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  • haleycookie

    If you look at Darwin’s note about this you’ll see all these lots have been used already. Darwin also emailed everyone of their customers about this issue. They were also not allowed to do independent testing of the samples the fda had to be sure of the contamination as the fda refused. The fda also refused to work with the company on sending out another warning to the buying customers from back in nov-dec.
    when Darwin refused to allow the fda to have all their customers information so they could be alerted (privacy policy AND they had already alerted the customers anyway) they threaten Darwin with this warning. No dogs were affected nor were any humans. All food has already been consumed or used so. Kind of a pointless warning really.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 3 months ago by haleycookie. Reason: Spelling errors

    Excerpt from link provided in above post.

    Why is the FDA issuing this alert?
    The FDA is issuing this alert because these three lots of Darwin’s Natural Pet Products raw dog food represent a serious threat to human and animal health and are adulterated under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act because they contain Salmonella. Because these products are sold and stored frozen, and the FDA is concerned that people may still have them in their possession.
    The FDA considers the actions taken by Arrow Reliance to remove violative product from the marketplace to meet the regulatory definition of a recall. However, the firm has not issued public notification, and the FDA is not confident that the firm’s customer notifications are effective for this ongoing recall. The FDA continues to work with Arrow Reliance, doing business as Darwin’s Natural Pet Products, on recalling the remaining products from these lots.


    Excerpt below:

    March 26, 2019
    Fast Facts
    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is cautioning pet owners not to feed their pets three lots of Darwin’s Natural Pet Products raw dog food after samples from these lots tested positive for Salmonella. The codes for each product are listed in the second group of numbers below the barcode on the package. These products are as follows.
    Darwin’s Natural Pet Products Natural Selections Chicken Recipe with Organic Vegetables for Dogs: 5309(11)181019, manufactured on October 19, 2018
    Darwin’s Natural Pet Products Natural Selections Chicken Recipe with Organic Vegetables for Dogs: 5375(11)181106, manufactured on November 11, 2018
    Darwin’s Natural Pet Products Natural Selections Turkey Recipe with Organic Vegetables for Dogs: 5339(11)181026, manufactured on October 26, 2018
    If you have these lots of Darwin’s Natural Pet Food, throw them away.
    The FDA is issuing this alert because these three lots of Darwin’s Natural Pet Products raw dog food represent a serious threat to human and animal health and are adulterated under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act because they contain Salmonella.
    Salmonella can affect both human and animal health. People with symptoms of Salmonella infection should consult their health care providers. Consult a veterinarian if your pet has symptoms of Salmonella infection.

    Kym P

    Hi all! My doxie was diagnosed with PLE at 9. It was touch and go for months. Steroid injections, antibiotics, expensive kibble made from kangaroo meat. He went from 18 pounds of pure muscle to 9 pounds of skin and bone. After months of trying this drug and that (chemo based cancer drugs, etc) I said enough and switched him to a raw diet of turkey from Darwin’s Pet. In just 1 month I saw a difference! I weaned him off the steroids and everything else and he did great for almost 2 years and started having some trouble. He’s now on steroids every third day and still eating the raw food from Darwin’s and doing great at 12.5 years! I hope this helps!

    Kelley W

    Hello, I think my dogs are allergic to fermented foods. I started feeding them Answers Dog Food and both did poorly on it. Severe and intense itching. Vomiting and diarrhea. The one dog with vomiting and diarrhea was taken off of it immediately. The other dog was on it for 3 months and had loose stool the entire time. Everyone said “it’s die off” “give it time” “I can’t imagine a dog would be allergic to raw goats milk”, etc. etc. His stool used to be perfect when he was on Darwins and other non-fermented foods. I’m going to switch back.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 9 months ago by Kelley W.
    Cotons mom

    I ordered food for my pups from Darwin 2 weeks ago and just saw that Dog Food Advisor will not rate that brand of food because of the recalls that have occurred prior to 3/18. Can anyone give me more info that is recent and should I not feed the food to my dogs, they seem to have no problems with it yet, but willing to not use if there could be any slight problem.


    Hi Jessica-
    The website you linked certainly does not make it clear but the Signature recipe is the recipe you are accustomed to. It is the 95%/5% recipe and has not had any changes made to its formulation. They simply re-branded it when they released their lower protein line which is in the packaging of the previously 95%/5% formulas. Its confusing but the quality of the food has not changed. The 85%/15% was introduced for people “new” to raw because it is more affordable. Many other brands have similar protein/produce compositions (e.g. Primal, Northwest Naturals, Darwins, and more).
    I second everything Pitlove said, the important thing is having the single protein composition. Which looking at the ingredient panel of the Natures Variety non-signature chicken and beef formulas they have maintained.


    Topic: Diet Switch

    in forum Raw Dog Food

    So I have been feeding my Brittney (5) Darwins since she was a puppy and my Foxhound (3) since we got him which was about a year ago. I live in Tampa, FL and the cost of shipping is just crazy, so between the cost, the Darwin customer service and recalls and my wife shying away from raw since we have a newborn, I really need a good solution.

