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Discussion Starter #1
Hello! 1st time poster here. Looking for dog food advice, so let me give you a bit of background:

We have 3 dogs:
1. A senior JRT/chi mix
2. An adult Cavapoo; and
3. A 3 year old collie/boxer/maybe pit mix that I swear is part skunk (he's 50-60 lbs)

Anyway, we "open range feed", as the cavapoo has some food security issues, so we've found having food always in their dish helps her. We supplement the senior's food with a higher quality senior wet food (dental issues). I'm trying to keep all 3 on the same dry food, as I know trying to feed them separately is a lost cause. As it is, we have to trick the 2 younger dogs into going outside so our senior can eat her wet food in peace...

The issue we're having is with the big dog, whom I call "Mr. Sensitive". As in, sensitive tummy, sensitive skin, sensitive soul. He does well on Purina dog chow (was what he was on @ the rescue), and I've been trying to find a better quality alternative periodically over the past 2 years, but have had little success. The problem we have is that with almost any other food, he has major stomach issues - as in, more than just "adjustment" problems. I usually phase in other food slowly, but as soon as the "new food" is the majority, he has diarrhea and accidents throughout the day and I can tell he just doesn't feel good. And again, I know there's an adjustment period but I can tell that it's more than that.

Any suggestions for brands that may work ok for him? I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed between brand types, whether to put them all on large or small breed, etc. I hate to keep them all on a low quality food, but I also can't keep tormenting the poor boy.
 

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What foods have you tried so far? And what is your phase in method (how long, and how much new food do you add over the period). My first instinct is to recommend trying giving your sensitive dog a few tablespoons of pumpkin with each meal the first week or two on a new food. My dogs are sensitive to food changes and I always am trying out a new food with them, pumpkin keeps away the splats!

Large breed/small breed food isn't necessary, it's basically a marketing tactic. Kibble size is the only difference usually, but unless you have a picky or very small dog most will be fine with regular size kibble. Food designated as 'large breed' might have bigger pieces, but a regular food should have average size pieces. And as far as senior vs adult food, most senior foods are just a marketing tactic too. Check for protein levels (I would try to have at least 25% protein, personally). The difference in most is that senior foods have "more glucosamine", which I hesitate to say because in reality there are very very few foods out there that actually have a proper dose of glucosamine per kg for even a small dog, never mind a larger one.

Without knowing your budget/where you are willing to shop (online gives endless opportunites, and chewy.com has free shipping for most orders) it's hard to recommend much. Tentatively, I would suggest a limited ingredient, single protein diet. Acana comes to mind first - they have 'singles', which are LID and single source of meat protein.

If he does well on Dog Chow maybe you could try Purina ProPlan Sensitive Skin and Stomach http://www.chewy.com/dog/purina-pro-plan-focus-adult/dp/52679?utm_source=google-product&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=f&utm_content=Purina Pro Plan&utm_term=&gclid=CMPJtNbK-ccCFYaCfgod4cINfQ
As much as I dislike Purina, that's probably the only thing I would ever feed one of my own dogs from that company.

Then there's Dr. Tims which is a great food a lot of sensitive dogs do well on, and some of their lines come in 40lb bags which is great for multi-dog households.

Some other good brands would include 4health, Diamond Naturals, Farmina, Fromm, and too many more to list.
Pretty much any non-grocery store food is a step up from Dog Chow figuratively speaking
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Over the past couple of years - Science Diet, Iams, Nutro, Blue Buffalo, and a couple of others (full list is at home). Various variations of each. I've tried pumpkin, but he refuses to eat it, but I'm thinking about maybe making dog treats with it and some peanut butter, see if that goes better.

I don't get very scientific with how I disperse, but I'll put some of the Dog Chow into a separate container to mix (so if he can't handle it, I don't have to throw out a whole bag). I start off with introducing up to 1/4 of the new mixture for 2 weeks, then slowly add more over the next two weeks so at the end of a month, it's a 50/50 mix. He's usually ok at that point. I follow the same method, adding a bit at a time for the next 2-3 weeks and it's around this time that he starts having problems. The other 2 have done fine on whatever food we've given.

I've debated just keeping them at a 50/50 mix too, but I'd ideally like them off of Dog Chow completely, as I know it's, well, crap. Haven't tried Purina ProPlan - I figured it wasn't any better, but if it's a little step up, it's worth a shot.

I know I can get ProPlan and Diamond locally, but I might have to do some digging for the others.
 

