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Hello everyone. At the end of the month we will be getting a new puppy. She is a bichon frise which is a small breed. The puppy will be 9 weeks old and weigh about 5 pounds. As an adult she should be about 10-12 pounds. I have been doing a lot of research in trying to find the best food to feed her. The breeder currently feeds her Purina Pro Plan chicken and rice which I will leave her on at least initially until she adjust to her new home. It has poor reviews on dog food advisor. I don't mind paying more for a quality food as given her size she will be eating small portions.

I am reading so many conflicting opinions. Some say feed grain free, others say stay away from grain free. Many people have told me to avoid chicken all together due to allergies, yet most puppy foods are chicken based. I also see that many of the quality brands that get high reviews on dog food advisor are very high in protein (32% - 38%). Is that too much protein for such a small dog? The other thing I am concerned with is tear staining and how to avoid it. Especially being they have white fur it really looks awful to see those red stains near the eyes.

I would appreciate any recommendations you may have for a good food. I want to be sure I give this little pup the best chance of living a healthy life. Thank you so much !!!!
 

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My top 2 choice would be Orijen and Acana. If you're worried about high protein, which i dont believe is a problem, then stick to Acana which has lower protein than Orijen. There is also Wellness CORE which has a medium protein amount.

IMO stay away from crappy foods such as Purina, Eukanuba, Royal Canin, Iams etc and any supermarket foods.
 

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The best food is one the dog does well on, likes to eat, and you can afford to feed.

People like to vilify Purina, but there is a reason it's been around as long as it has: Lots and lots of dogs do well on it. Is it currently my first choice in kibble? No. Would I feed it if I thought it would suit my dog? I have, and I will. Same with Iams, Eukanuba, and Science Diet (you might find the story of Hill's foods interesting).

I've had dogs that did terrible on highly rated, "super-premium" foods, including constant loose stools (and weight loos as a result of trying to cut back enough to where they didn't have loose stools), horrible dandruff, and acute pancreatitis.

More important than protein for puppies is the proper phosphorous to calcium ratio. https://www.petcoach.co/article/calcium-phosphorous-requirements-for-dogs/

An excellent resource is the book Dog Food Logic. http://www.dogwise.com/itemdetails.cfm?ID=DN332

Now that that's out of the way, I'm currently feeding my girls American Journey kibble from Chewy. I like the salmon and brown rice the best, but they've also done well on the beef and brown rice and chicken and brown rice. I don't really see any reason to pay extra for grain-free foods, since my dogs have never had any dramatic improvements on them.
 

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Thanks for asking this question, NadiaK. I, too, am researching pet foods for a new pup that I will get in a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, I cannot afford the high-quality foods christine_72's suggested. Those are in the $5 to $11 a pound price range. I rarely treat myself or my son to steak unless it's on sale at less than $6 a pound, so how could I justify feeding steak-priced food on a regular basis to my dog?

I need to figure out a good compromise between excellent health and budget-friendly. I'm hoping to find a well-balanced kibble in the $2 a pound range. I have not decided for or against grain-free kibble, but am thinking of going with a corn-free brand. Kibble will be my pooch's mainstay, plus I will add in a tiny bit of raw or cooked (without salt or seasoning) chicken breast, ground turkey, beef, veggies, fruits, rice, mashed potatoes, etc. (ie: little bits and slivers of healthy stuff from the foods I plan to cook for my human family members on any particular day).

Initially, I planned to go with Kirkland Signature (Costco's brand). It has a 4-star rating on dogfoodadvisor.com and over the years I'd heard many good things about the brand from other dog owners. But when I did some research, I learned that a lot of people are having issues with the food, some who are customers that previously swore by the Kirkland brand. Many of the complaints are of itching skin and sores developing on their dog's stomach.

I know to look for foods with meat and/or meat meal as the first ingredient. I also understand that I should steer clear of foods that are made from "by-product meal" and to instead look for "chicken meal," "turkey meal" or other specific meat meal. Other than that, I'm lost. How much protein is enough? How much is too much? I've read that for medium/large breeds, too much calcium in the pups first year can cause fast growth that leads to bone and ligament issues. But how much is enough and how much is too much? Some people say that if going grain-free, to look for a food with Taurine. Others say to avoid peas in grain-free preparations. It's all so confusing!