    Should I switch to a kibble like Orijen? A mix like Merrick Back Country Infused Raw, Kibble plus dehydrated raw supplements or is there another raw option that would be more cost-effective, and she isn’t going to let me grind anything up so bulk probably wouldn’t work.\

    I just want to make sure they keep being healthy and I hate the idea of just putting them back on kibble. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Jeff R

    Hello, New to this forum, I am picking up a 8 week old Golden Retriever puppy, and looking at food options for the Large Breed puppy. I was looking at mixing a freeze dried raw food like Grandma Lucy’s, or maybe Dr Harvey’s, with a little K9 Natural, or Darwin’s raw frozen. Would this be appropriate, I’m I over thinking this, he will be on a large breed kibble when i pick him up, and I was wanting to switch him over after a week or two. Or do you have other recommendations, or stay with a good quality kibble, like Fromm’s or Wellness Core?

    Bonnie M

    My 12 year old beagle basset hound mix is also a very picky eater and when I found this food Honestly Bare she gobbled it up just like you all have commented. As I was reading I noticed this product was made by Purina. My dog eats the Honestly Bare, Slow-cooked Tenders, the Chicken Apple & Sweet Potato formula, but it has “Beef Glycerine” & the “natural hickory smoke flavor” powder which are not good and is probably the reason why she gobbles it up.

    I too have tried too many types and brands to even name including raw brands like Stella and Chewy’s, Darwin’s, etc, but she hated the raw and would refuse to eat for almost 2 days at a time. However, I was told to stay the course and when she gets hungry she will eat. I also had her on Acana and Orijen dry Foods but of course she only liked the ones that were too high in either fat or protein for her that gave her diarrhea. So I too have spent a fortune trying different types of dog food. I also tried Ziwi Peak and she liked it but it is too expensive for my budget.

    I also put a request in to have this food reviewed. I just became a member about 2 hours ago and I am so excited to gain wisdom and insight about the dog foods on the market and hopefully find a food sooner than later that will be healthy for my dog as she has struggled with pancreatitis in the past years ago although she hasn’t had a problem with that now but she does have thyroid issues and is on medication twice a day for that and has recurring yeast infections in one of her ears which drives me crazy I’m not sure what to do about this so hopefully finding a food will help with all of this. I also will give her cooked chicken or beef or turkey with some of her dry food of which I cut the portion of dry food when I add the cooked meat.

    Any suggestions or tips or ideas or recommendations are greatly appreciated and welcomed. Thank You, Bonnie M.


    Topic: Wild on Raw??

    in forum Raw Dog Food
    Jeff S

    So I have a 14 week old Australian Labradoodle puppy who I was possibly transitioning to raw or at least mostly raw—want to keep some kibble to make it easier for travel and friends watching her. Anyway started transitioning her to Raw about a week ago. Have been using a sample pack from Darwin’s as well as some Primal Raw frozen–both chicken. She seems to be doing generally ok, although it seems that for about 1/2-1 hour after she eats, she gets very hyper–sometimes running in big circles with her tail between her legs and/or being very restless. Spoke with Darwins’ but they said they haven’t heard of this. has anyone experienced this? So far I have been only giving her commercial raw, except for yesterday when I gave her a piece of raw turkey wing (which she enjoyed and chewed up pretty well). Yesterday about 3 hours after eating the turkey wing she did regurgitate with much of the turkey looking undigested (she re-ate it). She then seemed fine. After playing for a bit and taking a nap she seemed very hungry so gave her a handful of kibble (Acana). About another 2-3 hours after, she threw up agin–mostly partially digested kibble. She was good the rest of the night (slept through until morning). Fed her kibble this morning and she was good most of the day. Fed her some more raw (Darwins chicken at lunch) got a bit hyper again but was good most of the rest of the day until after dinner–which was some more Darwins and a bit of Allprovide. Again shortly after eating she got very hyper, racing around the yard picking up sticks, etc.

    So, is this normal? Am I transitioning her too quickly? is the hyper ness possibly an upset stomach (she sometimes seems to run and sit quickly–once and a while dragging her butt a bit (has been dewormed plus saw a tapeworm before i stated the raw and she was dewormed for that as well).

    Also, since we’ve had her she has been a bit itchy/biting around the base of her tail and back legs, although the vet could not find any fleas and didn’t think it should be any more worms. Since starting the raw nothing has really changed with the itching (I realize it is kind of soon to expect any change in that–just bringing it up in case it’s a sign of something else).

    Anyway, anyone have any thoughts. Not while I’m writing this, she has been panting a bit heavily and looked like she was going to vomit again although nothing happened.



    Barbara L B

    Not looking for trouble, just checking, as a newer raw feeding dog. Currently have Steve’s, Darwin’s and Primal in the freezer and frankly Steve’s is looking good at half the price of the other two.

    Janice H

    I would like to nominate Darwin’s Natural Pet Products, particularly their Natural Selections line, which has 5 stars on your website.


