Author Topic: How to pick a food and food change problem  (Read 1570 times)

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Offline Moonsong

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How to pick a food and food change problem
« on: February 17, 2017, 12:38:27 PM »
My parents are not excellent dog stewards. They take care of the dogs, give them what they need, make sure they're healthy, love them, take them to the vet, etc, but don't go out of their way to make sure that they are doing the absolute best that they can. I have been working on changing this. The specific issue of dog food came up when yesterday my dad bought a new bag when we had nearly run out of our current dog food and he went and bought the weight loss kind from Beneful. As soon as I saw the food, I asked him what he got and I told him that 1. We did NOT need weight loss food since our dogs are really healthy and 2. You should NEVER switch a dog's food immediately, you should do it gradually. He was telling me how our bichon-shih tzu needs to lose weight (he's 16 pounds or so), because he feels heavy when we pick him up. But Jack isn't overweight; he's just really dense because he's got a stocky body on short little legs. Even if he were on the heavier side, he does NOT need a special weight loss food, and our oldest dog Oliver could actually probably use to put on some weight (he's not underweight, but somewhat skinny). I had had them on the Beneful active life, but I had picked out that food before I knew how to pick out food. They did okay on it, and I'm not sure if we need to change it to another brand, but I wanted to check anyways and see if we can offer them anything better.

So I have read some threads about how to go about looking for what's good; look at the feeding trials, look for real meat as one of the first five ingredients, etc. But there are just so many brands! Where do I start? Would anybody be able to kind of give me a step-by-step list of how you go about looking for food (I understand things best when they're written that way)? Is there a *reliable* website where you can search based on price/quality (I know that those websites exist, but don't know if any of them are any good)*? I'm just so lost as to how to start.

Also, what should I do about my dogs having the wrong food now? They've barely touched it, and my dad already filled the food bin with it, so I can't access what little of the old kind is left in there. Should I buy their normal food and toss this stuff? Are they going to be okay with their food suddenly switched like this? I'm just not sure what to do about this.


*If I used such a website I would only be using it to find brands/individual lines of food to look into. From there I would still do my own research.
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Offline Cocoajensen

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Re: How to pick a food and food change problem
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2017, 12:52:37 PM »
I'm going to get mocked for this, but I like dogfoodadvisor.com  No, it's not a perfect website, but it is a good way to easily compare ingredients about foods & get a basic education on what might be problematic.  When I'm fostering dogs, I tell adopters to check out the website & pick the highest rated food that they can afford - many 4 & 5 star foods on their site are very affordable. 

Your dogs are probably going to be okay with the food your father bought, if they'll eat it - if they won't eat it, many foster-based rescues can still use an open bag of food, so you could consider donating whatever's left.  If they're eating it, I wouldn't worry too much about one bag, just make a switch as they get to the end of this one.  Some stores will also allow you to return an open bag of food if the dog won't eat it, if you still have the bag & receipt. 

Offline mommagrizzly

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Re: How to pick a food and food change problem
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2017, 04:42:04 PM »
Do you have any feed stores (not like a chain pet store an actual feed store)? They are usually very knowledgeable at feed stores. They can tell you the best foods in your price range. That is how I found my dogs food. I went and asked them. Got prices and bag size and went home, researched the heck out of it, and went back and bought the one I liked best. You can also call them instead of going in person. I just preferred to go in person so I could see and take pics of the bags and write stuff down, but I have some memory problems so that was just easier for me.
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Offline Summertime.and.Azkaban

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Re: How to pick a food and food change problem
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2017, 05:32:30 PM »
I never slowly transition my dog's food. It's always just one food then another. We also don't stick to one brand for too long, we've recently found a brand that works for us price-wise and we buy it in "bulk", 40lbs lasts us two weeks with three medium sized dogs, so we'll stick with that brand and switch up the recipes and proteins.

This is purely anecdotal but in my expierence dogs that eat a wide variety of foods and are used to changes in formula are less likely to get the runs if they eat something they're not supposed to. It might just be that my dogs all have iron stomachs but I can feed them just about anything with no ill effects aside from gas and hair loss if Az gets corn. Not even roadkill, pizza crusts, ham rinds or fish cuttings can upset their tummies.

It makes me feel better to know that if there's an emergency or natural disaster and I have to take my dogs to a shelter and leave our food behind they can eat whatever we have access to and their stomachs won't suffer because of it.

