Overwhelmed trying to choose a puppy diet - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-23-2019, 01:40 PM Thread Starter
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Overwhelmed trying to choose a puppy diet

OK I am well aware that this is the most frequently asked question of all the frequently asked questions but I am bringing home a new GSD pup in about 10 days and I'm overwhelmed trying to figure out what to feed him.

  • My current dog is 11. She eats Natural Balance LID diet with a little bit of Primal raw added on top. Natural Balance is kinda low on the protein side so I am pretty sure I want to feed the new pup something different.
  • I am not sure of what protein percentage I should be targeting. I've read a number of places that too high of a percentage (28%+?) can be too much for a puppy and cause upset stomach issues.
  • I know that too much calcium is a concern because you want to promote slow growth. Some people recommend not ever feeding puppy food for this reason. Other people recommend puppy food for the first 6 months but a large breed puppy food that has lower calcium.
  • I (naively?) have always fed my current dog a grain feed diet. Now there's that on going study that says grain free may be bad for the heart. I know the study is not conclusive but it just adds to the confusion.
  • Some of the brands add supplements like glucosamine to the kibble. But I been told that might be a bad idea at a young age as it can make the dog dependent on the supplement and that glucosamine is only for older dogs with joint issues. That one seems suspect to me but it is just one more variable that I don't need right now.
  • I have found the little bit of raw has done wonders for my current dog's coat. I stopped once when she was much younger and he coat dried up almost immediately. I'm totally sold on some sort of raw component to a dog's diet.
  • That said, I come to find out now that some people are adamant about a dog being either raw only or kibble only. Raw only won't work for me. It is too expensive (for the prepackaged raw) or too much trouble (making it all from scratch).
  • Other places say it is OK to mix raw and kibble in the diet, just not in the same meal. I'm happy to do that with the new puppy. The current dog has never had any stomach issues so I don't want to rock the boat at this point.
  • Some people argue that raw is great but you don't want to start a puppy on it because it is easy to miss some key nutrient. They recommend transitioning to raw (or partial raw) after a year or so. Other people seem to have had no issues feeding raw from day one.
  • My breeder will give me a sample bag of what he has been eating post-weaning. Unless I stick with that kibble I will already be doing one (slow) switch to whatever I choose. I realize it may not agree with him and I will be forced to switch again. I'm just trying to get it right the first time so there are minimal switches.

I'm guessing that however many replies I get there will be exactly that many different recommendations. This seems to be a topic that is very personal and it is impossible to find any sort of agreement. But I figured I'd ask just in case.
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-23-2019, 02:02 PM
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I started my puppy on 100% raw at 9 weeks. It kept her lean, and she grew slow. She still eats like a pig at almost 14 months old, and weighs in at 60#. I think her metabolism is slowing down a little, so I will be able to start backing it off soon.

I like her small and lean with a lot of muscle. She is quite agile!

3/4# of NW Naturals per meal and 3 meals a day. Yep, it gets expensive.

If I were to do both, I would not mix them in the same meal. They digest at different rates. Some dogs tolerate it well, but many do not.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-23-2019, 02:06 PM
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I think you are overthinking this.

1. Look for a large breed puppy food or look for an all stage puppy food with a calciumhos ratio between 1:1 to 1:3.

2 Puppy's protein should be no less than 20%. You can google that study and info. There is an actual study on that. Not just keyboard chatter.

3. You can mix raw and kibble just fine. That is a myth. And you can feed it in the same meal.

Personally, I like Victor dog food for kibble. And I"ve never believed in grain free. It was just a pricy fad. I currently feed Ross Wells raw but will be switching. It's to high in fat content for me. I like how my dogs did on Tefco Performance Dog Diet if you can find a distributor for that. I'm going to be switching to K9 Kravings next month.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-23-2019, 03:00 PM
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Colorado, I'm in the exact same boat! Puppy coming home in less than a month now, and the more I read about dog food, the more difficult it becomes to think about it. So many variables, so many adamant arguments for (and against) every side of this multi-faceted puzzle.

In the end, I think it comes down to three very important variables that only the individual dog owner can figure out...

1. What can you afford?

2. How much logistical effort are you willing to go to, both for sourcing the food (many raw diets or "special" kibble is hard to come by) and/or prepping your own?