    Dianne P

    I would like to Nominate Darwin’s Natural selections raw

    Anne B

    This is all such valuable information for me. I have followed this website for years but just joined up.
    I have had our two dogs, a vizsla and a lab on amended Orijen kibble for years. Between a combination of information gained from: this website, Dog Naturally Magazine, Orijen (USA) rather than Orijen (Canada) and then losing a few lines (Orijen/Acana, Fromm) because decided to buy PetsMart AND the brew Ha Ha with the CleanLabel folk (but I digress).
    All of the reasons above have brought me to the decision to eliminate kibble either all together, which is my preference or at the very most 1/4 to 1/2 kibble and mix with either freeze-dried raw or raw frozen (when we get a stand alone freezer).
    I am a rookie to the BARF diet for our dogs. Historically, the vizsla transitions easily to new diets/foods (7 to 10 days) but our labrador has to transition more slowly 2-3 weeks for his GI system to tolerate the change without upset. To date he continues to get a tbsp of organic pumpkin mixed in his Six Fish kibble.
    With our vizsla, I have been scaling back his amount of kibble and introduced Stella & Chewy’s freezes-dried patties (mostly 5 stars except for 4 star Duck Duck-he loves it), just ordered the Vital Essentials since it does not have all the additives.
    I just have begun to explore the Darwin’s Natural Selection website. The name has a peticularily personal meaning for our vizsla. His sire’s registered name was “Darwin’s Natural Selection”, aka.”Darwin” .
    I certainly need and want to increase my knowledge of what is best for our dogs. Looking forward to your input and exchange of ideas. Also the information about online websites for ordering their raw frozen and/or freeze-dried food as well as the kibble, now that Orijen and split the sheets.
    Thanks to all.

    Jude N


    My senior chihuahua/JRT mix had a bout of acute pancreatitis several years ago. He had bloodwork done a few months ago and didn’t have anything elevated enough that it concerned the veterinarian.

    I’ve been trying to feed him a raw diet, but he only likes beef, and is clearly unhappy when he feels forced to eat anything else. He’d rather not eat for several days than eat pork, venison, duck, or chicken willingly. This inability to rotate him on proteins has me nervous about trying to stick with a “homemade” raw diet, and I’m looking to switch to commercial raw. Budget is a major concern for me.

    There’s a good deal going on at Chewy’s right now for a food called Tylee’s. Here are the ingredients:

    “Nutritional Info
    Beef Heart, Ground Beef, Water (Sufficient For Processing), Beef Liver, Spinach, Broccoli, Zucchini, Sweet Potato, Mangos, Tricalcium Phosphate, Chia Seeds, Sunflower Oil, Ground Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Cod Liver Oil Powder, Dried Parsley, Ground Cinnamon, Dried Kelp, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Rosemary Extract, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate.”

    I read in another post on this forum that it has a very high fat content…something like 34-38%. Yikes.

    His pancreatitis attack was the result of a dogsitter feeding him a fatty, greasy, smoked ham bone that she had thought was a yummy treat for him. He was on a low-fat diet for several months afterwards.

    Chip refuses kibble, wet food, re-hydrated raw, and Nature’s Instinct raw patties (I think he’s just bored of the Nature’s Instinct; he used to eat it well). Primal , THK, and Darwin’s are too expensive for me.

    There’s another food called Ollie’s that I’m looking into, but I’m not thrilled about a couple of the ingredients (potatoes and peas, specifically).

    Does anyone have any advice/experience on how long a pancreatic attack needs to be considered in a dog’s diet? Does anyone feed Tylee’s, or Ollie’s?

    Thank you 🙂


    I thought Darwins had “gotten their act together” but apparently not. Too bad.

    Rose G

    @PitLuv Thank you for the update on Darwin’s and a better source for raw. I will look at this further.

    @anon101 Thank you for those links to Reddit. I saw some of that info yesterday and the red flags went up. That’s one of the reasons I came to this forum to discuss all of this further. And, the reason I will call some labs today to see how much it costs to test the food I feed my dogs. Hopefully it’s not a small fortune!


    Hi Rose-

    I would look at Darwins facebook page before considering that company. A lot of complaints about orders being wrong, not shipped, no one from the company answering the phone or emails, quality of the meat going downhill. A lot of folks stopped using Darwins and moved on.

    If you are interested in commercially prepared raw food, Natures Variety is just about the only trustworthy company.

    Rose G

    I don’t think my vet is actually going to know about the toxins. I think this is the elephant in the room. No one is paying attention to this. I’ve been looking at a site that creates raw food, Darwins, and so far they seem to be very high quality; however, I’m on the fence about a raw diet based on other things I have read, including information on skeptvet. My husband suggested that I contact a local lab and have them test the food that we feed our dogs. I don’t know what this costs, but I’m going to research it. That way hopefully I find out the truth.

    The thing about *** is that we also need to know what their agenda is. I’ve seen some posts that they are funded by people/company that produces lower quality food so that these reports steer us back towards that food. I think the fish aspect of high toxins is probably valid since there is so much in our oceans/lakes that are easily absorbed by fish.

    Thanks everyone for your input…I guess we will all be watching carefully for answers.

    Eileen G

    What happened Darwin’s as an Editor’s Choice?

    Cameron B

    Thanks @Fiona S for calling that out. I am just starting to learn about alternatives to dry food.
    I have been feeding my 40lbs Aussie Tylee’s for about 3 weeks now, and she loves it, but I didn’t even think to look at the fat content.

    And the costs are high…at 3 cups a day it costs me $120/month for Tylee’s
    96 ounces = 12 cups. 3 cups a day only provides me with a week supply so at $30/week adds up.

    So I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do…may try out Darwin’s but that costs a little more than I was wanting to pay.


    Hi FrankiesDoggie,
    I’ve looked at a lot of commercial raw diets including Darwins, Primal, Natures Variety, Answers. Natures Variety as a company was able to correctly answer my nutritional inquiries to them and they HPP their diets. In general when I’ve looked at the nutrient profiles of other raw diets I’ve found self reported deficiencies. When I contact the company to inquire about the self reported deficiency they don’t reply.