Your dogs will be fine on the weight loss formula for now. The weight loss formula is made with higher protein, lower fat, and higher fiber. It's not necessarily bad but I does contain soy bean hulls which is a filler to make them feel filler while eating less food. They'll eat enough calories to sustain their weight if allowed to free feed, so I doubt they lose any weight, they'll just eat more food.

I use dog food advisor to determine which foods have better ingredients and which ones I'd like to look into more. From there I read reviews, read feeding trials and compare cost. It can be a useful tool in comparing food ingredients but a five star food will not always be better than a four star food.
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Offline Ariel

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Re: How to pick a food and food change problem
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2017, 10:21:07 PM »
I just cold turkey switched Mochi and Rocko's food. We reached the end of the bag and I wanted a lower calorie food so both could get more food for the same calories. No issues. Jubi I have to go very slowly on a food change, over at least 10 days. There certainly is no hard and fast it must be done gradually. The only reason to do that is to avoid upset stomach, but if your dogs have iron guts it is no big deal to do a next day switch.

Are you looking for a food for all three dogs? I'd say an all life stages kibble. Be sure to check the calories and don't feed strictly according to the bag, but rather by body condition. Rocko would be a blimp if I fed him the 1 1/4 cups suggested for his weight. On that food he only got about 3/4c to maintain his weight. That really wasn't a lot of food, so his new food he'll now be able to have 1 1/3 cups and I can add green beans still to make him feel fuller. So keep portion size in mind also. If it's too high calorie it won't be very much food, though I highly doubt that's going to be an issue for small dogs, but for larger dogs it can be. They will feel hungry even if they are nutritionally satisfied. Conversely, too low calories and you'll end up having to feed a ton of food and end up with more poop because more filler, dog processes less.
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Offline Kirsten

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Re: How to pick a food and food change problem
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2017, 12:17:10 AM »
I haven't ever mocked someone for recommending dogfood advisor, but I have pointed out that it's not based on scientific fact and not accurate.  Because that is the case.  A dentist is not qualified to give canine nutrition advice.  There's a lot to look at on the internet but if you want to know the value of each offering, look first at the credentials of the person authoring the articles.

THE authority for canine nutrition is going to be a veterinary nutritionist.  Dogfoodadvisor doesn't have a veterinary nutritionist on staff.  They don't do feeding trials and don't report feeding trials in their analysis of dog foods.  All they do is look at the ingredients label, which doesn't tell you anything about the bioavailability of nutrients in the food.

If you want a basic, simple answer, not for the best of the best foods out there, but for something pretty reliable with several different price points, look at Purina (which is readily available about anywhere).  Their low end product is "Dog Chow," which I do not recommend.  I would not go lower than "Purina One."  I personally feed Purina ProPlan.  I'm willing to feed Fromm and Taste of the Wild, both of which are also readily available in my area.  There are other, more expensive brands available locally that I cannot afford which might or might not be better.  I haven't done any research on them.

I can tell you that Purina products tend to be highly palatable so most dogs will eat it.  I can tell you Purina foods are formulated by veterinary nutritionists and tested both in the lab and with feeding trials.  I can tell you that for 17 years my dogs have thrived on ProPlan and Cole's breeder has fed it for decades with good results.  It is palatable and highly digestible.  Is it the best dog food on the planet?  No.  But it's pretty good.  I can also advise you to avoid formulas with "shreds" as these are filler meant to make overweight dogs fee full while feeding them less actual food.  The typical pet dog is overweight so I guess it makes sense to make a weight control formula your main offering.  They also have offerings for sport dogs and veterinary diets for prescription use.  They seem to have fewer recalls than many other brands.  I'm also willing to feed Eukanuba and Iams, which are also readily available.

Meat should be the first ingredient. 

"Ask the Veterinary Nutritionist"
You stated many times (and I agree) that an ingredient deck can not be used to evaluate the supposed quality of a pet food. My question is would you be willing to give a detailed explanation as to why this can not be done.
The only detail needed is that the ingredient description (AAFCO 2016 pg 210) for any one of the terms in the ingredient list is too vague to be certain of the nutritional value for 2 reasons:

1. The "terms" used in the ingredient list although ‘defined’ are of little to no value to anyone. They are defined for the player in the industry – not veterinarians, nutritionists or pet owners.

Example of the nasty terms rating web sites like to pick on: "by-products" (vegetable or animal type).

First, the definition of any “by-product" is simply the second product resulting after some processing of the primary intended product. If corn meal is the primary intended product, then the oil removed is a by-product and vice versa. It means nothing more than that.

Organ meats (kidney, livers, etc) are by-products of animal processing because the muscle meat was the first intended product. A pet food manufacturer could list "meat by-products" if the ingredient came as a mix of organ meats, or they could list the organs individually (liver, kidney, hearts, etc) on the label.

