I have a 2 year old, male, English-Style Labrador that has been fed Purina Pro Plan Focus since he was 8 months old. Earl (Lab) currently weighs 80 lbs. and had TPLO Surgeries on both rear legs during the fall last year. The breeder from whom we purchased Earl was a Vet., trained show champions and fed all of her dogs Purina Pro Plan.
There seems to be a tremendous amount of marketing hype with dog foods. While I am happy to be a member of this site I remain very confused with the prospect of selecting the proper food for Earl.
Earl is not currently suffering any digestive issues (no gas, loose or discolored stools) on Pro Plan but I have this nagging concern that I should be feeding him a higher quality (higher rated) food. Somehow I believe the old comment: “You are what you eat and I suspect this also applies for dogs.” A few months ago I tried a Fromm Formula, Dry Food, and Earl’s stools were larger and black in color. He ate it fine and I fed him a large bag but with the larger stool volume (larger than Pro Plan) I did not think Earl was digesting the food well so I went back to Pro Plan.
I am now thinking about trying foods from Nulo and possibly Natures Valley. Would those of you feeding Labradors either of these foods please respond with your results?
Hi Kenneth, We have a 14 year old female lab, named Darcie. Our girl ate Pro Plan until about 3 years ago, when we switched to ACANA which she loves, and we think is a great food ( she is on the Senior Formula now) We always wanted to keep her lean ( she never weighed over about 65 lbs, until now because she can’t manage as much exercise) When Darcie was 2, we put her on the Pro Plan weight management formula, which I believe was instrumental in keeping her weight down…and we never fed her what the bag recommended. Because of the weight formula…we could give her a little more to keep her satisfied. Two main feeds morning and night, and a small scoop at lunchtime. When she was able, she got lots of exercise… I also think keeping her weight down saved her hips.
I should say she is an ” American ” lab…but Canadian in citizenship!! So has the longer legs, more slender face and build…The ACANA food is highly rated and I have to say I wish I had switched her sooner.
Anyway…our vet and breeder also felt Pro Plan was fine, and she did fine on it until 12!! I just felt like I should spoil her in her old age…can’t believe she’s almost 15…hoping she makes that birthday…Good Luck!!
Thank you for your response concerning your experiences with Pro Plan and ACANA. Do you happen to know if the ACANA you feed is produced in the Canadian or Kentucky Kitchen? ACANA is a brand I was also considering but many comments I have read on this site about the brand seem to feel the food from the Canadian Kitchen may be a superior product. As I stated in my original post it is very confusing trying to select a “better food” for Earl. I do not want to try and improve on his food and feed him something that is not good for him.
How much of a picky eater is Earl? I have a 5-6 year old, female Lab, American type, who like a stereotypical Lab eats more or less anything. So it’s very easy to feed her a rotational diet consisting of different brands of commercial dog food (mostly kibble and raw) and some home-cooked food. You seem concerned about making a wrong change and I think a rotational diet (https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/frequently-asked-questions/diet-rotation-for-dogs/) would have the advantage of balancing things out.
With Natures Valley, do you mean Nature’s Variety? That is one of the brands I’ve been feeding my dog on and off and feel I can trust. Other brands I like to feed her are Honest Kitchen, Ziwi Peak, Spot Farms, Canidae, Primal, Stella & Chewy, Petkind, Wellness, Fromm, Solid Gold. Canidae ranks well for both nutrition and purity (http://www.*********************/pet-food/). Have not tried Acana or Orijen yet, but probably will.
Another factor to consider for you in your choice might be Earl’s surgeries in combination with his weight. In case you/your vet think(s) he could/should lose some weight, then you might want to find a brand or multiple brands of a high-quality “weight loss” food.
- This reply was modified 4 years, 4 months ago by Mareike.