    Some providers simply grind up animal parts and sell it as dog food. Personally I wouldn’t use that type of product at all. In order to balance such a product you’d need a full nutrient analysis and I’ve never seen this type of information provided. Dogs can look great on highly unbalanced/improper diets but eventually they cause problems.


    Here’s my personal list winnowed down after extensive research:

    Nature’s Variety, Darwin’s Natural Selections, Bravo, Stella and Chewy’s, Primal Raw, OC Raw Dog, Vital Essentials, Northwest Naturals, Steve’s Real Food (maybe Answers if I can get past the weird packaging).

    My criteria is:

    —Freeze dried versions available (for travel)
    —Consistently rated 4.5 or above for all formulas (I’m amazed that one Primal formula for example will be five stars, and then the very next one is only 2.5, yeesh)
    —Widely available at my local pet boutiques (or convenient packages purchased online)
    —Not insanely expensive

    Anyone have favorites I might have overlooked?

    lori l

    My dog Zoe was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis and mild ME six years ago and has now developed digestive issues – some gastritis and most likely Gastroparesis. High volume meals are a problem and smaller meals seem okay until they accumulate in her stomach then voila…she will vomit. Darwin’s raw would not make good meatballs unless you cooked it. When Zoe vomits her Darwins there are chunks of bone in the vomit and I suspect those are difficult to digest in her stomach. She has also eaten in the past ….Smallbatch patties. Good quality raw. The bone seems to be ground up and not chunky and they might roll into meatballs. They Turkey patties are lower in fat than the others. I haven’t gone back to the SB brand since Zoe started vomiting. I too, are in the hunt for the perfect food. Not too high in fat, not too high in fiber and enough protein for good health. Have you had any luck with the freeze dried brands HDM suggested? My vet doesn’t like Zoe being on raw right now and wants a “cooked” food. I may tried the freeze dried option so I can cook it as much as I need to. Its been a while since your post…any luck since then? Zoe is not on Raglan…does it help? Any side-affects?

    Sherri D

    I received this reply from Darwin’s regarding the calories for their Chicken and Turkey formulas.

    Our Chicken Meals for dogs are 40 Kcals per ounce (320 Kcals, 1/2 pound) 1.5 lbs equals around 1000 calories
    Our Turkey Meals for dogs are 36 Kcals per ounce (288 Kcals, 1/2 pound) 1.7 lbs equals 1000 Kcals


    Hi Kylie: I have no experience in wet food for yeasty dogs so I can’t help with that. I Tried keeping my dog away from various ingredients but no luck. I tried feeding Darwins raw but no change. My holistic vet suggested a raw with no produce and that worked, for him. All dogs are different. He had one ear infection in recent ears and we think it was due to humidity. He does groom himself often and sometimes he licks a sore in between toes. He has that now.

    A grain free low carb food may be worth a shot. Keep in mind, you need to give him no treats, just his food. Keep a journal.

    I dont know exactly what causes my dogs issues but a change to raw worked for him. I can deal with an occasional ear infection due to humidity and paw licking is fine, unless he’s causing damage which is happening now. I *think* that is due to heat in the house causing dry skin and boredom.


    In reply to: Newbie to Raw

    Z B

    Do you know if commercial raw pet food companies like Hare Today and Darwins take any precautions above and beyond the raw meat that is sold in grocery stores?

    Asking because I occasionally use hare today grinds as a topper but it’s not a regular feature in my dogs diet (too expensive).
    I cook most of the grocery store meat I purchase for toppers. I feed a few raw chicken hearts a week.

    Laura L

    I need advice for my 15+ yr old Affen. I’m new; please forgive me if I’m asking you to repeat advice given previously- I feel like time is of the essence, & I can’t process everything I’m researching all at once. Donald has heart murmur/ recent trip to heart dr/ received good report. She said discontinue enalapril or switch to benazepril. He also takes VetMedin; Lasix; Denamarin. He also has Cushings & was taking Vetoryl until last week.
    11/23 was first blood work in a while- I didn’t realize the signs of kidney disease earlier. We also moved recently & had to find new vet. 11/23: BUN 88/ CREA 2.6. SubQ fluids. Acupuncture 11/29 (for arthritis) & holistic vet gave me homemade food recipe, which I fed that Tues/Wed/Thurs. D smelled like ammonia after food. BUN went to >130; CREA 2.0. Then went ER vet for iv fluids (careful to watch heart condition.) He started canned kidney diet. On 12/03, BUN 97; CREA 1.7. SubQ fluids 3x / week & BUN & CREA decrease: 65 & 1.9; 57 & 1.7. I added Azodyl somewhere around this time. 12/15/16: heart dr says discontinue enalapril & clears D for teeth cleaning. Had urine protein test at this time/ it was good (like 2, on a scale to 5.) 12/22: BUN 37 & CREA 1.4. 1/06/17: BUN 41/ CREA 1.3 (I think at this pt we had moved to fluids 2x/ week.) 1/13/17: BUN: 49 CREA 1.3. (Note: D had acupuncture again.) The next week D vomited bile on Wed & Sun and wouldn’t eat. We stopped Vetoryl (I know NOW that it’s bad for filtration & bad with ace inhibitor & with diuretic.) Ate a little rice; broth; chicken but would vomit it. 1/18/17: BUN 90 CREA 1.8. 1/20/17: BUN 107 CREA 1.6. Back to ER vet for iv fluids. 01/21/17: BUN: 83 CREA 1.9. 1/23/17: BUN 70; CREA 2.3. He’s had phosphate binders during both ER trips. I’ve ordered a renal supplement, B vitamins, & omega 3s. What else can I do? Would you feed Darwins even though it has high phosphates? Doesn’t Darwins have a binder in it? Would you try homemade? – I’m hesitant since my only attempt sent his BUN off the charts. Do you think accupuncture could have helped cushings enough to cause an overdose effect since he was taking Vetoryl? Apologies for the long post- Would love any thoughts- it’s a hilly, scary road, & I need you, fellow travelers. Much love -le


