Darwin’s Natural Selections (Raw Frozen)

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Rating: ★★★★★

Darwin’s Natural Selections Dog Food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.

The Darwin’s Natural Selections product line includes five raw frozen dog foods, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.

The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.

  • Darwin’s Natural Selections Beef and Vegetable
  • Darwin’s Natural Selections Duck and Vegetable
  • Darwin’s Natural Selections Bison and Vegetables
  • Darwin’s Natural Selections Turkey and Vegetable
  • Darwin’s Natural Selections Chicken and Vegetable

Darwin’s Natural Selections Duck and Vegetable recipe was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Darwin's Natural Selections Duck and Vegetable

Raw Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 46% | Fat = 27% | Carbs = 19%

Ingredients: Ground duck meat (including bone), duck gizzards, duck hearts, duck livers, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, zucchini, celery, romaine, parsley, apple cider vinegar, organic kelp meal, organic ground flax seed, sea salt, inulin (extract of chicory), zinc, copper and iron amino acid chelates, vitamin E

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.8%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis12%7%NA
Dry Matter Basis46%27%19%
Calorie Weighted Basis35%50%15%

The first ingredient in this dog food is duck. Duck is considered “the clean combination of flesh and skin… derived from the parts or whole carcasses of duck”.1

Duck is naturally rich in the ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.

In addition, this particular item is inclusive of bone, which is, of course, an excellent source of natural calcium.

The second ingredient is duck gizzard. The gizzard is a low-fat, meaty organ found in the digestive tract of birds and assists in grinding up a consumed food. This item is considered a canine dietary delicacy.

The third ingredient is duck heart. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing to us humans, heart tissue is pure muscle — all meat. It’s naturally rich in quality protein, minerals and complex B vitamins, too.

The fourth ingredient is duck liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.

The fifth ingredient is carrots. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, minerals and dietary fiber.

The sixth ingredient is sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are a gluten-free source of complex carbohydrates in a dog food. They are naturally rich in dietary fiber and beta carotene.

The seventh ingredient is squash. Squash is a nutritious addition high in complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.

From here, the list goes on to include a number of other items.

But to be realistic, ingredients located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this product.

With three notable exceptions

First, flaxseed is one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.

However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

Next, we note the inclusion of inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and typically sourced from chicory root.

Not only is inulin a natural source of soluble dietary fiber, it’s also a prebiotic used to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in a dog’s digestive tract.

And lastly, this food contains chelated minerals, minerals that have been chemically attached to protein. This makes them easier to absorb. Chelated minerals are usually found in better dog foods.

Darwin’s Natural Selections Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Since this recipe contains a number of organic ingredients, we feel compelled to grant this line a more favorable status as we consider its final rating.

That’s because organic ingredients must comply with notably more stringent government standards — standards which significantly restrict the use of any synthetic pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, hormones or antibiotics.

With that in mind…

Judging by its ingredients alone, Darwin’s Natural Selections looks like an above-average raw product.

But ingredient quality by itself cannot tell the whole story. We still need to estimate the product’s meat content before determining a final rating.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 46%, a fat level of 27% and estimated carbohydrates of about 19%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 50% and a mean fat level of 28%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 15% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 55%.

Above-average protein. Near-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical raw dog food.

Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a raw product containing an abundance of meat.

In addition, the company claims all Natural Selections products include free-range meats.

For those looking to mimic a dog’s natural ancestral diet, Darwin’s makes an excellent choice.

Bottom line?

Darwin’s Natural Selections is a meat-based raw frozen dog food using an abundant amount of various named species as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.

Enthusiastically recommended.

Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content and (when appropriate) their fat-to-protein ratios.

For even more raw diet suggestions, be sure to visit the Advisor’s Recommended Raw Dog Foods summary page.

Special Alert

Rice ingredients can sometimes contain arsenic. Until the US FDA establishes safe upper levels for arsenic content, pet owners may wish to limit the total amount of rice fed in a dog's daily diet.

A Final Word

The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.

Although it's our goal to ensure all the information on this website is correct, we cannot guarantee its completeness or its accuracy; nor can we commit to ensuring all the material is kept up-to-date on a daily basis.

Each review is offered in good faith and has been designed to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food.

However, due to the biological uniqueness of every animal, none of our ratings are intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific dietary response or health benefit for your pet.

For a better understanding of how we analyze each product, please read our article, "The Problem with Dog Food Reviews".

Remember, no dog food can possibly be appropriate for every life stage, lifestyle or health condition. So, choose wisely. And when in doubt, consult a qualified veterinary professional for help.

In closing, we do not accept money, gifts or samples from pet food companies in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of our reviews or ratings.

To learn how we support the cost of operating this website, please visit our public Disclosure and Disclaimer page.

Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

Notes and Updates

06/27/2014 Last Update

  1. Adapted by the Dog Food Advisor from the official definition for chicken published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2008 Edition
  • Nancy Calloway

    Dear Betsy – thank you yet again for straightening me out. I really appreciate it. The nicest woman from Darwin’s called tonight. She recommended DEF not to feed it with kibble. (Interesting). Said they hear a good bit from callers who say their dog is gassy on the food. Says it’s due to feeding w kibble. So she rec that I give my golden 1/2 patty in the AM, at lunch, and at supper. Sev hours later could offer kibble at bed time. Any comments from your own experience? Thank you again!

  • 4FootedFoodie

    It’s actually raw, unpasteurized goat milk. Answers also has fermented fish stock.

  • Melissaandcrew

    Lol. That comment applies to all of my dogs, various breeds.

  • Nancy Calloway

    I wrote the company yesterday for information regarding nutrients and their response was unbelievable. I understand WHY Dr. Mike appears to be done with them. Even as NEW as I am to this site their response was irresponsible, saying things like with raw meat coming from various places it is impossible to know the nutrients in each batch… I will go to the email and return with some of the outrageous responses. There is so much transparency from companies reviewed here — there is something strange going on there.

  • Nancy Calloway

    Okay – so with these ‘no dairy’ suggestions WHAT ABOUT ANSWERS FERMENTED GOAT MILK?
    My FIRST DARWINS is to arrive FRIDAY!!! I am going to give to my Golden R right away and I had thought I would add a little Answers Fermented Goat Milk to the new food as a digestion aid.
    When I spoke with Jacqailine (sp?) at Answers she is is VERY BIG on the goat milk. Very.
    Y’all: talk to me! ‘

  • Nancy Calloway

    Thank you! I ordered the book and it just arrived today. Looking forward. Shawna had told me about the D-Mannose and I bought that too. What a great site this is and what wonderful sharing wise women (and men) you all are! In Gratitude to all.

  • Nancy Calloway

    What a dog! What breed is this adaptable sweet thing? :)

  • Carol

    Never tried it. I hear dogs love it and it’s good for them but the smell is awful. I have a weak stomach.

  • Nancy Calloway

    Wondering about the TRIPE now.
    Do you use that? If so, how much and how often? With food or separate. I have NO experience EVER with tripe. Thank you!

  • Nancy Calloway

    Thank you, Carol & I think that’s Betsy. Your dogs’ needs are different and it helps to know the range for a dog this size. Thank you both so much! I feel relaxed about it.

  • Nancy Calloway

    Thank you. IT helps.

  • 4FootedFoodie

    My 74 pound Golden eats just under two pounds of Darwin’s daily.

  • Carol

    My dogs are highly active. They go to daycare 3-4 days per week. This an outside daycare where they are playing with 20 other large dogs for 6-7 hours. On the weekends they are at the beach chasing seagulls. The amount if food they eat is based on their exercise level. It all depends on the activity level of your pups.

  • LabsRawesome

    LMAO. Yeah you probably shouldn’t joke about that, Especially with a dude. Haha.

  • Nancy Calloway

    Carol: I am reading your post. You said BOTH Fagan AND Josie get 3 pounds a day of Darwin’s in the winter? Josie must be your 50 pounder and Fagan your 70 pounder.

    My dogs are 73 and 55… so WOW. Darwins’s Customer Service recommended 2 pounds for my GSD (73 pounds) and she told me 3.3 pounds is my daily “max” for the 55 pound Golden. That makes NO SENSE based on what you said. I had a feeling the entire time that this Customer Service woman was not thinking straight.

    Sounds like my GSD who is only 2 yrs old and active will require every bite of 3 pounds /day and the Golden might eat 2 1/2 pounds/day. The LAST thing I want them to do is LOSE WEiGHT. Your take?
    Thank you!