In addition to NadiaK's request for brand recommendations, can we get a little education on what to look for on a dog food label and what to avoid?
 

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If you're on a budget, you cant really beat- Taste Of The Wild, i prefer "High Prairie" and the "Wetlands" formulas.

As for ingredients to avoid, I used to have a well thought out list saved, but i cant find it now! I found this short list below:

Corn and wheat gluten
Meat and grain meals and by-products
BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole)
BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
Ethoxyquin
Food Dyes (Blue 2, Red 40, Yellow 5 and 6, 4-MIE)
PG (Propylene Glycol)
Rendered fat
 

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I always find it ironic that someone will tell people to not feed a commercial food with "by-products", only to then turn around and say that if you feed a raw diet, you have to include them in order to have a balanced diet.
 

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I always find it ironic that someone will tell people to not feed a commercial food with "by-products", only to then turn around and say that if you feed a raw diet, you have to include them in order to have a balanced diet.
Raw feeders know exactly what by-products they are feeding. When a commercial food lists byproducts it is a mystery to what exactly it is. If these byproducts were indeed stuff like, liver, kidney, heart etc they would be labeling the ingredient list with these named sources. Listing Byproducts is a lucky dip, which can change from batch to batch!
 

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Hard for me to make recommendations on price as I am in a different region. But I do tend to stick to brands that have been around for some time and have proven themselves. I like to stick to brands that have a good analysis. Moderate protein, no ridiculous amounts of calcium, phosphorus or ash.

That said, my current top brands are Farmina and Annamaet grain inclusive. I usually stick with the grain inclusive Farmina but sometimes I throw in a grain free bag for variety, since their food is not boosted with high protein legumes. As for Annamaet, I really like Ultra both for adults and puppies. It seems to be around $2-2.5 per pound in the States.

I don't usually bother with grain free foods because they tend to be more expensive yet more of the protein often comes from plants vs meats. I also have never seen any benefits of peas vs rice or oats. My dog is actually quite often gassy on grain free foods and poop is usually a lot bigger. Just my personal experience.
 

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Victor, 4health, and SportsMix are great budget foods.

"Victor Select Nutra Pro - for active dogs and puppies" is my favorite out of those and you can get a 40lb bag for $50 on chewy.com, and 90% of the protein is from animals. Great company, great ingredients, and works great for my doggos.
 

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I used to feed orijen but my dogs had pretty stanky gas due to the high protein. I didn't mind it as it was only occasionally but somewhere down the road I decided to switch to acana and then finally to taste of the wild. They have good quality kibble but it's a little cheaper than acana and orijen and I personally think they're better than wellness core. :wink:
 

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Lots of geeky-fun info on the dogfoodproject website. My head is spinning from all the info, none of which will stick to my teflon brain cells. I really like the "ingredients to avoid" section. Super informative!

I'm a little skittish of going grain-free, mainly because of the recent canine heart disease scare associated with grain-free food. It would be nice if researchers can tell us if the problem is caused by no grains or if it is a result of all the peas & legumes in the grain-free formulas. Maybe they already know. I need to do more research to see what I come up with.

I'm thinking of going with Nutro Ultra Large Breed puppy food even though it contains the undesired "brewers rice" and "salt." It also has no probiotics. But since I plan to add a little plain greek yogurt when serving kibble in a Kong, I feel the lack of probiotics is not a reason to scratch this kibble.

If I decide it is OK to go grain-free, I'll probably go with Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed formula for puppies. It is on the DogFoodAdvisor list of best foods for large breed puppies, plus it totally passes the DogFoodProject "foods to avoid" criteria. It's also just a few cents above my $2 a pound criteria.

I've heard lots of good things about Taste of the Wild and thought it would be on my short list. But as of right now, I'm not sold on the puppy versions. The bag does not say if it's for small breed, large breed or all size breeds. And there is no min/max calcium amounts listed in the "guaranteed analysis" nutritional info. As I understand it, too much calcium can cause too fast bone growth in larger breed dogs.

