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The thought of loose stool or diarrhea from the 5 dogs (that weight a cumulative 585 lbs) I'm feeding is enough to deter me from experimenting with their diets. Beyond that, Danes require very particular calcium/phosphorous ratios and percentages that are simply not available from many kibbles (both low and high end).
I asked not because I think you should switch but specifically because you said you'd consider feeding something less expensive if you found something that worked but yet appeared to not have tried to find something that worked.

My observation only, but overall, unless a dog is obviously sensitive to food changes-- such as giving a few too many treats is a big problem-- then food changes among relatively similar food profiles is very rarely a big deal. As in, going from 12% fat to 25% fat might cause digestive upset but from 18% to 20% and with the same main protein does not.

Back to the original topic - I don't like Earthborn because it's "high end". When I recommend it to people, that's never part of my pitch. "Correct calc/phos percentages for growing Danes, my dogs do well on it, minimal shedding, good solid poops, US-based company owned by Midwestern Pet Foods, who is a decent parent company, their bags are made with recycled materials so their carbon footprint is very small, and they have never had a recall". Definitely not "it's $52.99 for 28 lbs so you can feel superior to your pet owning neighbors!"
I thought you were feeding Earthborn but I wasn't sure when you mentioned "high end" food as I think of Earthborn's price point as more mid-range so you probably wouldn't be saving much by switching then; I give the same pitch (excepting the Danes part) for Pro Pac :) I like paying $28 for 28 lbs from the same reputable company.

Just as a general comment, not directed at anyone--
I like being able to switch foods often. It means I can take advantage of sales and promotions or grab something at almost any store that is convenient when I start to run low.

I think everyone should have at least 2, preferably 3, widely available formulas that they know their dog does well on (I do get that some dogs with severe allergies are best on a single food but many/most dogs have more options) because recalls and stock shortages happen or there's a snowstorm and you realize you're short of food or money gets tight and a few months of savings can really help or one's usual pet store goes out of business etc.

I tend to think of low/mid/high price ranges as roughly <$1/lb, between $1-$2/lb and >$2/lb for dry food. I usually add that information if someone asks me for a food recommendation so I can get an idea of their budget and suggest accordingly.
 

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Throughout the last decade I've fed Science Diet, Blue Buffalo, Nutro, 4Health, Fromm, Wellness and Nature's Domain. Shenzi hated SD and shed like crazy on it, none of them would touch Blue Buffalo, Atlas didn't really like Nutro, Loki had diarrhea on Fromm. Wellness was pretty okay, but kind of expensive for me at the time, and then I switched to Nature's Domain because I could afford it and it was reasonable, and then switched to EB because I discovered Diamond owns Nature's Domain and I don't want to buy Diamond foods.

Saw such an improvement in the switch to EB and I'm just SO happy with it. I can't even describe how happy I am with it, honestly. I hope everyone is as overjoyed with whatever they choose to feed as I am with EB. It's an amazing feeling I've never had before that I've found a food that has had such a drastic positive impact on my dogs. And I can understand why people feel strongly about ProPlan, or whatever they choose to feed, if they feel about it the way I do about EB.

So I don't feel the need for variety outside of switching between Earthborn's formulas. I buy 9-10 bags at a time when they're on sale and I have five different retailers within 30 minutes of me.

Another reason I choose not to switch is because Zephyr is thin, has no muscle and needs to be consuming 9-10 cups a day. Titan is still growing and is also consuming around 8-9 cups a day. If I switched and they suddenly didn't want to eat, or had digestive issues, it could drop their weight pretty significantly in a rather short period of time.

Why try to fix it when it isn't broken? If a recall happened, I'd have to find another alternative, but they haven't had one yet, so I'm crossing my fingers. I'd probably try Fromm or Acana if I had to switch to another kibble, or make the jump to raw.
 

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Hiraeth,
I too don't use the cheapest vet. I have a cheaper vet I use but not for surgeries. heck, not for anything important. He has no X-ray machine, doesn't have much for meds (he orders & you go pick up or he calls another clinic) either. He does all in surgery: operates and monitors anesthesia. For me, that's a no-go.
I switched to a VCA clinic when Gemma got sick; I like that they are open later (6pm a couple nights, 8pm a few nights and open til 4pm every Saturday) and have all the "bells & whistles". of course, you pay more for this.
 

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I don't use the *cheapest* vet, either, because he's kind of old school, has weird hours, doesn't take appointments so much as walk ins and meeting you there when you get there, only has one tech and doesn't have a lot of the things I like.

I use a perfectly midrange, for my area, clinic that does in house blood work, titers, has X-ray capabilities, a trainer on staff, hosts puppy socialization, and is generally pretty cool. I sometimes use Tech, which is a teaching facility and relatively more expensive. I've had an endoscopy, an echo the like done there. I would not go to the teaching hospital for a spay. It's dumb (for me). I have had the teaching place say 'we can do these three things, the most expensive option is A, the cheapest is C' and chosen the cheapest, too, because it was what the vet honestly said was as valid and sound as the more expensive option (ie: crate rest instead of surgery).

Funnily enough, none of them recommend or go for things that seem common to other people in other areas. Like pre-routine-surgery blood work for otherwise healthy and young dogs. Even the teaching hospital. I don't do everything that is an option to do, just because it's an option to do it. My assumption is not that everything is useful and more expensive means better. Sometimes more invasive and more expensive just means more invasive and more expensive, and sometimes that's just not right for the dog, the situation, or the owner. Sometimes it is.