  • Nancy Calloway

    I have just talked to Darwins again. I’m thinking will transition my 10 yr old Golden Retriever first and when she’s “set” on raw I will start with the GSD mid September. Darwin’s has calculated the feeding schedule for us at 100 pounds every month which gives me the 15% discount, bringing it to $330 a month. I assume that does NOT include shipping. (She did not say). She included duck in that assortment and I looked at the duck above and I’m not so sure 46P/29F/17C is so healthy– or is it? (I am new at this). My hunch is that before I start rotating the dogs’ meals I need to focus on getting them on ONE RAW FOOD at the moment and Darwin’s is it for me, I think. Feels like it will be October before I can even THINK about other brands like Answers (which I had planned to use). Would you folks suggest that I try using the fermented GOAT MILK that Answers puts out? Jaqualine at Answers swears by it. Says it is so good for digestion and I can’t help but think it will help their transition to Darwin’s.
    Wise Ones: Speak up, Please and Thank you!
    Nancy JaneCalloway

  • Cyndi

    Lmao!! That is too funny! Ha ha, good boy Turbo!! & I totally agree about Daddy! He was the best!

  • losul

    I think you’re right, those shows created much needed positive publicity for the breed. I think Daddy was just about the coolest P.B.!
    R.I.P. daddy!

    http://img1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20130523154323/inciclopedia/images/e/e2/Pitbull_fan_Cesar_Millan.2.jpg

    Unfortunately, I guess not everyone watched the shows. I have a neighbor (not a dog person at all) that used to always pop in on me without warning… He refers to Turbo as “the pit bull” and has a totally unreasonable and unjustifiable fear of him. One day, I jokingly told him to just keep at least one hand free to protect his crotch if needed. I didn’t realize he didn’t take that as a joke until one day we were all sitting around the table eating. Suddenly my neighbor’s face turned white and I thought he was going to pass out. Turbo had laid his head on the chair right between my neighbors legs, only hoping he could coax a handout from him.

    These days, my neighbor doesn’t come around as often, and usually call first now when he does, lol.

  • losul

    Thanks Shawna!

  • losul

    Very interesting, I haven’t noticed anything unusual in that regard with Turbo, I’ll have to pay more attention next time!!

  • Cyndi

    LOL! I’ve watched it 3 times and cried all 3 times! I just love their story!

  • Dori

    Oh! Thanks Labs. I’m gonna try it and see what happens. Seems simple enough, but you never know with me at the helm.

  • Crazy4cats

    Darn it, Cyndi. I’ve seen that before and it still made me cry again!

  • Shawna

    And Boston’s, every one that I’ve had at least, tuck their bottoms up under them when they go number two. Very different from every other breed I’ve had around. That’s the only really noticable Boston trait that Audrey has (who is 1/4 Boston).

  • Shawna

    He is GORGEOUS losul!!! My little mix definitely had more Pit/Bull features but his momma was nursing him when they came to rescue so he’s def part Boston.

  • LabsRawesome

    I don’t know, I think a lot of the stigma is fading. Maybe because of TV shows like Pitbulls and Parolees, Pit Boss, and Caesar Milan. For me it changed when my cousin got a Pitbull puppy. She is the sweetest most well behaved dog. Any breed can be aggressive. It’s all how they’re raised & trained. If I had a well behaved Pit, or Pit mix, I would proudly tell people, Hey, my dog, the one that’s giving you kisses, he’s a Pitbull!!! :)

  • Cyndi

    No problem! I follow them on facebook and I love sharing their story! :)

  • losul

    It truly is inspiring, and beautiful Cyndi! What an amazing bond/rapport they have. So glad they found each other! Thnx!

  • Cyndi
  • Cyndi

    Thanks for the vote of confidence, losul, I appreciate it! From all that I’ve read and learned on this site and the couple books I have, I do believe the fats in her diet are well balanced. Someday I will get it all figured out. :)

  • losul

    I’m confident if you haven’t already, you will get it figured out. She’s in loving hands!

    Per the dry skin, do you think the fats in her diet are well balanced? Just a thought.

  • losul

    It’s so magical how certain dogs (and other critters) can draw children out of any shells they might have. I think it would be very rewarding to work with therapy dogs and children. Unfortunately, Turbo wouldn’t be a good candidate for that.

    Thnx for sharing your touching story!

  • losul

    Thnx labs. I think too the head/face looks more like a pitbull, or maybe staffordshire. When people ask, I generally just say boston terrier mix, or boston terrier X bull terrier. Unfortunately, it’s a stigma thing, ya know.

    His size seems somewhere in between. He does have some boston terrier traits, I think. I’ve seen Shawna describe “zoomies” in boston terriers. Turbo definitely has those, lol. one reason I named him that.

  • Dori

    Hey Labs. Thanks so much as always. I’m gonna give it a try. Odd thing is that I’m actually pretty proficient all things computer and internet wise but for some reason I can’t seem to get this. Senior moment? Senior moments as in “plural”? Lord I hope not. I will try again. Thanks for the tip. Also, tomorrow morning will be the first time for the girls to try Victors Grain Free Yukon. Sure hope they all do well on it. I know they will all eat it. I’ve truly never had a picky eater, it’s whether they do well on it that concerns me. Fingers, toes and eyes crossed.

  • LabsRawesome

    Hey Dori, to post a pic, just click on the little icon of a picture that appears every time you write a post. It’s in the bottom left corner. Opposite of the “Post as Dori “button”. Once you click on the pic icon, your pics will appear that you have saved on your PC, as well as your picture files, and it gives you the option to select your desktop, or other picture files. Just click on whichever file you want, and then choose a picture.

  • LabsRawesome

    Hey losul, Turbo is a very handsome boy. His head/face looks like a Pitbull. Nice pics. :)

  • 4FootedFoodie

    Thanks, Losul!

    I love that picture also. I have a copy at home and at work. That picture evokes such peace for me. The best part is that it’s actually my daughter with Sam. Not only was I devastated after losing Hannah, my Lab, but my daughter was terrified of dogs. Bella, or cavalier brought Katie out of her shell and when she asked for a Golden pup, I was very happy to oblige. So when I see that picture it reminds me how much having pets in our lives can improve the quality of our lives and make us more compassionate.

    She wants a cat now, but I had to put my foot down because of my allergies.

  • Cyndi

    I thought I had everything figured out with Bailey, but not so sure. Just taking it one day at a time and seeing if she starts scratching worse, but I think it’s just dry skin now, not sure.

    So glad Turbo is doing well, and I’m so glad I finally got to see pics of him. :)

  • losul

    Thnx, Aimee.

    Have I mentioned before that he can be very rude and needs brushing up on manners? One of these days, I’ll have to ask for your advice on that!

  • losul

    Thank You 4FF.

    It’s amazing how much our 4 footed friends affect our lives. I know my wife was even more affected than I with the life and death of our previous dog Buster. I know she loves Turbo, but she still holds back from letting him in to her heart completely I think. And then she has her parrots also.

    BTW, I really love the Cavalier avatar, she’s gorgeous, but I have to say my favorite avatar of anyone’s at all is the one you had standing and bending over and hugging Sam. It reflects the sheer joy a dog(s) bring to one’s life. Simply beautiful.

  • sue66b

    Yes Ive read human probiotics don’t work on dogs either as their stomach acid is much stronger then ours & the probiotic doesnt make it to their Intestines where its needed, thats why I use a dog probiotic instead of a human probiotic, I emailed the Epicor company about their Epicor Immune tablets & what is the name under in Australia & can my dog take them & he emailed back & said its best to give my dog a dog probiotics instead of their human Ultra Flora Digest..least he was honest I could of wasted my money.

  • aimee

    I really like the one in the field of grass in which he has his head cocked. super cute!

  • Betsy Greer

    Thanks for sharing Losul! He’s a sweetie! : )

    Your story about not having a dog for 10 years touched my heart. I went for 9 years because I was so heartbroken after I had to let my Lab go.

  • losul

    Thank you so much Dori, I know you did, and other’s too. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated all the help and support. I really needed it. It was so incredibly hard for me when I found out Turbo had heartworms.

    Hey, I’m still working with the pics, incredible, but up until a couple months ago, I still didn’t even know how to put pics on my comp. I have to change the size of all of them to post them, still experimenting with that.

    At least you have an avatar. My next step one of these days will be to have an avator instead of just a dumb blank face!

  • Dori

    OMG! What a cutie pie. Now we have a picture of Turbo. Hooray! Wow Turbo we really prayed very hard for you. So glad Turbo’s doing well and so happy to put a body to his name. We all talk about our dogs by name so often but don’t often get to see them. This is great! Thanks losul for posting pictures. If you ever figure out how you did it, please let me know. I haven’t a clue.

  • losul

    Thank you Cindy.

    Everytime, I’ve seen a pic of Bailey, it reminds me of Turbo. I think he’s doing great. Other than a 2 or 3 day coughing spell a couple of months ago, he’s been just fine!

