Puppy Forum and Dog Forums banner

1 - 20 of 37 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
There are so many dog foods and feeding schedules and whatnot out there that it is so overwhelming! I need advice!

So, my dog -80lb Choc Lab used to be on 4health Salmon (Tractor Supply Brand.) I had him on the Chicken but he would randomly get picky with the food and he has pretty itchy skin, vet said due to allergies (not food related.) His skin got much better on the Salmon and rarely itched. At one point, he broke out in a rash and seemed in pain so, instead of going to my normal doctor who was closed, I just went to the closest one. This new vet basically told me I was a huge idiot and poor dog owner because I was feeding a trash brand and he was probably itchy because I was doing such a poor job of giving him proper nutrition. (Wow!)

The new vet said I should switch to Purina Pro-plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach. So, I did. My dog is iffy on the taste and his skin is itchier than ever!!! Plus, I was reading about dog food quality and some reviews said that Purina has an ingredient that could be road kill, spoiled food, etc. A lot mentioned road kill specifically. Plus, there were articles linking Purina to liver failure in dogs. I don't know how accurate these are, but obviously I am very concerned!

I can't afford to feed a raw diet...meat is so expensive and until I get a full-time job I just can't afford to buy it constantly, but it may be something I want to do in the future.

I tried looking through different lists that broke-down and rated different foods, but half of the ones that said they were great on one site were poor on another! Or the 5 star ratings went to foods that are constantly being recalled. OR they had horrible reviews by the consumers that mentioned dogs getting sick and ending up on IVs and what not.

I have NO IDEA WHO TO TRUST ANYMORE. :frusty:

What are your recommendations? What are good sites that are trustworthy in determining dog food quality? Dry or wet? Also, some people mentioned a rotational diet being good for a dog's digestive tract and general health, opinions?

I am willing to spend money on a good dog food brand - 4health was only like $32 for a 30lb bag and Purina was the same for an $18lb, but a cheaper good quality food would be great...I am still poor.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20,765 Posts
You aren't going to get a decent food for much cheaper than 4Health.

OK: Basically, everybody has an opinion and there is probably some truth in everything you read/hear. But no pet food is perfect, so you just have to find what your dog does best on and not worry too much about what other people think. The main things I think should be 100% avoided are artificial colors and added sugar. And I prefer to avoid "meat and bone meal". Beyond that, it takes a little trial and error to find what your dog can handle. If your dog did well on the salmon 4Health, why not switch back to that?

I do think rotating brands/flavors is a good idea, because I don't think it's healthy to eat the exact same thing every day for years and years. But if your dog is sensitive, you might not be able to find more than one food he does well on. You have to take it on an individual basis.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
928 Posts
I'm not vet.

But if I were you I'd switch back to the food that was causing the least amount of damage and start feeding your dog one boiled egg a day. This is really good for skin health and can help with dry skin a lot.
Grain-free pet foods are always an option, Blue Buffalo is a good brand if you can afford it.
Another option is coconut oil, just like it makes our skin and hair soft and healthy it works the same for dogs!
Make sure it's virgin or extra virgin coconut oil and rub it all over his skin as well as let him eat some.

Good luck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
146 Posts
dogfoodadvisor.com is a great site and you can determine exactly what you want to feed because it lists what is considered a 'bad' or 'controversial' ingredient. For instance some foods get knocked down in the rankings because of things like use of pea fiber. It is both a quick and easy way to judge a food as well as educate yourself on the basics of pet food ingredients.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,071 Posts
Yes, there are a lot of foods but that makes it easier to find a food that YOUR dog does well on. Just remember that you may not see results after 1 bag.

I have fed Zoey Orijen Puppy, Pinnacle, 4Health, Victor and now Annamaet. She is doing extremely well on Annamaet - coat is softer, no eye boogers, yeasty ears have seemed to go away and she hasn't had a UTI in a while. Zoey did OK on 4HEalth but she was still getting yeasty ears and UTIs ... so for her Annamaet is a better food.

Our Vet has told me that she can't keep up with all the different foods that's out there. Purina has the name because it's a huge company and probably do training classes about "nutrition".