Which I am perfectly sure everyone here knows.
 

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I've seen many dogs do alright on Proplan and other dogs with dull, flaky, itchy coats/skin on it. I'm all for feed what your dog does best on. I do get tired of the vets I deal with telling their clients that it is the best when clearly it is not working the best for their dogs. I personally don't care for it and will try many other foods before it.. but that's just me. :)

My one allergy dog does best on Acana. I'd rather not have to feed such an expensive food but anything that helps keep my dog from needing steroids is worth it to me. My other gets softer poop and anal gland issues on anything that is grain free and includes potatoes. Middle of the road foods with high fat and protein are best for her since she does everything with intensity that makes her lose weight easily.

So.. yeah. Feed what you feel is best for you dog. I'm not comfortable with ProPlan. You don't have to be either just because some vets really like it. Not all vets do.
 

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Hiraeth,
I too don't use the cheapest vet. I have a cheaper vet I use but not for surgeries. heck, not for anything important. He has no X-ray machine, doesn't have much for meds (he orders & you go pick up or he calls another clinic) either. He does all in surgery: operates and monitors anesthesia. For me, that's a no-go.
I switched to a VCA clinic when Gemma got sick; I like that they are open later (6pm a couple nights, 8pm a few nights and open til 4pm every Saturday) and have all the "bells & whistles". of course, you pay more for this.
I have a routine vet that I use for checkups, meds, etc. They're actually really fairly priced, much better than the last clinic I went to, and I like their knowledge base about giant breeds. When it comes to "regular" vet care, I don't think price is so telling of service. For instance, your "cheaper vet" might have a lot of knowledge that's really valuable about toy breeds and therefore be a wonderful choice for toy breed owners. My "cheaper vet" has been wonderful so far and has given me great advice.

The specialist clinic I go to is pretty insane. Loki's surgery was well over $5,000. His night in the ICU after the surgery was very pricey (I don't remember exactly how much). His bandage changes were $350 each. His chemotherapy was thousands, and so were his radiation treatments. I knew that I was paying for good care (the surgeon who did Loki's procedure was one of the few who had done the procedure in the entire country), but I didn't know exactly why the price was so high until I was taken into the back side of the clinic when Titan was there for eye surgery.

The place is pristine, cleaner than most doctor's offices I've been in. They have at least one vet and two techs on duty 24/7. The enclosures for dogs are roomy, furnished with raised beds and clean, new-looking fluffy bedding. They do a vast majority of testing and analysis in-house, versus having to send samples away. They have an MRI machine. They have several full teams of oncologists, neurologists, ophthalmologists, surgeons. They also have several veterinary behaviorists on staff who are available for consult. I was given the cell phone numbers of my surgeons (both Loki's and Titan's), as well as the lead member of their team, in case I had any complications and needed immediate advice after hours.

I think price should be the last thing we think about when we are providing care for our animals, and quality of care should be first. And "quality of care" is different for everyone. For me, not doing pre-surgical bloodwork including a clotting test on my dogs is unacceptable (this is largely a breed-related thing). For others, pre-surgical bloodwork is completely unnecessary. Quality also comes down to objective analysis of whether a procedure should be done, no matter whether it can be done or not.
 

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For the record, only Pro Plan's Savor line has soy shreds. The Sport, Focus, Natural and Bright Mind lines do not. Nor does the Purina Beyond line which "on paper" is the company's "best" food and includes several grain free formulas.

While soy may be a relatively inexpensive way of boosting protein and soy shreds are certainly a gimmick, some dogs love them and soy is no worse a source of protein from plants than any other. All kibbles require a high carbohydrate percentage in order to be extruded; there is no scientific consensus that legumes, which are used in place of corn and rice in many grainless formulas, are intrinsically healthier than corn. In fact a number of the high protein grainless formulas have somewhat imbalanced mineral profiles which can lead to problems for some dogs (Evo and some Orijen formulas stand out in this regard).

Although even a board certified veterinary nutritionist (of which there are fewer than 100) cannot divine the true quality or nutritive value of a pet food from its label, many "popular" (and expensive) grainless diets are manufactured by third party co-packers and formulated by a part-time nutrition consultant who is almost certainly not a DACVN.

People can feed whatever rocks their boat (after all dogs can't read labels) but their "common sense" opinions about how much the ingredients on a label indicate relative quality are not a substitute for science. Only the biggest companies can afford to approach pet nutrition with all the resources of science and to pay for that investment they are going to put more soy in their formulas than whole "human grade" chicken breasts. But the body cannot tell the source of the amino acids it needs to thrive; it only knows how efficiently they are absorbed and utilized.

All that said, although I am fine with feeding Pro Plan Sport indefinitely, I would happily feed Dr. Tim's, Annamaet, Fromm, Victor or Farmina if I had a reason to switch. But my preference for those brands vs. Orijen, Blue Buffalo, Wellness, or Halo is no more objectively informed than other people's bias against Purina One or Science Diet. It's *all* marketing.
 

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My guys have been on ProPlan Savor Salmon for a couple years. They do great on it.
Chicken isn't the first ingredient in all PP dry foods.
 
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