  • Cyndi

    Awwww, losul, I LOVE him!!! He looks like an over-sized boston terrier or a boston terrier/pitbull mix. He is so handsome!! Thanks for sharing the pics! I don’t think I’ve seen where you mentioned what breed of dog you had, but I always assumed you had a small dog. How is he doing, losul? I hope he’s still doing ok! :)

  • losul

    I’m kind of partial, but I think so too!.

    Thnx C4C

  • losul

    Thnx HDM. It probably is the first time you saw any. A couple months ago, I finally slipped one in of him when I posted some garden pics. Maybe some day I’ll get the hang of these darn computers. I think they wrote, “Computers for Dummies” intending for me, except it was too advanced for me, lol.

  • Crazy4cats

    Yay! We finally see Turbo! Thank you. Very handsome! Love those ears :)

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Aw, turbo is so cute. I think this is the first time I’ve seen pictures of him?

  • losul

    Hi Nancy.

    I currently have only 1 dog, he was a rescue from animal control almost 2 years ago. They called him a boston terrier mix. I can go along with that, and think he probably is Boston terrier X Bull terrier of some sort. He’s about 35 to 36 lbs. Prior to him we had a Rottweiler x English Mastiff mix, such a beautiful gentle giant, his story was so heartbreaking, and it was to be 10 years before we felt mentally comfortable enough again to be able to adopt our current dog. We’ve had a Chow, another mixed breed before that, and back in the late 1970′s, before rotts became popular or even very available in the U.S., I imported a few rottweilers from Germany.

    I’ts hard for me to get good pics of my dog, I’m still trying to de-sensitive him from my camera, as he had a scary expierience with it-my fault. He still takes off whenever he sees me pick it up, as you can see from the first pic.

    P.S. the bulky contraption on his collar in some pics, is a radio fence collar. It’s never set to shock, only to warn.

  • Shawna

    If you can AFFORD to forget the budget then I would. If you can’t then use complete and balanced kibble (or whatever) foods to help with the expense. Short term it is okay to give an unbalanced diet but I’ve seen a few too many people get stuck in an unbalanced rut and end up feeding long term and causing damage. In some cases SERIOUS damage.

    To reiterate — it is best to ensure the food is balanced as you are learning (even if that means you have to continue some kibble — for morning meal or one meal four days a week or whatever). Then once you have some experience and concepts under your belt then you can start venturing out to the unbalanced foods to create a diet “balanced over time”.

    You need to do whatever is most comfortable for you and seems to be easiest for you fur-kids. If your instincts say wait on the egg then I would certainly wait on the egg. I don’t think there is a wrong way to do it as long as the diet is balanced and your goal is working towards rotation. So, I think your plan sounds great!!!! No corrections from me.

    Edit — Don’t hesitate to contact James @ Darwins or Jacqueline @ Answers if you feel so inclined or have any questions about their foods (if you haven’t already that is). Both are very helpful. I had an hour long conversation with Jacqueline several years back. She is amazing in her knowledge on nutrition.

  • Shawna

    Hi Nancy :)

    I prefer a scale but many use measuring cups instead. A scale is easier with the toy breeds in my opinion.

    Most of the raw food advocates, that suggest including carbs, suggest between 15 to 20% veggies and 5% fruits for a total of 20 to 25% carbs.

    I kinda like seeing at least 15 to 25% from healthy carbs as I think the extra antioxidants and nutrients supplied by them can only be beneficial in today’s toxic world…..

  • Nancy Calloway

    Sorry there. I Meant for Axel’s 70 pounds he will eat between 1.5 and 2 pounds a day. I put a / instead of a period. :(

  • Nancy Calloway

    Have re read all these entries and I think I hear you. It seems to me that due to the fact that there is SO MUCH TO LEARN — (this is a completely new science for me) — OUR best shot is to forget the budget for a while and choose TWO RAW “complete and balanced” providers to start with. I should forget trying to scrimp or buy meat on my own. It will cost more in the beginning, but it is worth it in order to keep it simple and transition successfully. Saving money will come later.
    I think I have chosen DARWINS and ANSWERS. Actually OC Raw attracted me too but I think I should stick to TWO at the most for starters to keep it simple.
    Maybe I should actually start with ONE: DARWINS. Thinking Turkey first. Then move to beef. Then alternate. ??? THAT is simple enough, you think? So, to get specific I will be using the Turkey and will be adding very small amounts very slowly – like 1/8 cup to the regular kibble for 5 or 6 days, breakfast and supper. If there is no diarrhea I can add another 1/8 cup after that time. This is the dog who had trouble with ORIGEN and ACANA, so I need to go OH SO SLOWLY.
    My instinct says, “Don’t add an egg or anything but a pro biotic until we are ON BOARD 100 %” This will be ENOUGH OF AN ACHIEVEMENT. Just GET THERE simply as possible.
    What do you think?
    The Darwin’s chart indicates he will eat 1/5 to 2 pounds a day, so 1/8 cup by volumn is not much. But GETTING THERE is the goal. I must not care WHEN or HOW FAST.
    I am interested in any corrections to the plan.
    Thank you!

  • Nancy Calloway

    Reviewing and studying… :)
    so, it appears that perhaps I should get a SCALE so to weigh the pet food?
    I just checked the Darwins Duck and Veg at the Dashboard above. I was surprised at the DMB carbs being 19%. Isn’t that on the HIGH side? I thought the lower the carb the better. TALK TO ME. Thank you.

  • Nancy Calloway

    Losul: I am pretty new here. WHAT breed of dogs do you have please?And how large are they? Thanks.

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  • Dori

    Hi Nancy. Thanks, I just read Shawna’s reply to you. I’d love to know what the homeopathic vet tells you about Big Dog Natural. Since I rotate their raw foods, depending on what you find out, I think I’ll order it anyway. I know it doesn’t seem right that they won’t give out nutritional info. and if I was only going to feed their food then I probably wouldn’t do it. But I pretty much rotate their food with every meal. I already feed them sardines three times a week anyway so I wouldn’t have an issue with it. They get enough calcium with all their other meals so for me that’s also not an issue. My belief is that dogs food needs to be complete and balanced over the long haul, not every single meal every single day. Other than Hannah who has cancer and that’s more age related (15 year old Maltese) and I believe because most of her life I fed kibble, nothing fresh or organic, no fruits, no veggies no extra anything. Old belief was find a kibble they do ok on and feed for the rest of their lives. Well she’s lived to 15 but has bladder and lung cancer. I credit her being asymptomatic to the healthy way she had eaten in the last 2 + years. I blame her cancer on the crap she ate before and also all the vaccinations she got every single year of her life until two years or so ago. My dogs only get rabies vaccination every three years. Nothing else. I also stopped Frontline and all other spot on flea and tick liquids that I used to do on the back of their necks when I was too stupid to use my God given common sense. I credit the changes in my attitude toward dog nutrition and health to the Dog Food Advisor, Mike and all the posters here.

    Oh, you asked about contacting Mike. Scroll down to the bottom of this page and click on contact us. Then scroll to the bottom of that page and you’ll see something about asking a question that has not been answered on that page and you’ll be able to email him. Let me know how that goes to. If you ever want to contact me directly my email address is:
    [email protected]

  • Nancy Calloway

    Hi Dori, Thank you for the Big Dog Natural (singular) correction. Yes I have brought it (reviewing the food) up to Dr Mike in a couple of places on DFA but am not sure how to email Mike so he gets it. Does he have a separate email address? See above what Shawna said and I really appreciate her input. I can’t quite figure out the BDN company. I read a review at another site where one poster mentioned wanting to know more about the nutritional breakdown of the food & they refused to give it. A reputable company would be glad to give it, so I ask: What does this mean? I am planning to make the appt with that homeopath vet once our GSD gets home and will take him with me, explain our previous experience back in March -May when tried to transition to Origen and Acana etc and ask for his HELP getting Axel onto Darwin in the mornings and BigDog at night IF THIS VET PERSONALLY knows the company and recommends regardless of their odd responses.

  • Nancy Calloway

    Thank you, Shawna. So from what you just said, feeding this food at night and the Darwin in the morning could be a good mix so as not to over do the fermented foods? And that MIGHT cut the cost of feeding Darwin. (I’m now concerned about what Carol said about needing to feed her 74 pound male 3 pounds a day in the winter, a tad less in summer. But at the Darwin prices that is pricey. She also mentioned that the male lost 10 pounds and female 6 pounds when they started on Darwin. When she called customer serv they said to increase the amounts which she did and things worked.
    My GSD is now up to 72 pounds while in training in NH for the summer. He’s on Dr Tim’s PERSUIT which has some grain. When he left here in June I could see all his ribs (64 pounds down from 70 in January).
    Back to Darwin and BigDogNatural: Maybe this would be a good way to start except that I would need to start with ONE at first and then add the second. Any suggestions? Once he’s on Big Dog then it will be easier to travel and not worry about hauling frozen food. Yah think?
    Thanks so much !

