Grain-free kibble or BARF diet?

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LizBot
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Grain-free kibble or BARF diet?

Post by LizBot »

We just brought home this Brittany puppy, Jazz, a couple weeks ago. He came to us eating Science Diet... but was nibbling and picking at it, looking very skinny and a little too dainty even for a little guy. So I added in some Science Diet canned "stew" type puppy food, about 1.5 ounces per 2 ounces of dry kibble, plus a shot of warm water to soften things up.

After researching proper diets for dogs more over the past week, I've decided that Science Diet isn't quite what I want our dog to be on. It has quite a bit of grain-filler in it for a brand that tries to present itself as super premium. I'd like to switch Jazz over slowly, of course, so I have some time to make a decision.

Does anyone have a recommendation for a brand? Also, does anyone here do the raw food diet for their dog(s)? I wouldn't mind trying a more natural diet for the good of our little guy, but a) my husband seems squeamish about throwing him raw chicken wings or pork, gizzards, livers, etc. and b) I'm not sure it's actually going to be that much better than a grain-free kibble like Canidae or A Taste of the Wild. We're slated for a vet visit for more shots and a stool check on Wednesday but my experience with vets has primarily been a strong push towards Science Diet or other brands being sold in-office.

Any thoughts or experiences anyone can share? I'm concerned about proper nutrition while he's young, especially since we're thinking of agility competitions to help run off some of that famous energy.

Thanks in advance!
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britlover
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Re: Grain-free kibble or BARF diet?

Post by britlover »

Hi and welcome! Jazz is a nice looking boy. You can always search for "grain free" or "BARF" to review lots of previous discussions on these topics, but here's a recent discussion about foods and choosing a good product viewtopic.php?f=2&t=9417&hilit=grain+fr ... =15#p88714
I find a grain-free kibble works best for me since I take my dogs with me just about everywhere I go on weekends, but I do add water to slow down their eating and aid digestion. I am lucky that I have a really good family owned pet store with a great selection of quality foods nearby. Hopefully you can find a good source near you, or a vet that doesn't push Science Diet.
Good luck with your new pup. And we love photos :D
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Barb Wright
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Re: Grain-free kibble or BARF diet?

Post by Barb Wright »

I have fed dogs raw for 50 years, and my Mother fed raw to all our dogs when I was growing up. These days it is really easy to do a raw diet as there are several raw prepared products available.....easy as opening a bag of kibble, and FAR FAR better for the dogs. IMO :) The discussion that "britlover" referenced is a really good discussion to look at, except do start at page one: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=9417&hilit=grain+free

Rather than prepare raw meals myself, which I had done for so many years, the last few years I had Cassie I fed Natures' Variety...a raw frozen product that offers several meat sources. So easy to use and took the planning out of feeding raw.

One piece of advice here, get off the Science Diet right away.....that is not food fit for a carnivore (or any other animal for that matter). There are some disease conditions that may warrant feeding SD for a brief period, though I can see no value in feeding nutrition-less food at any time. JMPO If your vet is not educated in canine nutrition, and few are, then you will want to get your information elsewhere. For example, here is an excellent site to learn all about dog nutrition from a person well educated in canine nutrition, Lew Olson. Here is her website: http://www.b-naturals.com/newsletter/#s ... vv7rn.dpbs Unfortunately it is not as easy to navigate her articles with her new format, but if you look on the left hand side in the dark shaded area you will see subjects to click on. That will bring up articles that will be very helpful and informative.

As mentioned, we have a few other folks here on the board with brand new Britt pups, so you can join in and share experiences with them, and the rest of us love to follow along with those of you doing the "Britt Pup Experience", hoping our "been there done that" can be of help and encouragement. You are off on a grand journey and your life will never be the same :lol: :lol:

P.S. Love the name Jazz....I am sure it will be prophetic !
RIP Sweet Cassie 4/98 - 3/13

LizBot
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Re: Grain-free kibble or BARF diet?

Post by LizBot »

I think I have my husband on board with the raw diet, but I am considering Taste of the Wild as well still. The main concern for my husband is cost, but I pointed out that if he uses what I term his Mutant Eyelash Power (charisma) to con the local grocery store to sell us meat about to expire or become freezer burned, it could easily be cheaper than kibble. I also pointed out that shoving grains into a carnivore long-term was probably going to cost more when he comes down with allergies, skin conditions, tumors, cancer, or worse.

So my plan is to get some boneless, skinless chicken and begin feeding Jazz raw meals for his dinner for a week, then add it in for lunch the second week, and have him totally switched by week three. I've already been staking out some organ meats and plotting to use my FoodSaver to pre-package meals so the kids can still help feed.

I may end up partially supplementing with the grain-free kibble for ease of transport during travel as well, but I'd like to make the effort to see if he even likes raw food. I've been doing a lot of reading and am convinced it's the best choice anyway since some of the benefits include less bowel movements, few to no burn marks from urine, and healthier skin and coat.

