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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Since there are several newbies here, and I've received a couple of PM's, I thought I'd post my thoughts on food for our fluffs.

Disclaimer: I'm just a cranky old lady who is very picky about what my dog eats. I have no formal schooling in canine nutrition. I have an inquisitive nature and I do a lot of research. The opinions I have are just my opinions, take them or leave them, and please do your own homework. Everyone has to decide for themselves what they should feed their dog.

I am big on home cooking for our dogs. I am just beginning to explore the world of raw feeding, so I don't know too much about that, perhaps others can chime in. Whole Dog Journal is a great magazine that covers food in depth. If you are a newbie, I highly suggest you subscribe.

My thinking is that commercial dog food has all the required vitamins/minerals your dog needs to survive. But let's look beyond that and consider quality of the actual food in the bag or the can. If you aren't concerned about food quality, just vitamins, then any commercial dog food will do because 99% of them are nutritionally complete and balanced. Let's compare that to people food. For example, "Total" brand cereal will give us a 100% balanced breakfast. And we could probably eat it 3X a day and not die. But what is the actual quality of those flakes in that box? Where were those grains grown? Are they genetically modified? Who knows?

So, in order to feed our dogs so that they thrive, not just survive, and don't get allergies, behavioral issues, ear infections, etc. we really should consider a food that has good quality meat and veggies, along with the vitamin mix that goes into every dog food. Grains aren't the best thing for all dogs, and they can be the culprit when an allergy forms. So, a grain-free food is preferable for many dogs. However a dog needs to have adequate water when eating a grain-free dry food as it is usually higher in protein. If you must feed your dog a food that contains grains, please don't feed it gluten grains, like wheat, oats, barley or rye. Gluten grains are highly allergenic, as is corn. Rice is the least allergenic out of all the grains. Millet and Quinoa are other low allergy grains.

Taking that into consideration, if folks would like to home cook for their dog, then there are a couple of ways to go about it.
1. Using a nutrition database, figure out what your dog's vitamin/mineral needs are and do it all yourself. It's time consuming and detailed, but some people like to do this sort of thing.
2. Buy a recipe from a Veterinary Nutritionist, either in person, on the phone, or online. Expensive maybe, but a good investment.
3. Use a book, like Dr. Becker's new book: Welcome to Dogwise.com
4. Use a nutritionally balanced veggie base, and add your own proteins: Dr. Harvey's Veg-to-bowl, or Dr. Harvey's Canine Health.

You can also do the same thing as above, but use raw protein instead of cooked, your choice. Supplementing food with Salmon Oil, Sardines, or another Omega 3 oil, is very beneficial, as is Coconut oil.

If you would like to feed raw, but want something nutritionally balanced that has the vitamins/veggies already in it, Paw Naturaw makes a certified organic raw food, either dehydrated or frozen. It's expensive, but it's convenient and certified pathogen-free. Some people use Stella and Chewy's raw food as well, and seem to like it.

If you don't want to bother with home cooking, then there are a few commercial foods that seem to be good quality, along with being nutritionally balanced. If I had to choose between canned and kibble, I'd choose canned food. Party Animal Organics makes an organic grain-free canned food that I have used in the past, and it appears to be good-quality food. I wouldn't use their kibble, as it contains grains.

If you want to feed your dog kibble, Acana makes some food that seems to be good quality.

There are many other great quality foods out there. Try some and see which one suits yhour dog.

I feed my dog 2X a day. I have never free-fed. When Nikki was a puppy I fed her 3X a day.

It is really up to you. I know that most people have a hectic, busy life and cannot home cook or do research. And many folks are on a limited budget. But IMO, if you do a little homework and feed your dog the best quality food you can possibly afford, you are saving yourself money and time during the dog's lifespan because you won't be in the vet's office with allergies, infections etc. That's not to say that your dog will never get sick if you feed it well, but you will reduce the chances of him/her having an allergic reaction and being sickened by poor quality proteins. Dogs can withstand eating poor food for a long time, but at some point it WILL catch up with them.

Regarding puppies: I didn't start home cooking until Nikki was about 9 months old. If I had to do it again, I'd start home cooking right away, or feed a good quality canned suitable for all ages. But if I home-cooked for a puppy, I'd definitely get some help from a professional.

When I got my recipes from a vet, I had to pay for them. It was a one-time fee, and my recipe allows for rotation of meats/fish and rotation of veggies. So I will continue to use it for a long time. Even though that recipe cost me $50 at the time, it was a great investment.

I hope that this helps. In addition, please go ahead and read through the sticky post regarding home cooking: http://spoiledmaltese.com/forum/60-maltese-food-snacks-treats/97668-home-cookers-can-you-please-post-what-you-feed.html

I hope this helps. It can get very confusing, and I know that all of us here want to do the best possible things to ensure that our fluffs are happy and healthy. Feeding takes trial and error, and eventually you will find what is perfect for you and your dog.
 