  • Shawna

    I hadn’t heard of Big Dog Naturals either. Looks like they “naturally” ferment the veggies. This would have many benefits in my opinion.

    1. The increased healthy acids in the food would improve the protein digestion.
    2. The veggies are already, due to the fermentation, very digestible.
    3. Fermenting foods increases their nutrient content including naturally derived vitamin K and b12 from the bacteria fermenting the veggies.
    4. The extra acids (and possibly good bacteria) would help with bad bacterial food contamination (some are concerned about that with raw foods).

    I do think even good things can be fed in excess so I personally don’t feed mine fermented veggies with every meal. Used in a rotation diet — I would totally use this but I would add an egg or sardines when I fed this as the 30(ish) percent protein is a bit low for my likes. :)

    A good holistic vet is worth his weight in gold in my opinion… :)

  • Barbara Orant

    I agree about the agressive allopathic approach – I used to get the “eye roll” when I declined vaccinations. I feed my two Poms Darwins and Orijen and sometimes just improvise. Here is a link regarding UTI in dogs. A product that might be helpful after the antibiotic is called D-Mannose. It is a sugar molecule that the bacteria attaches itself to and is then flushed out of the system. I hope this helps.
    http://rationalpreparedness.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-use-of-d-mannose-in-dogs-and-cats.html

  • Barbara Orant

    Eating pizza and a salad are proper Food Combining for humans, as protein breaks down at different rates. Not sure for dogs as their hydrochloric acid is about 5 times that of ours. I feed my two Pomeranians, 11 1/2 and 10 months, Darwins and Orijen dry. I swap off daily with no stomach upsets. I also include a vitamin powder and a probiotic. The older girl just had a senior blood test done and she is in the normal range for all the categories.

  • Dori

    You obviously used your mind too much while taking classes and your brain is just too tired to function properly. You’ve been away too long. Not to worry…….you’ll get the hang of it all again. LOL :>)

  • Nancy Calloway

    CareFULLY! (but I am not a Customer Service rep). Excuses excuses!

  • Nancy Calloway

    Sorry — I did not check my response and MY ENGLISH IS IN ERROR also! “a email” ugh. I do know better! :)

  • Nancy Calloway

    Thank you dear Dori. I’m glad to be back. My German Shepherd is still in New Hampshire and when he returns I am thinking will start him on Darwin. But I wanted another food for when we travel to the coast (4 to 5 hours) bec I don’t want to have to worry about carting all that frozen food. So I had thought I would get a dehydrated food that I could give him when we travel. I hope we will get an answer about the BigDogNatural. I got a email back from them a few minutes ago. Had asked about the dry matter numbers and instead of TELLING ME they referred me to a CAT website that expl how to calculate. Also, in the response there were non sentences and misspellings and yes I am picky but they should have someone who knows better in Customer Service — or I think so. Poor English and delivery represents the company such that I am wondering if this is HOW CAREFUL THEIR DOG FOOD IS MADE. Feels sort of sloppy.

  • Dori

    Nancy, it’s BigDogNatural.com No “S” at the end. I just went to their site to check it out and it looks good. I was glad to see there was no alfalfa or kelp because Katie can’t eat anything with alfalfa, not sure anymore about the kelp. I was just a bit bummed out that it has potatoes in the formulas.

    Looking forward to what Shawna has to say about the food when she has a moment to check it out. Did you send an email to Mike and see if they can review this food. I’d also loved to hear what they think about it.

  • Dori

    Hi Nancy! You’ve been missed, glad to see you back on DFA. :>)

  • Nancy Calloway

    Thank you. I’m back in the saddle as they say. Thinking I will make an appt to take Axel (the GSD) to the homeopath so that IF I run into challenges with transitioning to raw I will have an excellent resource to help me through it. If he were to have diarrhea then the homeopath could help us without Metronidazole and WD Formula.

  • Crazy4cats

    Welcome back, Nancy!

  • Nancy Calloway

    Hi Shawna: I’ve been gone for a class for sev weeks. Now back to dog foods again. Quesstion: There is a very respected homeopathic vet not too far from me. On his website he recommends raw. he gives his recipe for feeding raw so that all nutrients are covered, and then for those who cannot put all that together he recommends DARWINS and a food called BIG DOG NATURALS which I had never heard of. So I went to their website. It is an air dry company that ferments the food. Unusual and is probably WHY he recommends them. I would love to hear your opinion on this. It must be a small-ish company but I can see that being able to switch the dog to that air dried food (Just add water) could be very helpful especially when in a hurry or when I’ve forgotten to thaw out Darwins etc.
    As for Darwins, I was sorry to hear from Carol above that she had to give her Irish Setters 3 pounds a day. That ‘s double what Darwins recommends and wow that runs up the bill significanlty.
    When you have a chance would you mind checking out Dog Dog Natural? I can’t remem if there is an “s” at the end or not.
    Thank you!
    Nancy Jane

  • Melissaandcrew

    Not only that, but we celebrate birthdays and each dogs gets a scoop(size dependent on dog) of vanilla ice cream-no issues

  • Melissaandcrew

    I do it because I can :) While SOME dogs can not eat the two combined, that does not hold true for all dogs-and I have 17 that prove otherwise. Some days they get all raw, some days half raw/half kibble(same meal) other days dehydrated. It just depends on what I have handy and how much time I have. All foods have a different digestive requirement-and yet I manage to eat a slice of pizza with a tossed salad..or even that tossed salad with gobs of croutons..

  • Crazy4cats

    I mix either canned, dehydrated, frozen raw nuggets, eggs or sardines in my dogs’ kibbles every single meal. And surprisingly, their “output” is best when I feed them the Northwest Naturals raw nuggets with their dinner. Their “toppers” are usually between 100 and 150 calories added in to their dry food. By doing this, I feel like I am boosting the healthiness of their meals tremendously.

  • aimee

    Hi esb,

    I appreciated your comment about finding freezer burn with Primal. I have only bought 2 bags and both had freezer burn. Before buying the second bag I asked about it at the store and they said no one had reported that. I though maybe it was a “one off” but the second bag was also freezer burnt.

    I don’t think it is a problem to mix kibble and raw. I don’t know what you mean by different digestion times. If you are referring to gastric emptying rate this varies widely with particle size and nutrient composition.

  • esb

    it is not recommended to feed raw and kibble at the same meal as each require differnt digestive rates. if you look at the cost of Primal vs Darwins you will see a huge price difference, not to mention that dawins is much fresher. i have purchased primal tht sat in a freezer for a year or has been defrosted and refrozen in either transit or at the petfood store. there was often more freezer burn and frozen sludge in the bagsthat made me switch to Darwins. Darwins come from Oregon which is pretty close to San Fran in regards to shipping. BTW… you don’t have to return the Darwins boxes. UPS will pick up the empty ones when they deliver.

  • Cyndi

    Not true. Alot of people on here, myself included, give their dogs plain yogurt or kefir on a daily basis and they digest it just fine.

  • Cyndi

    Plenty of people do that here and have no problems.

  • esb

    not sure why people feel the need for “toppers” on kibble and exactly what toppers they are using. it is not recommended to combine raw and processed food (kibble or cooked) together as each has a different digestive requirement. there is a calcium phosphate ratio in food that is importantl not to alter. if you are feeding a high quality kibble and adding cooked meat you are disrupting this ratio. if feeding kibble one should select a high quality, grain free kibble like Orijens. Darwins has a chart that shows the price for “Full Plan Feeding” or “Half Darwins”. you can always call them and get advise as to feeding raw one meal a day vs one week rotation.

  • esb

    it is not recommended to combine raw food with cooked or processed kibble as each is digested at different rates. it’s better to feed raw one meal and then kibble in a separate meal.

  • esb

    dogs are lactose intolerant. they do not have the digestive enzymes to digest dairy and many can’t tolerate them, not to mention that Yogurt is an ineffective probiotic as are other functional foods that claim to contain probiotic microorganisms. In these products there is no protective delivery system to assure that probiotic cells survive stomach acid”, especially in dogs.

  • Melissaandcrew

    No..my point is NOW they can. At first they had issues and I had to go very slowly. When they only ate one food long term they developed sensitive stomachs. I truly believe it was because of the one food long term. Some were so bad that rotation for them was how many nuggets of a new food could I add in lol.

  • Carol

    I only go by what I read. There’s so much conflicting information. Melissa, that’s great you can switch up and it doesn’t bother your dog. I don’t think it would affect my male but my female has had issues since I rescued her. She’s done the best with Darwin’s so I’m too chicken to experiment with her. It would be nice to save a few $$ though

  • AJ

    Has anyone tried this company http://www.reelrawdog.com. And are they any good?

