Personalized Dog Training Presents

Dog Food Information


The Holistic Guide for a Healthy Dog by Wendy Volhard and Kerry Brown, DVM -

Love of Animals Newsletter by Robert S. Goldstein, VMD and Susan J. Goldstein - Veterinarians requesting BioNutritional Analysis, call 800-361-2313; for natural products call Earth Animal, 800-622-0260; for consultations, call 203-222-0260.

Linda Arndt - Canine Nutritional Consultant - GREATDANELADY.COM

Woof - Boy am I hungry!


Check the label including the ingredient list


What labels don't reveal

What to avoid when you buy dog food or treats

Kibble to consider 

Fresh Foods to Feed

Raw diets


When to feed (times per day)

Which food to feed your dog -- dry or canned

Amount to feed


There is a direct correlation between what your dog eats and how your dog behaves.  There is also a correlation in what you feed your dog and his health, future health, longevity, and your veterinary bills.

If you want your dog to live a healthy life and have better behavior, pay attention to what you are feeding him.  If your dog is hyperactive or lethargic, chances are something in his diet, or missing from his diet, is responsible.  Many behavioral disorders in children have been traced to coloring agents and preservatives in food.   Researchers have found a frighteningly similar pattern in dogs.   Many of the most advertised and popular brands of dog food contain the most food colorings and preservatives.   Dog biscuits and treats are also culprits.   Behavior ranging from aggression to timidity, hyperactivity, an inability to learn, being stubborn or hardheaded, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and uncontrolled barking can be traced to improper diet.  Chemical additives and preservatives may also cause skin allergies, regurgitation after meals, and mood swings.

Today the average pet in America is surviving on 'junk food.'  Many pet food manufacturers add the cheapest ingredients to their food.  The vitamins and minerals added are often inert and unusable by the animal or they are lost during the cooking process during manufacture.   On top of that, people are often told by breeders, veterinarians, and others to only feed their dog one type of food for the rest of his life and this may be the particular food that the breeder or veterinarian gets for a discount or for free.   For this reason, dogs are eating a consistent diet of pet food from an industry that makes it highly regulated, chemically uniform, convenient; but biologically dead.   The worst pet foods are full of sugar, chemicals, and additives such as dyes, pigments and iron-oxides.    Visual additives are included to make the food more appealing to the people who buy it; the dogs could care less and really cannot see the range of colors used.  Sugar, salt, and animal digests (liquefied meat by-products) are added to make the food more appealing to dogs.   Unfortunately, more appealing does not mean healthy.   If you use a poor quality dog food, you will raise a poor quality dog!

Also pay attention to the water that your dog is drinking.  Chlorinated or fluorinated water could play a part in certain behavior or health problems.

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You may also add a vitamin/mineral supplement, but remember that more of a supplement is not better and can be dangerous.  Follow the label instructions.   Furthermore, find a natural vitamin/mineral supplement that is not loaded with sugar and other additives.  Use balanced supplements instead of supplementing with single vitamins or minerals.  Some examples are Daily Health Nuggets (800-705-5559), Dr. Goodpet's Maximum Protection Formula (800-222-9932), Missing Link for Dogs (available at, 888-887-3879), Wysong C-Biotic (aids digestion also) (800 738-0233).

Do not fall victim to the latest fads in dog foods or supplements by constantly jumping from one food to another.  Feed your dog a steady diet of high quality food with consistent additions of raw foods. 

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What to avoid when you buy dog food or treats:

  • Avoid products containing chemical preservatives such as BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, propylene glycol, propylene gallate, or sodium nitrate/nitrite.

  • Avoid products containing artificial colorings and flavorings.

  • Avoid products containing processed sugars including corn syrup, corn sweeteners, white sugar, glucose, sucrose, and fructose.  Also avoid simple carbohydrates such as white flour and white rice. 

  • Avoid food that lists as an ingredient soy bean meal, soy flour, or cottonseed meal.  The nutrients in these are 'bound up' and not available to the dog.

  • Avoid food containing iodized salt. 

  • Avoid food containing a preponderance of grains or such things as peanut hulls.

  • Avoid semi-moist foods.  They contain the most artificial colors, preservatives, and sweeteners of all foods.

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Fresh Foods to Feed:

Although it's widely preached to avoid table scraps, fresh food is a valuable supplement to your pet's diet.  Fresh foods are important because pet foods are cooked at high temperature during manufacture and fresh foods will provide the vitamins and live enzymes that were lost due to the manufacture process. 

