Saturday, March 10, 2012

Straight Talk About Dog Food

I love to share great news about products I've tried. But every now and then, I also share things that my dogs have NOT done well on. Today we are suffering with various degrees of tummy ache from a raw dog food product. This experience has made me think about all the misconceptions dog owners now have about dog food. As the tummy upsets here have proven, no matter how expensive, or how wonderfuly rated the ingredients, our dogs don't always do well on food which seems full of "perfect" ingredients.

Before this dog food order arrived, for the last month or so, the housedogs were eating a basic dry food, Eukanuba. It just happened to be what we had here for the kennel dogs (not Poodles) so it was handy, but it is not something I normally feed my Poodles. It was a tight month budget-wise so when we were running low on "Poodle food", we simply brought home some food from the kennel. They were doing great on it, so why in the world did I spend $84 to ship in a small amount of frozen food? Becaue I fell victim to what many people do these days, "ingredient mentality". Now both my pocketbook and my sleep are hurting (no one sleeps well when housedogs have a tummy ache!)

The dry food the dogs were eating was simply Eukanuba Adult Maintenance Small Bites. If I count the kennel dogs, then all 9 dogs, including the picky eaters, were doing well. The ones so prone to be itchy if on the wrong food, were not itching (which surprised me, since I had in my head that they would not do well on a chicken based food). They loved it, and as mentioned, no itchiness, no ear infections or gooky eyes and no tummy aches during the few weeks they were on it.

So this morning, after I evaluated everyone who has a tummy ache and decided they are probably okay without a visit to the vet, I sat down to blog. When my thoughts went to dog food, I realized that the real truth may be what I wrote a couple of years ago on the Knowing Dogs blog....dogs should be fed what THEY do best on, and it IS possible to find food that fits your budget. Sure, when the two Poodles and the elderly Dachie were eating the dry food, they also had a boiled chicken breast every few days, and most days they have small carrots for treats. So there was a little healthy stuff thrown in for good measure. But if you had compared the ingredients of the dry food they were eating with the ingredients of what I normally feed them, you would not have given us a much lower grade than normal the month that I was feeding the Poodles the dry food.

But the bottom line here the dogs do well on the food? Do they have healthy, shiny coats, no eye boogers, no itching and no tummy upsets? Are they in good weight? Do they seem to be gas free (yep, this is important when you live in a small lake cottage with multiple dogs!)

If you have the time to feed a raw or homecooked diet, and you can work with someone to make sure your dogs are getting all the nutrients they need, more power to you. I have done it in the past, and it is not a simple task, at least not if you own multiple dogs who have varying health needs. It's not rocket science, but more and more we are understanding that dogs on raw food diets can have health problems related to a lack of certain nutrients. If you want to feed raw, then it is well worth the time and money to have the dog's diet and health analyzed by a knowledgeable canine nutrition consultant like Monica Segal.

If you prefer to feed primarily a commercial diet, and you want something a bit higher in quality that the food I mention above then I would recommend Wysong. I love keeping their Archetype dehydrated meat on hand, as it is an easy way to add meat to one of my dog's diets who is prone to anemia. Easier for me to add a scoop of Archetype and some water than to prepare meat for her. Found out a few months ago that her system is no longer suited for the type of raw meat she ate as a youngster, and found out this week that this highly rated commercial frozen raw diet is not going to work for her so we will still with Archetype as her meat supplement on the days when I don't feel like boiling a piece of lean chicken or beef.

It really is true that many of the more "holistic" products, whether raw, dry or canned, may have so many ingredients that our dogs are going to be sensitive to something int hem. So what does work? Speaking strictly from experience, Wysong's Anergen is a great dry food for dogs with sensitive systems, and as mentioned, the addition of their Archetype product helps up the protein and iron my special needs older Poodle needs by adding high quality meat without worrying about tummy upset.

But since I do believe variety is healthy for older Poodles, I think I am going to rotate her Wysong with Eukanuba now since I have seen that she has no problems on it. In the past, for the kennel dogs, I've tried various varieties of Eukanuba but this is the one I keep going back to:

Eukanuba Adult Maintenance Small Bite

Can dogs really do well on a diet of just dry dog food, even without supplements? My experience says they can. Thirty years of feeding show dogs and rescue dogs, with Eukanuba being one of the products I have fed quite often during the last twenty years...yes, I can testify that even dogs fed only dry food (the kennel dogs rarely get those chicken breasts and veggies for treats) can live long and healthy lives. My last Siberians lived to be aged 14 1/2, 15 1/2 and almost 15. All three of them were fed Eukanuba Maintenance and ProPlan Sensitive almost exclusively throughout their lives. Here's a photo of me with one of them:

Wasn't he lovely? That was my "Martin", a/k/a Ch. Wintersweet's Synama on Credit, whom I co-owned with his breeders, Patty Powell of Synama Siberians and Betty Mitchell of Wintersweet. Sure do miss him.

But back to dog food...the bottom line may be...perhaps at times we "over-think" the food we choose for our Poodles. At this point in my life, it may be a good choice for me to raise my Poodle youngster on a commercial diet. The wonderful friend who gave him to me has bred and shown Poodles for years, and she is still showing miniatures who are fed Iams Lamb & Rice. She says her minis are living to be over 16 years old. Yet none of my Poodles that were on raw or special expensive "health food" type commercial diets lived anywhere near this age, even though my Siberians have done so. Seems like I would have figured some of this out before now?

But like most of you, I read the articles, used to even subscribe to the magazines, that were constantly rating the ingredients of every brand of dog food. After years of this, my budget and my brain are tired of constantly searching for the perfect canine diet. Because if our dogs look great, feel good, and live to be 15 years old, then probably the food they are being eating is pretty healthy, even if it is not made from all natural ingredients full of fruits and veggies! If you walked into my house today, you wouldn't think that ground raw turkey with veggies was a very healthy diet, despite the fact that this food is rated very highly by the food guru magazine.

Maybe we just need to go back to the basics of common sense. That is one thing I like about Wysong's educational materials. They don't try to convince you that any of their food is "perfect" or that any food fed every single day can possibly be totally nutritionally complete. They advocate feeding fresh food from your kitchen, with dog food more as a back-up. Well, my kitchen is not always full of healthy food and I am not always energetic enough to prepare it even when it is available.

If you are also presently in dog food confusion land, try the things mentioned in this post. Try Eukanuba Adult Maintenance Small Bites (my large dogs like the small bite formulas better than the large breed formulas plus I have dogs of varying sizes). If you have a dog who has an extremely sensitive system and they need limited food ingredients, try Wysong's Anergen. If you want a convenient, easy way to add meat to your dog's diet without tummy upset, then try Wysong's dehydrated meat product, Archetype. Nope, I don't sell dog food. Just trying to share my thoughts in hopes that you won't end up with a freezer full of something your dog's system cannot tolerate!

Wishing you and your dogs a happy weekend!

(c)2012-2014, Melanie Schlaginhaufen, all rights reserved.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Thanxs for sharing with all of us the Incredible post on ur blog . Its really illusive...

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  4. This dog is looking very nice and also very energetic. I have a shepherd and his name is Jack. He is 5 years old but looking so sluggish. Can you tell me something about his diet and feed?

  5. Dear kevinmaik,
    i believe your idea and thanks for your coment i think everyone should folloe it..American dog food