Dog Kibble: The Good, Bad, and Truly Ugly

On top of the homemade dog food my girls get each morning, they also have kibble available to them all day.  This is called free choice feeding, and is a way of letting your pet regulate their nutritional needs.  My breeder feeds her dogs this way, and this is how the puppies ate when I got them.  I like free choice feeding because when we do big hikes, or when it's cold outside, my girls eat a little more.  On the other hand, on days when we only do our usual 1 hour walk, they eat less.  They also ate a lot more during growth spurts.

Again, I am not saying that there is anything wrong with scheduled feeding.  This is what works for us.  My dogs do not have any weight problems due to free choice feeding.  The only issue I have had with this type of feeding schedule is that when they were puppies I always had a ziploc bag with kibble with me on longer outings.  I have been told at the dog park that free choice feeding is bad training, but have not found this to be the case.  My girls are well behaved, follow my instructions well, and come when called (even when there is a squirrel involved!).  What more can I ask for?

According to the scale I posted yeserday, here are some of the dog foods on the market rate:

Authority Harvest Baked / Score 116 A+
Bil-Jac Select / Score 68 F
Canidae / Score 112 A+
Chicken Soup Senior / Score 115 A+
Diamond Maintenance / Score 64 F
Diamond Lamb Meal & Rice / Score 92 B
Diamond Large Breed 60+ Formula / Score 99 A
Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance Ultra Premium / Score 122 A+
Dick Van Patten's Duck and Potato / Score 106 A+
Foundations / Score 106 A+
Hund-n-Flocken Adult Dog (lamb) by Solid Gold / Score 73 D
Iams Lamb Meal & Rice Formula Premium / Score 73 D
Innova Dog / Score 114 A+
Innova Evo / Score 114 A+
Kirkland Signature Chicken, Rice, and Vegetables / Score 110 A+
Nutrisource Lamb and Rice / Score 87 B
Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Puppy / Score 87 B
Pet Gold Adult with Lamb & Rice / Score 23 F
ProPlan Natural Turkey & Barley / Score 103 A+
Purina Beneful / Score 17 F
Purina Dog / Score 62 F
Purina Come-n-Get It / Score 16 F
Royal Canin Bulldog / Score 100 A+
Royal Canin Natural Blend Adult / Score 106 A+
Sensible Choice Chicken and Rice / Score 97 A
Science Diet Advanced Protein Senior 7+ / Score 63 F
Science Diet for Large Breed Puppies / Score 69 F
Wellness Super5 Mix Chicken / Score 110 A+
Wolfking Adult Dog (bison) by Solid Gold / Score 97 A

When compared to some of the more popular brands, I am impressed with how well the Kirkland brand kibble compares.  Especially since Kirkland Dog food is made from human grade meat that is hormone and antibiotic free. This such a great value that if you have a large dog, it in itself is worth the yearly membership costs.  It's about $23 for a 40lb bag!

The girls get this regularly, and grew up on the Kirkland puppy food.  The have had no problems digesting this food or being sensitive to it.  In combination with the homemade food, their coats are shiny and healthy.

We're currently in Canada.  But when we were in California I discovered Nature's Variety dog food.  They have two types of kibble, one without grains (Instinct) and one with grains (Prairie).  I was giving my girls Prairie, which comes in several varieties.  If your dog has a sensitivity to a particular food, you can choose varieties that do not contain it, otherwise you can alternate between the different varieties for more complete nutrition. 

I loved this dog food.  My dogs LOVED it.  Their coats were even more shiny and it even smelled good.  Their favorite was the salmon, but they enjoyed all of the varieties.  There was no adjustment period when alternating between the different varieties. 

What I love most about Nature's Variety do food is that you can look up the ingredients on their website, and then look up each ingredient  individually for an explanation about why that ingredient is beneficial to your furry friend.  Check them out at http://www.naturesvariety.com/.  And if you're in the Bay Area, you can get this dog food at Pet Food Express, where if you buy three bags of dog food, the fourth one is free!

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