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Dog food labelling is getting me down.

 

I've been searching for something that won't upset my dog's stomach. The much-maligned Royal Canin (insert your own 'oooooh shock horror' noise there) suits her absolutely perfectly but is expensive. So I have been reading up on other foods available near me.

 

It is incredibly annoying how many of the bold-lettered 'lamb and rice' dog foods, foods specifically branded for 'dogs with allergies', contain beef and chicken in the ingredients list. It's amazing how many of the 'hypoallergenic' ones don't list the specific protein sources on the bag.

 

I get pet store employees telling me this brand is better and hypoallergenic and you have to feed less and it's more palatable and causes smaller stools. Maybe the fact that it is 50% higher in fat than the cheap brands you're comparing it to something to do with that 'more nutrition'? No thanks. No, she is not allergic to grains and doesn't need 'grain-free', and that mostly-chicken food you are recommending won't do any good since she'll just vomit it back up.

 

So many of them seem to just slap 'holistic' on the label too. I do not want 'holistic' or 'organic' dog food. I could care less about herbs or whatever the trendy thing du jour is. Glucosamine/chondritin isn't supported by the evidence. Give me something reasonably priced, low-fat, and that won't make her stomach balloon and I'll be happy.

 

 

Of course the mislabelling problems in dog food don't help either: http://dailysavings.allyou.com/2014/10/08/mislabeled-pet-food-ingredients

 

Basically some 40% of the dog and cat food products they looked at either didn't have the meat it said on the label, or had a different one.

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What it all boils down to in the end is feeding your dog whatever food he/she does well on, not which brand it is. So if there is one food that agrees with her, that may just simply be the best one *for her*.

 

Very best wishes determining what works best for her and is affordable.

 

Of, course, there is always raw as an option where you get to determine the ingredients.

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Have you checked out Victors dog food?

 

Or Fromm Pork and Applesauce. I used to feed that when i was trying to figure what my dogs were allergic too.

 

Haha you dont want chicken try finding one without fish or fish oil. :(

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I was surprised myself how many dog foods have chicken.

I can't give Tilly chicken or she has an allergic reaction.

I was thinking of trying her on a Raw Food which is being made locally but it does not come without chicken.

The only foods she has done well on were Purina Pro Plan Lamb and Rice or Kirkland Brand Lamb and Rice.

I tried her on Salmon and Rice she would not eat it.

I feel for you it is very frustrating.

 

Dan & Tilly

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SS Cressa- fish oil is in EVERYTHING. That would be hideous.

 

Lots of barley, too, apparently. More than I had ever noticed before.

 

She has just reacted badly to a food containing lamb. Will try her on lamb-only. Hopefully it's just mislabelled or something, 'cos if she can't eat lamb...

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I was thinking of trying her on a Raw Food which is being made locally but it does not come without chicken.

 

If you want -- or need -- to feed raw, there are plenty of (usually less expensive) ways to do it without buying premixes.

 

Most premixes are heavy in bone content and have added vegetables that the dogs don't need anyway.

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Micah has multiple food allergies. I went to chewy.com and looked at every single kibble they sell, read ingredient list for hours, and made a list of every food I thought he could have, then ordered a small bag of each of them to try. So far I have less than 20 different foods he can eat and none of them are the bargain brands. I no longer think anything of spending $3-$4 a pound for food for him. And I also learned to make homemade raw. Thank goodness, my other 2 dogs can eat anything that turns out to be a reject for him.

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Allergies are strange and puzzling things. My own Senneca is allergic to commercial wheat products; she gets 'itchy paws' if she eats treats, shop bought bread or cakes that were made with wheat. Oddly enough, she can happily eat our home baked bread (which is sourdough made from home milled grains). It is likely she is allergic not to wheat itself, but one of the countless additives used by commercial bakers.

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JohnLoyd Jones- it could also be to something that grows on the wheat when it's stored? I wonder how she would react to home-made bread with shop-bought flour.

 

Gideon's girl- I also did the list! I just am not sure of what she can eat yet and I can't seem to find any of the foods I think she might be able to eat, in small bags. I've resorted to ordering small packages of wet food to test, and hoping the dry food of the same brand will also be tolerable to her. Not necessarily true, given the issues with labelling etc.

 

She seems to be able to tolerate a few starches very well- potato, rice, oatmeal. Fish and veg are also good. Chicken and dairy are bad (so beef is probably also not good).

