Puppy diet and nutrition
We don't feel there is one right way to feed a dog. There are multiple factors, including the individual dog and your lifestyle. For some, kibble is the only option due to the convenience factor. For others, pleasure is found in taking the time to research and prepare wholesome, whole raw food meals for their dog.
Please click here for more information on deceptive (but legal!) dog food labeling practices.
For many years we have started our puppies on raw food diets for optimal health and growth and have found PawTree food to be comparable in terms of quality and results while being more convenient and more economical than raw feeding.
PawTree food is made in the United States and is made with real meat or fish as the first ingredient. It has no artificial colors, preservatives, poultry by-products, corn, wheat, or soy. Don't be fooled by cheaper dogs foods: Because PawTree is a quality food, dogs don't eat as much and have less waste to clean up. A good quality food like PawTree ends up being more economical than cheaper foods because you feed less and give your dog better health, which translates to fewer vet bills.
PawTree food is a premium food with a premium price. We feel it's worth the price to feed the best to our dogs and puppies. We also find value in the food. Because it's such a high-quality food, we end up feeding about 30 percent less than we do with other foods. We are amazed at how much better our puppies do on PawTree food. On the other end of things, there's less poop and much less smell to the poop there is. Plus, we feel that high-quality dog food pays off in the long run in terms of fewer health problems later in life.
DOG FOOD RECALLS
One of important reasons we have selected and recommend PawTree is that the company has NEVER had a recall. Looking at "premium" commercial dog foods, such as Blue Buffalo or Merrick or Purina, you will see a history of frightening recalls. Other companies have histories of fraudulent practices related to ingredient quality or sourcing as shown here, here, here, here, and here.
Many dog food companies do not show as having recalls, but it's important to note that the dog food industry is huge, and as such, has gone the way of other thriving industries with larger companies constantly subsuming smaller ones. So, for example, a company like Sojos (which until recently was an independently owned small business) was recently purchased by WellPet, which is owned by the multinational coal mining company Berwind Corporation. We prefer not to feed food that is ultimately controlled by the mining industry. We want food produced by a company whose only focus is the health of our pets.
As pet parents ourselves, we feel happy and safe feeding PawTree and have become a representative so that we are able to provide to our customers the same food their puppy was weaned to.
The picture below shows the equivalent nutrition of other brands compared to Pawtree.
This graphic represents just how much wasted fillers and junk is in some other dog foods, versus the savings from all of the dense nutritional value with PawTree. PawTree uses no fillers or by-products.
Because PawTree is a more nutritionally dense food with no fillers, you need to feed less. If you overfeed you may see gastric disturbances (gas, loose stool) or your dog may gain weight. Start with feeding 25-30 percent less PawTree than your previous food.
PAW TREE COST
Some people look at the cost of a bag of PawTree food and think it appears high priced, but a closer look proves otherwise. First, when you go to the website, the regular size price shows up, but if you select the XL bag, then you save almost 30 percent. We have found that we feed 25-50 percent less of PawTree than other kibbles, so there's additional savings there.
As an example, we fed our large medium/small standard dogs 4 cups of other kibbles per day. They are eating 2-2.5 cups of PawTree and maintaining their weight and condition beautifully, and are very satisfied on that amount since it's nutritious, quality food and not empty fillers and empty calories. PawTree food costs less than 50 cents per cup. So for this example, we are spending less than a dollar a day for top-quality food.
If you'd like to do your own math, there are about 44 cups in a Regular size bag, 88 cups in a Large bag, and 132 cups in an Extra Large bag. At 1 cup a day, an Extra Large bag will last over 3 months. ($107.99/132 cups = $0.82/cup)
Most of our puppies go home eating 1/4-3/4 cup of food per day, depending on their size; the daily cost for that is about 21 to 62 cents per day.
Dog food rotation
We cycle the food of our dogs. It provides them with variety, which is important not just for appetite, but for health. Like with humans, a varied diet is healthy for dogs. It keeps them interested in their food. It enhances the diversity of their microbiome. It reduces the risk of allergies and food intolerances, as well as helping avoid potential issues, such as the nutritionally associated dilated cardiomyopathy that has been in the pet health news recently.
Food rotation can be done on any schedule, from daily to quarterly (every few months), depending on your lifestyle.
Depending on your dog's individual digestive system and the robustness of their microbiome, the only consideration is to avoid digestive upset in food changes.
You can read more about food rotation here and here.
ROTATE WITH CARE
We rotate food on an almost daily basis. Because of that, our dogs have a robust digestion and don't get tummy upsets from food changes. When you start rotating food, you need to change over slowly; start by changing over the course of a week. (Our puppy families can see our My Puppy book for details on how to do this.) If your dog experiences gas or loos stool, you are likely changing too quickly.
Not all dogs can tolerate food rotation. If you are one of our puppy families, please refer to your My Puppy book or contact us for assistance. Consultations such as this are part of your Lifetime Breeder Support, so please reach out if you need us.
DOG FOOD ROTATION ALTERNATIVE
Not all dogs can tolerate food rotation and not all families want to deal with rotating food. We understand—It can be confusing and time consuming. As an alternative, you can add a variety of superfood seasoning topper, such as PawTree Seasonings.
We find these seasonings are a great substitution for food rotation. They are our first recommendation for any picky eater, add nutrition, boost your pet's immune system, and are suitable for both dogs and cats, so all of your furry friends can share. Like other PawTree foods, they are made in the USA.
We used to recommend Dog Food Advisor to families to help select foods, but we no longer consider their ratings and information reliable. Recently we have discovered that they don't take into account factors we deem critical when evaluating food quality. This means that a food that is made in China and has had 6 recalls can get a 4.5 or 5 star rating, which we find absolutely unacceptable. Additionally, when they rate a food, they don't actually rate every recipe, they rate a single recipe in a food line, which does not tell you anything about other recipes in the same product line.
Why We No Longer Recommend Foods You Can Purchase at Big-Box Stores
We have become increasingly disappointed with foods that are readily available through large distraction channels, such as the big-name pet suppliers or Amazon or Chewy.
Dog food manufacturers often start off with great recipes and quality ingredients. However, once they start to do well and become available through the larger retailers, those retailers start pressuring them to significantly reduce their wholesale prices and the dog food companies more often than not end up using inferior ingredients or sources or changing their recipes (there's no requirement for them to report any of this, including up to a 15% change in formulation).
Because of its growing market power, Amazon has immense leverage over its suppliers.
One supplier, who declined to be identified due to privacy concerns, said Amazon reviews its contract every year and plays hardball tactics to put pricing pressure on its deal. Some of the concessions include forcing the supplier to take on more of the freight cost between warehouses, or to buy more ads on Amazon, in return for remaining a major wholesale partner.
"It's just a never-ending ask on every line item," this person said. "Every year they try to get more, so we fight with them every year not to give it up."
Because of the lack of transparency and the corresponding loss of quality (often without notice), we are much more comfortable working with direct sellers for our consumable pet products and recommend products from direct sellers whenever possible. We may sometimes receive a small commission or referral fee from these sales, and we use those fees to help cover the time we spend researching and recommending products to families like yours. Your puppy and our reputation are our primary priorities and we base selections of products recommend entirely on product quality.
What Food to Purchase for Your New Puppy
New puppy parents should purchase a bag of PawTree Chicken and Sweet Potato dog food before your puppy arrives home. We recommend one of the the Puppy Starter Kits to get you off on the right foot.