The quest for the Perfect Dog Food

It is so difficult to find the right dog food that satisfies both my dogs and me! We've been searching for the perfect food for many years. I have switched dog foods as often as every 3 months. We've found some good foods along the way and we're ready to share our experiences.

Dog Food Basics:

Minimum Requirements: Protein to promote cell growth - Fat to give energy- Vitamins & Minerals to accomplish all of the minute details of breaking down protein and fat so that the body can use it properly. Dog foods all meet the minimum requirements - just read the back of the bag or can BUT they also have a lot of "extras" that aren't in the best interest of our dogs... By-products, grain, chemical preservatives... Dog food companies are in the business to make money. They don't want our dogs to die (loss of revenue) but sometimes they make choices that are not in MY nor my dogs' best interest.

Optimum Nutrition: This is what we are after. In reading a dog food bag put it back if it lists a grain or several grains as its first ingredients. I particularly dislike corn in any dog food and will NOT use a dog food that has it. (I live in corn country and I KNOW what they do to it. CORN in my gasoline is fine - I won't even eat corn unless I know who grew it and how!) Dogs are carnivores and despite living with humans for over 10,000 years we've only changed the outside looks - they still are carnivores inside. If you don't believe me take a look at their teeth and compare them to your own. There are NO grinding surfaces on dogs' teeth. They are meant for eating flesh from an animal. We have flat surface molars for grinding grain.

Is all grain bad? No but it shouldn't make up the majority of the diet. Collies in Scotland working sheep have had oatmeal for thousands of year (along with a LOT of Sheep and lamb - Mutton)

Click Here for more information on raw feeding     Raw Food  

I have listed a list of dog foods at the bottom of this page along with a list of things to look for or avoid.

In My Opinion:

IN THE BEGINNING: I have been reading a great deal about the Biologically appropriate raw foods or Bones and raw foods diets.( I hate the word BARF to refer to dog food and I will not use it in that context) There is certainly a lot of information out there. I know several people who are feeding the raw diet exclusively and are having great success with it. We have been trying a raw (yes raw) whole chicken necks at night along with the dals kibble. All, except Coke, really like them and eat them first. Coke eats around it and waits to see if any one drops dead before he eats his. In the morning, I am adding raw puréed vegetables to their kibble. Coke has no problems with the raw vegetables.

I have purchased a freezer and will be trying one meal raw and one meal kibble and raw. I don't plan on doing this at dog shows though. We are setting up our food plan this week. I will be keeping a journal of how things go. It's going to be interesting. Check back for our progress.

PROGRESS REPORT 1: The first night I fed a chicken neck I thought I would be making an emergency trip to the vet with 8 dogs and I'd end up with a $4,000.00 vet bill. It didn't happen. The girls and Quid the cavalier thought this was wonderful (Quid had gotten raw food as a puppy from his breeder) Coke and Tag weren't so sure. Coke looked at his neck and then with the very front of his teeth picked it out of his bowl and laid it on the side. Tag licked and licked and licked his - not sure what to do then followed the girls lead and ate it. Belle swallowed hers whole. Coke waited at least 15 minutes to see if anyone dropped dead (they didn't) before he munched on his.

PROGRESS REPORT 2: We've been using a vege /meat meal, a raw meaty bone (RMB) meal and a kibble meal for several weeks. Coke is still reluctant to dive in and eat the RMB meal. He still waits until he's sure that no one is going to die and then starts his. On the other hand, it may be a game of one upmanship on his part because he STILL has a bone when everyone else is done. I've noticed a MAJOR difference in teeth. Mercedes (soon to be 12) has the teeth of a 3 year old and I didn't have them cleaned before we started! the coats on the dogs are plusher and have a better feel. And the best news is that clean up in the yard is certainly quicker and much much less smelly. As a matter of fact I can tell when the dogs have had their kibble meal now.

