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My boy Nalu is coming up on 9 months old. So crazy how fast they grow. But I've recently done research and had discussions about food with my vet and others, and am getting conflicting answers. So, of course, I come here, to the real experts. :D

My vet is telling me to transition him into adult food now, and if I want to change his food brand, now is a good time to do it.

He has been eating Science Diet since I first got him, and hasn't had issues with it. Though I've read somewhere that a grain-free diet is better for border collies since they need the protein, and it also helps alleviate allergies (which Nalu has, out here in crazy pollen-land Utah). I'm looking into maybe transitioning to Canidae or Natural Balance maybe? But maybe the Science Diet is fine?

Any suggestions? What is the best kibble for BCs?

Also, I give him frozen pieces of chuck roast as a treat (a suggestion I saw on here), which he LOVES, but someone mentioned it'd be better for him if it was raw, or only lightly cooked, and then frozen. True?

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I do use Canidae. I had my puppy on Wellness, but they changed the source for their products and she got sick on a bad bag. My main concern in selecting a brand was it did not come from a processing plant that had had recalls and other problems. I was able to determine the food I chose did not come from that plant through emails with their customer service. Another factor that limited my selection was the amount of protein. Some of the high quality kibbles had more protein than she could tolerate. She was very high strung as a young pup and it was recommended that she would do better on a medium protein diet and adult food. That said there are other high quality kibbles out there. It is hard to determine what is best. Good luck. I would recommend buying a smaller bag to start with in case your dog does not do well on it and stay away from brands sold in grocery stores. You could put your pup on adult food now. I also mix my dog's kibble food with Canidae canned food. She eats slower and gets more moisture that way.

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Many people I know don't even feed puppy formula at all, or at least not past about three months or so.

 

I can't think of anyone I know, outside a veterinarian who might sell it, who would recommend Science Diet (except possibly a prescription diet for a dog with special health needs) for any dog at any stage of life. It really is a food largely made up of the cheapest ingredients possible, which means primarily grain-based.

 

Ask people here - or anywhere - what the best food or diet is and you will get almost as many different answers as the number of people you ask. Part of that is that not every dog does equally well (or poorly) on a particular food. What works marvelously for one dog might not work well at all for another dog. That may be due to the individual animal or due to its particular circumstances (like activity levels, etc.). So you may have to try several types of food before you find one or more that your dog does well on.

 

There are wet foods, dry foods, and a variety of home-prepared (or commercial) raw diets to choose from as well. You can choose to supplement commercial foods with your own additions, like raw meat. organ meat, bones, etc., or dietary supplements (like fish oil).

 

In general, if you can buy it in the grocery store or a place like Wal-Mart, it's not good food. Whole Dog Journal often publishes their list of the ten worst things you can feed your dog, and some of the named brands/varieties are very popular foods that many people think are very healthy (like Beneful, which is anything but a quality food).

 

Others will recommend their favorites. I feed Eagle Pack Holistic Chicken and Rice. I like how the dogs do on it - bright eyes, lots of energy, shiny coats, minimal digestive issues, and so on. If I couldn't get that, there are other foods that I would try - I have a great place to buy my dog (and cat) food and I can get good advice and have a great discussion with my very knowledgeable friend who owns the store and who thoroughly researches what she sells. I'd listen to what she has to say and make my decision to try a food for my dogs or cats.

 

I used to feed Diamond Naturals Chicken and Rice, a much less expensive food that is rather good quality for its more modest cost. I know a number of working dog people who feed it very successfully.

 

There are also some foods that you probably can't find locally but could have shipped to you, that are of excellent quality (and someone will probably recommend some of those). They are foods that are often used by performance and high-level working dogs (think sled dogs) but don't tend to be sold in local stores in most areas.

 

Look for foods that have quality and named protein sources; avoid by-products, animal digest, or other "un-named" ingredients; look for foods that have the meat as the primary ingredient (remember that if a meat source is first but it is a "fresh" meat, on a dry matter basis, it may be a much smaller percentage of the ingredients than its position as the "first ingredient" would lead you to believe); generally avoid corn, wheat, and soy as ingredients as they are often allergens or tend to make up too much of the product; and consider the advice you get here as a guideline to *trying out* different options.

 

Also try doing a "search" here for previous topics dealing with this issue - there have been many and there has been lots of advice given.

 

Best wishes!