AAFCO definitions (paraphrased):  rendered = cooked; non rendered = raw

‘Meat’: the clean flesh derived from the slaughtered mammals and limited to skeletal muscle, tongue diaphragm, heart, or esophagus with fat, skin, sinew, nerve and blood vessels. AAFCO 2016 pg 375.

‘Meat by-products’: non-rendered clean parts other than meat derived from the slaughtered mammals. May include lungs, spleen, kidney brain, liver, blood, stomach or intestines (excluding the contents of the stomach or intestine). This definitions goes on to specifically exclude hair, horns, teeth and hoof. AAFCO 2016 pg 375.

Now people think they know what ‘meat’ is and do not think twice about eating it themselves when served up in a restaurant but do not realize that in pet food term ‘meat’ includes tongue, esophagus etc and probably would think twice before they themselves eat a hamburger made of what AAFCO has defined as ‘meat’ although still nutritious.

The term ‘meat’ is for mammals so there are similar definitions for ‘poultry’. Another definition that people are unaware of is that “meat” can only be from beef, pig, lamb or goat. So there is no room for the exaggerated claim about horses, zoo, birds, wildlife, or game animals, etc in the meat definition.  No dogs or cats either - The FDA developed a canine and feline DNA test and then tested pet foods and found no evidence of dog or cat DNA in any pet food products. So

‘Meat and bone meal’ is a cooked product of mammals that includes bone but cannot include blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide, manure, stomach contents or added extraneous materials (such as what some have claimed, i.e., floor sweepings or saw dust). AAFCO 2016 pg 377.

‘Meal’ is simply the ground product after the water has been removed by cooking. Water has no nutrient value, expensive to ship and can always be added back. So those who are anti-meal are simply not thinking.

There are additional calcium and phosphorous content specification on this particular ingredient so the pet food manufacturer using this ingredient can gage the amount of bone included. Some want high bone content to help with the final calcium and phosphorous content of their pet food, some do not because the calcium and phosphorous is coming from a different ingredient. There is no right or wrong here … it depends on pet food formulation desired and the other ingredients being used such that the FINAL nutrient profile meets AAFCO nutrient recommendations.

And here is what’s worth talking about and what does separate the good from the ugly……..

It is entirely the responsibility of the manufacturer to test each ingredient for nutrient value and a list of known contaminants before accepting and using that ingredient in their pet food product.  The better manufacturers have very specific contracts with ingredient vendors which outlines the nutrient profile, and double check the ingredient nutrient profile in their own labs before using that ingredient. So when I see specific pet food manufacturers on the FDA recall list repeatedly for things that should have been discovered at the point plant delivery and before incorporation into their product ( such as aflatoxin or most recently …. pentobarbital) speak volumes to me about their quality control (QC).

Ingredient lists are virtually meaningless in evaluating a pet food but the reason why certain manufacturers come up on the FDA Pet Food Recall list speaks loudly about QC. The nutrient profile of an INDIVIDUAL ingredient is worthless to the pet owner and nutritionist because the nutrient profile of FINAL pet product is controlled, stated on the label and usually available upon request.

 

2. If not defined specifically, then a common or usual name can be used. AAFCO 2016 pg 210.

Many pet food manufacturer are using this 2nd 'escape' clause to attract pet owner as when they list individual fruits, e.g. apples. No doubt a common name and we all think we know what an apple is but there is NO way to known what parts of the ‘apple’ was used in the pet food: whole, skins, core, pomace, stems, pieces a by-product of making apple pies, etc are actually used in the food. Yes manufactures may have a picture of a wholesome looking shiny red apple on their website but there is no way to know if that accurately represents the ingredient used in the product – not without going to the plant to see for yourself.

If the definitions were tight with specific nutrient profiles we would all be happier but that is simply not plausible. The people rating pet foods based on the label simply are ‘rendering’ opinions without a full education on the subject – dangerous but allowable somehow on the web. Majority of those self-anointed pet food gurus have never been in any manufacturing plant, never worked for a manufacturer or been an ingredient vendor to know firsthand of what they speak. Then most website simply copy the rhetoric on another. So now we a whole slew of website repeating the same bunk in a never ending circle - absent of any reality check or first hand knowledge.  Then pet owners visit these multiple “cut and paste made” web sites thinking they are all separate independent first-hand knowing web sites, and then the pet owner thinks they themselves have done “research” on the topic of pet foods – having read not one primary source of information. The whole thing is a house of cards…..