Our last dog ate all the low end foods and did great on them, Zoey is a different story - luckily there are many options that I had and was able to find one fairly quickly that she does really well on.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Upshift - I did use dogfoodadvisor.com and my biggest concern was that some of the customer reviews of the 4-5 star foods were bad..talking about going on IV's, horrible diarrhea,etc. A couple of them were also listed poorly on similar websites (like dogfoodanalysis.com.) Some of them were the same on both and had good reviews so I might try those - specifically the Blue Buffalo and Annamaet or Orijien which were all mentioned in the responses.

The other reason I took the vets advice and switched him off the 4health was because he had originally been on the chicken but was itchy and not too thrilled with it, but when I switched him to the Salmon he was pooping like 3-4x a day! I am not sure if it was just a higher fiber but I was concerned he wasn't getting the nutrition he needed so figured I would try something else.

-Willowy - how do you recommend doing a rotational diet? My dog does have a sensitive system, when I change his food I always try and wean him onto it over a period of time but he usually still gets some diarrhea. He was taken away from his mom way too early (I was his 4th owner at 5weeks old) and I really believe his immune system is lower because of it. He's always had allergies - itchy skin, eye boogers, itchy ears. I've had them all checked out and the vet just tells me he's got seasonal allergies but that he looks healthy otherwise and he's not yeasty. I'm just worried I am going to wreak havoc on his system. A lot of people on rotational diets mention that eventually their dog can have multiple changes in food without any issues. Switching his dog food was another thing that the vet yelled at me about, her and the tech gave me this wide-eyed disgusted looks when I said I had changed his diet. I swear..I am never going back to them, they were horrible.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20,765 Posts
I just buy a different brand/flavor every few bags :p. My dogs are OK without a transition period.

One thing to consider is that every single dog who gets sick is eating something. Whether the illness was actually caused by the food or not, sometimes that's hard to determine, sometimes the vet doesn't even know what caused it. So when you read the reviews that say a dog got sick while eating that food, keep that in mind.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Of course, but when there are a ton of reviews all saying the same thing, it makes me nervous. I am the kind of owner that runs to the vet every time he blinks, well maybe not that bad.

The funny thing is that on dogfoodadvisor, 4health which is what he was on originally, is listed under the "best dry foods" link!

I do think I will try rotational though. He does get diarrhea when we switch, but a lot of people have said that over a few months the changes make the gut stronger. I guess I should still try and transition? I don't know. I will have to research more.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,435 Posts
If he did fine on 4Health, then you could just go back to 4Health.
But if you want to try something different at the same ~$1/lb price point, I've been happy with the Professional Active dog Chicken and Rice which is 30% protein, 20% fat. The slightly higher than typical fat content seems to be good for their coats and skin.
Fromm Classic is another inexpensive quality food but it is a little low in protein and fat so I supplement real meat, eggs, sardines and such which might be hard on your sensitive dog's stomach. The food itself seems easy on the tummy though.
And if Diamond brands are fine (since 4health grain inclusive is a diamond brand anyway), then the Diamond Naturals line is really well priced at under $1/lb and I think the Extreme Athlete (32% protein, 25% fat) has solid ingredients.

Is he on allergy medication? Regular human over the counter allergy meds (check with your vet for brand and dosage) can really help an itchy dog.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,227 Posts
Remember all itches do not come from food! Sassy had and Ginger has flea allergy and Raymond had grass allergy. Max is sensitive to grains but they don't cause itches, just eye boogers. Flea meds help with flea itchies, Benadryl helped with grass. Your vet should be able to give you a long list of allergy meds with dosages that dogs can take. I was lucky with Raymond, I did the whole protocol with every med with Sassy and nothing helped until I went to the dark side with Temeril-P which has some steroid in it. After she was 12 flea meds didn't help, a flea looked at her and she started itching.

