Here is some information for you, although it’s a bit of a read, you will find this very valuable.
 
On dog food: I do not believe that living exclusively on a commercially-made, processed diet is healthy for any living thing… Human or dog. Most dogs diets are not varied enough. They eat the exact same thing every day. And the average dog food contains way too many carbohydrates and starches, and simply not enough quality meat that a carnivore needs! The bag might have pictures of salmon and whole chicken, but the bag itself contains over 50% starches, and animal ingredients and questionable seafood that could be from anywhere.
 
Let me ask you this: How much do you trust the average giant agribusiness corporation to produce and sell healthy, wholesome, natural food products for humans? I’m guessing not super high. They are a business, and their interest is not in producing things that make people healthier, but in producing things that people will buy. Now imagine how you’d trust them when there’s no FDA or USDA regulations… because the product is just animal feed. Notice when dog food companies have recalls, they are “voluntary recalls.”
 
Imagine eating the same exact meal 2 times a day, every day, for months or years at a time? Ignore the psychological part of it (many dogs will happily eat the same thing), and think of the nutritional and physical effects it might have on your body to eat the same processed diet every day. Particularly if that diet is not high-quality to begin with.
 
“But my dog will get diarrhea if I switch foods.” In this way, the dog food companies (a multi-billion dollar industry) have you stuck. They have you for the next 15 years buying their brand. The dog food companies are the ones who came up with the idea that “table scraps” might upset the “delicate balance” of nutrition. “Puppy food” is not necessary if you feed a quality food, it’s “all lifestages” food and will say so on the bag.
 
“But ‘back in the day’ we fed our dog the cheap Pedigree dog food and Alpo, and he lived to be 18!” And we all have heard the story of “My uncle Jimbo ate bacon for breakfast daily, smoked 2 packs of Lucky Strikes a day and lived to be 101.” Nobody is claiming that a dog won’t survive on a poor-quality diet. They are scavengers, afterall, and can adapt to living literally on garbage, as in feral dogs. But I know I see a difference in a dogs health, physical ability, mental state, and skin/coat/body when they are on a high-quality diet. A good diet can easily include your leftovers and scraps, as long as they are healthy for a dog, such as lean meats with no cooked bone.
 
Don’t worry if this seems overwhelming. I will give you options! I don’t push a specific diet as the only way to go. For new puppy owners, I would recommend either:
  1. Raw diet or “biologically appropriate” diet, aka ancestral diet
  2. A mix of high-quality kibble with homemade whole foods
  3. High-quality kibble (majority of diet), supplemented with a few whole foods
 
Raw diet:
There are a lot of health benefits to raw, another benefit is there is about half or 2/3 less “waste” to clean up, as the food has no carbs or fillers. It’s been an amazing solution for dogs with allergies. I’ve seen the changes, and I can see the benefits in my own dogs over the years. You would not guess my dogs ages– they appear younger than they are, and they never have to have dental cleanings. Their teeth are nice, and they don’t have the bad breath that kibble-fed dogs often have.
I feed raw, and I get the meats myself from either meat suppliers or grocery stores, but there’s also pre-made diets that are popular. I follow a raw diet that is mostly animal-based. Meats such as chicken, rabbit, turkey, and beef. It also includes some veggies and fruits (not every day), but it has almost no carbs, or carbs as an occasional treat. A dogs natural diet includes 4 key things: meat, bone, organ, and fat. I also supplement with a VetriScience or Thorne supplement, although this is not something everyone agrees is necessary.
Remember that dogs don’t have the same stomachs we do… These are animals that can eat another dogs poop and be fine… I have been feeding raw for 10 years and have never had a dog get sick or ill. I feed fresh meat, or I freeze it. I don’t give my dogs any “questionable” meats, other than freezer burned but safe “donation” meats I get. I also thoroughly  clean my hands and any prep surfaces. I have never been sick from handling raw meat and organs.
 
Kibble/cooked: A list of the best puppy foods
I highly recommend Nature’s Logic, Acana, or Orijen
Champion Pet Foods makes both Acana and Orijen. They are probably the best dog food available in terms of quality. Acana is up to standard for “all life stages” so you won’t see puppy/adult. You can rotate among proteins but start a puppy with one kind.
Remember, the more digestible a food is, and the less starches and fillers it has, the less a dog will need to eat, and the less “waste” will be produced to clean up. The foods I recommend are concentrated fairly high in protein and calories compared to a cheaper food.
Here is a list of super quality dog foods:
  • Orijen (puppy or large breed puppy)
  • Acana (all-lifestages)
  • Nature’s Logic
  • Zignature
  • Nature’s Variety Instinct

A list of  what I consider decent dog foods:

  • NutriSource
  • Earthborn Holistic
  • Merrick
  • Evo
  • Wellness Core

A list for the budget-conscious, or those who are feeding multiple dogs:

  • Kirkland (Costco brand). This brand is made by Diamond, for Costco. It is not a grain-free food, and it is not low in carbs. However, you cannot beat the price for the quality it is. It sells for about $27 for a 40-lb. bag.
  • Nature’s Domain (Costco brand). Also made by Diamond. Grain-free, and about $28 for 25-lb bag.
  • Redford Naturals (Pet Supplies Plus house brand)
  • Acana Heritage Free-run Poultry Formula. At about $55.99 for a 25-lb bag, this grain-free low-glycemic food is almost half the price of the company’s Orijen foods, and is still very high quality.