As LeoRose wrote, "The best food is one the dog does well on, likes to eat, and you can afford to feed."
So, I'll start with a small bag of food and see how things go. If my pup doesn't like it or has digestive issues, we'll be taking a look at food brands not included on the DogFoodAdvisor's "best" list.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thank you for your suggestions. I will definitely go check them out. As I mentioned, for me the price of the food is not at all an issue due to the fact that the dog is so small. I am curious as to what most people feel is a good protein amount for a puppy? Looking at the guaranteed analysis the protein percentages have quite a wide span.
 

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If you're on a budget, you cant really beat- Taste Of The Wild, i prefer "High Prairie" and the "Wetlands" formulas.

As for ingredients to avoid, I used to have a well thought out list saved, but i cant find it now! I found this short list below:

Corn and wheat gluten
Meat and grain meals and by-products
BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole)
BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
Ethoxyquin
Food Dyes (Blue 2, Red 40, Yellow 5 and 6, 4-MIE)
PG (Propylene Glycol)
Rendered fat
This. I avoid grain free now because of a possible link between heart issues and foods with legumes and potatoes (which pretty much all grain free foods are). There's no reason to avoid chicken if your dog shows no sensitivity to it.

Honestly I used to rely on dogfoodadvisor but I'm very disappointed that they don't take the FDA warnings about grain free foods more seriously. I'd pick something that has high ratings and no peas/potatoes in that list.
 

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Thank you for your suggestions. I will definitely go check them out. As I mentioned, for me the price of the food is not at all an issue due to the fact that the dog is so small. I am curious as to what most people feel is a good protein amount for a puppy? Looking at the guaranteed analysis the protein percentages have quite a wide span.
In my reading, it seems typical to recommend a minimum of 22% protein for puppies (no matter the breed size) and a minimum of 18% protein for adults. Most of the sites give no maximum percentage, but say that too much protein is bad for dogs with kidney disease and elderly dogs whose kidney's might not be working efficiently. A healthy pup should either excrete the unused protein or it will be metabolized as body fat if the excess protein leads to an excess in calories.

I have no idea who Drs Foster & Smith are, but their website says puppies need a minimum of 22% protein and a maximum of 32%. I found the information on their webpage to be informative. It explains how just the percentage of protein is not enough to go by, but that different forms of protein add amino acids that dogs do not produce on their own. https://www.drsfostersmith.com/pic/article.cfm?articleid=459

I found a very high-cost dog food that is super high in protein: 40%! I don't know if people solely feed their dogs RAWZ or if they use it as a special training kibble to add a bit of protein boost to the dog's diet. You can read about it here. http://rawznaturalpetfood.com

Also, I was able to find some information on the AKC website that might be helpful: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/tear-stains/

In case you are wondering, Yes, I am a research geek and, Yes, I have way too much time on my hands -- at least until my new furry-face friend arrives.
 

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In my reading, it seems typical to recommend a minimum of 22% protein for puppies (no matter the breed size) and a minimum of 18% protein for adults. Most of the sites give no maximum percentage, but say that too much protein is bad for dogs with kidney disease and elderly dogs whose kidney's might not be working efficiently. A healthy pup should either excrete the unused protein or it will be metabolized as body fat if the excess protein leads to an excess in calories.

I have no idea who Drs Foster & Smith are, but their website says puppies need a minimum of 22% protein and a maximum of 32%. I found the information on their webpage to be informative. It explains how just the percentage of protein is not enough to go by, but that different forms of protein add amino acids that dogs do not produce on their own. https://www.drsfostersmith.com/pic/article.cfm?articleid=459

I found a very high-cost dog food that is super high in protein: 40%! I don't know if people solely feed their dogs RAWZ or if they use it as a special training kibble to add a bit of protein boost to the dog's diet. You can read about it here. http://rawznaturalpetfood.com

Also, I was able to find some information on the AKC website that might be helpful: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/tear-stains/

In case you are wondering, Yes, I am a research geek and, Yes, I have way too much time on my hands -- at least until my new furry-face friend arrives.
Thank you so much for these great links !!!!
 
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