I will definitely be reading through the thread you both recommend. Thank you so much for the advice and confirming my thought that the Science Diet is no good. I was doubting myself after hubby went on a rant about the costs involved, but I really want to take care of my puppy more than I want to save $5 - $10 a month.
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Re: Grain-free kibble or BARF diet?

Post by Lisa »

LizBot wrote:I may end up partially supplementing with the grain-free kibble for ease of transport during travel as well, but I'd like to make the effort to see if he even likes raw food.
If you do switch to raw, you can buy freeze dried raw or frozen raw patties for travel as well. I use Stella & Chewy's freeze dried raw patties when I travel with Charm. She has a tendency to not eat well when traveling, and adding in a Stella&Chewy's patty is enough to get her eating. It's rather expensive to feed these every day, but for travel, the freeze dried works well.
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Re: Grain-free kibble or BARF diet?

Post by adele »

I feed mine raw for the bulk of their diet but they get still get a grain free kibble in their kongs (mixed with PB) and for their dinner. We buy meat on sale and it's not particularly expensive. I can't say that they are healthier than if I'd fed exclusively kibble but I can say that their teeth are way way nicer than any of my friend's dogs.

I made my decision to go raw mostly based on the idea that processed food is not good for me so why would it be good for the dogs? I read about dog food online
http://www.dogfoodproject.com/
I got help in deciding what to feed from this forum and from two books. I liked this one - it truely does make it simple and a lot less scary - it just makes sense. http://www.amazon.ca/Raw-Dog-Food-Make- ... 1929242093
and this one was informative but IMO has a few odd ideas which I chose to ignore.
http://www.amazon.ca/Natural-Nutrition- ... gy_b_img_b
There is tons of stuff on the internet now (much more that 8 years ago when I started).

I do feel confident that I am giving my dogs the nutrition they need when I prepare the meals myself.
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Re: Grain-free kibble or BARF diet?

Post by tobster »

Question about a raw food--

I found out my grocery store has inexpensive marrow bones. These keep my 9 month old busier far longer than any other chew (he can chomp through the thickest of bully sticks in 15 minutes). As a result, I'd love to be able to give him marrow bones on a regular basis. I know they are rather fatty, so I'm wondering if it is okay to give them a few times a week? Maybe even every day if I cut down on kibble?

Barb Wright
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Re: Grain-free kibble or BARF diet?

Post by Barb Wright »

Yes on the raw marrow bones....the marrow is VERY nutritious. I used to give Cassie Lamb shanks and dig the marrow out for her, and get the butcher to split the beef bones :) Animal fat is not "fattening", it's carbs and vegetable oils that the dogs tend to store. Animal fat is their first source for energy, then protein. Just a note on bone chewing....ALL bones should be raw, and 40-45 minutes a day of gnawing is plenty. Bone gnawing should always be supervised if there is any chance of them biting off chunks of bone that cannot be crushed before swallowing. Large animal weight bearing bones can fall in that category.

If you give raw bones for the dogs to gnaw on you can say Bye Bye to dental visits :D
RIP Sweet Cassie 4/98 - 3/13

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Re: Grain-free kibble or BARF diet?

Post by LizBot »

Well, day 1 of switching Jazz to raw food went very well. He had 7.5 ounces of raw boneless, skinless chicken and some livers, as well as some spinach, kale, asparagus and carrots. He loves asparagus apparently; he literally dug it out of the bottom of his bowl, tossing all the leafy greens aside. I can see I might need to feed him outside when it warms up, or put a towel around his food area when he's eating. ;)

So, I made vacuum sealed bags for him in portioned amounts to help my husband and oldest daughter continue to feed him with little hassle. I even labeled them "Day 1, Day 2..." because I'm nice like that. My question is, when I begin transitioning him to regular chicken (wings to start), should I cut a slit in the skin or something to help him figure out how to get it off to eat the meat? I saw people doing that in a few YouTube videos, but other people seemed to plop the wings in the bowl and be done with it. I guess the procedure is confusing also because I have a puppy and most videos involve adult dogs.

I'm glad he likes the chicken, though. I've never seen him eat his entire meal all at once since the day I mixed some grain-free canned lamb puppy food into his Science Diet about 2 weeks ago. He usually picks at the kibble and takes about 6 hours to eat 6 ounces. We're looking around for a local or semi-local butcher who would be willing to part with some about-to-expire meat at a discount, organs they don't sell, or bones they throw out. Figure if it's going to go into the trash anyway, they might want to sell it to the crazy lady feeding her dog raw food. :)

Thanks so much for the information about switching over. It really helped support my decision and got my husband on board more fully -- especially after I did some fancy math afterward! The wisdom on this forum is invaluable. :)
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Barb Wright
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Re: Grain-free kibble or BARF diet?

