Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Dog Food Dilemma, Revisited.

While variety is the spice of life, I've begun to realize that when it comes to dog food, variety is my enemy.  Last fall I described the problems we have had in finding a food that works for the dogs, and I wish that was the end of our trouble.  You can read about that post here.

At the end of that post, Skye had a belly ache from Canidae.  I switched their food to Holistic Select- another decent-but-not-awesome food that a friend gives her extremely sensitive dog.  I figured it would be good to try, even though I was sure Skye's skin would be less than excited by the addition of grains in her diet.  Well, we didn't get too far with that before my prediction came true, and Parker wasn't thrilled with it either.  So I once again transitioned to a new food.

This photo break is brought to you by giant cheeks and floppy lips.

I chose Taste of the Wild because it is grain free and chicken free.  The kibbles are small enough for Parker and both dogs seemed to enjoy the food.  Honestly, I was shocked.  Their stool looked better than it had in a long time, and their coats were nice and itch-free.  We finally found a winner!

...For about a month.  Then Parker got less interested in his food, and barely ate at all.  I'm not the type to accommodate picky eating behavior, so I would give him the opportunity to eat, then pick up his food.  But after almost a week of a diet consisting of 3-5 kibbles per day, I caved.  I'd been reading about the benefits of adding a high quality canned food to dry kibble, and decided that now was the time to try it.  I bought a few cans of Wellness 95% Lamb, and began adding a spoonful to their bowls at each meal.

We love you Mom.
Needless to say, they were happy about this addition.  I also liked that the canned food looked and smelled like meat, not slimy gravy and mystery products.  We made it about two weeks this way, and while there was some soft stool, I expected it from my wimpy dogs.

Then Skye had her medical disaster, followed by Parker's random illness.  Both dogs spent about a week on hamburger and rice, and then I was faced with a new dilemma.  The double sickness occurred immediately after I started a new bag of TOTW... could it have been a factor?  I decided not to be paranoid and kept them on the same food.

I'm guessing you can see that this isn't a happy ending.  Skye has been great on TOTW for the past week.  In fact, she's been more excited to eat than I've seen in a long time.  I haven't added in the canned food yet, just to play it safe.

I want to be that big when I grow up!
Parker was not so lucky.  He hasn't been able to keep any dog food down at all.  He threw up all the TOTW he's eaten, as well as canned ID, which usually does the trick in a pinch.  Yesterday and today he had chicken and rice without a problem, but I've finally faced facts.  My dogs need to eat different types of food.  I'm going to try something lower quality, as Parker seems to do better with those brands.  I don't mean low quality like Beneful, but something that includes certain grains and most likely oatmeal.  After all, his first two years he ate Purina Dog Chow, so maybe high quality isn't going to work for him.

So why write a post about this?  I promise it isn't just to vent my frustrations at having yet another sick dog, although that is part of it.  I'm actually just curious to get some input.  Do you think that some dogs just don't benefit from a high quality food?  Or maybe I'm missing something, a food supplement or oil that I could add to help them digest the food better?  I hadn't expected this to be such a battle- after all, dog food is supposed to be eaten!

I just want my sassy boy back to his old self again, because who else will keep Skye in line?

I am the law.  I am not a sheep.

This is a blog hop!  If that's how you found us, thanks for hopping by!



  1. I have gone through the same process with my 2 cats. They are years apart in age. The little one has a sensitive stomach and throws up a lot. The old one is overweight. What I've learned is that switching food is in itself hard on the animal's system, esp. their liver. Just the act of switching can cause upset to their system. Consult vets and knowledgeable professionals at the pet store and discuss ingredients. Don't purchase anything that contains "by-products". I've been informed that this could mean beaks and hoofs literally. See if meat or ex. "chicken meal" is first ingredient. I'm not convinced about these new ones with fruits and vegetables. Dogs/cats are carnivores. Maybe try a prescription diet canned food from the vet. The canned food also gives them some additional fluid. Smell of food is most important to them. A strong smelling food you may not like the smell of they will like. Be patient as it will take a few days for them to adjust to the new food. It is recommended that you introduce a new food slowly, mixed with the original food and adding more of the new food every couple of days. Sorry that this is long winded. I feel your frustration.

  2. Have you tried California Naturals? There are only 9 ingredients in their original formulas and very few in their grain free as well.


