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We have an almost 6 month old puppy who's been on Tast of the Wild since he was able to eat solid food. We eventually want to switch him over to a different food when he's closer to a year to give time for his stomach to mature and be less sensitive. There's nothing wrong with TOTW, but our last pup got cancer and passed from it. So we are deciding to switch just in case her cancer was related. She was a pure pit breed. Any suggestions or recommendations for our German pup? :)


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I was very fond of Acana, I used to feed it to my German shepherd crossbreed. I did a lot of research back then and I reached the conclusion that both Acana and Orijen (from the same manufacturer) were one of the best kibbles. I fed her Acana Pacifica first and then Acana Senior.

I believe they've kept the standards, but our current dog, Nix, still eats "junior" food and we try to avoid chicken, which is present in both Acana and Orijen puppy kibbles. If you're interested, there are various food reviews (mainly subjective opinions based in our experience) on our website (scroll down to the third post and below). As you'll see, Nix has a sensitive stomach and we've tried many different kibbles. The ones we've tried are all supposed to be high quality. We settled on one which sat well with her for a while (Brit Care Junior Lamb & Rice), but she is back to eating a veterinary kibble for her gut because she got diarrhoea.

I'm hopeful that when she is a bit older we'll be able to give her Acana or Orijen and that this will be the end of her stomach problems, but I'm aware that I'm probably just deluding myself.
 

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Have you watched the new-ish documentary PetFooled? (It's available on Netflix, Amazon streaming, etc.).

If you're at the point of thinking about whether there's cancer-food connection, it's a good time to watch it. Maybe it's worth thinking about a non-kibble diet? The big issue I worry about is sourcing -- most kibbles are made from meat meals made in rendering plants that combine carcasses from many sources (so you have many sources of potential contamination), add in grains (which may even be waste grains), chemical add ins, stabilizers, binders, and subject it to extremely high heat (which itself can create carcinogens in meat and carb sources), feed the same thing day in and day out for years, and even "good" brands may have issues that build up over time. Or not. No one really knows.

The Honest Kitchen, Dr. Harvey's, and Sojo's make pretty good dehydrated (just add water) diets), Ziwi Peak has a good jerky food, Primal, Bravo, OC Raw and many others have great frozen (raw) diets....there are more and more non-kibble choices. If yours has a tender tummy, you might see really good results.

We've had dozens and dozens of threads about kibble. There are some good ones. I tend to think of them as a convenience compromise, when you can't feed a balanced alternative/non-kibble diet.
 

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Second the recommendation to watch that documentary, even just to provide some critical food for thought.

One thing that jumped out at me was the suggested connection between feeding only dry kibble, and the dog being in a constant state of mild dehydration. There's been quite a lot written linking dehydration to cancer risk.
 

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Second the recommendation to watch that documentary, even just to provide some critical food for thought.

One thing that jumped out at me was the suggested connection between feeding only dry kibble, and the dog being in a constant state of mild dehydration. There's been quite a lot written linking dehydration to cancer risk.
I was always curious why my dog drank less water when I switched him to raw. After a week of being on kibble due to traveling arrangements and him being on kibble, I noticed he was back to "loving water" I came to realize that exact same point. When he's on raw he drinks after long runs or being outside playing, when he's on kibble it's almost like that water bowl needed to be refilled every 30 minutes even while just being inside.
 

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BR, I had the same experience when I put mine on THK base mix (basically, veg/fruit porridge) + raw meat. He drinks after exercise, but otherwise he's at the water bowl very little compared to my kibble-fed dogs, who are big drinkers. It's pretty interesting. There's also a suspected kibble/bloat connection that's been hypothesized (but not proven), related to moisture.
 

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Wouldn't the dehydration problem be solved by adding water to the kibble and let it "brew" for a while?

Thanks for the documentary recommendation! I will see if I can find it.
 

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Wouldn't the dehydration problem be solved by adding water to the kibble and let it "brew" for a while?

Thanks for the documentary recommendation! I will see if I can find it.
Maybe! I don't think there's only "One True Way" to feed dogs, I'm not 100% anti-kibble or 100% anti-anything. There were other things in the documentary that I don't necessarily agree with, but I still think it's worth watching because it makes you consider different things. It's especially worthwhile if you're at a point like the OP, trying to consider the big picture of how diet might affect aging and chronic illness. I think it's still available on Netflix streaming, I just watched it earlier this summer on a friend's recommendation.

The documentary talks a lot about longevity. If there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that we wish our dogs could live longer.
 

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Yes, and some people here do that -- if you add water and wait 15-20 min., you'll see it puff up. It doesn't solve the concentration of contaminants problem and blackbox sourcing that is typical of most kibbles (and the source of recall after recall). If you're going to feed kibble, I think you have to work through the sourcing of your brand's ingredients -- item by item. Don't read a website like DogFoodAdvisor and stop your research. If it says "Chicken Meal" on the ingredients list, research what kind and where it's from (there's very cheap, poor quality meal, and very fine high-quality meal, and you need to know which one the brand uses).

I do still have some dogs that are kibble fed (on Fromm Four Star, rotational diet). They're doing very, very well on Fromm. I have another who has lots of health issues on kibble (ANY kibble--even top of the line), but does great on THK + meat, and he glows from the inside. It's been long enough that I'm seeing differences between them that are interesting (the kibble dogs have much worse breath, and their teeth need cleaning more often, even with occasional raw frozen bones as treats; the kibble-fed dogs shed A LOT more). I'm watching them very closely for differences as they age, and I'm struggling with whether to take them off the diet that seems to be working (even the vet says mine are in the top percent of health he sees in GSDs), but I think ultimately kibble is a compromise.