Rather than going through a website that rated kibbles I had a list of ingredients to avoid, others to look for and ideal protein and fat profiles then went to the store and looked through the bags. My views on what is ideal have changed since then but the ingredients to avoid haven't changed a whole lot. This page summarizes what to look for.
http://www.dogfoodproject.com/index.php?page=betterproducts

Go back to what worked before. I would be adding fish oil with any food and try that egg or added fats too. Skin is a fatty organ so it makes sense that more fat may be needed for a particular dog. Go slow as fat can also cause a wonky pancreas to go into crisis which is very dangerous. If your dog does poorly with added fat then try coconut oil as it has a different set of fatty acids that are better tolerated by some dogs. And tiny amounts count. A 1/2" cube of beef or lamb fat raised the fat content of Sassy's 1000 calories by 2-3% of fat, that is a lot. Start with 1/2 an egg, let the dog lick out the spoon that was dipped in oil and so on.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
The fact that 4health is a Diamond brand makes me very nervous, they definitely don't have a clean record. It is hard finding decent foods sold in my area. I have a tractor supply which sell a lot of Diamond and Nutra which both have spotty histories. I do also have a petsmart which I'll probably go to today and see what kind of stuff they have. It seems lke a lot of the decent brands are sold in different parts of the country or online.

He def. doesn't have fleas. He's never missed a flea or heartworm monthly dose. I keep Capstar on hand just in case since I live in an apartment.I always keep Benadryl on hand but only give it when he's really itchy, I don't want him to spend his entire life on pills if I can help by improving his diet. I also have an oatmeal shampoo, medicated shampoo, a liquid enhancer for his food that I honestly didn't see an improvement from so stopped using, some humilac spray which is supposed to stop his skin from drying out..you can bathe him in it or spray it and rub it into the fur, ear wash, and eye drops. My main vet insists it is a seasonal allergy like we have to pollen and stuff. Grass is possible but haven't narrowed anything down. The vet doesn't think it is food related. The vet also was concerned about using steroids because he is so young and wanted to try other minor stuff first.

I've used fish oil capsules before but it was more expensive than using a fish-based food that seemed to work just as well. I guess in the end, with the foods I am more worried about the long-term...like not living as long because I didn't do right by him at a young age.

Kathyy, thanks for the website. I will def look through it.

Multiple people have mentioned coconut oil, so I will def try it. He gets eggs now and then if I am already cooking them, but I'll see about adding them more to his diet.

Thanks for all the info every one. I will def take it all into account and figure out what I need to do.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,435 Posts
If it is a seasonal allergy, diet alone won't fix it. Don't feel bad about using daily allergy medication if it works for him. The once daily ones like Claritin (NOT Claritin-D) are generally better for long term use than Benedryl, plus Claritin is non-drowsy. By using medication regularly, it prevents the allergies from getting bad to begin with. Lots of people use allergy medication all spring and summer and feel so much better because of it. By the time you're seeing him itching badly, he's already having a miserable time of it and its harder for the antihistamines to do their job.

4Health grain-free is not produced by Diamond if you want an option that is available at TSC. Not as cheap as the grain inclusive but a reasonable price compared to other grain free foods.

I add packed in water, no salt added canned sardines to kibble when I want to add some healthy fats. The dogs go nuts of them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
He isn't being left completely vulnerable to his allergies. He had a huge improvement when he was on a fish-based food. Plus I use the sprays and shampoos for itching on a regular basis whether he itches or not. I want to do as much without the pills as I can before dosing him, diet being the next on my list, simply because I know that diet change has affected his dry skin and even his ears being itchy. I, also, wouldn't put him on anything until speaking to the vet. Just because people can take some pills doesn't mean dogs can (like Ibuprofen.) I am not saying no to meds outright, just not until I know he won't be happy without it.

4health grain free and 4health are made by different producers? That seems weird.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,435 Posts
I wasn't suggesting using human meds without checking with your vet for dosage, brand, and any counterindications with other meds or health issues. Just that allergy meds can work wonders and that there are affordable options.

AFAIK, 4health grain-inclusive is manufactured by Diamond and 4health grain-free is manufactured by Ainsworth
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
102 Posts
Calah - personally, I wouldn't touch Blue buffalo foods with a 10' pole - too many GI problems happen in dogs that are eating their product and their QC is horrible.