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^^^ What JLJ says - allergies are mysterious and baffling. Itchy girl Shoshone did best on a vegetarian kibble with nothing else. I did make her some treats by soaking the kibble in water and adding a mashed up banana and/or some apple juice, then baking it until dry. Then I could break it into chunks and use those. She probably didn't care, but I felt better. ;)

 

That kibble was made by Innova, I think. It's been years and my memory is fuzzy. I do remember that the protein source was peas, and I think the grain was oats or rice.

 

Good luck, Simba, I know how frustrating this is.

 

Ruth and SuperGibbs

 

ETA - just looked it up myself. It is Natural Balance, appears to be still available, at least in the US. And yes, I tried her on a home-made, raw diet. She lost weight, her coat turned dull, and her quirky little personality kind of disappeared. After a couple months I put her back on some commercial kibble or other. She quickly got her quirks back, coat started to shine, and she got back to a good weight. This was well before I tried the vegetarian stuff.

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I was just actually logging on here to post that, Urge to Herd. It's really interesting.

 

The Businessweek article he links to makes the good point that what sounds good to humans might not be what's best for dogs- chicken byproduct meal sounds nasty. 'Necks, feet, undeveloped eggs, and intestines' ground up sounds perfectly nutritious, but owners would rather 'chicken breast' than 'byproducts' even though it might not be necessarily the better option.

 

Like how 'chicken breast' is a better seller than 'liver' even though liver is stuffed with useful vitamins.

 

It seems that the formulas, labels, and ingredients for dog foods are very heavily aimed towards 'what sounds good to the human' rather than just what's good for the dog. 'Organic', herbs, garlic etc. Lamb and rice still sounds great even if the food contains chicken.

 

Oh, that whole incident just sounds bad. "Also, it turns out that Blue Buffalo “LifeSource Bits” contain poultry by-product meal and corn, and several Blue Buffalo products that are promoted as “grain-free” actually contain rice hulls." How many more of these companies are doing this but just have never been caught out? Particularly the small ones that might not make their own food...

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I don't know if this story is relevant..but it may be something to consider.

 

I have a bitch who like many others had/has a very sensitive stomach (intermittent diarrhoea, lots of grass eating) plus dull, dry top coat, pathetic undercoat, very itchy skin and a complete inability to put on any weight.

In the summer she had an episode of bloody diarrhoea and was given a course of antibiotics just in case it was giardia (this was done on spec rather than waiting for any formal diagnosis). After the metronidazole had finished, I have given her probiotics (highest conc stuff I could find) for a couple of months. I have also maintained her on 'Alpha sensitive' kibble - which is gluten free, but does have beef and poultry meal in it (but has a cost advantage in the UK because it is VAT free as it is considered a working dog (rather than pet dog) food).

 

Since this treatment, her intermittent diarrhoea seems to have settled, her top coat is much improved, the itchy skin has stopped and she has finally filled out a bit plus developed a nice thick undercoat ..just in time for the snow!

 

I do wonder whether some of the symptoms that she was having prior to the bloody diarrhoea episode could have been due to a low level infection that was irritating her gut lining and making it intolerant to different foodstuffs

 

So I guess I'm suggesting that if you haven't done so already, it may be worth getting her faeces cultured/tested by your vet to rule out giardia or any other infection.

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Maxi- I know it could be confirmation bias or any of the myriad flaws that make personal testimonials unreliable, but it does seem to come on only after she eats something that isn't her own food (or isn't potato, rice, oatmeal, fish, veg). She has been at the vet twice with it and he said that I should look at trying fish-based dog foods. She's also not itchy or dandruffy or greasy (which is amazing for her, she's always itchy dog), not sensitive, exuberantly healthy and shiny-coated on the royal canin food.

 

Thank you for the information though, it's a diagnosis I hadn't considered.

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Well, I have to admit, I don't know whether my dog had giardia..or whether the improvement in her overall condition is due to the antibiotics+/-probiotics, altering her diet to gluten free kibble or her just growing out of the phase she was going through (she is just 20 months).

 

I guess that although expensive, at least you know that your dog does well on royal canin which must be some sort of relief.

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Chicken and dairy are bad (so beef is probably also not good).

 

I have read that some dogs are so sensitive to certain grains that they'll react to meat from animals that have been fed that grain. So it's possible that if you can source well raised animals that are grass or, in the case of poultry, fed naturally, she might do OK on them.

 

I'm not sure why you'd assume beef is bad because she can't tolerate chicken or dairy. Yes, cow's milk comes from cattle, but it has different proteins, specifically lactose and casein, than the flesh does.

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Good point about the dairy, I hadn't thought about that. I will try her on beef too. I guess I was just assuming that since she's been fed it so much before, it would be on that list.

 

It would make sense that she'd react to chicken and not grains, since chicken is a more common allergy than most grains.