  • Melissaandcrew

    HI Carol-Today my dogs are having kibble with raw and egg topper. Yesterday they had homemade raw(tripe, ground chicken q’s, beef heart) and the day before that Honest kitchen preference. I switch things up based on what I have here, or based on my schedule. I have a busy day today, so dry it is. No issues with stomachs now, but when I first started, I went slowly.

  • losul

    It should be noted that there can be quite a bit of difference in calories between brands. For instance, darwins beef 1lb = 576 calories. Primal beef formula 1lb = 1024 calories.

  • Carol

    Well, they always say to slowly wean a
    dog off one food while adding the other so my thinking (and I am no expert) is
    it wouldn’t be good to change up formulas. I’ve heard people mix kibble
    with the raw. Then I heard dogs digest the raw and kibble differently and
    that’s not good.

    My female setter is 50 lbs and my male is 74 lbs. They go through so much
    because they go to daycare 3-4 days per week. They are outside playing
    with 20 other dogs for a good 7 hours per day then on the weekend I take them
    to the beach to run. When I first put them on Darwin’s I went by the
    recommended amount based on their weight. The first month my boy lost 10
    lbs and my girl about 6 lbs. I called customer service. When they
    heard how much exercise they get they said I must increase their food.
    They eat only Darwin’s, no kibble. On daycare days in the winter, Fagan
    gets 3lbs per day, in the summer 2.5 lbs. Josie gets 3 lbs in winter
    and about 2 lbs in the summer.

  • neezerfan

    I use all types of food in my rotation and I just use the Darwin’s “whenever”.

  • aimee

    Yup I’m agreeing calories not volume and I also agree that it depends on what is being added. It also depends on the nutrient profile of your base diet. Some base diets can likely easily handle a 20 % calorie addition N/P whereas others would lead to deficiencies. I’ve found nutritionists tend to be conservative in that regards and stick to 10%

  • losul

    O.K. so I think you are agreeing with me on caloriewise vs volumewise. It’s the number that’s different that your references say (10% instead of 20%) to be completely on the safe side.

    I don’t go by any certain rule as I home prep over 50% of my dog’s diet, and I take care to see that it is all well balanced overall.

    I think it makes a big difference as to what a person is adding, without using any supplementation. A raw meat/bone/liver/organ mix in the proper proportions by itself is not usually 100% completely balanced in my view, but it’s reasonably close. I wouldn’t be afraid to add 35% or so caloriewise to an otherwise well balanced diet. Wholesome foods like eggs, sardines, and quality lean raw meat, I don’t see harm in using up to perhaps 20%. Some junky treats and snacks I wouldn’t want to use at all, but for someone who does, I can definitely see where those should be 10% limited. And at about 130 calories per tablespoon, I would want to be careful about adding too much fat.

  • Nancy Calloway

    Hi Carol: Do you mean rotating among Darwin, Primal, Nature’s Instinct etc? Interesting. And you are probl correct, esp since this GSD has had some digestive problems. So, your Irish Setters are about 70 pounds? I’m wondering how much you give them a day. Do yo feed them ONLY Darwins? And NO kibble?
    I think I will have to start out with Kibble bec I know it works for him. And then slowly transition into Darwins. So would you respond to the Q’s above and Thank you so much!

  • Carol

    I go through 56 lbs every TWO weeks with my two Irish Setters. It is expensive however it’s still cheaper then the raw you buy in pet stores. I don’t think rotating would be a great idea but maybe mixing a little kibble in each meal may help stretch it.

  • aimee

    When feeding a commercial “complete and balanced” diet I’ve always understood it as not to feed more than 10% unbalanced extras on a caloric basis.

    So if for example the dogs energy requirement is 500 calories you could feed 450 calories from the “complete and balanced” food and 50 calories as unbalanced additions.

    Here is one reference ” The authors recommend that the energy intake from snacks or treats not exceed 10% of the animals total daily calories. Intakes above this amount increase the risk of creating a nutritional imbalance in the animals diet” Applied Veterinary Clinical Nutrition 2012

  • aimee

    From the references I use I see it recommended not to exceed 10% of calories from unbalanced sources when added to a “complete and balanced” diet.

  • beaglemom

    Hey AJ, I think most would agree a diet with no veggies isn’t necessarily better unless your dog has trouble digesting them. Otherwise – being as most fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and antioxidants, dogs only have something to gain from having them in their diet.

  • Liz

    My dogs, 20lb Pug(tummy troubles made us switch to raw)) and 9lb Pom, both on Darwins. Both love it and are doing great on it, I sprinkle (a handful for each, I have small hands) Taste of the Wild Roasted Lamb Grain Free kibble on the divided portions (half for lunch half for dinner). Having said that I just purchased Primal Formula, which is raw and local (I’m in San Francisco) because they make both raw and freeze-dried and I can go a few blocks to buy it when I need it! Darwin’s is too big a hassle, the delivery, sending back the box, it comes from far away, and when going on vacation, which we just did for two weeks it was an enormous ordeal!! We ended up leaving half of the frozen packets behind!! They could only accommodate sending half of our usual order to our vacation destination and the other half to our home. We will wean them off Darwin’s slowly, until they are solely on Primal Formula. I hope this was helpful!!

  • Shawna

    Morning losul :)

    When discussing quantity of food groups to use in a diet it is always by volume — 5 to 10% fruit, 15 to 20% veggies, no more than 5% liver and an add’l 5% in other organs/glands etc. I’ve just always assumed that the 20% topper guideline was by volume too. If you know differently than please do post your references.

    I ALWAYS feed by volume but I do try to feed foods similar in nutrient content and calories. I think calories can be quite deceiving if basing the diet on calories alone. Take coconut oil as just one example — it is nothing but fat adding 9 calories per gram but it generates body fat loss not gain.

    The other problem I have with the addition of the peas and green beans is that they don’t add a lot of nutrition (as we both agree) and there was no mention of variety.

    The pet food industry has been able to demonstrate how adding fiber does help with weight loss but science has also provided data showing that foods high in protein can do the same thing while satisfying the dog better. Adding lots of green beans to a meat diet is, in my opinion, the same concept as adding fiber to a weight loss dog food. It gets the job done but at what expense. My Mimi has lost over half her body weight eating the very same foods I feed all the other dogs in my house (without me ever counting even ONE calorie) — which is as close to the ancestral diet as I can. She gets no added fiber in the form of green beans or anything else (except for prebiotic fermentable fiber off an on).

    One final thought — there has been some wonderful research demonstrating that it is the type of calorie that is the problem not just calories in general (again looking at coconut oil as an example). Another example — low fat wheat products can cause weight gain in susceptible people (and likely pets) by blocking insulin receptors. And a malnourished body, even if fat, will likely always continue to crave food as it is the nutrients that it is craving not the calories.

    Two weekends ago I watched a FANTASTIC documentary called “Cereal Killers”. Watch it and let me know your thoughts if you get a chance https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/835313616/cereal-killers-the-movie

  • Shawna

    You are right, things will improve.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about the fat content IF you are feeding a variety of foods and are not including a lot of high fat ones — lamb is usually the highest in fat, when it comes to commercial foods at least.

    When feeding commercial raw, in my opinion, it is likely that the higher fat options (like Primal’s beef) are made from “fatty cuts of meat” as there is often more, or close to more, fat than protein. This is one of Darwin’s advantages.

    From memory, grass finished beef is about 85% lean. BUT the fat ratio is quite different than 85% lean feed lot/grain raised beef. There is less saturated fat, less omega 6 fats and more omega 3 fats in grass finished. It is similar in nutrient content to venison which is definitely an ancestral food. The omega 6 to 3 ratio of grass finished beef is in the ideal range for dogs as well. It’s the price that is problematic!! :(

    Feeding unbalanced chicken too often can cause an excess of omega 6. Some omega 6 (linoleic acid to be specific) is absolutely necessary but dark meat chicken and chicken fat are higher in 6. I believe most commercial raw foods add a source of omega 3 to balance it out.

    Goat is a good option in a rotational diet or as a topper.

    Although it sounds complicated it really isn’t but it is a balancing act trying to feed a balanced, budget friendly diet high in meat protein with acceptable levels of fat.

    To save yourself some headache and frustration — start off simple. Use a variety of red and white meats, a couple days a week the added raw can just be the eggs you were already feeding. As you learn more, find the right sources etc you can incorporate more and more raw in. Just don’t overwhelm yourself till you want to give up on raw entirely.. :(

    And keep asking the questions!!! We, the regulars here, really don’t mind at all…

    Side note — not to complicate things further :), but when working within a budget, I’d rather see someone spend more on the quality of the raw and feed less than feed more raw in the form of lower quality. Example — Darwin’s Natural Selections uses “free range meats” and organic veggies. This food will have less pesticides, less artificial hormones/antibiotic residue, less residual GMO byproducts (we are what we eat) and so on for the body to deal with. And a conventionally raised food high in fat is a double whammy as the fat is where the toxins are stored…

    I’ve been very happy with Bravo products too. Per their website

    “Our red meat products are hormone-free and grass-fed

    Our lamb and beef are lean, rich red meat that is better for a pet’s health.

