When I first began my search for a quality dog food for my frenchies, little did I know how daunting that task would be.
If you have done even a little research on dog food, you may have noticed there is a lot of information out there about dog food including what are good ingredients and what are bad ingredients. To add to that, some of this information is contradictory. So, what dog food do you choose? I will start by telling you a little about my seemingly endless search for the perfect dog food.
My search for the perfect dog food
When I picked up Dozer for the first time, he was already being fed Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Dry Dog Food, Salmon, Sweet Potato & Pumpkin Recipe, 24 Pounds, Easy to Digest. I decided to keep him on this food since I knew changing foods can be hard on puppies digestive systems. I had also researched the brand and my search revealed that it was a decent dog food. However, Dozer’s poop, more often than not, looked like well….. all that I can describe it as is soft serve ice cream.
So began my search for a “high quality dog food.” In my research, I found that frenchies are commonly allergic to poultry and guess what the sixth ingredient in Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Dry Dog Food, Salmon, Sweet Potato & Pumpkin Recipe, 24 Pounds, Easy to Digest is? It is “poultry fat.” Add to that the fact that I had also given him treats where the main ingredient was chicken and this didn’t help my “soft serve” situation. I started suspecting that chicken could be the culprit.
Around this same time, I tried giving Dozer beef treats. What a big mistake that was. He had explosive diarrhea for three days straight. But, I did learn no beef for Mr. Dozer. I’m sure you know the majority of dog food brands have beef or chicken as their main protein. Add this to the fact that I read the new “exotic” proteins such as kangaroo or bison were not good choices either. So, what do you do? What do you feed your frenchie who has a sensitive tummy when everything keeps telling you what you CAN NOT feed them? You find out what you CAN feed them. And, how do you do this? You experiment and you research…. you research…..and you research some more!
It wasn’t too far into my research that I found the “grain free” or “no grain free” arguments. They say grain free is good for your frenchie! Then others say grain free is bad for your frenchie! This ultimately led to me stumbling upon the FDA’s research into a potential link between certain dog foods (many of them grain free) and heart disease in dogs. I will talk more about this later.
First let’s talk about the grain free fad.
Dog parents, like you and me, started wanting more from their dog food. They wanted a dog food with healthy ingredients that more closely represented a dogs natural “ancestral” diet.
Many arguments were made that dogs descended from wolves, wolves are carnivores, and therefore they should only eat meat.
In my opinion, there are two small flaws to this argument. One: While wolves are indeed carnivores, they are what is called opportunistic carnivores. This means that they also scavenge. Two: While dogs are indeed descendants of wolves, they have evolved alongside humans for a very long time. This means that we have been feeding them all kinds of things (other than meat) that they have grown accustomed to.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not against grain free for these reasons and am not completely against grain free at all. I do agree with not feeding certain grains, particularly wheat to dogs. Not to mention, some frenchies are actually allergic to certain grains. You would need to have your vet conduct an allergy test to find out if your frenchie is allergic to a certain grain, or protein for that matter.
My problem with grain free foods is not that they are grain free. My problem with most grain free foods is what ingredients are used to replace the grains. This leads me to my discussion about the FDA’s potential link between dog foods and DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy).
FDA’s potential link between certain dog foods and DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy) – Heart disease in dogs
Let me start by emphasizing that this is about FDA’s POTENTIAL link to heart disease (DCM) in dogs. It is still under investigation so keep that in mind as you read on.
You will hear people say “Grain free dog foods cause heart disease in dogs.” Well, that’s not actually the case. I suggest you read the update to the investigation posted on the FDA’s website. Here is the link:
On this page, the FDA has a link to ‘Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy Complaints’ under the “Diet Information from Reported Cases” section. While this is a long document, I highly suggest reading it, or at the very least skimming through it. If you do, you will notice that the same dog food brands get mentioned over and over again. The FDA has ranked dog food brands in order of the most frequently named dog foods in DCM cases.
If you read the entire investigation you will see that, while many of the dog foods mentioned are grain free, not all of them are grain free. It is not the fact the the food is grain free that gives the food a potential link to heart disease. It is the ingredients used in grain free foods to replace the grains. These added ingredients that replace the grains seem to be high in carbohydrates.
Think about when we eat foods high in carbohydrates and what happens. It sometimes leads to heart disease right? Well, the same is true for our furry friends.
In conclusion, I would be weary of these ingredients and try to stay away from them. These ingredients are legumes such as peas, lentils such as beans, and potatoes (including sweet potatoes).
A word about peas: While peas in general aren’t bad for dogs and do have health benefits, too many peas or peas in different forms such as pea protein, pea flour, and pea fiber are not good for our furry friends. Pea protein and pea flour can be used to increase the protein content in a dog food and this is not the type of protein you want. Pea fiber can have a negative effect on digestion and our little guys and gals certainly don’t need that.