 

Edit: where do you get non-grain fed chicken? I've heard of grass-fed beef so I might go try to find some of that.

 

Part of the trouble is you have to test things so slowly. It takes a day to see if she's had a reaction, it takes a few days for her digestion etc to simmer down afterwards...

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It's unlikely that you'd ever be able to find chickens fed totally grain-free. They're true omnivores and left to their own devices should eat naturally occurring seeds and plant materials as well as insects. Most commercially raised chicken these days are fed exclusively grains and don't get the fresh vegetable matter and insect protein that they should have. I just shake my head at the egg and meat labels touting that the chickens eat an "all vegetarian" diet, like that's species appropriate for them (not). When I raised chickens I used fly traps and fed the contents to the hens. They laid the most delicious eggs with dark orange-yellow yolks from the protein.

 

Dunno if you're aware that many dogs who are allergic to cooked meats (which is what's used when they're tested for allergies) are fine with raw meats. I've heard of a number of dogs who couldn't eat various cooked meats but tolerated their raw counterparts just fine.

 

You might also want to see if you can locate kibbles made with novel proteins that she hasn't had before. The thing is that they're likely to be more expensive than the Royal Canin that you know she does OK on.

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They love dead mice, too. Ham and cheese also get devoured. We never tried fly traps though, that's a really good idea.

 

I think people have got to some extent divorced from the source of their food, so they think chickens are vegetarian, only the breast is edible, animals (including chickens) must eat the kind of foods we find appealing (so no insects), that sort of thing.

 

I am only really interested in changing if it costs less, just because she's doing really well on the current food. If I even had something cheaper I could rotate with it.

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JohnLoyd Jones- it could also be to something that grows on the wheat when it's stored? I wonder how she would react to home-made bread with shop-bought flour.

It's a while back since I last bought flour in a shop, but as I recall, Senneca was fine with bread made from that, too (of course, I only bought unbleached, unbrominated flour). Commercial bread is often made from flour that has been treated with some chemical (azodicarbonamide (ADA) or bromate) to make it mature faster and make it whiter. Additionally, bakers load up with enzymes -- they aren't required to be declared as ingredients as they are supposed to be destroyed in baking, but at least some enzymes are added to extend shelf life -- go figure.

 

Oh and I should mention that the slow sourdough fermentation "eats up" some things like phytic acid that may also be a allergen. Supermarket bread is made with a monstrous amount of yeast to shorten the proofing time.

 

Anyway, I just avoid all commercial wheat products -- home made is best for Senneca not to mention the two legged members of the family.

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They love dead mice, too. Ham and cheese also get devoured.

 

Heck, they'll eat each other, especially if one has died or is dying. They'll eat just about anything even remotely edible.

 

I also dumpster dove for produce that was being tossed, so they had lots of veggies as well.

 

Yeah, the fly traps addressed 2 issues at once. ;)

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Gah, totally understand the frustration with food labeling. When we had to do a food trial, it was such a pain to find anything that would work because even the ones labeled "duck and potato" and "hypoallergenic" or something like that would have random chicken meal near the top of the list. Like hello, when did chickens become a species of duck? I always had to special order from online because pet stores only had that kind of stuff. Eventually, I gave up and just started making the food myself.

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I find this discussion fascinating - particularly the parts about how commercially processed breads can contain 'ingredients' that do not need to be disclosed by current labeling regulations, and how those ingredients may affect certain sensitive individuals. Somewhat similar to how grain-fed beef might not be tolerated by a dog (or human) sensitive to grains, but the grass-fed beef is tolerated. In general - we just don't know what we (our dogs) are eating when we buy processed food - even though I (naively) thought all ingredients should be on the label. And so on.....

 

If someone does need novel proteins, I came across a site called "Hare Today". [i think the name is longer, but if you search on "Hare Today", it will pop up.] This is a small company in PA that butchers and sells raw pet food - from the common beef and chicken - to duck and venison - to ground up mice and rats and also other fowl. Very interesting site. Not cheap, but if someone had a highly allergic dog, it would be a source for food if you were in a 'food desert'.

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... even though I (naively) thought all ingredients should be on the label. And so on.....

Labelling food (for human or animal consumption) is the art of disclosing as little as possible while complying with regulations and laws. Sometimes, as Terrierman, pointed out, it crosses the line and becomes direct lies.

 

Caveat emptor.

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I order from Hare Today all the time. My favorites are the whole carcass grinds, that way I know my dogs are getting some of the goodness from brains and eyeballs and such things as you can not find in grocery stores. I also order from My Pet Carnivore.

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