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I go just the opposite. I feed All Life Stages foods for life. ALS is formulated for growth, so is puppy food, but companies have the option of choosing to label Growth or All Life Stages. These foods are higher in protein and fat and have controlled amounts of calcium, but cost about the same as Adult/Maintenance foods, so I can feed less. I also don't feed any food long term. I don't believe any food is perfect, so I switch them up regularly.

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We feed taste of the wild. If it is a brand you are interested in, I would start with either the Pacific stream or Sierra mountain formula because they have lower protein than the others. After that, you can switch formulas. It just helps them get use to the amount of protein.

 

Either way, everyone has their own opinion and not all areas carry certain brands. I just make sure I know the ingredients. If you can't pronounce it, I would advise against buying it.

 

My oldest BC, who is 16, is eating purina one because at this point, we are happy if he eats and it's what he likes. He also gets high quality wet food. Do I recommend purina one? Nope. Like said above, if you can buy it at a store like Walmart or target, it probably isn't good.

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I echo what Sue said.

 

In short: I transitioned my 1st pup from puppy to adult food at 5 months. My second pup was eating an ALS food when I got him, so I continued him on it for a bag or two.

 

I also switch out kibble bags -- i.e. every time I buy a new bag, it is from a different company because, as Gideon's girl said, no food may be perfect and by switching out bags, (hopefully) the deficiencies or excesses might even out over time. Also, I do not have to transition my dogs between bags. One meal they are eating one type of kibble, and then the next meal, it will be something different. If you just feed one food their entire life, it will be harder for their systems to adjust to another food so you should plan to transition - at least until their systems become used to a more varied diet (if that is what you wish to do).

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There is a website that lists all of the common dog foods with an analysis of what is in them and ranks them according to how good they are. I know I kept that link somewhere but cannot find it. If anyone has it, it would probably help the OP to make good decisions about dog food.

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My dogs eat half Canidae half raw pre-mix and tripe with other raw meats added as treats. They are doing great on it!

 

I went through several brands of food before deciding on this one. I was feeding merrick for a long time, but got away from that after Purina bought the company. I also fed natural balance for a while, but my dogs didn't do well on it it upset their stomach. For canned food I use a high quality local made food sold by a local shop.

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Ah, I had forgotten that Purina had purchased Merrick. Merrick is now off my 'buy' list.

 

It's hard to keep track of who owns each company and where the food is made. I think I may have to put some effort into keeping a file with such information as I come across it.

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Raw dog food feeders will tell you that "offal" is good for your dog. Dogfood advisor will tell you that "offal" (i.e. byproduct) is bad for your dog.

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No, Dog Food Advisor does not tell you that by-products are bad for your dog. They tell you that the un-named by-products in kibble may be nasty garbage because the legal definition allows nasty garbage to be used. Named by-products are considered high quality additions to the diet..

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There are still some very entrenched food myths out there. Switching to adult only food during a critical growth period (3 months old) is one of them. Calories are key. Thin pups will have a reduced risk of joint disorders. Cheap sources of protein (bone meal or meat meal high in bone) can be problematic.

 

Personally, I feed an all life stages food, though at times I will grab a bag of puppy food if it's on sale. The vast majority of adult formulas are too low in protein and fat to maintain the health of my active, working dogs.

Grain free is also a lot of hype. Most dogs are not allergic to grain. Grain is not evil and can be a key source of calories for dogs in certain phases of exercise. It is, however, not ideal to feed a dog food that is mostly grain.

 

Many people assume grain free = more protein. Not true. Very much not true! Many of those grain free foods are quite low in protein and fat. They just replaced grain with other carbs like potatoes. They are also just as guilty about padding their protein content with plants such as peas. Plant proteins are largely useless to dogs.

There are differences in how quickly the energy is released from different carb sources. Once again, know your dog. For a dog asked to do endurance exercises, grain free might be a very poor choice.

Quality is key with dog food.

 

If the raw ingredients going into the food are junk, the food will be junk.

 

If the raw ingredients are not handled and processed carefully, the food will be junk.

Not all dogs will do well on the same food. Those who are true athletes will have tighter nutritional requirements. Those who are just active pets will be able to thrive on a wider variety of foods. They will tolerate lower levels of certain nutrients.

 

Mostly my dogs get RedPaw 32K. Sometimes I will grab a bag of Orijen, Wellness, Core or a few other brands if I find them at a steep discount.

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Years ago, when I was getting used to our first BC mix, Fergie, I got specific advice about percentages of protein and fat for a border collie from a wonderful guy named Bill who lived on the border area of Vermont and New Hampshire.