3. What does your dog tolerate?

You won't know what your dog tolerates until you try.....so focus on those first two variables and figure out which foods fit best into your lifestyle.....then (with patient, careful management) introduce first what you think will work best for you. If your dog likes and tolerates it, you're golden. If not, work in your next best choice...etc.

That is what I plan on doing anyhow.

-- Judy

Yazzy the feisty GSD ~ Jan 6th, 2019

Waiting in Heaven:
Mira the goofy Doberman ~ Dec 1st, 2007 - June 2nd, 2018
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-23-2019, 03:49 PM
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I always tell people to find a dog food that the dog will eat, that you can afford, that you can get with as little effort as possible.
I feed Shadow a mix of raw and kibble, sometimes in the same meal and sometimes separate. She is just fine. I shoot for at least 3 raw meals a week. Only time she has had loose stools was on Acana and once when she ate something she shouldn't have.
And I am not one of those that believe in folks sacrificing their own diets to feed a dog. The species evolved eating our garbage because you know early man was not handing over a nice chunk of mammoth roast for Rover.
I've had dogs turn up their noses at some really pricey kibble and all the nutrients in the world don't help if the ungrateful beast won't eat. If it's really complicated or time consuming to get then that's a no go for me. Ordering dog food is great until it isn't.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-23-2019, 05:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Sabis mom View Post
I always tell people to find a dog food that the dog will eat, that you can afford, that you can get with as little effort as possible.
So agree with this!! None of my shepherds have eaten the same thing. Individually they have thrived on cheapest to the more expensive. I work on what works for me and the individual dog.

I would say though that I have kept up with the food they came home with for a few weeks whilst they settle in. Although warmed green tripe first thing in the morning tells me I love my dog
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-23-2019, 05:44 PM
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I found that a lot of people on this forum like Fromm for puppies. I started both of my last two on Fromm Large Breed Puppy Gold.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-24-2019, 05:51 AM
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For pups, I like Pro Pac large breed puppy and Taste of the Wild pacific stream. 25-30% of protein.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-28-2019, 08:35 PM Thread Starter
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I know old threads come up in searches a lot so posting a follow-up here on what I finally decided.

Summary: I've decided on a mixed diet of Victor Nutra Pro kibble and (likely) Northwest Naturals raw. If you are reading this from the far future you can probably stop reading here...

<minor rant mode>
I kept researching this topic and ooh boy is it ugly. I have a science background and the amount of pseudo-science and gut calls made based on a sample size of having raised a couple puppies out there on the internet is staggering. It didn't get much better locally. I visited 4 different local boutique pet food stores and only managed to find one person that seemed slightly educated on the topic. I won't go into details as this is minor rant mode and not full on rant mode but I'm highly disappointed in the whole "science" of dog food formulation.
</minor rant mode>

My conclusion is that ideally I would feed a pure raw diet but both financial and time considerations make that impractical. Additionally I like to do a lot of hand feeding with a puppy and want a kibble to do that. And it is not convenient for travel and/or boarding in the future. So a mixed diet of kibble meals and raw meals it is.

For the kibble I'm going to start with Victor Nutra Pro. It has the right amount of calcium per kcal and the right calcium to phosphorus ratio for a large breed puppy. It is high in protein and is grain inclusive. For what it is worth it seems a popular choice among GSD owners. I also like to rotate proteins and Victor has a number of other products suitable for that. (I want to see that Nutra Pro is working well before I start any rotation.) Of course after all this I'm sure it will be too rich for him or something else and I'll have to go to plan B.

For raw, once he is on a kibble that seems to be working, I'm going to start with a pre-packaged frozen raw. Northwest Naturals has a number of products that are acceptable for large breed puppies and comes in a larger bag of smaller nuggets which is convenient. I really want to try: https://rawdogfoodandco.com/ but the calcium to phosphorus ratio on most of their products doesn't seem to be suitable for large breed puppies. I'd have to either do the math to see what the combined diet looks like, supplement with other things, or just wait until the puppy is an adult. Regardless I have some time to worry about that and for now certainly a pre-packaged raw food is more than fine.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-03-2019, 02:26 PM
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Thanks Colorado for your detailed summary of the world of dog food. I was disappointed in the puppy kibble available at my local pet store and got lost trying to research what is best. I’m ordering
Victor from Amazon and found the cost comparable to other high-end foods. And they have it on subscribe-and-save. Best of both worlds!
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