I got Amiga at 8 weeks old, back on June 1st. Her breeder recommended Nutro LBP Lamb & Rice, so that’s what I fed her at first. I wasn’t happy with her gas or her stools, so I did some research and decided to mix Orijen LBP and NV Prairie LBP with the Nutro. Did some more research and discovered that I was feeding her way too much calcium. So I added two other foods to the mix in mid-July, NV Instinct Rabbit and CC Open Sky, had to set up a spreadsheet to keep CA, CA:K, calories & protein in order. I did the calculations based on the max-CA values, not averages or the tested values of a specific batch, to be on the safe side.
Ran out of this mix a month ago, at 8 months apparently she can regulate her CA herself, so I quit worrying about it. Now I have her on a mix of Orijen Regional Red, NV Instinct Rabbit, and NV Prairie Venison & Barley. It seems reasonable to me to feed her a red-meat diet in winter, and switch to a fish-and-fowl diet come summer (ancestral-wolf feeding pattern). In a few months the mix will be Orijen Six Fish, NV Instinct Rabbit LID, and NV Prairie Duck & Oatmeal. Both supplemented with the occasional topper of Orijen Tundra freeze-dried. LID Rabbit doesn’t have turkey, which is in the Duck & Oatmeal formula, so Turkey’s on the menu all year, too. Protein content of these blends is 33%.
The Prairie kibble’s mixed in to lower my cost from $3/lb to $2.75/lb, which adds up with a large breed. Rabbit is in the mix year-round, because I read some research (I’ll post the links if I find them again) about how wild/feral canines/felines primarily eat bunnies. The missing “meat group” in the prepared foods is rodent, so I’ll also occasionally feed raw beaver meat as a topper. I’d like to add a third brand into the mix instead of the Prairie, unfortunately I haven’t found anything that doesn’t have either the “wrong” grains or is loaded with potato (a no-no for malamutes as white potato is known to trigger bloat in this breed), or is too expensive to serve the purpose.
I set up another spreadsheet for amino acids and did yet more research; I believe she’s getting the full spectrum in sufficient quantities from all the different protein sources (also gets Orijen Tundra freeze-dried treats, used these to teach her to swim ‘cuz they float without getting soggy) such that she doesn’t need the glucosamine/chondroitin/taurine supplements typically found in large-breed-specific formulas — her body ought to be able to produce as much of these as she needs provided the proper building blocks (amino acids & cartilage). Her stools, on the “winter blend” anyway, are firm and dry, and not too voluminous or frequent and she seems to be thriving; my Vet is pleased with her physical condition and says her growth rate is right on target.
Many thanks to this site and all who contribute for helping me navigate the dog-food waters, it’s enough to make one’s head explode, but it’s also nice to have so many quality options in dry kibble. It’s been several years since I’ve had a dog (Amiga’s my 4th), Iams and even Purina just aren’t what they once were so I didn’t even consider those despite two of my dogs living to 15 (Keeshond on Eukanuba and Golden Retriever on Hi-Pro). My last malamute got Iams Lamb & Rice, but was shot (with cause) by a sheep rancher at 3 1/2 back in ’94 so I have no long-term report, there.
What got me to not trust dogfood manufacturers and do this research, leading me here, was how horrific the first month was feeding Amiga just the Nutro. Glossy, semi-soft, mucousy stools (if not diarrhea) and lotsa smelly farts — just like my friends’ dogs being fed Nutro. Enzymes, pre- and pro- biotics didn’t help, de-worming only cleared up the worms. No surprise given the ridiculously-high Zinc content in Nutro formulas, apparently since Mars bought them out — these are symptoms of Zinc toxicity, not poor digestive-tract health; no band-aid for that. Wish I’d figured that out sooner, and the calcium-level thing.
If I had the puppy-food phase to do over again, I wouldn’t touch Nutro with a 10-foot pole. These problems lessened when blended with the other kibbles, and disappeared entirely (OK, occasional fart still, probably the grains) this month after discontinuing the Nutro. I would do the four-kibble mix again, going with just the Rabbit and Duck would be lower calcium, but would also lack the glucosamine/chondroitin/taurine supplements the two LBP kibbles contain, as well as the cartilage and broad spectrum of amino acids which make these supplements unnecessary.
I did rush her to the vet after-hours back in September for bloat, but I didn’t alter her diet because of it. Sometimes she eats stuff that isn’t “on the menu” so to speak, mostly I blame my kitties because they love hunting and killing — just not eating their kills, which they leave for the alley cats. And for Amiga, sometimes she finds these before I do and accounts for occasional fur/feathers in her stools (Amiga’s also killed a mourning dove, robin, grackle, and a magpie). At least they’ve learned not to bring them in the house! I’m following all the best-practice guidelines for avoiding bloat, so hopefully this was a one-time thing, scary for both of us…
Since you already have multiple bags of food open at one time, I want to suggest to you that you feed in a more ancestrally appropriate manner and feed one meal, one food and the next meal the next food, and so on. That way you get all the benefits of the multiple foods, but you don’t have the constant exposure to the same proteins. Some people believe that the constant exposure to the same proteins increases the likelihood of food intolerances in the future.