    I see a lot of posts for Darwin’s, any reason that anyone knows of for it not being included? I feed frozen raw for an allergy boy. I was using Natural Instinct then it became hard to find and started using Stella and Chewy’s, but recently the local pet stores have carried it less and it is now a special order. When asked, they say that Primal has a better sourcing for the meat. It is more expensive and I am curious how true that is? Is it a matter of profit margin? I know many will advocate for making their own, but as a over 26 year vegetarian/vegan I am doing well feeding commercial raw. Thanks everyone!


    Darwins is bloody as is the Vital Essentials in the tube I got. I’ve seen VE and Stella & Chewy in patties that were not bloody. I don’t know why/

    Katherine B

    I have a 14 lb Havanese who is 14 lbs.!! I feed both Darwin and Primal. Both are very bloody unless you buy the freeze dried. I much prefer freeze dried but it is way more expensive. I speak with one of the nutritionalist at Darwin’s when I have questions. Not sure why but he says the freeze dried is not as good for dogs as the frozen. I still use it frequently. She loves it and I don’t worry nearly as much about the safety. Sometimes the raw looks so bloody and disgusting it is difficult for me to feed. However, I have seen such improvement in her health issues after beginning the raw diet I feed it all the time. Began two years ago after listening to many of Dr. Karen Becker’s videos on You Tube. James at Darwin’s just happened to tell me once Darwin’s consults with her when they created the special prescription foods. Sophia, my little girl, has Cushings and a ‘Leaky heart valve’! After feeding primal raw for one year and adding Adrenal Gold from Pet Wellbeing to the food I had her blood work rechecked. Everything that had been extremely high before was near normal. Wish I had realized the importance of feeding a raw diet 14 years ago. I truly believe she would be a healthy dog today.

    Cynthia L

    I would like to nominate Darwins. Delivered to your door with dry ice.
    Gluten-Free & Grain-Free
    No Steroids, No Hormones, No Antibiotics
    Grass Fed Beef, Pasture-Raised Bison, and Cage-Free Poultry
    Organic Vegetables


    Hi CircaRigel-
    Thanks for the update. Galen is a lucky pup! I’m glad to hear Darwins is back to being a reliable company. Best wishes to you and Galen. 🐶🐸


    Triet S,
    Raw dehydrated is usually actually freeze-dried, which maintains all of the nutrients of raw, but in a convenient, dry form that keeps a lot better. Raw frozen is exactly that. It contains all of the natural moisture of the original composition, and is kept frozen to keep it from spoiling. One of the disadvantages here is that it’s generally recommended to thaw it before feeding, and you don’t want to do that in the microwave, as that will cook it a little and alter some of the proteins. I usually thaw a couple of days worth of Galen’s Darwin’s Natural Selections in the refrigerator at least 24 hours prior to feeding. His freeze dried treats require no refrigeration or freezing to maintain their quality, so the’re easier to carry as treats. As for freeze dried that is meant as a staple food, like Primal freeze dried nuggets, it is recommended to add water to rehydrate it for a specified time prior to feeding.


    It’s been a while, and I thought I’d provide an update on Galen, now 19 months old, technically an adolescent for a giant breed (Shiloh Shepherd), but no longer a puppy. However, I did go through a number of adjustments to his diet as he grew up, and thought I’d discuss them. I’ll first discuss kibbles, since that is generally the area where improper calcium and phosphorus content causes problems. Brands discussed include Eukanuba, Holistic Select (and other WellPet brands), Canidae, Taste of the Wild, Fromms, Tripett, and my absolute favorite and the most impressive, nutritionally… Darwin’s Natural Selections. I will also briefly touch on treats. Every choice I’ve made for Galen has come about via extensive research, wanting only the very best for Galen’s growth and health, for he is training as my service dog. My first responsibility is to him, even before looking after myself, for it is his responsibility to always be looking after me. Besides… I consider him family on equal par to my most beloved family members. I have linked the Dog Food Advisor pages for Galen’s finalized diet at the bottom of this post.

