcium and phosphates) from the skeleton. This can lead to bone loss and kidney stone formation unless supplemented by calcium and phosphorous supplements . I'm not an animal nutritionist, but given the % of large breeds experiencing skeletal issues, it doesn't seem that an unusually high % of animal protein is a good thing. It's certainly a subject I would like to learn more about.

With dog food suffering significant price increases and bags getting smaller and smaller (one source went from 24 to 19 lbs), we've been researching various brands using the GA as 1st round selector to knock out which offerings to eliminate from further consideration. Kibble / kibble + raw accounts for about 3/4 of their diet so I tabulated the GA for the most highly recommended brands at dogfoodadvisor ... I don't agree with all the ones on the list but, FWIW, a summary of the apples to apples dry weight analysis is on the attachment. I'm curious as the the extent of their sources as I notice that some brands do not report carbohydrate content and yet their list contains this information
 

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Whoa that was a mouthful! ^^
I made an error, it is 65% quality animal ingredients (including meat, giblets and cartilage). Good for you for pointing that out.
I always buy Kibble online, be it from Chewey, Amazon, or even Walmart..The guaranteed analysis and ingredients are easy to read..There will be a +"+ sign or a click to zoom button that magnifies everything I am looking for.

Unfortunately when my cursor does a screen grab the magnified image reverts to normal


Font Material property Parallel Publication Paper
 

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Whoa that was a mouthful! ^^
I made an error, it is 65% quality animal ingredients (including meat, giblets and cartilage). Good for you for pointing that out.

I expected as much ...

I always buy Kibble online, be it from Chewey, Amazon, or even Walmart..The guaranteed analysis and ingredients are easy to read..There will be a +"+ sign or a click to zoom button that magnifies everything I am looking for.
I do the same except all too often the GA is on the side. But for comparison purposes, I like the dry weight analysis as playing with the moisture content can inflate or deflate the numbers.

Looking to "open up" potential food options, because of the extreme price fluctuations, I expanded my reference to include ratings, as price per pound. The hovering and clicking to see stuff get cumbersome. I made this 2nd attachment figuring I'll recheck every coupla months to see other options that might have better bang for the buck. Also recommend checking Chewys "Deals of the Day" ... pretty much every time I look, the other 2 have matching deals
 

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The link to the calculation method from DFA was in post 15 ... however, DFA does all that for you in their reviews ... AND threy give you the carbs too .... so no need to get at your calculator :). The above file contains the Protein-Fat-Carb for about 35 or so of what DFA lists in their best Dry Dog Foods listing
 
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