Diarrhea doesn't occur in a dog with inhalant or flea allergies; but does occur very rapidly in a dog with food allergies or intolerances.

You need to find ONE food, very bland food for at least 6-8 wks - get his system regulated, get the itching stopped and find ONE food that you know he can do good on and have a *resort back too* food if need be in the future.

I am ALL for rotation, and believe in it wholeheartedly - but not until you find that ONE food first that you know he can eat without issue.

I myself went through this same battle with one dog I am now feeding raw too; BUT he did great on Merrick's Pork grain-free; no chicken, no yeast, no flaxseed, it was the ONLY dry food he could eat.

You should really check it out - http://www.merrickpetcare.com/consu...Real_Pork_&_Sweet_Potato&categories=Dog-Grain Free-Dry&age=All_Life_Stages_All_Breeds

Foods don't come too much more simplistic then the one mentioned above; and it can be found at Petco - although I think Petco charges more for it then smaller mom/pop dog boutique food stores do.

Orjien 6 fish is another food that comes to mind; strictly nothing but fish, no chicken, no lamb, etc - but does contain a lot of lentils/legumes which some dogs can't digest easily. ...This is a very expensive food, on the edge of $75 for the bigger bag here where I'm at.

Do not feed a food with more then one protein type and definitely stay away from anything with corn, yeast, barley, these are food allergy triggers.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Calah - personally, I wouldn't touch Blue buffalo foods with a 10' pole - too many GI problems happen in dogs that are eating their product and their QC is horrible.

Diarrhea doesn't occur in a dog with inhalant or flea allergies; but does occur very rapidly in a dog with food allergies or intolerances.

You need to find ONE food, very bland food for at least 6-8 wks - get his system regulated, get the itching stopped and find ONE food that you know he can do good on and have a *resort back too* food if need be in the future.

I am ALL for rotation, and believe in it wholeheartedly - but not until you find that ONE food first that you know he can eat without issue.

I myself went through this same battle with one dog I am now feeding raw too; BUT he did great on Merrick's Pork grain-free; no chicken, no yeast, no flaxseed, it was the ONLY dry food he could eat.

You should really check it out - http://www.merrickpetcare.com/consu...Real_Pork_&_Sweet_Potato&categories=Dog-Grain Free-Dry&age=All_Life_Stages_All_Breeds

Foods don't come too much more simplistic then the one mentioned above; and it can be found at Petco - although I think Petco charges more for it then smaller mom/pop dog boutique food stores do.

Orjien 6 fish is another food that comes to mind; strictly nothing but fish, no chicken, no lamb, etc - but does contain a lot of lentils/legumes which some dogs can't digest easily. ...This is a very expensive food, on the edge of $75 for the bigger bag here where I'm at.

Do not feed a food with more then one protein type and definitely stay away from anything with corn, yeast, barley, these are food allergy triggers.

Ah..I just typed out a long response and it got deleted.

Anyway...

I ended up going with Simply Nourish - Salmon. It is a Petsmart brand, which made me concerned at first, but it has good ratings on dogfoodadvisor.com, dogfoodanalysis.com, has good reviews and is a limited ingredient, grain-free product. I, also, used the website mentioned in the thread (by Kathyy) that tells you the risks of different ingredients and how to interpret labels and it passed that test as well.

The diarrhea thing is pretty common when you switch foods too quickly because the gut isn't used to the new food and gets irritated. He only gets diarrhea if we switch foods. It happened when we switched from puppy to adult food, and when we did the switch that started this original thread (vet recommending purina and yelling at me for feeding 4health...can you tell I am still very angry about this?) and sometimes when I take him to my mom's and she forgets to put up her dog's food he'll get a little bit. We do try and wean him onto the new food slowly, but he still gets the diarrhea. BUT this time has been amazing. He had diarrhea the first day and it has been solid since (we usually get a few days of only loose stool, at least!) He did start out pooping a lot during the day...like 5 times a day! But, each day he pooped a little bit less. Now, he has been back to normal. It hasn't been that long but the fact he went back to normal this quickly makes me very happy. I hope we see more good results the longer we keep this food. Anyway, because of the occurrences of the diarrhea...it isn't allergy based. His stool is normal and fine when he's gotten used to a food. Diarrhea from switching over too quickly is extremely common.