Well, the food’s already mixed… I’ve read this advice a lot, but the only links I’ve come across are to those marketing rotational feeding. Maybe one in ten dogs I’ve ever known had food allergies (mostly to “bad” grains); most of the rest lived long, happy lives on the same food day in and day out, mostly dry kibble of dubious quality by today’s standards. I have two very good, related reasons for mixing rather than rotating.
First, the different kibble sizes, and one kibble being “preferred” really slows down Amiga’s feeding rate. I don’t want her “inhaling” her food, which she does when all the kibbles are the same size/smell. Mixed, she’ll try picking out the Orijen kibbles! Of course she winds up eating most of the other kibbles along with, at which point I guess she figures she may as well finish the meal. But it does take her twice as long to eat, this way, and gives me control of what she’s eating with no fuss because…
Second, she’s one of those picky mals who drive their owners to despair with hunger strikes, this being a well-known feature-bug of many individuals of most arctic breeds — which evolved to be headstrong, independent, and require less food than other dogs of similar size. If I rotate the food, which I did try, she’ll just ignore the food dish until what she wants gets put in it — which turns into a battle of wills the human usually loses (I know I’m a sucker for those sad puppy-dog eyes with whimpering), best not let it start if I want her growth rate to be steady not spurty, though.
I also think Amiga’s spoiled enough without letting her choose her own menu, but it’s a real challenge to get her to eat what I want her to eat, regardless of when she eats it. For instance, when she was protesting NVI Rabbit she got away from me, into a neighbor’s house, and chowed down a whole bowl of Kibbles ‘n’ Bits. Came when called, after a short delay, licking her chops and grinning while the neighbor shooed her out of her house… pinned her ears back and rolled over on her back at my feet in a typical-malamute show of faux-submissiveness (neither hind leg straight), then ignored her own food for two more days. Which turned into four when she figured out how to raid the cat food for a few seconds before I caught her at it, then ate the rest of my sandwich off the countertop while I relocated the cat dish. 🙂
This can also be an issue when using toppers, but I’ve figured out how to train around this. I’m redirecting Amiga’s prey drive into SAR training (informally, can’t train with other dog/handler teams until she’s more mature about working when other dogs are present, there’s a reason so many SAR dogs are Goldens). Aside from disliking all forms of transport (no rhyme or reason for it I can figure, which I also hope she matures out of), all the aptitude for SAR work is there, her kibble OCD really shines through in “re-find” work. Her name is well-chosen, especially where kids are concerned; if the scent she’s on is animal she pricks her ears forward, but pins ’em back submissively for any and all humans… excellent potential despite being a malamute, even on tracking work.
She knows the difference between “food” and “umm-umms” and has figured out what I mean when I say “umm-umms on your dinner-food” — a big reward delayed until dinnertime instead of little treats over the course of a long, physically-demanding training session (which she sees as playing hide-and-seek in the forest for a few hours, at this stage). She’s very treat-motivated. Oh, she’ll still skip a meal here and there, but that just lets me know she isn’t getting enough exercise — that and the zoomie circles around the yard. Both of which I’m currently chalking up to being in season, total psycho malamute puppy on my hands atm.
Some Amiga videos here, the one running next to the bike was taken a month ago while the ones playing with the neighbor Husky are from last week, and aren’t mally pups just adorable before they become terrors?
What worries me is topping kibble with raw/freeze-dried due to the different rates of digestion. If I just feed the toppers as a meal, I’m worried she’ll lose the correlation with it as a treat, and hold out for it as a regular meal by again spurning her kibble — perhaps even the Orijen. With the mix, when she’s hungry she’s really quite excited about being fed, with none of the malamute games we played when I tried rotating five foods and she’d only eat one of ’em.
I get the picky thing!! Gideon was picky to the point of starving. Fortunately for me, rotating foods was his cure. I top with raw, as do several others here, with no problems. I haven’t had a pick incidence in well over a year and a half now, knock on wood. I like your solution for slowing down a fast eater, it seems sensible to me. BTW, canned digests at a different rate too, but no one ever worries about that.
Yeah, but most folks don’t have breeds as prone to bloat as malamutes, and that’s allegedly the concern when feeding meals where the ingredients have different digestion rates. Keeping my fingers crossed on that one, and some simethicone handy as my vet’s a half-hour trip. Hopefully veterinary science figures out bloat one of these days!
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