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Suzan, any information you give us about food is what I'm listening to...

But, alas....I cannot picture myself home cooking for my four pups at this point. :unsure:

Thanks for the heads-up on Party Animal canned food. I will be travelling over an hour this weekend to buy some. Hope they like it.

At the moment I'm feeding them Merrick's Turducken canned and sometimes I hydrate one Stella & Chewy's disk and split it between all four bowls mixed in with the Turducken. (how do you feel about this????).
I only add the Stella & Chewys when I think they are getting tired of the canned food.
 

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Tons of great information!! Thank you!!

HUGz! Jules
 

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Great info Suzan!!

I asked our local seller about the Paw Naturaw and she said the reason she does not carry it is simply the cost. Most people will not choose to buy that over the Stella's. We discussed the fact that it is certified organic and Stella's is not. Apparently Stella's uses smaller farms that cannot afford to be certified organic. Or they choose not to spend the money so they can keep costs down . This keeps the certified organic symbol off of the bag, but does not necessarily mean the meat is not organic. For me, I chose to stay with Stella's since it works great for my dogs, I can buy it locally and I trust the company.

I think a good quality diet is incredibly important for our dogs. The upfront costs may be a bit more, but there are no hidden costs. They have less health issues, they live longer and they are happier! Not to mention, mine seem to have very minimal or zero tear stains.
 

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Great info Suzan!!

I asked our local seller about the Paw Naturaw and she said the reason she does not carry it is simply the cost. Most people will not choose to buy that over the Stella's. We discussed the fact that it is certified organic and Stella's is not. Apparently Stella's uses smaller farms that cannot afford to be certified organic. Or they choose not to spend the money so they can keep costs down . This keeps the certified organic symbol off of the bag, but does not necessarily mean the meat is not organic. For me, I chose to stay with Stella's since it works great for my dogs, I can buy it locally and I trust the company.

I think a good quality diet is incredibly important for our dogs. The upfront costs may be a bit more, but there are no hidden costs. They have less health issues, they live longer and they are happier! Not to mention, mine seem to have very minimal or zero tear stains.
Mandy, do you add anything to the Stellas or is it ready to go. Does it have veg? Have you (or anyone out there) used the Dr. Harveys? It looks interesting. I have been feeding Frank Acana. Lola is on a special Hepatic Diet. But, always looking for the next best thing.
 

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Stella's is ready to go. Has all organic veggies and the vitamins and minerals. It's a balanced meal. They just reconfigured their dehydrated beef to make that fully balanced as well.
I buy the frozen raw and thaw it out b/c it is much more cost effective than the dehydrated and it has had less processing (didn't go through the dehydration process). I always have the dehydrated on hand in case I forget to thaw some or want to do training for dinners instead. You can always add water to the dehydrated but I don't do that very often. It is also great for traveling! I also used the dehydrated to do the transfer from kibble to raw.
I've looked at Dr. Harvey's but it involves cooking and buying meat so I didn't get it. I also saw that I think only a couple have no grains. But I hear it works great for some people (dogs)!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I might try Stella and Chewy's too. If they are using smaller farms that cannot afford to be certified organic, then that is okay with me!

I'm going to try Dr. Harvey's for a few weeks, then after that, I may start Nikki on the Paw Naturaw Bison that is in our freezer. After that, I'll try S and C!!

Variety is GOOD for dogs.
 

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What a great thread and info Suzan!

I'm feeding Maggie and Abbie Grandma Lucy's Artisan Freeze-dried food. It is: All-natural, grain-free, Made with hormone & antibiotic free human-grade USDA meat, Made in California and Contains no by-products, preservatives, artificial flavors or colors. There are many protein sources to alternate between which is nice. Also it is really easy to make....just add warm water. Maggie and Abbie really like it.

I want to eventually home cook and alternate with the GL's Artisan for my two.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
What a great thread and info Suzan!

I'm feeding Maggie and Abbie Grandma Lucy's Artisan Freeze-dried food. It is: All-natural, grain-free, Made with hormone & antibiotic free human-grade USDA meat, Made in California and Contains no by-products, preservatives, artificial flavors or colors. There are many protein sources to alternate between which is nice. Also it is really easy to make....just add warm water. Maggie and Abbie really like it.

I want to eventually home cook and alternate with the GL's Artisan for my two.
Is it raw or cooked freeze-dried? I can't tell from the website, or maybe I just missed it?

EDITED: Never mind, I found it. The food is cooked and then freeze-dried. I'm going to look into it further, thanks.
 

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What a great thread and info Suzan!