  3. ok - so we have faced this issue sooo many times, and blog about it a lot! after giving have 3 guardia tests, 2 blood tests, 5 stool sample test and finding NOTHING, we turned to food. We looked at the food. We had started with Natural Balance's Limited Ingredient Diet, but that didnt do anything. Then the vet put her on Hill's siced i/d, still nothing. Finally, after asking the blog world, and MANY telling us about raw food diet (whcih we were reluctant) we found out about EVO. It is a raw food kibble, grain and chicken free. We weaned it SO SLOWLY. She has been on it for 3 weeks. After the first full week we added in Missing Link Probiotic, to account for extra fiber and acidiphillous and to regulate intestinal flora. About a week in we noticed a difference. 1. she wasnt having an accident in the middle of the night, and 2. she reduced her poop from 4 times a day to 2. Then, today, for the first time since we rescued her 6 months ago she had solid poop. So I think this is finally working. I think its a guessing game. But def, wait out the full month like we finally did! Keep us updated!

  4. How quickly are you switching the dogs over? Maybe some of the stomach upset has to do with that. When we switched Oscar over, I think we did it over a couple of weeks, if not more. When he first came to us, he was on Iams and his coat wasn't great and his stools were soft. We switched him over to Blue Buffalo - the chicken and oatmeal one - and he loves it and his stool was much better. He's been on it for months (he's still a puppy). I love Blue Buffalo. It's a quality food, but not as pricey as some of the other "quality" ones (which still have corn as one of the first ingredients - I don't know why some of them are considered to be high quality!). Blue Buffalo has a brand that is designed for dogs with digestive issues - I think it's called Basics. That line avoids ingredients that are common (like chicken) because common ingredients can apparently cause allergic reactions, and also stays away from the usual culprit, corn. Blue Buffalo also doesn't use by-product meals, which is a big plus in my mind. I hope you find something that works for you soon!

    Happy blog hopping!

  5. Sorry you guys are having such trouble with foods.

    A couple ideas on foods that I have:

    Raw feeding is the most species appropriate diet, and if an owner can feed it, I think they should.

    That said, of the kibbles that are out there, some are better than others, and there are some factors to keep in mind when looking at ANY kibble.

    Flaxseed and flaxseed oil are used in humans as hormone supplements, and have shown to effect hormone levels in breeding dogs enough to prevent conception or reduce litter size. When I fed kibble, I made sure Flax was not on the list of ingredients.

    Protein in high quantities is hard on the kidneys, especially if there is not enough water included in the diet to help excess protein pass through the system. If feeding a kibble that has 30% protein or more, it is a good idea to soak the kibble overnight in an equal volume of water, to help the excess protein be processed by the kidneys.

    Kibbles that I tried with my dogs and they did good on include: Taste of the Wild, Natural Balance, NOW!, and Earthborn Primitive Naturals. I believe EPN is the one my dogs did best on, and would be the one I fed if I switched back to kibble.

    Hopefully your dogs can find something they are good on soon.

  6. I totally agree with Two Grad Students--Missing Link is an amazing brand. Elli isn't on the same formula as Havi is, but overall, I'd recommend checking into it anyway.

    Elli is also on Green Mush, and if she's taken off of it, there is a very noticeable difference. Aids in digestion and absorption of all the minerals in the food you're feeding.

    Since there are so many brands out there, choosing just one isn't easy by any means; I hope you find a solution soon!

  7. Hi Y'all,

    Those of you who follow me know the story of my allegies. It took a week to tell it. As a pup I was on Purina Pro. I was on it for a few months in my new home when my allergies became so bad that changes in food were necessary along with allergy shots, which I still get monthly.

    Finally, after trying every food holistic, raw, you name it...I ended up on Science Diet Ultra ZD. The vets couldn't get me off it until my vet finally discovered a serious "butt problem" and sent me to a surgeon.

    Once that cleared up, my ear and bladder infections stopped and my vet felt safe trying a salmon based Purina Pro for me. I've been doing good on far.

    I still have problems if I manage to sneak some human food.

    As for changing food over, it took an entire bag of the ZD. My Human slowly added and increased the amount of Purina until by the end of the bag of ZD I was only getting a few kibbles in my Purina. She would hold off changing the formula for 5 days to a week before decreasing the amount of ZD.

    Sorry to tell you, but it's all a trial and error thing to find a food that doesn't give us pawed ones a problem.

    If you feed your pawed ones different foods, be sure to feed them in their crates so they don't get an upset by getting into each others food.

