I should probably preface this post by saying that I am in the “you are what you eat” camp when it comes to nutrition whether feeding myself or my animals 😉 This is not to say I always eat amazingly healthily but I am aware of the effect different foods can have, how it affects our health and wellbeing not so much in terms of weight loss or gain but in terms of maintaining immunity, vitality and fitness.
For these reasons, when looking for a dog food to feed Jazz, I have always looked for the best possible nutrition I could get hold of and which I believed would keep her healthy and happy. When I had dogs in my teens we cooked all their food from scratch not because we thought that was the best option but simply because dry food or wet food available at the time wasn’t worth paying attention to. Brown rice, meat, vegetables, fish, raw eggs and raw bones were pretty much the staple of their diet and we cooked their food in batches for several days in one go. They had a tinned wet food from time to time too, maybe once every few months.
I’ve never fed any of my of dogs any form of a kibble and wasn’t familiar with “dry food” for dogs in any other way other than seeing it in shops or TV commercials. It was a bit like learning from scratch about a new product as silly as it sounds 😉
Jazzy’s breeder fed all the pups the James Wellbeloved Puppy kibble and Jazzy did seem to like it. If I knew what I know now after many hours spent on researching what on earth was best to feed to one’s dog, I would have switched her to either wet or raw food at 8 weeks old. Alas, my reading took me in the dry food direction at the time and I ended up settling for the Acana Puppy dry food. Jazzy wasn’t a fussy pup and ate most things including half of the outdoors! She never seems to have any allergies or digestive issues that would have prompted me to dig deeper into the content of her meals.
When Jazz was about a year old, I decided to switch her to Orijin Adult Dog (the name it had at the time and that is now given to their Freeze Dried range) – a Canadian feed company with very good reviews and ratings.
My main reasons for using that brand at the time were:
- highest quality ‘whole prey’ meat content from all the dry feeds I came across
- the producer’s philosophy of only using free range, best quality ingredients
- transparent list of ingredients with no additives
- I love Canada! (okay, this wasn’t a deciding factor at all but I do love Canada 😉 )
I may have been still feeding Orijin now if not for three things that happened. First of all, the company moved its kitchens to Kentucky and worrying feed reviews started cropping up online. Jazz’s coat lost some of its usual shine and softness. And finally, I got a fairly big shock when one day she was sick 5-6 hours after eating her breakfast. I am not sure why she was sick in the first place but alongside some parts of outdoor world she regurgitated a decent amount of that breakfast. If I ran water through it and washed it I could have quite easily replaced the kibble in the bag. It was still looking intact…
Now, I am not a nutrition expert by any means but it was the biggest alarm bell ever to me and that day I sat down to my computer again and short listed different feeds to try. In the meantime I fed her Lily’s Kitchen wet food trays (which I had been using as high value training treats since she was a puppy as she was, and still is, absolutely wild about them).
I decided to move away from traditional kibble altogether and base her diet on either raw food or wet food with some form of cold pressed kibble. In principle I’d like to switch to Raw Feeding but I feel like I’d like to learn more about choosing the right sources before going for it. It’s not the most convenient diet to feed but that doesn’t necessarily stop me. It’s the unknown I guess and not being fully confident in understanding which company to go for because I certainly don’t have enough knowledge to balance the raw diet myself.
I must say here a big thank you to the dog community on Instagram as a fantastic starting point in helping me find more about dog food than I ever thought was to be found! After a few weeks of reading and searching for different options I settled for 3 “finalists” 😉
Jazz is a high energy, very active dog, athletic, well muscled type. She spends many hours outdoors with me every day so I knew I needed a food that can meet her requirements but also one she enjoyed eating.
Sadly, even though Tribal feed had very good reviews and opinions, Jazz wasn’t really interested in it. The other two brands she scoffed within seconds so that’s what I settled for.
McAdams has a very interesting and fairly unique (on dog’s food market) approach to making their products in that they only use human grade meat, in their case chicken and salmon, that are DEFRA approved, free range and support ethical farming. I am not sure if any slaughter could be branded as ethical but personally I prefer to support the businesses that do care about the lives of the animals prior them ending up in their kitchens. Feeding myself or my dog with animals that endured endless torture being stuffed with antibiotics and living in stressful, dreadful conditions doesn’t seem either ethically acceptable nor a wise choice.
What I wasn’t aware of before doing this canine nutrition research is that a huge number of dog food companies use meat from factory raised animals, meat meals (that aren’t really meats to speak of) as well as a plethora of additives and colorants.
The cooking process of the foods is also something I didn’t pay enough attention to and a year ago I didn’t even know something like cold pressed or baked/roasted dog food even existed. It turns out as I now know that how the ingredients are processed matters hugely to how the dog digests the food. It seems very obvious but when you don’t know, you are just ignorant and I was!
The only downside of McAdams is the price, especially of their wet food as it does work out very expensive to have a very active dog on it. This is why I needed another good food as a back up topper food (to feed alongside McAdams dry food) and how I came across Forthglade…
I don’t think Forthglade puts as much emphasis on their meat sources as McAdams does but they do claim the use of good quality meat and I feed Jazz their gourmet complete range which is 75% meat. The company’s overall philosophy of delivering simple, natural nutrition using gentle steaming to preserve nutrients as well as excellent opinions the food has among many dog owners is what won me over. And Jazz absolutely loves it which was the most important of tests of course.
I am pretty sure my journey with dog nutrition is not over. Considering how little I knew to start with makes me even more aware of how much there is to learn and I will continue pursuing more understanding of how best to feed for health and longevity.
I’d love to know what you all feed and why, good and bad experiences!
All photos in this post are by Becky Bunce Photography. Please see Photography for more information about photos on this blog. All rights reserved.