    Galen’s breeder weaned her litter on Eukanuba Large Breed Puppy diet. After his adoption, I transitioned him to Fromm’s, which is what his breeder now weans her puppies on, but his stools were often quite soft. There was a brief period when I tried Holistic Select Large breed puppy, but rapidly transitioned away from it when Galen became ill. As it happens, ALL kibble foods made by WellPet (Wellness, Holistic Select, Old Mother Hubbard, Eagle Pack) contain green tea extract. While the very small amounts are probably not harmful to most dogs, particularly since it’s being taken with food, I found a number of studies that were halted because of dogs dying after being given green tea extract on an empty stomach. There is no way I can know for certain, but I suspect Galen is somehow particularly susceptible to toxic effects from it, even in small doses. So I began researching foods, and I liked the nutrition profile for some of the Canidae varieties, and while they were not specifically puppy or large breed diets, I contacted Canidae to make sure I chose a variety with the proper calcium and phosphorus ratios for proper bone growth (Canidae has recently been shifting their manufacturing away from Diamond pet foods, with a new processing plant in California). He did well on this, but didn’t like it much. Since he’s rather thin (but not so much as to be unhealthy, according to his vets at Alameda East, the same hospital where Animal Planet’s “Emergency Vets” was filmed, as it’s closest to where I live), I decided to change things up again when he was about a year old. Since he now was at an age where his calcium metabolism was properly established (generally puppies older than 8 months old can properly metabolize calcium, without the need to limit it so much), it broadened the choices of available foods for him. So, I made a list of grain free foods on Dog Food Advisor with 4+ ratings, focusing especially on 5 star rated foods, and ordered a bunch of sample packs for him to try from K9Cuisine. Of all of the foods he tried, he preferred the 5 star rated varieties of Taste of the Wild best. While I’m not fond of the record of Diamond pet foods, I trust the ratings of Dog Food Advisor (except the high ratings of kibbles by WellPet brands, for the previously mentioned Green Tea toxicity risk). Anyway, to keep things interesting for his palate, I now transition between the three 5 star rated varieties of TOTW for dry food.

    Canned foods: From very early on, I had Galen eating Tripett green beef tripe as his wet food. I chose this because green tripe contains the nutrients of what the cow ate as well as the nutritional value and digestive enzymes that are naturally inherent to tripe. I have tried other varieties of canned foods, but Galen usually turns his nose up at them after a few days, when the novelty wears off. There has been a single exception, though, which I also supplement his diet with. That is Darwin’s Natural Selections raw foods. Back when I was letting Galen choose from among the samples I got for him, I also got the $15 introductory sample of the Darwin’s food (10 lbs variety pack), which included free shipping on dry ice. Their foods are raw, made from free-range, organic animal sources and organic vegetables. They come in easy to open plastic packets. Dog Food Advisor not only rates it 5 stars, but enthusiastically recommends the foods. They have never had a recall. I was quite surprised to find that the food was packaged and frozen just a few days before it shipped to me. Now, Once you have had the trial and go to their subscription plan, the cost is far higher, plus shipping on dry ice. It’s too high for me to feed to Galen exclusively or even as half his diet, so I subscribe to it as a supplement to his regular diet, feeding him 2 lbs a week. I get him all varieties, which include chicken, turkey, duck, beef, and bison. Of all of the foods I’ve ever fed a dog, This has been by far of the highest quality I’ve encountered.

    Galen is incredibly picky even with treats, generally preferring single-ingredient, meat based treats. These have included Simply Lamb (freeze dried lamb), PureBites freeze dried chicken breast, PureBites freeze dried duck liver, and Primal freeze dried Nuggets (lamb), although the nuggets I use more as an occasional supplement rather than a treat. Galen turns his nose up at most other treats, even jerky treats. That’s fine by me. I rather like seeing only one ingredient listed, which leaves me zero doubts of there being anything in it that is unnecessary to his health (i.e. preservatives).

    On a final note, around holidays I like to make a turkey stock from the leftovers and carcass (bones removed, of course, after cooking so that nutrients specific to the bones leach into the stock, like the marrow). That turkey stock is for Galen, as a special treat supplementing his food.

    So… Galen’s final adult diet:
    Taste of the Wild (wetlands, High Prairie, and Canyon varieties)
    Tripett Green Beef Tripe
    Darwin’s Natural Selections raw (beef, bison, chicken, turkey, and duck)

    • This reply was modified 4 years ago by CircaRigel.
    • This reply was modified 4 years ago by CircaRigel.
    • This reply was modified 4 years ago by CircaRigel.

    Pitluv- you hit the nail on the head. The way we treat our animals has so much more of an impact than anything else. My childhood dog, Hoagie, ate grocery store kibble all his life. But we took him running, camping, swimming, everywhere with us. He lived to the ripe old age of 14 and still chased the frisbee with his blind eyes and wobbly hips on his last days.

    For me, dog nutrition has become something I am vastly interested in. And thank you so much for mentioning the calorie aspect of dog food because upon further research I’ve concluded that the calcium to calorie ratio in S&C is WAY too high for large breed puppies. Darwin’s, on the other hand, is within healthy range in all aspects (cheaper for mom, too!)


    Hello! I am a long time reader of DFA Forums but this is the first time I’ve actually posted anything. I have two dogs; a 4 year old minpin tripawd (Bean) and now a 4 month old Doberman/Rottweiler x puppy (Jax). Bean has done great on all and any premium food (wet, raw, kibble, he’s been on it all) but the more I read the more I want to just bite the bullet and switch fully to raw. Jax on the other hand, has had quite the hard time with kibble. I got Jax about two months ago and immediately put him on Orijen Large Breed Puppy. He’s had on and off diarrhea since I’ve had him. I figured the Orijen may have just been too much for his digestive system so I transitioned him (VERY) slowly to Natures Instinct Raw Boost Large Breed Puppy Kibble. His stools were firm for about three days until the diarrhea started again. I’ve had him tested for parasites and every malady under the sun with only negative results. Right now I just have him on cooked turkey and rice to settle his tummy until I decide on what to try next. I was hoping for some input from all of you lovely people!

    I am concerned about putting a large breed puppy on raw so young, simply because I lack all of the knowledge about his nutritional needs. But so far, here are the options I’ve come up with.