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  8. I've had the same problems with my rescue Hazel. I've had her for 13 months now and she is only NOW finally starting to have consistently solid stools. The compromise has been to put her on a middle of the road food that I'm not crazy about, but she tolerates well. Every now and again I toss in something else and see how she does and she is much better these days. Hang in there! I know its frustrating.

  9. I feel your pain! It took me a while to find the right food (rather than drivel on here - but we got there in the end. Fingers crossed for you!

  10. yes we have been thru the dog food mill too... cici will eat pretty much anything but not everythig agrees with her. canidae made her ill first time... have you tried raw food? or Dr. harvey's (oatmeal and veggies dehydrated, you add the meat), or honest kitchen? not kibbles, dehydrated foods. good fortune.

  11. This is such a common issue! My take is that there are many great dog foods out there (TOTW being one of them) but that not every food is great for every dog. And while grain-free or raw is great for a lot of dogs, it's not great for all dogs. I'm personally a big fan of Solid Gold - their Hund-n-Flocken formula was the magic cure for Maggie's itchies. In terms of palatability, Castor & Pollux has great-tasting formulas and may help with a picky eater. And all decent brands have a guarantee - while it may be a pain in the rear to try many different kinds, don't be afraid to take it back to your local retailer for a refund if it doesn't work for your pups.

  12. Hi and thanks for following Bocci's Beefs. Just wondering if you've consider a raw diet? While I don't feed either Bocci or my cat Bella raw, I know a number of folks who swear by it. You'd obviously have to do some research and if you're interested, I can provide you with links.

    I can't help but believe everyone (including humans!) do better with high quality food. Have you tried Orijens? I think it's the highest quality kibble out there. Their webiste is Champion Pet in Canada.
    Please keep us updated on this problem!

  13. Oops-after reading some of the other posts, I saw the name of the food I was looking for: The Honest Kitchen. It's dehydrated raw. Bocci had a sample and loved it, but I ended up sticking with Orijens, just because kibble is so much easier and Bocci has had no problems with any food.

  14. With five of my own dogs, and foster dogs that come and go, I too, went through many trials of different foods that would work well for some dogs but not all. I was determined to find a food that addressed everyone's digestive and allergy problems. We finally decided Natural Balance - Potato and Duck is the winner. We keep consistant, with the matching treats, added bonus; Natural Balance has it's own rewards program.

  15. Hi Jenny - Great job describing what you've been through. Wow! Not fun huh? I am a pet sitter and often see allergies and food-digestion issues with my dog clients. I have often recommended the food I feed my own dogs - The Honest Kitchen (another good one is Sojos).

    Both dog foods are human-grade food and contain NO grain, which is usually an issue for a lot of dogs with allergies. The best part is my dogs love both brands. It's dehydrated food. You simply add water to it. I often have to buy extra because the doggie clients who board with me also like it. In fact, they often won't eat their own food preferring to try and lick my dog's bowls when they are done.

    I saw someone also recommended EVO and Raw-food diets. Both are great ideas too. Good luck! I hope you finally come to a resolution so no one is suffering the itchies.

  16. Hi there,
    Catching up on blogs and read your post. Well, what I use with Kirby is Nutro Max Natural samll bites lamb and rice. I have given it to him since I brought him home a year ago and we have had good luck with it. I have always liked the Nutro Max products. They are not high end costly nor low end and full of byproducts. Almost all of Kirby's treats are Nutro Max products too. I have found that with some of the other high end products they are actually too rich for some dogs tummies and I know with smaller dogs you need to watch protien content too, as some of those have ALOT. You could try this to see if it would work for both of your dogs, then you wouldn't need to buy two separate kinds of food.

    Good luck!
    Kirby's mom

  17. I do think there are dogs that do best on low quality food. I had a boy who had smooshy poops from day 1. Yes he did have intestinal parasites that were dealt with, but even after that his poops just never hardened up. Premade raw with just meat, premade raw with meat and veggies, home made raw just meat, homemade raw and veggies, homeCOOKED meats and veggies, holistic kibble... never saw a solid poop until one day (10 months into his life)the dog was out of food and i was darn near out of money. I picked up a 20some lb bag of no name kibble for $10 and BAM - real poops! As for the picky eaters, he was too, some days he didnt care to finish even his first meal of kibble of the day, some times youd try to give him raw meat and hed refuse to touch it until you cooked it for him, hes a brat. I tried mixing an egg into his food, and it made him eat, but gave him bad gas. Low sodium chicken or beef brother did the trick though, and is so simple to pour a little over the kibble.


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