Very few people are given pet food manufacturing tours, veterinary nutritionist are among that select group (myself included), and notice how those individuals do not ‘rate’ pet foods. In fact most will tell you, the ingredient list is of very limited value to them in making pet food recommendations.   Why?

Because in the end, any one ingredient, no matter how defined, does vary widely in nutrient content. The definitions are much too vague to "rate" any one ingredient and so no one can rate the entire ingredient list and say that it represents the entire pet food product.  IF the information in the building blocks is vague and lacks detail, how can that poor quality information suddenly become a fine tuned instrument for “rating” the whole pet food product? It can’t and truth is it was NEVER intended by AAFCO that the ingredient list could be used to ‘rate’ pet foods. It is a very poor tool. The whole rating game online and in pet journals has no true value to the individual pet owner trying to do best by their dog or cat.
(my emphasis)

Choosing a pet food (ACVN article):  http://www.acvn.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/AAHA-Nutritional-Assessment-Guidelines.pdf

"Beware the Nutrition 'Specialist'"  http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/cat/jcoates/2013/july/beware-the-pet-nutrition-specialist-30563

======

Do you need to chuck the current food?  No.  One bag of food won't hurt them unless they are allergic to it or it somehow doesn't agree with them.  If they are willing to eat it and it doesn't result in diarrhea then you can go ahead and feed it.  Even if it doesn't perfectly meet their nutritional needs, eating it short term shouldn't do any harm.

It is preferable to make a gradual change to a new food but in all honesty I've made sudden changes in my dogs' food due to poor planning and it hasn't made anyone sick.  That's going to depend on your dog.  Some dogs have more delicate digestive systems than others.  Cole was one with a somewhat delicate digestive system.  My current two have nearly cast iron gullets.  They just don't get digestive upsets (diarrhea) from food changes.  Even if they do have a digestive upset 1-2 days of diarrhea will not do significant harm to an otherwise healthy adult dog in the prime of life so long as you make sure the dog does not get dehydrated.

Some dogs will have a digestive upset with a sudden change in diet, but not all.  Some dogs are allergic to corn, but not all.  Does it make sense to choose your dog food based on what are issues for some dogs, or for what are issues for your dogs specifically?  I mean I listened to a bunch of people preaching about the evils of corn in dog food but that's not what Cole was allergic to.  He was allergic to chicken, which it turns out is a pretty common allergy in dogs.  It's also a super common ingredient in dog food.

So if your dogs are willing to eat this food and they're not having horrendous diarrhea, I suggest you go ahead and feed the bag and start mixing in whatever food you want to feed them from now on.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2017, 12:19:43 AM by Kirsten »
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Offline Azariah

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Re: How to pick a food and food change problem
« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2017, 12:30:18 AM »
Serenity came to me with fromms and taste Of the wild. I would be ok with those two.

I feed serenity and Cosmo earthborn holoistic.

I feed Rio a senior lower calorie food that actually has some decent nutrition. Only food she has lost the weight she needed on and I tested a lot. I cant remember the name but could look it up if someone needed. She only gets a cup of food a day plus treats.

I may have to look at other brands for cost down the road.
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Offline EmmaH

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Re: How to pick a food and food change problem
« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2017, 01:11:21 AM »
Luca eats Orijen 6 fish. He's got a weird digestive system. I tried to put him on Purina's sensitive recipe, but it affected his fur. Ive tried many different brands. He just seems to react to a lot. It's easier to just keep him on one food, even though it costs more than I like.

Puppy came home on Pro Plan puppy, which was great. He loved it, and it was very affordable. I've just switched him to Fromm though, because the hippy pet store I get Luca's food doesn't sell Purina. It's easier to just get it all in one place.

I like pro plan a lot, if Luca could eat it, I'd definitely use it for both of them.

Offline Ariel

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Re: How to pick a food and food change problem
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2017, 02:28:42 AM »
Jubilee is on Evo Chicken and Turkey, it's got quite high protein and fat percentages and it's the only food I've had her on that she's maintained weight and bulked muscle. So hard to keep weight on an adolescent Pointer. Mochi and Rocko did very well on Open Farm, also Chicken and Turkey. That one Jubi couldn't eat enough of and not get sick to still keep up a good weight. Open Farm was super expensive but one bag lasted me two months for my little guys. Mochi is 11 lbs, Rocko is about 25-26. The two of them combined only ate 1 1/4 cups daily.