    Honest Kitchen Preference Base Mix mixed with a rotation of raw grinds/meats primarily from Primal and EcoPawz Raw (a local raw company in my area)

    Stella and Chewy’s Frozen Raw (rotation of proteins)

    Darwin’s Zoologics Line (a little out of my budget but they are sounding better and better)

    No matter which I choose, I will definitely supplement with raw goat milk, yogurt, etc. I would also like some input on what kinds of meat I can buy at the grocery store. I’ve only ever bought dog raw from PFE. Sorry for the long post and I’m really looking forward to any and all input. You all rule!

    Sally, Jax & Bean

    Eugene B

    I’m planning on feeding raw in a couple months when i get my pups and was wondering if it wld be good or bad if i fed Darwin’s food for one meal and a from scratch raw meal for the next?


    I’m sorry to hear about this 🙁 I would strongly recommend trying bone broth for your girl while she’s still having issues with nausea and vomiting. It’s got many beneficial vitamins and minerals in it that will be easily digestible to your dog. You can buy bone broth from some specialty pet stores already made (popular brand Honest Kitchen makes some) but it’s really easy to do yourself! It’s not a complete and balanced diet, but starting your dog back onto regular food isn’t always easy and this is a solid, nutritious start. Regarding raw, I disagree with the previous poster in that raw isn’t good for a dog in this condition. I think you may just want to keep her fat intake to a minimum. Darwins is notorious these days for high fat levels so if you’re looking for a brand with a lower fat content, try Natures Variety Instinct Frozen Raw.

    Here’s a link to bone broth!


    Hi all,
    My doggy had a pancreatitis episode 2 weeks ago and was hospitalized for a day. She made a good recovery. Placed her on bland diet sweet potato and puréed chicken breast and transitioned to raw primal venison (she loved it! She was on darwins before). We ended up at the vet Monday with vomiting… She vomited undigested food 6 hrs after her dinner :/ and then vomited several more times even water the next day. The vet thought she ate too fast or she maybe was over fed? I think her pancreas is still upset and she couldn’t digest the food or too high in fat?

    I’m at a loss what to give her now. We’re back on sweet potato and puréed chicken doing fine (of course on nausea med). Trying a sample of zeal here and there but she’s not crazy about it. She’s a very picky dog.. Will go on hunger strikes and vomit bile. :/ scared to give her primal.

    Looked for homemade recipes but it seems complicated and I’m not sure what to portion out for a 12 lb dog :/.

    Appreciate any input!!


    My 12 yr old dog is hospitalized with pancreatitis (on fluids, bowel rest)… She also has elevated liver enzymes. Before getting sick, she was fed darwins in the morning with coconut oil and natures variety instinct in the evening with probiotic. She was doing great with her skin and allergies…

    I want to modify her diet to less fat… Any suggestions? Cancelled darwins and was thinking either honest kitchen preference (add ground turkey) or natures variety instinct rabbit. She’s very picky..

    Should I start her on milk thistle or sam-e?

    Thank you for your time


    Just be wary, Darwins has had alot of complaints over the last few months. If you’re on fb, go to their page

    Cathy C

    Hi. I am currently feeding my dog the Darwin Raw Canine diet and I would like to know if this is a good choice. I don’t see this product in the Editors Choice section. Please advise !!



    I haven’t worked with any of these folks but have been following them for years.
    Monica Segal
    Kymythy Schultz
    Cat Lane

    Dr. Meg Smart is a board certified vet and taught nutrition. She’s in Canada but may do long distance consults. She is a raw feeder and although she uses some products I wouldn’t (like canola oil etc) I do think she would customize further.

    Dr. Susan Wynn is another board certified vet nutritionist. One of my friends uses her and is very VERY picky about what she will give her dogs (only species appropriate foods).

    Dr. Barbara Royal and Dr. Karen Becker are not certified nutritionists but in my opinion have a great grasp on species appropriate ingredients and foods and have a better understanding on why not to use some things (like canola oil). Dr. Royal created a prescription raw liver and a kidney diet that are sold through Darwins. Dr. Becker co-wrote “Dr. Becker’s Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats”. She has a wonderful grasp on healthful foods and nutrients and how those foods could help or harm our pets.

    Hope the above gives you a few jumping off points!!!

    Anita A

    Mike, does the Darwin’s company with its recent formula changes still meet your 5 star
    rating criteria?
    Darwin’s notified its customers in September, 2015, that “with new AAFCO pet food
    nutritional guidelines on the horizon” it was time for them to make improvements in their raw food formulas. The result has been an increase in fat and decrease in protein. An example:
    Canine Turkey old formula -protein 46 percent;fat 27 percent vs new formula – protein 43 percent; fat 39 percent. My concern is finding the correct balance for two senior dogs.
    Thanks for any input,



    I’m sure you are more than aware that I was discussing AAFCO nutrient profiles (which are set at 18% as a minimum) versus NRC? You have such a way of spinning things…..

    “Balance IT could be an option but I personally wouldn’t have fed my KD girl such a low protein diet.” I gave my opinion about BalanceIT. The OP can take it or leave it.

    Could you point me in the direction of OTC foods that have kidney friendly herbs etc? I missed those when I was planning out Audrey’s diet. In case you missed, I have stated that the Darwin’s diet is not suitable for all stages of KD (however not this time as I think it very likely could be quite appropriate — could being the operative word).


    Thanks all for the replies! There is a lot of info to consider and some I hadn’t even thought of (filtered water!) we are actually considering going to a veterinary nutritionist to have them help create a diet for us, has anyone ever used one of those?