I run a retail store, and as far as the Kentucky Acana goes none of my customers have voiced a complaint, and the line has only grown dramatically in my store. I personally love their Heritage Free run poultry formula. My dogs do fantastic on it and it is our personal #1 seller in the store. I also really like the Canidae ALS. It is a multimeat food and a lot of rescues in our area use it as their food of choice since it is easy for most dogs to digest. Some dogs don’t do well on too rich of a food, but owners want to stay grain free. In that case I like Under the Sun or Whole Earth Farms.Deb BMember
Hi Kenneth…I actually called ACANA and asked that same question. They assured me that the foods they sell are the exact same formulation whether produced in the U.S or Canada…that was 3 years ago….if I were you, I’d call them directly…never hurts to speak with the source…you can also go to their site or sites and do a direct comparison of the ingredient list for every single formula they sell. I’m pretty simplistic when it comes to feeding our dogs…be consistent…I believe that’s best for their digestive systems….imo though comparing ACANA to PROPLAN…if you can afford it…go ACANA.It’s an excellent food…I am a very selective person…do lots of research before making decisions, especially when it comes to those I love 🙂
Thanks to everyone that has responded to my posts. Many people have described labs as always being hungry and will eat almost anything. Describes my Earl perfectly and he will eat 7/8 cup of Pro Plan (three times per day) in approximately 15 seconds when fed in a standard bowl. We now feed him using a bowl full of internal rings which slows him down to approximately 1 min per feeding.
Since his surgeries Earl has been on a walking regiment of approximately 5 miles per day and we have reduced his quantity of food. His weight is down to 80 lbs. from 88 so I feel I contributed to the ruptured ligaments in his knees (totally unintentional – just did not know). The specialist that conducted the surgeries would like to see Earl down to 75 lbs and I do not want to put him on a Senior Dog Food since he is only 2 years old (Jan 6th birthdate). I should also note that prior to his surgeries Earl was being fed a lot of treats (cookies) purchased from the local Pet Store. Unfortunately, I did not think about the extra calories I was feeding him and now his treats consist of baby carrots.
So, after Earl had the TPLO Surgeries I have learned so much about the requirements of being a good and hopefully responsible pet owner. Earl’s local Vet. told me that many retrievers have or need TPLO Surgeries because of the pressure they place on their knees when they run, jump and cut. He said the TPLO Technique was developed to allow field trial dogs to be able to return to field trial work. However, being 10 lbs. or so overweight, in my mind, definitely contributed to Earl’s knee issues.
I have had discussions with my Vet. about Pro Plan Focus prior to the TPLO Surgeries. His feedback was that Pro Plan is a good food, Earl was not experiencing any food related issues and to possibly consider a different food sometime down the road. Well, here I am two surgeries and $8000 later!
Thank you again for the advice. I have two bags of Pro Plan to use (Petco double shipped me last month) and toward the end of consumption Earl will be transitioned to a new food. My goal is to find one quality kibble and stick with it unless Earl demonstrates a need for a change.
Senior food isn’t necessarily a bad thing! It tends to be lower in calorie and fat so sometimes, depending on the brand, you can feed close to the same amount you were feeding of the regular adult food. It can be dangerous to cut back too far on some foods because they may not be getting all of the nutrients they need for their size. When my guy was laid up with an injury, I fed him Canidae Platinum to help manage his weight until he was cleared to at least start swimming.
My lab also tends to wolf everything down without chewing, and for dry food I found a snuffle mat (for example Wooly Snuffle Mat on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N1FV55I/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o06_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1) to be most effective in slowing her down. Works better for her than a slow feeder bowl.
Thank you for the Snuffle Mat recommendation. I ordered one and hope Earl will enjoy, not destroy, it! LOL!
Based on the recommendations I strongly leaning toward trying Acana Heritage Poultry.
Great, I hope you’ll have fun with the mat. Just supervise him the first few times, he’s likely going to be focused on finding the food.
Acana Heritage Poultry seems like a good choice. I’d be interested to hear how you think Earl is doing on it compared to the Pro Plan and Fromm that you tried.
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