Fresh foods to feed your dog (Additives should not exceed over 10% of your dog's complete diet.):

  • Chopped, grated, or mashed raw vegetables (carrots, spinach, string beans, celery, kale, asparagus, parsley, watercress, alfalfa sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower)

  • Fresh fruit (apple or pear pieces, banana slices, and other fruit).  

  • Other fresh foods (baked - not raw - potatoes, virgin olive oil, oatmeal, brown rice, plain low fat yogurt, cottage cheese, beef broth, and a tablespoon of honey).  Raw meat is also a good addition to the diet because dogs have fewer problems with salmonella due to their shorter intestines (raw bones are okay, but never give cooked bones because they will splinter).

Note: avoid onions, grapes and raisins which can be toxic to dogs.  Also avoid citrus, tomatoes, white rice (unless it is being used as a treatment for soft stools), pork, bacon and other cured meats, meat fat and food containing white flour, sugar, or salt.

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It would be better if the dish were full.


Choosing which food to feed your dog: 

"You get what you pay for" is not necessarily true for dog food.  There is a surprisingly small difference between good and bad, and some bad foods cost more than some good foods.

Look at the nutrient analysis on the back of the package and find the minimum levels of protein, fiber and fat in the diet.  Also carefully examine the ingredient list.

Be aware that all protein sources are not equal.   A high protein content is not necessarily a sign of quality.  Protein can come from a variety of sources, including plant matter, so you need to make sure the bulk of the protein is derived from meat and poultry products.   "Crude" protein does not equal digestible protein.  Many pet foods, especially the economy brands, use corn, wheat, gluten, soy, meat and bone meal as a major source of protein, but these are inferior sources of protein for your pet. The list of ingredients is based on their percentages in the food, from greatest to least.  You should feed a commercial food with at least one animal protein source in the first three ingredients; however, the best foods have meat products making up at least 3 or 4 of the first 6 listed ingredients.

The food can provide some whole grain such as brown rice, oats, or millet for complex carbohydrates.

Look for a food that will supply the proper energy for your dog's daily activities.  With so many canines being overweight, you definitely do not want to be supplying a food that will provide too much energy and cause a weight problem.  Also, if you work all day and your dog is left alone for long periods, a high performance food that provides loads of energy may be counter productive.  Many perfectly normal dogs are labeled hyperactive because they have nothing to do with their energy.  High Energy foods are performance foods containing 30% protein and 20% fat,  Super Premium I foods contain 25-29% protein and 15-19% fat, Super Premium II foods contain 22-24% protein and 10-14% fat, and Premium foods contain 22-28% protein and 8-13% fat, but may also contain soy. 

The food should be preserved naturally with vitamin E (tocopheral), vitamin C, or oils of rosemary, clove, or other spices.  Natural preservatives do not provide as long a shelf life but are generally safer (make sure that you buy your food from a store with a quick turn-over.  Read the date code on the bag to determine how fresh the food is - 160206 or 021606 means made on February 16, 2006.  10206 or 1026 means made on the 102nd day of 2006.  Best before 2/16/07, probably means it was made on February 16, 2006.  If the bag shows grease on the outside, do not buy it.  Always return food that smells rancid, appears moldy, or seems unfresh in any manner.  Never feed it to your dog).

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Check the label to see if it lists by-products.  The particular by-product used can vary from batch to batch.  By-products contain internal parts of animals such as necks, heads, feet, intestines, and other internal organs. Many manufactures use by-products because it's less expensive; however, these may not be the best source of food for your pet.

Avoid food that requires enormous amounts to feed.  The food should have more calories and nutrients in a smaller amount.  

Antioxidants are good additions to a dog food since they can help deter many diseases including kidney disease, heart disease and cancer.  Artificial dyes are bad additions only added for visual purposes for humans - some have been linked to medical problems. Make sure the food label has the AAFCO statement of testing on it.  This means that this food means the minimum requirements, not that it's a great or even a good food.  

AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) labeling standards.

AFFCO Product Name 4 Rules:

  • 95% Rule (Example: Beef for Dogs, Chicken 'n Liver Dog Food)

    95% of the product must be the named ingredient (of animal origin), not counting the water added for processing. If more than one item is named then the combination must total 95%,with the first named ingredient of higher quantity than the second. Counting the added water,the named ingredient still must comprise 70% of the product.