Also, he LOVES this food. He has never been one to sneak food out if I leave the container open, but I gave him a handful to see if he was interested in it, and he kept trying to get more. If I try and give him a few kibbles of his old food, he sniffs it and just stares at me. If I try and give him a handful of the new food, he gobbles it out of my hand like I'm going to take it away.

The post was originally about trying to find one decent food. I had started it because after the vet recommendations, I started seeing all the horrible reviews and articles about Purina. (Honestly, I would never have bought Purina myself but I thought I could trust a professional!) Once I realized that vets don't always know what they are talking about, I just needed to find a good food that I could trust. So many brands have poor reviews, recalls because of issues that should be prevented and show they don't give a damn, and all the filler ingredients that I want to avoid. Everything else that was brought up was stuff I either came across in my search, or stuff mentioned in the thread. If I did a rotational diet it would be after a lot of research. Honestly, I am a bit too lazy for rotational and just finding one food I felt okay with was difficult. I second-guess and question pretty much everything. I dunno if I can handle the stress of finding more foods!

Regardless, he loves this food and so far he is adapting to it extremely well (for him.) I won't make any kinds of decisions until he's been on this food for a few months and I know how he handles it. Right now it looks like a winner and will probably be what I stick with.

I did buy some coconut oil like a few people mentioned. I've been hearing about the great effects for people too, so I bought it for myself. After I see how it affects me and figure out if it is safe for dogs, then I might try giving him some too. I definitely won't give him any while he is still getting used to a new food - I don't want to mistake any side-effects of the food as coconut oil or vice versa. I am pretty weird about trusting fads, so I won't give him anything until it is something that I feel is safe.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,324 Posts
If you're poor why have something you can't afford especially a living thing?
Research, there's some inexpensive foods available that are descent.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
If you're poor why have something you can't afford especially a living thing?
Research, there's some inexpensive foods available that are descent.
All right, you listen here. You do not know me or my living situation.

1. All of his needs are met, if I don't want to spend a fortune on dog foods when a cheaper and decent food is available that is my decision.
2. He has all the food, toys, luxuries he needs. I, also, take him to the vet whenever he needs it or I feel he needs it. He is healthy and happy. He has never gone without a vet when he needs it and never will. He has never gone without food, flea medicine, heartworm medicine, or anything else.
3. When I first got him I had a full time job with benefits. Even now I make enough to cover all my bills and provide for him. This is partially due to hard work and partially to good budgeting. I don't have a single bit of debt.
4. Obviously, you haven't read this thread at all. You read the original question and skipped to an answer. You are only here to judge people as you see fit. That is not wanted here. If you have something useful to say then by all means say it. Otherwise go away. There are plenty of nice and helpful people who have answered my question.
5. Chances are you are in no place to judge others.

My dog has never and will never lack for anything, just because I am trying to take care of him and stay on a budget doesn't warrant your nasty remarks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
363 Posts
If you're poor why have something you can't afford especially a living thing?
Research, there's some inexpensive foods available that are descent.
Wow Calah, don't even bother with people like this! That was a ridiculously uncalled for comment. How someone can make the assumption that you're "poor" and shouldn't own a dog because you can't afford raw meat is beyond me. Raw meat is not cheap.

So long as your dog is loved, eats every day, and receives necessary medical care, you're perfectly capable of owning a dog.

Based on my income I am actually classified as "poor" and guess what? My dog eats high quality food every day three times a day, has fresh bottled water all day, gets daily walks, sleeps in my house on my bed, sees the groomer monthly, and gets regular vet care. Not to mention I buy tons of "extras" for her that don't qualify as necessary. But I suppose I shouldn't own her since I'm poor right? Yea she's suffering badly :rolleyes:

To the OP, even if you can't afford some "super premium high quality" overpriced food, there's nothing wrong with that. Your dog isn't going to suffer because you aren't feeding some over hyped food like Orijen lol.
 
1 - 20 of 37 Posts
Top