    Our poultry is antibiotic-free” http://www.bravopetfoods.com/bravodifference.html#natural

    You would need to utilize premixes with some of their foods.

    Answer’s raw makes a raw goat milk product and a fermented fish stock that can add some nutrient bang for the buck..

    You will learn how to incorporate more as you go.

  • losul

    Great advice from Shawna yet again!!!

    But I was just wondering about the 20% “rule”. I was under the impression that it meant caloriewise vs volume wise, but maybe I’m wrong?

    I’ve used Primal formulas occaisonally and know that they are pretty high in calories. The beef formula has over 1000 calories/lb. or 64 cal/ounce. Most better kibble has near 400 calories/cup. Green beans is very low with about 35-40 calories/cup.

    8 ounces primal beef formula – 512 calories, 2/3 cup kibble- 260 calories, and 1 cup green beans-40 calories. Total 812 calories. Green beans contributes only about 5% of the total calories. I wouldn’t have really thought of that as a large amount?

    I’m totally with you on sticking with only higher value plant materials, and not overdoing the fiber in most cases. I don’t ever give green beans to my dog, as they are also devoid of many nutrients, basically just a “filler”, and not much else. But if a dog (or more usually it’s owner) has a problem with portion control, and has an overweight dog, I can see where addition of green beans could be useful. But then I wouldn’t use a high fat formula such as Primal with an overweight or couch potato dog either. Too much fat leaves less room for other nutrients also. Just my thoughts…..

  • Nancy Calloway

    I hear you and wondered the same as he spoke. WHY buy a complete and balanced food if you’re going to UNBALANCE IT?
    I also read that spinach and chard (which I drink daily in my smoothie) actually inhibit calcium absorption! Maybe I read that in Dr. Becker’s something. I am looking now at possible cheaper sources for raw. Is GOAT a good option? My rolfer told me yesterday that she knows where I could get some goat. It appears that grassfed and finished beef around here even from the farmers is starting at $7.99/lb and that is for Ground Beef which I would imagine is not 7% lean. This is a problem. If I were to buy a HALF of a cow then the prices go down. However, in doing that I end up with sirloin and filets which I do not think are NECESSARY for my dog. I do not even eat those. Actually I eat beef seldom. Also BEEF is not the most recommended for dogs anyway, right? So I should be focusing on affordable organic or at least free range hormone free chickens. And LAMB.
    If I get my own grinder then HOW do i Know that what I grind is 7% fat free as Dr. Becker says in her book?
    Thank you for answering these Questions. I need to RE read the book. The first time around IS overwhelming and I had the thought that this is WAY too complicated and too much to put up with. but I am sticking to it to at least TRY to grasp it. Like everything else in life, once you get the hang of it, things improve.
    Thank you again, Shawna.

  • Shawna

    Yep, sounds like a good plan!!

    LOL, what a wonderful compliment!! Nope, not trained as a scientist but my dad is a Naturopath and Master Herbalist and I was very interested from an early age..

    I’m also a Scorpio and Scorpios are supposed to be good researchers, investigators and analysts.. :) Dad’s a Scorpio too.

  • Shawna

    His plan seems good to me except the large amount of green beans and peas. I’m not sure how much too much fiber is but too much fiber can cause or at least contribute to mineral deficiencies over time. Dr. Becker has some data on it “When pets consume unnecessary fillers, like wads of fiber, it inhibits digestion and absorption of many vital nutrients. A small amount of fiber is very important, but a diet loaded with fiber is very detrimental, unless, of course, you’re feeding a horse or cow.” http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2012/11/19/dietary-fiber.aspx

    There’s already going to be fiber in the kibble and balanced raw so in my opinion adding a half cup of green beans and peas negates some of the benefit of feeding raw. Just my opinion though. I am ALL for adding fruits and veggies in small amounts to the diet but I’d go for ones with more benefit — like berries, leafy greens and so on.

    Also, the general rule is to not add any more than 20%(ish) of unbalanced foods to balanced foods. You’ve probably read that in Dr. Becker’s book. From the described feeding plan it appears as though the green bean / pea mix is at least 33% of the diet. That’s too high.

    If you have to, use a high quality kibble and use raw as a topper. Or, using a quality four star kibble may save you enough to allow more raw in the diet??

  • Nancy Calloway

    Thanks. I will call tomorrow to inquire about the urinalysis vs culture. She did not specify and probl bec she assumed I would not know the difference which is true. I just HATE giving her TWO WEEKS of that medicine if it is not necessary. I was not aware that there is a difference in the culture and analysis. Just checked the bill and it was a Urinalysis and was $55. After reading your email it does feel that I should continue the protocol and try to end the whole thing. Then I will continue to arm her with a PRIMAL DEFENSE every morning and a half a carton of Greek Plain Yogurt at night. Sound good? BTW it sounds like you are trained as a scientist. You surely talk like one and thank you for your patience with me. I am grateful!

  • Shawna

    I’m not fond of indiscriminate antibiotic use either. But since you already started them it might be worth finishing them. There may be bacteria elsewhere?? Also, it’s my understanding that a urine culture is more accurate in identifying bacterial infections than a urinalysis. If a urine culture wasn’t done, there may still be bacteria that just wasn’t caught. Hopefully someone will correct me if I am wrong about that. If a urine culture was done it’s likely safer to discontinue antibiotic use.

    Out of curiosity, did they mention which type of white blood cells were seen?

    If you really have a bad feeling about continuing the antibiotics then check with your vet and/or go with your gut!!! Definitely look up the side effects of the drug and watch for any potential problems!!!

  • Nancy Calloway

    OKAY — the lastest and I would really appreciate your opinion.
    My vet called this morning. Hannah (the golden) has “some white cells” in the urinalysis but no show of bacteria… JUST “some” white cells. This is the young vet who is on the case bec my regular vet is on vacation. The very frequent peeing AND the frequent peeing has subsided and Hannah is peeing normally. So my Q: Should I continue the Cephalexin ( 2 weeks worth!) The amounts are 2 capsules twice a day. The caps are 500 mg each. Wow, sounds like a lot for a 54 pound dog.
    You think I would be JUST as well off to change her to the D-Mannose? (I could go to Whole Foods and get some tonight).
    Hannah has had the prescribed dose since Tuesday night (had two that night). This morning she had two but I’m wondering if I should “finish off” the treatment with a lesser drug? She’s had lots of probiotics to protect her gut. I am just not a big antibiotic user.
    Thank you for your input , Shawna. I am thankful!!

  • AJ

    I was thinking about putting my dog on darwins raw food. But I was wondering if its better to do a diet with no veggies in it?

  • Nancy Calloway

    Yes, dear Shawna, I get that. :) Went to our local Pet Supplies Plus and was impressed with their “new” stock. Lots of kibble that is “good” (4 and 5 star) according to DFA. they carry NV raw and Primal both large freezers. Following is how the owner said he feeds his two rescue 50 pound-ish dogs: Gives for each meal 1/2 chicken patty (of a bag which has 12 in it) onto about 1/3 c of kibble with about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of frozen green beans and frozen peas (thawed) on top. He suggested that due to the expense of raw I might consider the same for my dog. One bag of 12 chicken patties is $36. Lamb and beef are upwards toward $39 (maybe a little more). But I am interested in your opinion re splitting that up. If one feeds 2 meals a day with only raw (Instinct or Primal or Darwins) this can talliy up into $300 a month. Because I have 2 dogs it would be more than that….
    Your take? Please?

  • Shawna

    Because she already gets raw eggs, probiotics, coconut oil etc the transition may go easier.. Fingers crossed!!!

    There’s LOTS of things you can do but I’d start off slow so as 1. not to overwhelm her and 2. if she does have a reaction you can better identify what it is she is reacting to. After the pups have acclimated to the new diet and supplements you can start looking at things like turmeric, garlic, sardines, spirulina, chlorella and anything else you want to add… You can keep it basic or you can go nuts.. Whatever works for you. I tend to lean towards the go nuts side for my fur family but they all had hard starts to life so……

    I’ve transitioned quite a few senior and/or immune compromised dogs to raw diets through fostering. After a minor period (a week or two) of mucousy, slightly runny stool they have all done great. Probiotics and canned pumpkin help considerably with the stool issues.

  • Nancy Calloway

    Helpful and much appreciated!
    Thanks!

  • Shawna

    Raw is often a good alternative for dogs with digestive issues and dogs with food intolerances / sensitivities as many of the problem foods are not used in raw.