  • 25% or "Dinner" Rule (Example: Beef Dinner for Dogs, Chicken formula Dog Food)

    25% of the product must contain the named ingredient, not counting the water added for processing. "Platter," "entrée," "nuggets" and "formula" are also used within this rule. If more than one ingredient are named, then at least 3% of each ingredient must be added.

  • 3% or "With" Rule (Example: Dog Food With Beef)

    At least 3% of the ingredient must be used in the product. This label can be easily confused with the 95% rule label. "Beef Dog Food" will contain at least 95% beef, while "Dog Food With Beef" will possibly contain only 3% beef.

  • "Flavor" Rule (Example: Beef flavored Dog Food)

    A specific percentage is not required under this rule. But the product must contain an amount sufficient to be detected (using animals trained to prefer specific flavored to verify). The ingredient may or may not be the ingredient named, instead it could be a substance that will give the characterizing flavor of the ingredient.

A good way to verify the product names is reading the ingredient list. All ingredients are required to be listed in order of predominance by weight. Ingredients that are in the labels should appear in the ingredient list according to the rule applied.

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What labels don't reveal:

"Plump chickens, choice cut beef, fresh grains and wholesome nutritious meals for your dog."

Through media and advertising, these are the images the pet food manufacturers want consumers to believe they are purchasing in their products. But not all manufacturers are the same.  Manufacturers have different standards regarding the freshness of ingredients they use to make pet food. Some manufacturers may cut costs by using the cheapest ingredient available at the time food is made. Since costs rise and fall, the manufacturers vary the ingredients from batch to batch, resulting in different nutritional value.

You cannot determine the freshness, or quality of an ingredient by reading the label, instead you must trust the pet food manufacturer to use quality ingredients and produce food that is best for your pet. Start by choosing brands that put their company reputation on the line for the products they sell.

Stop feeding any food that gives your dog either loose stools or a large volume of stool with an unpleasant odor.  Stop feeding any food that is making your dog's coat dull, smelly, or unhealthy appearing.  Also stop feeding any food that is causing your dog to gain or lose weight.    

If your dog will not eat the food, do not doctor it to make it more palatable.  If your dog is refusing to eat the food, it probably contains something that he is not able to digest or is allergic to.

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Dry foods versus canned foods:

Canned foods measure their ingredients in wet weight, the actual amount of the raw ingredient as it goes in the can, versus a concentrated version with 90% of the moisture removed, as reflected in dry food.  A simple approximate way to convert the protein level is to add 10%.  If the can lists 10% protein, for example, it would compare to a dry food with 20% protein.  Feeding canned food is much more expensive than feeding dry food because you are paying for 78% moisture.  Canned food comes in many price ranges and qualities from all beef to those that are primarily cereal-based.  Fortunately, most canned foods do not contain chemical preservatives because the canning process keeps them fresh.  One draw-back is that the canning process requires heating which destroys many of the vitamins and minerals. If you decide to feed canned food, the brand should not contain over 78% moisture and should not contain preservatives.  There should be an AAFCO testing statement on the label.

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When to feed (times per day):

For adult dogs, feed one to two times per day.  If your dog tends to be high-strung and excitable, you may want to feed him twice a day so that "hunger-tension" is not a factor in behavior problems.   Also, some dogs, especially small dogs, get stomachaches and throw up bile if not feed regularly.  

Do not leave the food down for your dog - if he does not finish it, take it up until the next meal.  It is also a good idea to have your dog sit prior to feeding, to hand feed once in a while, and to feed using a toy such as a Buster cube so your dog is working for his food.  Also, do not feed your dog immediately before you leave or immediately after you arrive home.    Feed him with enough time before you leave so he has a chance to "do his business."  It's better to wait at least an hour after you come home to feed your dog, so if you ever get home late, he won't be more upset because he is missing his feeding time.  

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Amount to feed:

First check the food bag for feeding instructions.  If the package says a 50lb dog needs at least 3 cups of food, that amount is what is needed to supply the minimum daily nutrient requirement.  A dog that is eating substantially less than that is not receiving the needed nutrients.   Thus, the suggested amount to feed is an indication of food quality.  If one brand of food requires a 50lb dog to eat 6 cups of food a day and another requires 3 cups a day, the 3 cup a day food is of better quality. 


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Kibble to consider: 

Also check out the list below of better foods by Linda Arndt - Canine Nutritional Consultant found on the web at GREATDANELADY.COM.  Linda states that, "It is very important that you use a total feed program, because there is no food on the market that is 100% complete."