Post by Barb Wright »

Ah, you're off and running with Raw....good for you, and good for Jazz :D Not surprised he is eating well, after all, it's real food :!:

Remember to keep the veggies at about 5 % of the total meal, and mushing the veggies first is a good idea, a blender can do this for you very well. And varying the meat source is very important as you want to cover the full spectrum of amino acids. Varying the meat source is what gives you nutritional balance over time. Animal fat should also make up about 15 % of the meal so don't trim off fat. You can begin feeding chicken bones any time by crushing them with a hammer...as soon as his teeth can handle the crushing you can just let him do it....this is part of the action that will keep his teeth clean. Chicken backs and necks also good bone sources, and likewise good for teeth cleaning. Turkey necks are a good source of bone as well, but I found that I needed to crush them even with an adult dog as they can be chewed off in chunks and if the dogs don't crush them they can get stuck when swallowing VOE. Beef rib bones (blood bones) are great for gnawing....leave the meat on as part of the meal as this is a good fat/muscle meat source.

POA be sure and check his stools when you are feeding bones....if the stools are too light colored and/or dry/crumbly you are feeding too much bone at one time. A good example of a perfect meat/bone ratio would be a chicken thigh.

Any dog I had inside learned to eat and/or chew bones on a towel, which of course can just be thrown in the washing machine....easypeasy :D If they tried to move off the towel the bone got taken away and put back on the towel. It only takes a couple times for them to figure out that they need to stay on the towel when bone chewing :wink:

Happy, happy you're giving raw a chance....it is feeding as species appropriate as you can get :D :D
RIP Sweet Cassie 4/98 - 3/13

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Re: Grain-free kibble or BARF diet?

Post by LizBot »

Thanks, Barb. :D

I'm going to work in pork after we finish my chicken portions off, then beef, then fish. I just want to make sure he doesn't have problems with any of what I'm giving him. He's still getting his bleh kibble twice a day for this week so hopefully his vitamin situation will be fine while we switch over.

I was thinking of mashing up his veggies or lightly steaming them, then mixing them into the chicken mixture. I've even considered making my own tubes of ground meat + veggies + powdered bone for taking along on trips in a cooler; I think it would be cheaper than the store-bought stuff and I have the time/supplies needed right now. This is almost as much fun as my other hobbies, maybe more because of the ooey gooey slime factor. ;)

So should I hammer the chicken wing bones then? Most of the information I read seemed to think wing bones were easily chewed up by the dog, though it takes them a while to figure out what to do sometimes. I'm hoping Jazz will take to it faster since he's so young.


I have to say, day 2 of raw was pretty awesome now that my kids are back home from Grandma's. I was a little worried that they would get into the bowl or be grossed out by Jazz's feral eating habits, but they seemed completely fine with it -- even the squeamish 3-year-old who doesn't even like fingerpaints on her hands. My husband likes watching Jazz mow through his food. Seems like my concerns about my family not enjoying this new diet were totally unnecessary. :)
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Barb Wright
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Re: Grain-free kibble or BARF diet?

Post by Barb Wright »

I forget how old Jazz is :oops: but chicken wings shouldn't be a problem. They are "soft" bones and crunch up easily, and digest well.

On the fish, raw is good, but DO NOT feed West Coast Salmon raw unless it has been skinned and then well rinsed. Poaching the salmon is a good plan.

Sounds like everyone is having a good time with this :D
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Re: Grain-free kibble or BARF diet?

Post by LizBot »

Jazz is 10 weeks old, he's a little over 14 lbs right now. As I said, it's hard to decide which info is also applicable to puppies. Most of the sites I read deal with adults transitioning to raw food, not much about how to deal with a puppy who has only been eating solids for about 6 weeks. :)

What's wrong with the salmon, just out of curiosity? I probably wouldn't give him salmon since it's not the most economical choice in a land-locked area, anyway.
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Re: Grain-free kibble or BARF diet?

Post by Barb Wright »

Crush the wing bones for the next couple weeks. In the mean time watch him to make sure he is doing some crushing/crunching before swallowing. It's pretty instinctive for dogs to crush the bones before swallowing.

West Coast salmon has a parasite in the slime that is on the skin that is quite poisonous to dogs in particular. Other creatures, bears, etc. that catch and eat the fish don't seem to be affected by this particular parasite, but it can kill a dog. We fed the sled dogs lots of raw salmon that came up the Yukon river and had no problems. But what we fed had been frozen before being fed so that might have made the difference. I understand that the parasite can also be in the flesh, hence the caution to cook the fish. I think the main area where this was a problem was the Washington/Oregon/ No. California run of salmon. Anyway, if the salmon has been skinned and/or cooked then the danger has been removed.

Yeah, I guess salmon is a little pricey for feeding to the dogs. My DH still goes up to Alaska every summer to fish and brings back Salmon and Halibut. Always have given the trimmings (not skin) to Cassie, but I did poach it first.
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Re: Grain-free kibble or BARF diet?

Post by LizBot »

Oof. Most of the fish Jazz would ever get is already frozen when we buy it, but I will avoid that one anyway. We have both Sam's and Costco memberships so occasionally buying fish in bulk isn't such a bad deal. It will probably just be a special treat sort of thing. :)

We do fish (not anything fancy like going to Alaska) but generally toss the fish back since what we catch in the Omaha/Lincoln area isn't big enough to keep for the most part. With the addition of the dog, we might travel out farther to camp and fish when his recall is better though, so he might get lucky and have some fresh rainbow trout, catfish, or muskie.
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