People have a generalized idea that more expensive means a better product. When it comes to dog foods, this is far from truth. The holistic types of dog foods generally have flax. Flax is a common allergen for dogs, and is completely indigestible to the dog. Once a dog is stimulated to make an allergy, they’ll frequently develop additional allergies.
Why do the dog food companies add flax? I believe it’s to raise the nutritional values on the label, and it’s a “feel good” ingredient for the person reading the label. Other ingredients to avoid? Wheat and soy. These are also common allergens to dogs.
So besides avoiding soy, wheat and flax, what other things should a person look for in a dog food? Nutritional completeness and consistent product are crucial to think about. Any dog food company can have a recall. The bigger companies have a steady, more reliable sourcing and production lines. Sticking with a known company, that has thoroughly researched their products is a better choice than the 50 pop up companies with claims they can’t back up. We recommend Purina Pro Plan and Hills Science Diet.
Our own dogs do best with Purina Pro Plan Performance 30/20 – chicken – a nutrient dense food wherein the dog gets maximum nutrition per bite. Because German Shepherds are a dog who can suffer life threatening bloat (stomach torsion), feeding a nutrient dense food can help prevent the condition.
Raw foods: Managing a completely raw diet is challenging. Much has been written already. If this is something you prefer to do for your dog, research, research, research. The same considerations need to be factored, nutritional needs of the dog, sourcing and production. We recommend if you choose a raw diet, be the one choosing the ingredients, opposed to having a company who is producing a ready to feed, ground up product. See, smell, feel the ingredients. Know your sources.
We have done a combination of raw and dry. Our raw is never fed in conjunction with commercial dry food. If we’re giving raw, it’s on an empty stomach and given a chance to fully process before giving a meal of dry. The dog fasts before and after the raw feeding. Dry dog food is digested at a slower rate compared to raw food, and can create an environment for bacterial overgrowth.
Large Breed dog foods: We never recommend them. One would think “large breed” would mean more nutrition, the opposite is true. Large breed puppy foods have LESS nutrition than regular adult dog foods. Dog food companies had the idea that if they limited calcium and phosphorus they could get dogs to develop better joints. On paper this theory has merit. In practice it actually creates more issues in development of the dog than it prevents. We recommend puppies have complete and good nutrition through puppyhood and into their adulthood.
German Shepherds are not generally a dog with a ravenous appetite. They don’t dive into their food like some breeds. If your dog wants to skip a meal, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s not well or doesn’t like his food. It more likely means he’s getting a nutritionally complete food, and isn’t craving something.
As with all things involving the health of your dog, veterinarian advice is important. Talk with your vet about your dog’s diet.
Additional information about “grain-free”, “boutique”, “designer dog foods”: Besides having flax, legumes, potatoes and sweet potatoes are also ingredients to be wary. Please review this FDA announcement and discuss your dog’s diet with your vet.
FDA Warnings about Grain-Free Dog Foods
Newest information about grain-free diets:
Tufts Update about Grain Free Dog Foods
“…not all pet food manufacturers have the same level of nutritional expertise and quality control, and this variability could introduce potential issues with some products.”
“…stick with a commercial pet food made by a well-established manufacturer that contains common ingredients, including grains.”
“The FDA and many researchers are actively studying this issue so that it can be solved as quickly as possible.”
“Trying to decide what is really the best food is confusing and difficult because of the many different products available, nutrition fads, and compelling marketing.”
We feed and recommend Purina Pro Plan Performance 30/20 – chicken.