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The ProPlan is definitely a step up

Dog Chow
Whole grain corn, meat and bone meal, corn gluten meal, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols, soybean meal, poultry by-product meal, egg and chicken flavor, whole grain wheat, animal digest, salt, calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, dicalcium phosphate, choline chloride, zinc sulfate, Yellow 6, Vitamin E supplement, L-Lysine monohydrochloride, ferrous sulfate, Yellow 5, Red 40, manganese sulfate, niacin, Blue 2, Vitamin A supplement, copper sulfate, calcium pantothenate, garlic oil, pyridoxine hydrochloride, Vitamin B-12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, Vitamin D-3 supplement, riboflavin supplement, calcium iodate, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), folic acid, biotin, sodium selenite. B-4101

ProPlan Sensitive
Salmon, brewer's rice, canola meal, oat meal, animal fat preserved with mixed tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), fish meal (natural source of glucosamine), salmon meal, barley, brewer's dried yeast, animal digest, salt, potassium chloride, L Lysine monohydrochloride, Vitamin E supplement, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, L ascorbyl 2 polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), manganese sulfate, niacin, Vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, copper sulfate, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin B 12 supplement, garlic oil, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, Vitamin D 3 supplement, calcium iodate, biotin, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), and sodium selenite

Dog Chow doesn't have a single names meat source besides 'poultry byproduct meal', while the Proplan has Salmon as the first ingredient and fish meal and salmon meal later on down the list.

Since you free feed your options are limited. Unless you can find something he can eat then you're stuck with what works. You could start working with the dogs to have them behave at meal time so it isn't a free for all and they all have their place to eat. I would try to go through the brands I listed, all can be found on chewy.com, that's where a lot of people on this forum order their food from. Excellent company.
 

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Well, definitely will give them a shot and hope that one finally works! Probably start with the ProPlan....even if I can get that to be his new norm while we work on the higher quality foods.

The whole feeding thing is tricky.....the Cavapoo has a sad history - we rescued her from a neglectful owner next door. They just put her and her siblings in the basement and would leave them for weeks, or just left them outside with no shelter, little food, no water. Took months of calling the cops and begging to finally convince the owners to let us take care of 2, but 1 didn't get along with ours (needed to be an only dog). All 4 were eventually rehomed, thankfully. But one of the lingering "scars" is that if we don't keep food available, she'll eat whatever she can find or chew up, as well as trying to eat the other dogs' food when fed. If we keep the bowl of food out, she might nibble at it throughout the day, but won't go scavenging. It's like she just has to know it's THERE.
 

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Just a FYI for your older dog ... to make food softer then hard kibble you can put warm water in the kibble, leave it for a few minutes and it will get softer. The other thing I found with our last dog was buying human chicken (we bought roasted chicken leg quarters) and mixing it with her food - the kibble gave her all the nutrients she needed and the chicken gave her more flavor and protein. It came out about the same or cheaper then canned and I knew she was getting good quality topper .. of course I couldn't guarantee the kibble she was eating!
 

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Since he does well on the Dog chow, then there is no indication he has a grain or chicken allergy. So i wouldn't try to avoid those.

Of the food you have tried before, even my usually iron-stomached dogs didn't do so great on Nutro and no one wanted to even eat the Blue Buffalo, so it wouldn't surprise me if a sensitive stomached dog had trouble with it.

My go-to foods for simple formulas at a reasonable price that I would suggest trying are Pro Pac chicken and brown rice (available at most large pet stores and smaller bags are available) and Sportmix Wholesome chicken and rice (available at Tractor Supply but only in large bags). The Diamond Naturals line also might be an option.
 

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Since he does well on the Dog chow, then there is no indication he has a grain or chicken allergy. So i wouldn't try to avoid those.

Of the food you have tried before, even my usually iron-stomached dogs didn't do so great on Nutro and no one wanted to even eat the Blue Buffalo, so it wouldn't surprise me if a sensitive stomached dog had trouble with it.

My go-to foods for simple formulas at a reasonable price that I would suggest trying are Pro Pac chicken and brown rice (available at most large pet stores and smaller bags are available) and Sportmix Wholesome chicken and rice (available at Tractor Supply but only in large bags). The Diamond Naturals line also might be an option.
What a sensible reply! Though I have never fed Pro Pac, Sportmix or Diamond Naturals it makes much more sense to recommend the feeds you did than to reflexively suggest an expensive grain-free food because foods with grains are "crap" (not that anybody has in this particular thread). I have been feeding Pro Plan for about six weeks and I must say it's worked better than just about any "holistic" brand I ever tried and it's a heck of a lot cheaper than Orijen. It would be expensive to feed to several dogs though so in the OP's situation I'd take your advice.
 
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