PROGRESS REPORT 3: We've switched to RMB's in the morning and the vege/meat meal in the evening and have dropped the kibble meal. I still have kibble on hand for when I forget to thaw something but it's gotten into quite a routine now and doesn't take nearly the amount of time that it did when I started. Of course, I've also learned how to help my food processor along so I don't burn it out like I did the first night I tried putting together our vege meals for the month. Mike will have you rolling on the floor with that one! I use turkey necks and chicken necks, some people use wings and carcasses but those aren't available to me. And I experiment with other meaty bones. I've found a wonderful source of ground turkey that I just add to the vege mix.

I truly believe that this is the best way to feed my dogs. I control the quality (human grade) and the variety. No I don't have a PHD in nutrition but you know what --- neither did our ancestors and they managed to feed themselves and we're here because of it. Neither you nor I eat a "balanced" meal every single time we sit down (or grab a fast food sandwich) but we achieve balance over time, something that is good for our dogs too! Even if you can't go the natural diet you should add fresh/raw food to your dogs meals. Meaty bones would be best, followed by fresh meat and then fresh veges. don't forget the cooked foods that you haven't finished just NEVER give your dogs cooked bones.

I cannot tell you that you must do this. You have to decide what is best for YOUR dog. If you are interested in looking into a natural diet, FIRST do some research on your own. Then you can make an informed decision on your own. You do need to know that most vets (whose nutrition classes are funded by SCIENCE DIET) will tell you that this is not the way to go. I do know (first Hand) of a puppy that died from having kibble stuck in it's throat. I do not know of any dog that has had that problem with the raw diet.


I flew to Hutto Texas for the DCA National and sent TAG on ahead with friends in their van. He was on Natural Balance for the trip and I fully intended on feeding kibble to him while we were down there. I lasted the evening on that resolve after picking up poop - yuck smelly. I went to the grocery store and got a pound of chicken wings and 2 Cornish hens. We had a refrigerator in the room so that meant I didn't need to get one of those Styrofoam containers. i had to go back to the store on Tuesday because I miscounted days (duh).. but it wasn't a hardship. Tag certainly preferred his chicken and hens to the kibble although he did eat anything I put in front of him. The hens (yes I fed them the way they came out of the package) took him a few minutes to figure out how to start. He finally decided to start on a leg and work his way through the body. The second time I fed him a hen he didn't hesitate at all.

For the Indianapolis specialty, since we drove, we took a cooler. Pretty easy since it was just a two day show. And they ate exactly as they would if they were home except I didn't do our usual supplements of Salmon Oil, probiotic and green blend (alfalfa, kelp, blue green algae, spirulina, Irish moss). Remember I'm trying to feed for OPTIMUM nutrition not minimum nutrition.

Progress Report 6: Windy is due momentarily and has been fed a raw diet throughout her pregnancy. She's starting to avoid her vegetables and has to rest between the beginning of her meal and the end of her meal. We plan on raising the puppies on a raw diet. More to follow

Progress Report 7: Windy had a text book whelping, and although there were 7 boys and 1 girl we're thrilled with the litter. Windy was back in shape quickly and had a ton of milk for the babies. The puppies had NO PROBLEMS being on the raw food diet, although we did use goats milk and cottage cheese or yogurt to start them off. They now eat turkey necks or chicken necks or backs just like the "big" dogs do. Keri is due in a couple of weeks. She too has been on Raw food for the entire pregnancy. the only difference I'm hoping for is more girls!

Progress Report 8: The puppies took to the natural diet without a single incident.. their first meals consisted of goat milk (oh yuck!) honey and a little yogurt. Later, ground meat was added and then finally vegetables. I was hesitate to give them chicken necks but they handled them like pros. This was done over a period of weeks. Momma Windy still nursed the babies and was glad to help clean up after an "extra" meal. After going to their new homes 6 of the puppies are still on a raw diet. We sent the book "Switching to Raw" home with each puppy. One of the 2 not on the raw diet was talked out of it by their vet (At least they went with a dog food on the list below!) and the other couple just couldn't deal with the entire idea. But then neither could I, a year ago. We've now been on the raw diet for 10 months. There is a definite health benefit to the older dogs. It will be interesting to see how much better Cash (our Windy ex Coke kid) is as a mature adult since he has been on the raw diet for his entire existence.

