Tuesday, November 6, 2012


When I first adopted Kaya it had been about 10 years since I last owned a dog and I knew nothing about changes that had been made in doggy nutrition. I hadn't heard of grain-free, food allergies, bad fillers, limited ingredient or raw diets. Actually, I was walking the aisles Target, when I noticed that their name-brand food was only about $20 for 44-pounds and it dawned on me that I actually could afford a dog! Of course, once I got her home and did hours and hours of research on dog food, I knew I would never actually purchase a bag of Target dog food. And now her food costs almost 8 times that much...so much for that plan!

I could only find an image of the cat food, but you get the picture.

Kaya started out eating Halo puppy food because that's what she ate at the shelter and they gave me a coupon for a free small bag. She loved the food, but I wanted to switch her to something healthier than the Target food, but cheaper than Halo. I tried her on Diamond Naturals, but it really upset her stomach and my poor puppy got the runs:(

Kaya was pretty ribby as a puppy.

Too expensive / Upset tummy:(

Next up was Wellness: Just for Puppy. She liked it for a few weeks and then decided she was no longer a fan of the taste and started her extremely picky eating habits. On top of that, she had the super-itchies so I started her on Salmon Oil and decided to try a grain-free food. Finally, I discovered she liked Taste of the Wild, but she was still very itchy. Once I switched her from the poultry to the fish formula her itching finally cleared up!

Kaya was always more inclined to eat when Marty was there.

Yucky taste / Allergies

A few months later, she once again lost interest in this food and I tried many things to get her to eat it. I tried adding chicken stock, yogurt, canned dog food, crumbled up liver treats and canned pumpkin. Some things worked for a day or 2, but ultimately she didn't care. She would sometimes go for days with barely eating a thing and experts would say, when a dog's hungry, she'll eat. But guess what...I don't give a shit! I want my poor puppy to like her meals and eat them! I fed her no table scraps and minimal treats for training. I'd also exercise her before feeding and remove her food if she didn't eat it right away...plus, then the cat would eat it:(

Marty is still showing Kaya that her food can be yummy:)

Got bored / Liver Treats not cutting it either.

I knew I had to find a grain-free food without poultry. I tried her on Natural Balance LID, Pinnacle and Wellness Core. None were appealing to her. I was about to consider freeze-dried or raw food when an employee at the pet store recommended Nature's Variety Instinct because the food if made with tapioca, which is the most hypoallergenic starch, even better than potato which is the most common starch in grain-free dog foods. In addition, each piece of kibble is coated with a layer of freeze-dried liver which I was really hoping would cure her picky eating habits. I chose the beef & lamb formula since duck & turkey was out of the question. At $80 for a 25-pound bag, it was safe to say that my budget concerns had flown out the window:/ Luckily, she loved the food! It was awesome to see her gobble up a bowl of food after months of walking away from her dish.

Nope / Not this one either.

Nahh / Finally!

Unfortunately, the itchies came back and when I took a closer look at the ingredient list I saw that turkey was one of the ingredients in the beef & lamb formula! Once again, I switched her food to the limited ingredient lamb formula, but it was not coated in the freeze-dried liver, but freeze-dried green tea instead! Needless to say, she vetoed it. So we moved on to the salmon formula. She did not like it as much as the beef, but she ate it most of the time and so it stuck.

Green Tea WTF?!? / This will do.

Norman's story is much shorter. He a great eater and doesn't like to miss a morsel. I had a lot of leftover Taste of the Wild when Kaya stopped eating it so I gave it to him and he thought it was tasty! He too, had the itchies when I first got him, but just the grain-free food and salmon oil cleared that up. Weirdly, after several months, he stopped liking that food also. So I switched him to Kaya's food, but it must have been too rich for him and he got the runs:( So I tried him on Pinnacle salmon flavor and it did the trick!

First meal I ever gave Norman...he didn't even bother to stand up!

Everyone tires of Taste of the Wild / Yum!

He's a pudge-ball compared to Kaya.

When Shaka showed up, I tried her on Norman's food, but she didn't like it very much and I wanted to see if she would like something less expensive than Kaya's food, but still healthy so I got her Blue Wilderness salmon flavor which she liked a lot and her coat quickly changed from dry and dull to shiny and soft! Kaya actually seemed really interested in it and even though it's salmon flavored it does have chicken in it. But I mixed some in with her food anyways and she loved it and so far the itchies have not come back. Maybe she outgrew her poultry allergies!

There's a new kitty in town & she likes dog food too...much to Norman's dismay.

Shaka's pick / We love salmon oil!

I have recently tried Kaya on the Nature's Variety Instinct Raw Boost venison & lamb because it looked so darn healthy and she likes it a lot. But in a strange twist of events, Kaya has turned into a great eater of any brand which I discovered when I stayed in Tahoe for too long and ran out of her food. She ended up eating Norman's Pinnacle, then Zoey's Nutro and then Natural Balance since stores there don't sell their brands. Also, her poultry allergies seem to have disappeared altogether! I'm now transitioning Kaya to Pinnacle so both dogs will be on the same food. I have also added liquid glucosamine to their food and they love it!