 

A partial list of lower end dog foods, I do not recommend:

  • Beneful, Pedigree, Science Diet, or anything available in a grocery store
  • Any food with corn or any grain as the first or second ingredient
    Any food with soy protein, wheat gluten, or artificial coloring dyes
  • Any food with less than 25% protein

If the food you’re wondering about is not on my above list, I probably do not recommend it.
Look up any dog food’s ratings on Dog Food Advisor

What can I add to my dogs kibble diet?
Supplementing a commercial diet is important. What you feed, and how much, will depend on your individual dog. Here are some ideas, and foods I have prepared for dogs.

  • Sardines. A fantastic source of nutrients, healthy fats, and fish oil. They are the lowest mercury-containing fish. Look for tins of “sardines in water,” and avoid any with oil, salt or sauce in them. I stock up when they’re on sale! I give my dogs each 3-4 tins a week.
  • Eggs. The incredible edible egg! High in protein. Feed them raw, just crack one or two onto your dogs food daily. In a homemade diet, I will usually blend in the raw egg whole, including the shell, as it’s a source of calcium and minerals.
  • Canned tuna and salmon. Super easy, just open and serve. Tuna is low in fat and high in protein. I buy whatever is on sale, in bulk. The “light tuna” is lower in mercury than the more expensive “white albacore.” I feed tuna about once a week. I also feed canned cooked salmon, as it’s one of the best foods for a dog– high in healthy fats that benefit skin/coat, great source of protein, and they love it.
  • Greek Yogurt, plain. Not only do dogs love it, it’s protein-packed and contains calcium and beneficial bacterias aka probiotcs. Try freezing it (along with a bit of kibble) in a Kong for a treat. You can give this to your dog a few times a week.
  • Cottage cheese. Small amounts of cottage cheese can be added to cooked meat to provide calcium. It has less lactose than milk.
  • Fruits. Fruits are fairly high in sugar, so only feed in moderation. They are also high in vitamins and antioxidants like vitamin c. Wild wolves often eat ripe berries, and dogs like them, too. Strawberries and blueberries are the best. Small amounts of banana is good, too. If you have some mealy apples, cut them up and I’m sure your dog will enjoy them as a topper on their kibble, or as a treat.
  • Veggies. In order to be properly digested, most veggies will need to be pureed in a food processor, or steamed. Carrots, kale, and spinach are healthy options. Some dogs enjoy a few pieces of raw carrots as a treat.
  • Canned chicken breast. If you can’t cook it, this would do fine as a topper on kibble.
  • Raw meat. Feed this in a separate meal from the kibble (such as kibble in AM, raw in PM). Chicken, beef, hearts, chicken necks, turkey necks (both great for cleaning the teeth!) I give my dogs raw turkey necks as a healthy snack. The bone is soft enough for them to crunch right through. You may have to check out various grocery stores to find the best meats– I go to either Tony’s, or Cermack Produce. I typically buy chicken quarters for just .59 cents per pound. My dogs all crunch through and eat whole chicken quarters in about 20 seconds. However, if you’re feeding a cooked diet, you may just want to stick to…
  • Cooked meats. This would go best with a kibble diet, as it’s cooked as well. Ground turkey, chicken (no cooked bones), lamb, and lean steaks and ground beef are good. Don’t overcook the meats, and avoid bones and fatty or greasy meats.
  • Sweet Potato. Super easy to make. Rinse your potatoes, and pop them either in the microwave for about 10 minutes, or bake them in the oven. Leave them whole, cook them until fully soft, then mash them up whole. The skins have nutrients and fiber. Dogs love them, you can eat them, too, and they’re fairly inexpensive. Avoid white potato– it’s not a healthy starch.
  • Oatmeal. This is another carb or filler to a homemade diet. But it has a lower glycemic index than other carbs, and is easy to prepare. Cook your oatmeal well so it can digest properly, and only use unflavored plain varieties.
  • AVOID: milk- cows milk is not good for puppies of any age. If a puppy must have another animal’s milk, goats milk is preferred. Raw goats milk can be super healthy for dogs. Also avoid: anything that’s a choking hazard, anything poisonous to dogs, sugar, salty foods, pasta, bread, too much cheese or fatty foods at once, citrus fruits, spicy food, spoiled meats, fish with sharp bones, cooked bones, etc.
 
Freeze-dried raw: the most convenient raw dog food & kibble topper
These are a great puppy treat and also a topper for kibble– they are a complete diet, mostly meat. It’s raw but dry and crumbly. A good brand is Stella & Chewy’s. It can work well as a training treat, too. These products are pathogen-free. You can re-hydrate them with water before feeding. Freeze dried raw is super popular for traveling, and for small dogs and indoor dogs.

Avoid treats with grains, and really, avoid any carbs for any dog. So no biscuits, Milk Bones,  etc. It can give a puppy diarrhea to have too many junk food treats. Many dog treats contain sugar, corn syrup, and by-products, and have very little nutritional value.
 
I highly recommend probiotics, as they make a difference in digestion and immune system. The brand I use for all the dogs here is VetriScience mega probiotic. They are a reputable manufacturer of dog vitamins– not every product for dogs is good quality.
 
Lastly, an omega & fish oil supplement is great. It has DHA for brain development: VetriScience Omega 3-6-9 supplement
 
Puppies and dogs need to chew. It cleans their teeth and exercises their jaws. Teething begins around 5 months of age, so know that puppies will want to chew even more during this period of a couple months.
For chews, other than some varieties of raw meaty bone, bully sticks are popular. Nylabones are also good. Rawhide isn’t healthy, and can be a choking or blockage hazard. Raw beef marrow bones and raw turkey necks are what my dogs chew. Himalayan Dog Chew is another great product, you can find it on Amazon.com, and they are a hard longer lasting treat.
 
-Jennifer