 

I think it was ~21% protein and ~15% fat. I went to PetCo and PetsMart and made a list of every blessed kibble and its percentages. Checked back to find the best choice. Since then I have used only PetsMart's Advantage (their store brand) Lamb & Rice and several Lamb & Rice kibbles from PetCo that start with Nature or Natural (have already recycled the bag from the last purchase).

 

Fergie always got compliments from the vet for her health, weight, coat, and all. Yeah, she did at only 15 - but it was an aggressive cancer. Dixie is now 4-1/2 and gets the same results from the vet. Oh, Fergie had some arthritis - but neither indicated hip displasia.

 

Granted, neither dog ever actually worked. They put up with us, which is enough of a challenge. Four walks a day of ~ 1 mile each, at least. Romping with other dogs whenever possible. Playing hide and seek - with me or with toys. Dealing with Maggie the attack cat.

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I, too, aim for about 21% protein and 2/3 of that (or about 14%) fat. Since many foods have a higher proportion of protein to fat, I supplement with some fat (egg yolks or beef fat from our grass-fed meat).

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Pet food advisor tells you named byproduct meals have the same nutritional value as named meat meals but then tell you they are cheaper ingredients (implying lower quality food). To pet owners, lower quality typically means bad for my dog.

 

The gold standard for the quality of a food for your dog is how well your dog does on the food. Some dogs will thrive on a wide range of foods; other dogs (with genetically linked issues like allergies) will thrive on a narrower set of foods.

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This is what my daughter has found as she is limited in what she can pay for food. She reads labels intelligently, tries what she finds that seems reasonable, and makes her decision based on how her animals thrive (or not) on a particular food. There are some things she just will not feed because she feels that, in the long run, they are not good nutrition, no matter what the numbers on the bag say.

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I found a good local pet store that doesn't sell junk. When I go to buy food I always go check their discount shelf first. They sell the almost-expired stuff at 50% off. A well-informed friend in the pet store business tells me that dry foods are generally good for at least 6 months past their expiration date. At 50% off, I can afford the premium brands that just aren't in the budget otherwise. If there's something good at 50% off, I buy it. If not, I go with my default brand (which isn't junk, but it's budget-friendly). Livi often gets fancier foods than my budget would allow otherwise. It also makes sure she gets a variety of foods.

 

Opinions may vary on the expired food thing. I'm willing to feed slightly expired or past-prime foods to the human members of the family as long as nothing seems off, so I don't feel guilty doing it for the dog too.

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I aim for 26% protein as there is evidence that there are fewer injuries/better recovery for working/sporting dogs when they have that level of animal protein in their diet.

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I had my dog on Acana for quite long time, I think it is a good food. he was doing ok with it, but as he has a sensitive stomach I could not rotate very easily from different recipes.

So I transitioned him to a different diet, using a base mix and adding meat and eggs. I just rotate that type of meat I use.

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For those of you who look at Protein percentages, just word of caution. The values given on the package are usually estimated by the Nitrogen content. In a quality food, it is reasonable to assume that is a good estimate, but the melamine scandal should remind us that the unscrupulous will try to cheat. Furthermore, some proteins are more digestible than others and, of course, we are really interested only in what our dog can digest (aka available protein).

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Yes, and that is why cheap foods can advertise reasonable protein levels (and that of other nutrients) but are they really digestible and good quality?

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There's also the problem that cheap non-meat ingredients like peas can jack up the protein numbers, but like most vegetable sources they're not providing the full amino acid profile that makes them complete proteins. Without complementary vegetable protein sources to provide the missing amino acids (e.g. think rice and beans in human diets), they're really not adequate and therefore not providing as much usable protein as many people think.

 

And since peas are used as a non-grain alternative in some kibbles, this is where you'll see the misleading protein numbers.

 

My dogs are fed raw, the same diet regardless of age. So I know all the protein they're getting is complete and biologically appropriate for them.

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My BC gets Orijen Adult. I chose it because it is high in protein, no chemicals or weird preservatives. We just transitioned to adult kibble when she turned 6 months. She only gets kibble in the morning and mostly "earns" her kibble by training and doing chores with me.

 

She gets raw (premixed) in the evening, and once a week I give her a raw egg with her meat.

 

I'm not a food expert, but her coat is absolutely glistening, her poo is very tiny and has little odour, she has very fresh breath, and is very happy in general.

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