    Different foods affect different folks and dogs but often the offending food has a protein in it called a lectin (legumes and lentils have lectins). Chicken, wheat, corn, soy and potatoes are other foods that have lectins. IgA binds with lectins.

    SO, depending on what the dog is reacting to will influence what foods work and don’t work. Example — my Pom who reacts to chicken reacts worse to raw as there is more chicken in raw then in kibble but she does react to kibble too.

    I personally know a dog that reacts to the lectins in green beans (which was in a raw food diet), one that reacts to the legumes in Orijen/Acana, one that reacts to potato (which is in some of the premixes and therefore would be in the raw food), one that reacts to tomato (which is sometimes in raw foods) etc. SO even though raw is better, it’s not always the solution if the raw food still contains the offending ingredient.

    Where raw shines in my opinion is that it is better digested which gets more and better nutrients into the body to make and keep the body healthy. It has a better macronutrient mix. Higher in moisture etc.

  • Nancy Calloway

    THANK YOU. printing all this. I give 2 TBS Coconut Oil daily (shes 55 lb) and it offers immune support. Anything else? Maybe I should go ahead and try the Darwins with her while Axel is up in New Hampshire. She might be harder to transition, being so old – 10 yrs. But she’s so healthy ordinarily. She is a great eater and if it can be chewed and swallowed she’s usually up for it. She likes organic raw eggs. I give her 2 or 3 a week.

  • Shawna

    At the very first signs of infection (licking the area or red irritated area) I give my pups 1/8 teaspoon with their food. For your bigger dogs I would give 1/2 teaspoon but I would check with a vet on exact amounts.

    IF the issue is not getting better in 24 to 48 hours I would personally take them in as, from all I’ve read, d-mannose only works on e-coli UTI’s.

    I get my D-mannose at my local mom and pop health food store. I don’t know if one brand is better than another as long as it is a trusted brand.?

  • Nancy Calloway

    I just checked at I Herb for D-Mannose. Any rec as to amount or brand OR a different company to order it from? Thank you!

  • Shawna

    E-coli is actually a normal bacterium in the body. Urine itself is sterile but the bacteria travel up to the bladder and if the immune system is off the bacteria can multiply and create an infection. Even healthy dogs can have this happen if the immune system is busy fighting something else etc.

    I also read that women in their later years :), have a decrease in estrogen which “thins the lining of the urinary tract, which increases susceptibility to bacterial infections” http://umm.edu/health/medical/reports/articles/urinary-tract-infection#ixzz36zWiGfSY Not sure if this same thing can happen in altered female dogs but my guess would be yes.

    You do want to wipe them out but you can’t really “prevent” the bacteria from coming back. You CAN get the immune system so healthy that it is unlikely for them to cause a problem again. You are definitely well on your way to getting there.

  • Nancy Calloway

    I am printing this out! Great to know. Believe it or not I TAKE PRIMAL DEFENSE myself! (Probiotic). Excellent product.
    Our vet never identified what had caused Axel’s diarrhea other than something in Origen AND Acana irritated him. She was not so concerned about the cause due to their being numerous possibilities which she does not have time to investigate herself. Her focus was to stop the diarrhea and calm the digestive tract. Actually it took 6 days for Axel to return to the vet and get a “good” report at which time the vet said move OFF of Hills WD Formula onto a sensitive stomach one. I think that it only taking one week to progress that way is a good sign re his digestive function. What was the killer was that Solesto Flea Collar I bought that same day as the well check up. Within 48 hours he was sick as a DOG. Diarrhea, some vomiting — and it was a week or so later before I figured out that it was the COLLAR! By then she was treating him again with the drugs and WD FORMULA while he was wearing the killer collar!
    As for the Champion foods I did an ingredient comparison study to see what he had trouble with in Champion and my result was chick peas and lentils. They did not show up in foods he was okay with.
    I am glad to know what you informed me about re GSDs and the digestive tract. So my next Q is: Do you think for any reason that he would have trouble on RAW? I’m becoming a “believer” in RAW now.
    Q: Is there a TEST that can be done to see if my GSD has that condition you described above?
    I actually DO remember the vet saying something about the possibility that he is deficient and I could swear she said IGA – but she also said it was too early to move in that direction, esp since he had been totally healthy until I changed foods. Also she was keeping an eye out to see if he had an early onset of another GSD digestive disorder that shows itself at age 2 to 5 (maybe that’s the same thing) She used an acronym for that.
    Once he took the COLLAR off and I put him on Purina Pro Plan Select Sensitive Stomach he was FINE . He is at the trainer’s now in New Hampshire, and he has said that Axel has transitioned beautifully to Dr Tims PERSUIT.

  • Nancy Calloway

    Thank you for explaining so eloquently ( and simply ) HOW cranberry works. I keep the little red cranberry tabs on hand for ME, but did not give them to the dog. What helps us can kill a dog. I have her on probiotics anyway and thought I would go get some Greek plain yogurt today to feed her since she is threatened by the antibiotic. Since she has never had a UTI it seems important to be sure this is completely wiped out so it does not recur — or am I wrong? I will arm us with D-Mannose for the future. Great information and appreciate!

  • Shawna

    Doesn’t surprise me about the young vet.. :(

    Per the Merck Vet Manual and other sources, GSD’s have a genetic predisposition to being IgA deficient. IgA (or immunoglubulin A) is the part of the immune system that protects the gut from foods the particular individual is intolerant of or sensitive to.

    IgA binds with the intolerant ingredient (like gluten in those that are gluten intolerant) and prevents it from binding to the gut wall. If the food is continually / or often eaten then the body can have a hard time producing enough IgA to meet the needs. GSD’s that have the genetic predisposition have even a harder time. (My Pom gets colitis (SEVERE diarrhea) if fed chicken for more than three days. She gets ulcerative colitis (before I knew what was causing it) when fed chicken long term.)

    One of the many benefits to eating/taking high quality probiotics is that they help the body produce IgA. If your GSD is not already on one, I would highly recommend starting a really good quality one. I use Garden of Life Primal Defense but Swanson has some that others on here use and really like.

    There is a product out called SeaCure (or SeaVive) that helps heal the digestive tract. Once you have identified the culprit causing the diarrhea, it might not hurt to start the SeaCure. I used it to help repair Gizmo’s gut after eliminating chicken. It’s made from white fish and the proteins have been broken down to amino acids making them very easy to absorb. One of those amino acids, glutamine, helps repair the gut. Glutamine can have detrimental affects (think MSG) if used long term so I’d only use it for a few months if you do decide to try it.

    The herb slippery elm and/or food grade aloe vera help to “coat” the digestive tract which is supposed to help in the healing process.

    Your pups are lucky to have you on their side!!!!!

  • Shawna

    Sometimes antibiotics are simply the best way to go. Other times they really aren’t needed. Since you’ve already purchased them, and likely already started, this info is for future issues if any come up… :)

    As most know, cranberries can be beneficial to prevent UTI’s. One of the reasons for this is a simple sugar in them called mannose. Ecoli bacteria (which are the ones that cause most UTI’s) like mannose and will release their grip from the urinary tract wall to grasp the mannose. Then they are simply urinated out. Three is not enough mannose in whole cranberries to “treat” many infections. Fortunatley, there is a mannose supplement – D-mannose. D-mannose is very effective at treating UTI’s. It’s natural and safe and doesn’t damage the healthy bacteria in the gut like antibiotics.

    Mannose is a simple sugar, like glucosamine, that is natural and normal to the body and from my understanding, unlike table sugar or fructose etc, does not have an impact on the pancreas/insulin levels.

    I’ve seen D-mannose range from about $8.00 to $18.00 and a bottle should last quite a while, possibly years. They have a product for humans (capsuled) and another for pets. Both are the same so I’d opt for the cheaper one and break apart capsules if needed.

  • Nancy Calloway

    Thank you, dear Shawna! My German Shepherd is the one that worries me due to the months of diarrhea and overcoming it. He lost 6 pounds in the process. So having fun will come after he’s acclimated to several healthy foods- and I INTEND to make it fun. We have no holistic vets here and I am opposed to the drugs and the HILLS Rx food my allopathic vet swears by (although he did get better on it). BTW yesterday I saw a new young vet when I took my golden in for all the peeing she did during our trip to the coast. I asked her what she had been taught in vet sch about dogfood –what’s the “latest” thinking. She rolled her eyes and said this is a huge topic and there are no good answers. Said basically anything that is AAFCO approved is fine. (I shivered) Said too many people get over indulged in which dog food and the “hows” and it makes them crazzzzy. (I could relate!) Bottom line answer: find a good commercial food that AAFCO approves and that the dog likes and you’re fine. She finished vet school a year ago.
    She also tested my dog for UTI and sent us away with Cephalexin, assuming it is UTI but the urinalysis will not be available until late today or tomorrow. We are to START the antibiotic before knowing what we are treating. My bill was $126. The Ceph was $50. There is a Pitcairne trained holistic vet 1 1/2 hrs away and I am going to get in touch with him today. This aggressive allopathic approach to vet med does not feel right… however, Hannah’s
    constant peeing started Saturday and maybe she DID need the antibiotic. ???
    Thank you again for the Darwin rec. It helps to know how others work with these foods. In Gratitude!