I'm feeding Maggie and Abbie Grandma Lucy's Artisan Freeze-dried food. It is: All-natural, grain-free, Made with hormone & antibiotic free human-grade USDA meat, Made in California and Contains no by-products, preservatives, artificial flavors or colors. There are many protein sources to alternate between which is nice. Also it is really easy to make....just add warm water. Maggie and Abbie really like it.

I want to eventually home cook and alternate with the GL's Artisan for my two.
I like this, but Shoni didn't. He did like the little meatball treats however.
 

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I've tried bunches of stuff so I'm going to give you my take on everything I've tried except the kibbles.

My dogs like their food to be about 40% + protein. They like meat, meat, and more meat with a side of meat please. Thank you.

Stella & Chewies - liked it but it's stinky unless you use the frozen. My knowledge is that they use organic as long as it's available from the smaller farms otherwise not so much. Things may have changed though. Not all my dogs did well on it so I switched.

Northwest Naturals Raw - Good but the dogs got bored and stopped eating it.

Grandma Lucy's Artisan chicken, lamb, whitefish - My dogs don't really like this because the meat is ground to a pulp and there aren't enough chunks of meat. It's also garlicky and smelly. Kind of gluey in texture. Of the three the chicken was the best for us. They wouldn't touch the fish or lamb.

Dr. Harvey's - I have used the Canine Health (with grain) and the Veg-to-Bowl. These foods are meant to be served with RAW meat but you can cook the meat and that is what I have done. I prefer the Veg-to-bowl.

Honest Kitchen - I have used Thrive (dehydrated raw chicken mix) and Preference(add your own meat). Also meant to be used with RAW meat but can use cooked. Thrive doesn't have enough meat to make my carnivores happy so I use the Preference and add cooked meat on the higher protein side. NOTE: This is the only food made in a FDA inspected and approved kitchen with "edible" human quality foods.

Sojos - I have tried the dehydrated raw and the add your own meat version. This takes longer to re-hydrate but it's good and the dogs like it.

So in short - I rotate the Dr. Harvey's Veg-to-bowl, the Honest Kitchen Preference, and Sojos. I also use Beef, Chicken, Turkey, Lamb and Pork for the meats. I add either Ultra Oil, Dr. Harvey's oil, or Salmon oil. This is what works well for my dogs. My goal is to provide enough variety that any small deficiency in one food will be made up for in another. And different nutrients will come from different sources at different times.

Hope that helps.
 

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I carry both Dr. Harvey's and Grandma Lucy's. Have for over a year now. I like Grandma Lucy's for traveling or in a pinch. But to be honest, it seems like instant mashed potatoes. I really recommend Dr.Harvey's over Grandma Lucy's. But Grandma Lucy's is still better then commercial kibble and canned. Zoe, my picky eater eats Grandma Lucy's fairly well. But she prefers Dr. Harvey's. Jett, my little piggy who will eat anything and everything, amazingly does not care for Grandma Lucy's. He'll eat it. But it takes him like 20 minutes compared to the 3 seconds it takes him to wolf down Dr. H's. lol
 

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I wish Vanila liked dehydrated raw but she does not like it. I really love the Addiction brand because it smelled good and re-hydrated so quickly. I always switch things up for her and she does fine with that. Right now I am using Merrick canned food and a raw dehydrated kibble from Quebec called Cani-source. After that food is done I will be trying Natural Balance.
One member gave me a great idea she got from her holistic vet. She said to give the dog 1 tablespoon a day of raw pureed veggies. I actully semi-boil zucchini, carrots and broccoli, then I puree it add some filtred water and put it in the fridge for a week. At meal time or as a treat I give her about a tablespoon and she loves it. I also add extra water to the bowl so she get more fluids that way.
 

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Tyler's been on Wellness canned puppy food. I also boil chicken and mix them and sometimes veggies. He seems to be tiring of the Wellness which seems to have good ingredients and nutrients, so if he won't eat it I know I need to add supplement to the chicken.
First question -- any good supplement to go with the chicken that will give him the nutrients he needs? There's just so much home cooking I can do with my schedule and travel.
Second question -- about Dr. Harvey's Beg to Bowl. Here are the ingredients on their website: Sweet Potatoes*, Carrots*, Diced Potatoes*, Zucchini*, Broccoli Florets*, Green Beans*, Peas**, Beets*, Calcium Citrate, Parsley, Fennel Seed, Fenugreek Seed, Garlic, Ginger, Papaya Leaf and Peppermint Leaf
I thought that garlic was bad for our dogs?
He won't eat kibble at all.
 

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THANK YOU for the info!
I am busting my bum, trying to figure out this raw food diet for my pups. I am VERY intrested in it, but cant seem to find answers to my "starter" questions.
Thanks again for the links and info!
 
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