Progress Report 9: Keri whelped 3 girls and 5 boys. Unfortunately not a text book whelping, but we have 8 healthy puppies. It took Keri 12 hours while Windy whelped hers in 3. Oh well. At 3+ weeks, I've tried goat's milk for the puppies but they are not interested yet. they lap once or twice and then head off looking for Mom or a place to nap. Since they are all gaining weight nicely and aren't hungry, Keri will have to deal with them a while longer. In the past my puppies have ALWAYS been willing to lap and eat between 3 and 4 weeks. we'll see how this progresses.

Progress report 10: The puppies are eating ground chicken and playing with chicken necks. They will eat a dairy meal ( goat's milk and cottage cheese) but really prefer Mom. Keri, however, has decided that she'll be with them if she must ( at least she gets to lick their pan) but thinks it's time for them to be on their own. I will be sending care packages with them to their new homes. Most everyone we have interviewed is willing to try the raw diet. One of Windy's puppies is back for a short visit. He has been switched to kibble but his Mom acknowledges that he seems to be looking for something and eats a lot of strange things. I don't know if he's just going through a stage but he certainly didn't mind eating raw tonight.

Last Progress Report: We've been feeding raw for almost 3 years now. I have seen a definite difference for the better in my dogs I notice this most in the older dogs and the puppies. Mid-life dogs (like 20 year old people) could probably manage to survive on anything. I encourage you to read all you can. Done correctly this is great. Done poorly, you're better off on kibble. And yes you can do this with multiple dogs.


8/18/08: We've been feeding raw for 7 years now. The dogs have vibrant health, great coats and few problems with ordinary dog issues. Feeding raw does not keep your dog from growing old but they have a better active longer life. I can't imagine going back to kibble...if nothing else clean up is quick and NOT SMELLY at all!

Update 2/13/2012: We still feed raw . I think the dogs are doing marvelously on it. They lead healthy active lives well into old age which for us is 15 to 16 years.


If you prefer to feed kibble then:

When looking for a kibble dog food make sure that you have meat protein as the first item, if it lists by-products AVOID IT. there is a big difference between chicken necks which is a chicken by-product (good nutritional value) and chicken feathers which is also a chicken by-product (poor nutritional value). Avoid ANY food with BHA, BHT or ethoxyquin as a preservative. Don't just look at the pretty picture on the bag with the advertising. READ the list of ingredients. There are dog foods out there that are usable and some that are just a way for granaries to get rid of their "leftover" stuff. the manufacturers' bottom line is to make a profit and YOUR bottom line is to feed a healthy food to your dog. If you can find a food that list HUMAN grade ingredients - great. A lot of the dog food ingredients in the "general" dog food world has food that has been "denatured" so that it is not usable for humans. ( to be denatured it can be sprayed with any thing from creosote to formaldehyde for preservation )

My preferred choice of dog foods - not in any particular order:

Natural Balance

Blue Buffalo

Wellness5 by Mother Hubbard


Flint River Ranch


Eagle Pack holistic

Solid Gold

Timberwolf Organics

Sojourner Farms


California Natural


I also give the dogs supplements, just in case. But then, I've always done supplements. My favorites are Salmon Oil for coats, a probiotic ( Like Prozyme) to help digest any grains in the dog food, and a kelp/alfalfa mix for it's mineral content. I purchase most of my supplements for the dogs from B-naturals. it's on line and the owner raises Rottweilers and knows the necessity of getting a good product for the best price.

And most of all, add something fresh to your dog's diet. we can subsist on a diet of fast food, but that's not the best nutrition for us. The same thing goes or your dog

 If you have a dog food that you think is good and want to check it out. Use the rating sheet that was published in the WHOLE DOG JOURNAL. There are several dog foods that have already been done on the second page.










"An energetic, intelligent, happy dog with love to spare"

-- Meg Hennessey