My biggest problem with the Open Farm was while it wasn't calorie laden enough for Jubi, Rocko only needs marginally more food than Mochi to maintain a healthy weight. Even with green beans added, he wasn't filling up enough and started eating poop from the backyard. I only just got a bag of Wellness CORE Turkey and Chicken Weight Management formula to try on them. It's lower calorie so although Mochi and Rocko switch just fine, I found probably about 4-5 lbs of the Open Farm in a little dog food vault, so I'm half-halfing until that's gone.

With the lesser calories Mochi will go from 1/2c to 3/4c daily, and Rocko will go from 3/4c to 1 1/4c daily, which he'll be very pleased about getting the 1/2c increase from his previous allotment on Open Farm, which was 3/4c. With green beans and the food floated he wasn't finished several minutes before the girls, he finished right on time with them. I don't actually know why I started typing out an excessively long post on dog food choices and how much I give, but maybe it'll be helpful to someone?
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Offline Sheenar

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Re: How to pick a food and food change problem
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2017, 07:42:51 AM »
Zeus eats Farmina Naturals limited grain lamb formula dry dog food. He does have some food allergies and has done very well on this food.

His program had him on Nature's Variety Instinct limited ingredient lamb, but that was too pricey for me to be able to afford. I tried Taste of the Wild lamb, but he was still reacting to *something* (his breeder thought maybe the potatoes).

Then tried a fish-based food (forgot the brand) that gave Zeus death farts (that was pretty awful).

His breeder recommended the Farmina Naturals limited grain lamb formula. Grains are not automatically evil/bad for dogs. It just depends on what the individual dog reacts to, if anything. Zeus is doing very, very well on this food and has been eating it for over a year now. He's maintaining good weight and muscle (not too much weight, either, is at a good weight for his size). I get comments all the time on how shiny his coat is. One 26 lb bag costs $60, but lasts a month. A bit higher in price than what I fed my last dogs, but doable by budgeting.

I use Chewy.com to buy his food (and cat food, supplies for the animals, etc.) since I have trouble physically getting to a store (and how on earth I would get almost 30 lbs of food upstairs, I don't know. XP). It's handy to have food delivered to me and the driver sets it inside my door. So ordering online (there are many places) is a good option for people who have trouble getting to a store or who cannot easily find a specific food near them.

How a dog does on a food is more indicative than its ingredient lists of its nutritional availability/suitability for that individual dog. 
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Offline Ariel

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Re: How to pick a food and food change problem
« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2017, 09:01:54 AM »
How a dog does on a food is more indicative than its ingredient lists of its nutritional availability/suitability for that individual dog.

If there were only one thing to be grasped so far from this post, Sheena has so succinctly stated it.
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Offline mommagrizzly

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Re: How to pick a food and food change problem
« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2017, 12:41:00 PM »
Bailey eats Fromm. We went through A LOT of different foods before finding one she did well on.
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Offline Azariah

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Re: How to pick a food and food change problem
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2017, 03:53:39 PM »
Wellness Complete Health Senior Deboned Chicken

I looked up Rio's as it was annoying me I couldn't remember. We tried EVERYTHING to get her weight down a few years back and she just kept gaining weight. This is the first food she lost weight on and the ingredients seem decent to me. She's down to 1/2 a cup twice a day so we really couldn't cut the amount any farther back.

https://www.chewy.com/wellness-complete-health-senior/dp/34366

First handful of ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Oatmeal, Ground Barley, Ground Brown Rice, Peas, Rice, Ground Flaxseed, Tomato Pomace, Chicken Fat,
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Offline Azariah

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Re: How to pick a food and food change problem
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2017, 03:56:49 PM »
BTW - I usually mix food as I switch it assuming I don't need to do it suddenly.

But if the dogs aren't "fans" of their existing food (I couldn't tell from your post) you could always use it over time to fill kongs with and mix with peanut butter. We use kibble a lot for that.

And mixing with new tastier food might make them happier to eat it. If that is a problem.

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Offline swimmergirl247

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Re: How to pick a food and food change problem
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2017, 06:51:22 PM »
I feed Abby IAMS and she did geddy was much more trail and error. he's gone though about 5 different foods before I found what works best of him. he can eat Nutro lamb and brown rice but doesn't "like it' so I have to add a tiny bit of brauth to get him to eat it. what we finally settled on is Natures Miracle chicken and sweet potato. do I wish it was cheaper? yes but it last Tddy about 2 months because the better the food the less they eat.

currently my mom baught the wrong food (the nutro) so I'm trying to finish it and get Teddy back to the food he liked and took well.

I also agree chewy is the best place to get food and treats.
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