It's time to eat, lady.

Healthy stuff:)

It's funny, when Kaya was a puppy I started right away teaching her to sit and wait until I gave her the cue to eat her food. But once she became so picky and I watched her ignore bowl after bowl of food, I now look forward to every mealtime when I see her "let's eat happy dance." I'm sure I would consider it rude and obnoxious if she never had such eating issues, but now it's a welcome sign of excitement. And as for Norman, I started him on the same sit and wait routine, but he took it so seriously, I had to use a ridiculous amount of encouragement to get him to go ahead and eat it. So we threw that rule out the window.

It's been a real learning curve, but I'm happy that my dogs are healthy and not eating Target brand kibbles. I've often considered them switching them to a raw diet, but for now, things are working out just fine!

What does everyone else feed their dogs and why? I'm always curious!


  1. Wow!! That's a lot of different foods that your dogs have gotten to test! We started Athena out on Blue Buffalo Wilderness (salmon) and she really liked it. Her itches and flaky skin went away and she was left with beautiful shiny and soft fur.

    However, we recently switched to Natural Balance LID (fish) as a way to cut down on the amount of protein. Athena doesn't like it as much, and she seems to be more itchy than she used to. We plan to keep her on it for a while longer to see if her symptoms clear up.

    1. I remember reading your post about Athena's protein intake, that was so interesting! I would actually highly recommend the Taste of the Wild, I would still feed it to my dogs didn't get sick of it(who knows, maybe they would like it now? But NO, I'm not switching back, lol) but it has great ingredients at a good price, 25% protein in the fish kind, was good on the allergies too. I feed TOTW to my kitties and they have beautiful furs:)

  2. Two of my 3 dogs have no issues with allergies or pickiness so I rotate feed with them. They've eaten almost every brand I carry in my store! I usually top with home-cooked, dehydrated or raw food to add fresh ingredients and nutrition to their kibble. They love Honest Kitchen the most!

    Maggie is my problem child. She has to have no grains but can't have high protein foods or raw, as both those options make her incontinence worse. So she gets a moderate protein Limited Ingredient grain-free food and lots of fresh ingredients as toppers. They love their tripe days...and their Honest Kitchen days...and their scrambled egg days.

    So glad you found the food that works best for your pack. It takes a while sometimes to find that perfect fit!

    1. Lucky dogs! My dogs would be over the moon if I fed them raw, I might do it when they're older. I bet they would like Honest Kitchen too:)

  3. What a great post! I actually just thought of writing a similar one for Ru's diet. Right now, he gets a mixture of Honest Kitchen and Acana (we switch up his proteins, but stay away from chicken/fowl). We also use fish oil, a bioenzyme powder as well as glucoasmine formula. It's quite an ordeal, haha. He gets a raw bone once a week in replacement of a meal and loves the heck out of it!

    1. Do it! I love posts about dog food and supplies, I am such a dog nerd lol:D What is bioenzyme powder for? My dogs love raw bones too. I once got 10 elk femurs from a hunter. It was too bad I didn't have the freezer space for them:(

  4. I get some Wellness large breed kibble, which I have to work for all day long (mom uses this as treats). And if I have extra she hides it around the house or I get to knock it out of my Wobbler.

    Then I get Kongs stuffed with some canned Wellness, yogurt, pumpkin or sweet potato or butternut squash puree, salmon oil, some Stella & Chewy's freeze dried patties, and some fresh fruits and veggies (carrots, apples, bananas, string beans, broccoli...). My mom puts those in the freezer so they take me a pretty long time to eat.

    And then I get raw meaty bones once or twice a week...yum!

    1. Wow Remy! All those goodies...is that why your so handsome??

    2. Aw, thanks :) My fur is a lot shinier than it was when I got to the shelter and I have a lot more muscles :)

  5. We've been though a ton of food as well and Ray isn't even a year old. We started him on Wilderness as well, but he tired of that and the Innova. Then we got him on Orijen which he liked but then after a month of it started getting diareah. We didn't realize it was the high protein of the Orijen until the poor little guy went through it for a few weeks. During that time we added probiotics and also gave him chamomile tea ice cubes. He is now eating Nutro Ultra for large breed puppies after starting Nutro Ultra for (not large breed) puppies. He is still not a gobbler and I give him 2 crumbled Stella and Chewy's duck treats on his bowl, 2 squirts of fish oil and then make a portion into a kong with plain yougurt or pumpkin. Ah, what we do for our pups!

    1. I'm glad to see that my dogs are not the only ones with special needs! I've never heard of chamomile ice cubes, sounds good:)

  6. We went through several types of food when we first got Badger because he had a "sensitive digestive system" (read: soupy poops). A few times, he's also been picky about a particular brand/flavor of food. We've settled on alternating between the lamb and venison flavors of California Natural, though I'd like to try the kangaroo one. We lucked out with Mushroom because she eats everything and has an iron stomach.