A good practice is to check the first ten ingredients in a dog food and choose one that has high quality ingredients and ingredients that are lower in carbohydrates. Remember though, just like humans, dogs do need some carbohydrates, It’s all about finding the right ones. If the first ten ingredients are high quality ingredients, you should be okay. Just be sure there aren’t twenty unknown ingredients behind the first ten ingredients. If unsure if the ingredients are of high quality, look them up and do your research.
What else shouldn’t you feed your frenchie?
Animal-by-products such as chicken-by-product, Meat or meat meal (make sure the meat is specified), artificial preservatives such as BHA, BHT and Ethoxyquin are all ingredients you do not want to see in your dog food. Look for real protein sources and limit preservatives.
Foods that are toxic to dogs and should never be fed to any dog include: Chocolate, Onions, Grapes, Raisins, and Macadamia nuts. I hope I don’t have to tell you that alcohol is on this list. Basically, if you are unsure if you can feed a certain food to your dog, do your research. Many foods that are good for humans are not good for our pups.
So, what dog food did I choose, you ask?
I chose Farmina N & D Ancestral Grain Lamb & Blueberry. The first ten ingredients are Lamb, Dehydrated Lamb, Whole Spelt, Whole Oats, Dried whole eggs, fresh herring, dehydrated herring, chicken fat, herring oil, and dried beet pulp. You probably wouldn’t want chicken fat as one of the top five ingredients. However, the fact that it is the eighth ingredient means there isn’t a large amount compared to the other high quality ingredients. And, just like humans, dogs do need some fat in their diets. In addition, there is a huge difference between chicken fat and poultry fat. Chicken fat tells you exactly where it comes from. It is hard to know exactly what “poultry fat” consists of. You’ll also notice there is no wheat or corn in the dog food I chose. Instead, they opt for the higher quality “ancestral” grains, spelt and oats.
Only a few short weeks after switching to Farmina, I noticed a huge difference. My frenchies coats were shinier, the soft serve ice cream poo was gone,and Dozer was only going poo twice a day instead of five times a day! Hallelujah! Dozer was pooing so much that my husband actually had a dream about him pooing in the bed. He didn’t, thank goodness. But, oh was it funny hearing my husband wake up saying “he pooped on me, he pooped on me!”
I also add a table spoon of canned pumpkin at dinner time or I sprinkle Zesty Paws Probiotic for Dogs – with Natural Digestive Enzymes + Prebiotics & Pumpkin – Dog Probiotics for Diarrhea & Upset Stomach Relief + Gas & Constipation – Allergy & Immune + Hot Spots onto their food and then wet it down for good measure. Why do I wet it down? Because my babies are spoiled and will not eat it dry any more. It’s hard not to spoil these little buggers.
How much should you feed your frenchie?
You should read the number of kcals per cup on the label of your dog food. For example, my dog food brand contains 394 kcals per cup which is a fairly high amount. This means that even though a bag of this particular dog food is priced higher than many of the common brands, you also do not need to feed as much.
One cup of one brand of dog food could contain a very large difference in the number of calories than one cup of another brand of dog food. My frenchies are all 25 pounds. A good amount to feed frenchies is 25 calories per pound so that would be 625 calories for my babies. I feed them half in the morning and half in the evening. This is only a guideline and activity levels play into this. If your frenchie is very active, you may want to increase his or her calorie intake and if they are couch potatoes, you may want to decrease it slightly.
I have tried several brands and types of dog treats. There have only been two brands that work for my Dozer’s sensitive stomach: Blue Buffalo and Tylee. I like Blue Buffalo Wilderness Trail Treats Wild Bits Grain Free Soft-Moist Training Dog Treats, Duck Recipe 4-oz bag, Model:800068 and Blue Buffalo Wilderness Trail Treats Wild Bits High Protein Grain Free Soft-Moist Training Dog Treats, Salmon Recipe 10-oz bag. My favorite treats by far are Tylee’s 100% Salmon Treats.
I also feed my frenchies baby carrots as treats. Just like with any other treat, you must give carrots (or any other fruits and veggies) sparingly. Mine get one or two baby carrots each per day.
Raw food diets
I do not want to go too much into raw food diets, but felt I had to at least mention it since this entire blog post is about dog food. Many frenchie owners choose to feed raw food diets. I am not going to comment on whether it is good or bad. I personally choose not to go that route because as with any raw food, there’s the possibility of contracting a food-borne illness such as salmonella. Therefore, if you are going to a raw food diet, research it thoroughly and please make sure you are doing it right!
Research, research, and research some more!
In conclusion, research is crucial to finding the right quality dog food for your frenchie. Your frenchies individual needs play a large role and must be taken into consideration.
If you do decide to change your pups food, make sure you do it slowly. Changes in dog foods can be very hard on your pups tummy. Most recommend changing it gradually over 10 days. Begin with 25% of the new food and 75% of the old food for 3 days, then increase to 50% old food and 50% new food for the next 3 days, finally end with 25% old food and 75% new food for 3-4 more days. On the tenth day, you can go to 100% of the new food.
I hope this blog post helped shed some light on finding the right quality dog food for your frenchie. If you have any questions or want to hold a discussion on this topic, feel free to send me a message on my contact page.
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