My foster dogs are kibble-fed too. There's too many of them, and it's too expensive, to feed them a fresh diet. A lot of them do very well on a mid-grade kibble. I always support an upgrade by the adopters, but if they stay on the mid-grade kibble, a lot of them do fine. Would they live longer on a fresh diet? Quite possibly -- it's hypothesis at this point. There are no randomized, controlled studies -- which is the only way to really know.

I think you have to view dog food as a spectrum from very poor to optimal, and most foods fall somewhere on that spectrum. Those of use worried about health and aging try to feed the best we can on that spectrum, taking into account prep time, financial resources, and availability of options. Not everyone can feed a $200/mo organic/grass-fed commercial raw diet, or invest hours preparing a spreadsheet of micronutrients to come up with a balanced homemade diet....so we compromise and do the best we can and hope it's good enough. I think it's critical to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good -- just because the diet that seems optimal ("perfect") is out of reach doesn't mean you shouldn't go as far up the spectrum of "good" as is reasonably achievable for you. That may mean feeding the best kibble you can, or soaking your kibble, or topping with fresh food, or homecooking occasionally, or something else.
 

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@ Magwart..totally agree with your post and have a question for you since you've done so much research: any idea about the quality of Royal Canin chicken meal? I fed that to my pup the first 6-7 months of her life. Since transitioning away from kibble last year I've observed the same things as you, glowing from the inside out, good breath, less teeth cleaning, less water drinking, firm stools and most importantly no more allergies.
 

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I have not looked into RC because I don't like it's corporate ownership (Mars), and I was pretty disgusted by the leaked deposition testimony from a whistleblower that worked at Mars:
https://truthaboutpetfood.com/poisoned/

You need to read it if you feed a Mars food! In the thread discussing that news, I also did some digging on the Mars Petcare website, and I found job openings for people doing R&D and ingredient sourcing in China.

My rule of thumb is to be skeptical brands that have a corporate-connection to low end/cheap food (in this case Pedigree, another Mars food). I have no confidence that a company that sources chicken meal for Pedigree is sourcing better/more expensive meal for RC -- it could happen, but I don't have confidence that it's likely. That's my current thinking -- happy to be proven wrong if anyone knows more about RC sourcing.
 

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Maybe! I don't think there's only "One True Way" to feed dogs, I'm not 100% anti-kibble or 100% anti-anything. There were other things in the documentary that I don't necessarily agree with, but I still think it's worth watching because it makes you consider different things. It's especially worthwhile if you're at a point like the OP, trying to consider the big picture of how diet might affect aging and chronic illness. I think it's still available on Netflix streaming, I just watched it earlier this summer on a friend's recommendation.

The documentary talks a lot about longevity. If there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that we wish our dogs could live longer.
Yes, found it on Netflix! Let's see if we can watch it this weekend. Thanks!
 

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@Magwart, thanks for your input! I agree with what you say, that we try to do our best within our range of possibilities.

After the experiences we've had with Nix and food, I did think of feeding her home-prepped food, but neither my husband or I have the necessary knowledge on dog nutrition to be able to prepare balanced meals. I wanted to read on the topic but I haven't got around to yet.

If you don't mind, though, there's something I'd like to ask. What kind of health issues did your kibble-sensitive dog have? Nix's stool improved when we switched to a kibble with rice, but then she went through a period where she'd randomly throw up part of her meals hours after eating them. Once this was solved, and after a month or so, her stool became looser and diarrhoea-like. We had to switch foods again and is now on Advance Gastroenteric Low-Fat. I don't particularly like kibbles from big brand names such as Advance or RC but this one has worked for her... I was wondering if your dog had gone through similar issues.
 

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My dog had anal gland issues (including frequent infections), bloody diarrhea, rectal polyps requiring surgery from constant inflammation, constant butt licking, no appetite (he'd go days without eating sometimes, and always looked skinny and sickly). We were in a spiral of increasingly worse problems, more expensive vet visits, drugs, and a miserable existence for the dog. The vet is certain it was a food allergy that was causing everything -- we were getting nowhere treating symptoms, since kibble was the cause.

If a dog randomly regurgitates undigested food soon after a meal, I would want to rule out mega-esophagus. Puking digested food, though, is something else. When she has an episode, take a look at her rectum -- lift up the tail! A healthy one is light pink. An inflamed one is bright red. If you see that, it's a classic sign of a food allergy.
 

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My dog had anal gland issues (including frequent infections), bloody diarrhea, rectal polyps requiring surgery from constant inflammation, constant butt licking, no appetite (he'd go days without eating sometimes, and always looked skinny and sickly). We were in a spiral of increasingly worse problems, more expensive vet visits, drugs, and a miserable existence for the dog. The vet is certain it was a food allergy that was causing everything -- we were getting nowhere treating symptoms, since kibble was the cause.
I'm so sorry to hear this. Nix's symptoms have been very light in contrast to your dog's. I'm really glad that you managed to sort it out though!

If a dog randomly regurgitates undigested food soon after a meal, I would want to rule out mega-esophagus. Puking digested food, though, is something else. When she has an episode, take a look at her rectum -- lift up the tail! A healthy one is light pink. An inflamed one is bright red. If you see that, it's a classic sign of a food allergy.
I don't think it's mega-esophagus because she usually threw up digested food. The only times she's thrown up her undigested meal there were easier explanations (stomach bug, too much exercise too soon after eating). However, if she goes through another random vomiting period I'll certainly check her rectum. Thanks for the pointers!!
 

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I've been reading the book Canine Nutrigenomics, and it explains which are the best and worst foods for dogs. It also briefly talks about reading pet food labels. I'm not sure it will answer your question 100%, but I think it could be helpful in your case.
 
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