      "Eagle Pack Holistic Foods - 800-255-5959

      "Prescise Plus - 800-446-7148

      "Back to Basics - 800-219-2558

      "PHD - 800-320-7062

      "Nature's Variety Prairie -

      "BlueBuffalo - Available at PetSmart

      "Wellness - 800-225-0904

      "Fromms 4 Star Dry - 800-325-6331

      "Flint River Ranch - 909-682-5048

      "Wysong - 800-748-0188

      "Blackwood - 800-226-4613


      "Karma Organic Food for Dogs - 800-532-7261

      "Pinnacle - 800-255-4280

      "Chicken Soup for the Pet Lovers Soul -

      "Natural Balance - 800-829-4493

      "Canidae / Felidae - 800-255-4286

      "Innova EVO - 800-532-7261

      "Life Abundance - 561-781-7108

      "Regal - 800-638-7006

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Raw Diets:

Some pet owners are choosing to feed their pets raw diets.

Raw Feeding Options by Linda Arndt - Canine Nutritional Consultant can be found on the web at GREATDANELADY.COM.

If you do not want to use kibble, or you want to combine raw with part kibble, following are some options.

There are 4 types of raw diets that can be purchased so it is CRITICAL to call the company and ask HOW to use these diets to make sure they are balanced and complete.

Types of Raw Diets:

  1. Complete diets, with vitamins minerals and balanced calcium/phosphorus ratio. 

  2. Straight raw meats (incomplete diets) and they need to be balanced in their calcium and phosphorus ratio before you use them. This is done with a companion product the company will instruct you to purchase. (These must be used with a variety of other foods in order to bring them up to a complete diet).

  3. Grain/veggie/fruit diets in which you have to add the raw meat. 

  4. Commercial kibble that is calculated to use up to 20% raw meat with the kibble.


Complete Diets:

All these listed below are meat, veggie, fruit "balanced" diets and can be used alone or mixed with a quality kibble.

Raw Meats: 

If you "insist on feeding raw meat, grind up chicken necks, wings so they get the meat AND the bone in a meal form, and use with kibble. Meat and bone are balanced in calcium and phosphorus ratio and MUST be fed together, or you can cause growth problems.   Do not feed straight raw or cooked meat only without the bone, and do not use a meat/rice mixture as this unbalances your calcium / phosphorus levels of your dog food.


Grain Fruit Veggie Diets - You add the meat component: 

These foods are a preparation of whole grains, fruits and veggies. You must supply the meat protein and follow their directions exactly or you can unbalance the diet.


IF USING ANY RAW MEATS.....  Oxy-Drops are a safe, liquid compound that has demonstrated efficacy as a bactericidal, fungicidal and virucidal agent.  Oxy-Drops are important for animals that are on diets that include raw meat. This will help to keep the pathogenic bacteria from being a problem. Also breeds that are prone to bloat need Oxy-Drops because it helps to keep an overgrowth of bad bacteria suppressed in the gut.  If the bloating is caused by systemic fungus (Leaky Gut Syndrome) or pathogenic bacteria (Toxic Gut Syndrome), Oxy-Drops along with Probiotics may help keep these in check, as well as help maintain the correct pH of the gut.  Oxy-Drops enhances the immune system and second it releases slowly and oxidizes, cleaning toxins from the body.  Oxy-Drops acts on the organism at cellular level with no unwanted side effects. The best use of Oxy-drops is to mix according to instructions and pour over the dog's food daily. Oxy-Drops have many other applications, in a diluted form.  See the websites for additional information:,,  

To order - 877- 816-6500

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Yum - that was good!




Amount to feed (continued from previous column).

The feeding instructions will provide a range of amounts to feed and a range of weights for the amount, so you need to personalize the feeding to your dog, based on what he will eat and based on what he requires based on his metabolism, energy level, and amount of exercise he receives.  Check once a week for weight gain or loss by feeling behind the last rib.  You should feel soft tissue, but not a pocket of fat.  Also, you should be able to feel his ribs without pressing down and he should have "a waist" area behind his last rib.  So many dogs are overweight today that veterinarians often do not point it out to their client until the dog is extremely obese.  Also, if your dog's stools are large and loose instead of being firm and well-formed, you are feeding too much.  If the stools are dry with a chalky coating, you are feeding too little.  Feeding a low quality grain-filled economy food can also produce large smelly stools since stool volume is a measure of digestibility.   

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