Last night and again this morning, I was speaking with friends and the subject turned to dog food. Not very interesting conversation I suppose, but sometimes very helpful and enlightening to share information. It's interesting to learn what and why people choose the dog food they feed their dogs. As one may expect, budget and accessibility are forefront for most, but there are definitely other considerations too. This is NOT an advertisment or in any way supportive of a particular brand, just a statement of what we use. Other brands exist and probably offer great options and benefits, but we are using products that work for our dogs and are easily accessible in our location. We may change brands as we find other products that are somehow better suited to our needs.
Cinder's eating Blue Buffalo's Life Protection chicken and brown rice puppy formula. Our choice was based not by cost, but by the ingredients list. Gilley developed a nasty odor, "hot spots," and he incessantly licked his front legs. First I tried bathing him in several different bath formulas to see if it was something he'd gotten into and nothing changed. Right after his baths, he still stunk and his hot spots and licking continued. I began researching online about the kinds of things that could cause his symptoms and the resounding theme across many resources was food allergies. After more research, I decided to change Gilley's (and Buzz's) diet and within only one week of eliminating wheat and corn based food, he stopped licking and his odor subsided. BINGO! Food allergies! We've kept Gilley on grain free food since and he's never had another issue. Our choice to pursue that for Cinder wasn't about eliminating grain for her (although that was a consideration) as much as knowing that our older boys may by happenstance, get into some of Cinder's food and we didn't want to run the chance that it would cause Gilley's allergies to flare up.
In another discussion regarding dog food, three people said they'd tried feeding various forms of grain free dog foods containing salmon or other fish as the base meat. Those people stated their dogs wouldn't eat that fish based food. In our experience, neither Gilley or Buster would eat the salmon based food either. Buster will eat about anything so when he turned his nose up at it, I paid attention because he all but said, "I'm not a CAT, I'm a DOG and FISH is NOT DOG food. I want something good and fish is NOT it!"
We've tried to stay away from food combinations using sweet potatoes too. In my world, sweet potatoes are a carb-heavy filler and full of sugar so Border Collies who aren't out herding on a farm or otherwise working hard every day really don't need the sugar and carbs of potatoes. However, the Blue Buffalo puppy food contains potato starch, fish meal, and other ingredients I'd rather the older boys not have, but the ingredient list is full of a variety of quality items for growing puppies. In general, for the boys (and Cinder when she's an adult) we stick to the meat only or meat and rice combinations. Rice adds carbs, but the carbs from rice are fewer than potatoes and not from sugar, making those carbs healthier than potatoes. I'm okay with rice, but as the boys age, their weight will be a bigger issue. I'm trying to keep them lean so their aging bodies will have less strain.
As Cinder ages and we see what her "job" will be, we'll make choices for her foods based on her needs. However, since they all eat in a common space and the possibility exists that they may play clean-up crew for each other, the one constant will be grain free food. Once in a while we really do have to make decisions based on things other than raising Cinder!