  • Shawna

    I can’t see everyone’s posts now (I know BCnut posted but I can only see Beaglemom’s right now..

    Anyway, I agree with the others. Do what works best for you but I do think you can mix it more than once per week. I feed Darwins but I also use Bravo and Trader Joe meats with premixes. Heart is usually pretty cheap and can be fed like a muscle meat and balanced with a premix.

    Probably the best way to do it is to split the raw and kibble meals by morning and night feedings but it isn’t convenient for me to do it that way. The three of mine that get kibble get 1/4 cup kibble along with a heaping teaspoon of raw and a little lesser canned at both daily meals.

    Just have fun with it!!! :)

  • Nancy Calloway

    Bmom: That’s helpful. Thank you so much. It also helps the dog not to think his life is about regular “caviar” meals. If I win the lottery my attitude might change!

  • beaglemom

    Hi Nancy, everyone probably does it just a bit differently but I use Darwin’s for one meal per day and then something else for the other (canned, dehydrated, whatever). I could never afford to feed it full time, but I feel like giving them at least one raw meal per day is better than not.

    Most part or full-time raw feeders look for cheaper sources of meat locally, such as through a co-op. Not sure if you’ve investigated that option at all. This meat usually isn’t suitable for feeding as-is though, you’d either have to balance it out yourself or use it with a pre-mix.

    Do the best you can on the budget you’re working with :) The option of feeding Darwin’s one meal and kibble/topper another sounds great.

  • theBCnut

    I used to have GSDs so I know those teeth were made for bone, however, my GSDs’ teeth were made for human bones. I used to train for the local PD. I also helped with the dogs that were used for security at the Olympics in Atlanta. There aren’t that many women willing to let a K-9 bite them, so apparently they sometimes have trouble getting the dogs to apprehend women. I guess they figured that after they bit me they were good to go.
    Yes, bird bones are softer, so less likely to chip a tooth.

    Sent from my iPod

  • Nancy Calloway

    That was a VETERINARY Dental Surgeon in Chicago.

  • theBCnut

    HaHaHa!!! Sticker shock got you. I get enough Darwin’s to use it about every six days and do half kibble and half raw. As an example, I might give Darwin’s on Sunday, Monday would be herring or sardine from Hare Today, Tuesday would be a premix, Wednesday would be a Meaty bone, Thursday would be a homemade recipe, Friday would be tripe, Saturday would be back to Darwin’s. This changes as needed depending on what I have in the house, which freezer I’m trying to empty out… You can be as flexible as you need to be. I always make sure I have plenty of Darwin’s in the house when I travel, because my squeamish husband thinks Darwin’s looks like ground beef so it doesn’t bother him to give that to the dogs.

  • Nancy Calloway

    oh no. I did not know you were “little n nut” . Sorry and forgive me.
    I have not used bones bec my vet said if I could only SEE what she deals with re TEETH — broken, cracked, needing root canals I would stay away from bones and antlers — and that reminds me of Dr Becker saying her DENTAL SURGEON FRIEND built a new WING on his hospital from profits made doing tooth damage procedures…. anyway, so far I have stayed away from bones. Maybe turkey necks are the safest?
    I need some good training in this area bec I KNOW my boy would love bones. If you could SEE those GS Teeth…. they are beautiful and MADE FOR BONES!

  • Nancy Calloway

    Here it is:

    Just talked to DARWINS today. 56 lbs of everything but Bison for 4 weeks (for my 70 lb GSD) is $$259.76. They are out of tripe. I can’t give it to him and not to my precious golden. The 100 pound special (which includes her) comes to $491. 04. WOw.

    Question: Any of you use Darwin for one meal and kibble with a topper for the second meal? I was thinking Nature’s Logic w a topper at supper.

    Or is it better to use all Darwin for a week or two or more and THEN rotate over to something else? (That mght be hard on my boy with the digestive issues).

    HOW to use it without using it all the time. I don’t even WANT To multiply $491 by TWELVE months!

    Thanks.

  • Nancy Calloway

    MY recent comment on DARWINS is attributable to all you regulars who have walked along with me since about March. Just think about how you have brought me along from TASTE OF THE WILD to DARWINS! Now that’s quite a distance. Pat yourselves on the back. Each of you! Thanks so much!

  • Nancy Calloway

    Just talked to DARWINS today. 56 lbs of everything but Bison for 4 weeks (for my 70 lb GSD) is $$259.76. They are out of tripe. I can’t give it to him and not to my precious golden. The 100 pound special (which includes her) comes to $491. 04. WOw.

    Question: Any of you use Darwin for one meal and kibble with a topper for the second meal? I was thinking Nature’s Logic w a topper at supper.

    Or is it better to use all Darwin for a week or two or more and THEN rotate over to something else? (That mght be hard on my boy with the digestive issues).

    HOW to use it without using it all the time. I don’t even WANT To multiply $491 by TWELVE months!

    Thanks.

  • theBCnut

    The “Meaty bones” the butcher showed you are soup bones with some meat on them, and are meaty because if you use those for soup then your soup would have meat in it.

    Large meaty bones for dogs are neck bones from larger animals, ribs, shoulders, turkey quarters, etc. Small meaty bones are chicken necks, wings, legs, lamb and kid ribs, some pork ribs. Then there are all the sizes in between. Have fun shopping!

    Not that it matters, but I’m the nut with a small n, everyone here knows who you must be talking about when you use the capital N, and it’s not me.

  • Nancy Calloway

    BC, you dear soul! Thank you! I went to Whole Foods and the very young “butcher” showed me what HE called a “Meaty Bone” and showed me the marrow inside that bone. He used the terms interchangeably. I had the intuition that he lacked some knowledge, but so do I, for sure. He said that a bone like that would take maybe 4 to 5 days to “finish” and that I should put it in the fridge after the dog chewed it for 30 minutes. (ugh) Kimberly at Ziwi told me that she feeds them”large meaty bones” (she gave descriptions of several and it included ribs, just as you said). So that now makes more sense. Those bones did NOT have marrow in them. I understood from the way she described it that the labs EAT THOSE BONES UP at supper. THEY ARE the supper. THANK YOU for explaining, because I left Whole Foods that day feeling that I did not YET have the information I was seeking! Bravo again for the NUT!!

  • theBCnut

    Hi Nancy
    A raw meaty bone is not the same thing as a marrow bone. We don’t “feed” our dogs marrow bones. When we talk about giving a meaty bone, we are talking about a consumable bone, like a rib, or turkey neck, something that the dog can eat the whole thing. Marrow bones are too hard and may cause broken teeth.

  • Nancy Calloway

    OOPS Sorry – I called YOU “Gracie!”
    I’m sure you’re not offended. Gracie seems like such a love! :)

  • Nancy Calloway

    Gracie: What a puzzle you are piecing together !! I’m reading through the Darwin posts bec I’m thinking will move to feeding raw and am trying to learn everything I can. Have been investigating Ziwi and have talked to Kimberly about it (an owner? She answers the phone when she’s there. I have not been successful reaching them by phone to ask questions. Have left messages and emails. Nothing back). It must be a very small business.
    I will be interested in hearing how it works for you. I have a GSD, 22 mos old and 70 pounds. Not only will Ziwi will be very expensive but the 31% fat is a concern. Kimberly told me she has 2 labs. She feeds them each 2 1/2 scoops topped with 1/2 can of ziwi canned food AND a heaping TBS of FlaxSeed Oil. Then at night they each get a large “meaty bone.” I have been to the butcher and a meaty bone usually has a lot of marrow in it, which is also lots of fat. So I have sort of backed off of adapting that feeding protocol, at least to begin with. She says her dogs take walks with her but that mostly they are in the office lying around. They are beautiful choc labs (can see on the website photos). So, all that being said, I am interested in GRACIE’S EXPERIENCE with Ziwi and your comments. I have also read all the reviews of Ziwi at Amazon. With the exception of only a few posts, people LOVE THIS FOOD. Most comment on the price but quickly say it’s worth it. I am also curious as to HOW to be sure the dog who eats Ziwi gets enough water to drink. When I first discovered Ziwi I was thrilled. But like everything else, more scrutiny opened up questions. I think it is perhaps one of the better, “cleaner” foods available today. Thank you so much for any comments you can share. Hearing peoples’ experiences really helps me. I so much hope Gracie is improving. What a frustration for you ! Keeping my fingers crossed!