    Shawna- so much info!! You rock! So, so helpful. And gives me a lot of hope for my boy! Initially it was a very scary diagnosis for us, but I feel there’s a lot I can help him with now. I hadn’t heard of Darwin’s yet, looking into that right after this post.
    -Regarding the mineral water, is it ok for other (not kd) dogs to drink this? That could be a dumb question, I am not sure.


    Hi Shawna,
    In regards to balance it I hand calculated out the protein requirements for a 50 lb dog and then looked at several recipes and they all met or exceeded NRC recommendation. Not sure why you’d say the diet isn’t complete and balanced.

    The strength of Balance is it is a good place to start if you can’t afford an individual consult and it looks that you can customize the recipes for a small fee. But if you wanted to say up the protein you could run the calculations yourself since all the nutritional information is given.

    I do agree that in early stages higher protein can be fed and of great importance to me is to calculate protein needs and make sure they are being met independent of the percent of protein in the diet.

    Darwin’s “kidney” diet is quite the mystery to me as phos. is not restricted. As you know phos. restriction is the most important key to slowing down progression of renal disease. The Phos level is nearly twice the NRC recommended amount for a normal dog.

    I’m glad to see they require vet approval as it looks like this diet would only be appropriate for a dog that doesn’t yet need any modifications from AAFCO maintenance requirements. In that case there are OTC diets that are a lot less expensive that could be used


    Hi Sheila23,

    Although a homemade diet is absolutely doable I would do a LOT more research before you decide on any one brand. Example — Tripe is a great food for kd dogs but it is supposedly already balanced in calcium to phosphorus. Adding a premix like Preference, that is designed to balance higher phosphorus meat, could be problematic. Although phosphorus needs to be watched, you can go too low too early in the disease.

    Balance IT could be an option but I personally wouldn’t have fed my KD girl such a low protein diet (ESPECIALLY in the early stages). Based on the nutrient profile of their beef and rice early stage kd diet the protein amount is only 15.3%. That’s ridiculously low for early stage kd without any complicating issues like proteinuria. Not even enough to meet the minimum protein amounts required for an a complete and balanced diet. They also use corn oil — EEEEKK. The chicken & rice recipe is even worse at 14.9% protein.

    If you can afford it, I would highly recommend looking at Darwin’s prescription KD diet formulated by vet Dr. Barbara Royal. The ingredient list is
    “Human-Grade Meat: Beef Meat, Beef Tripe, Beef Pancreas, Beef Lungs, Beef Kidneys, Beef Liver, Beef Heart, Beef Spleen.

    Vegetables: Cabbage, Celery, Squash, Sweet Potato, Beets, Romaine Lettuce.

    Special Nutrient Mix: Filtered Water (for processing), Sardine oil (source of EPA, DPA and DHA), Egg Shell Powder, Parsley, Apple Cider Vinegar, Inulin, Cornsilk, Dandelion Root, Cinnamon, Cranberry, Linden Flowers, , Chitosan, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin E, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3, Aloe Vera.”

    I LOVE that you are starting Alvin on Standard Process Renal Support. It is the one supplement that my Audrey NEVER did without since diagnosis. She had KD from birth (symptoms showed at just 6 weeks of age) but she wasn’t diagnosed till she was 13 months old. She was given one year to live after that. She lived to almost her ninth birthday and it was an infection that took her life not the normal progression of kidney disease.

    Some other things to look at for Alvin — purified water (as much as he wants), extra water soluble vitamins if he urinates large volumes of water. A high quality probiotic and a prebiotic made with acacia fiber helps to clear BUN etc from the blood allowing for higher protein to be fed or simply helps clear BUN when necessary. This is called “nitrogen trapping”. Giving Evian (or another higher calcium, lower sodium mineral water) has been shown to be beneficial for kidney disease. I did give my Audrey fresh, raw garlic most of her life. I still believe that if I hadn’t gotten lazy and quit giving it to her near the end of her life she wouldn’t have developed the severe infection that ended up damaging her kidneys and taking her life. Enzymes to help with the digestion of his food. Certain supplements and herbs can be helpful — spirulina provides many nutrients, food grade activated charcoal given off an on in small amounts can help clear toxins, organic turmeric helps with inflammation and also helps prevent scar tissue (works best when combined with pepper or the enzyme bromelain from pineapple). Chlorella is a wonderful detoxer and it helps build red blood cells due to the high amounts of chlorphyll in it. Apple cider vinegar can help with indigestion (fed with food in small amounts or given via syringe but must be diluted first). Ginger extract and therapeutic grade peppermint oil can help with nausea (later in the illness). I also recently read that there is other therapeutic grade essential oils that can help the kidneys but I don’t remember the particulars of the article. Vet Dr. Melissa Shelton would be the person to seek out if wanting to incorporate essential oils.

    I was lucky with Audrey, she was able to eat commercial raw products clear up to a few months before she passed. I’m not sure if that was because of the supplements, being fed raw from weaning or what but she did quite well. Possibly look at lower phosphorus commercial foods and then add small amounts of low phosphorus toppers (lightly cooked egg whites and coconut oil as an example) to keep the calories up while lowering the overall phosphorus even more. There are some great nutritionists out there as well that could be quite beneficial to you and Alvin.

    Hoping Alvin does as well as, or better than, my Audrey!!!

    Thank you Marie!

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