Dog Food Advisor Forums Jenny Rellick

Jenny Rellick

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  • Hi Daniel,

    I suspect that most of the outraged reviewers are unaware that their logic is wrong. One mistake our brains tend to make is the “post hoc” fallacy, which is thinking that, when one event follows another, the first event caused the other. For example, “Because I forgot my hat and scarf last night I woke up this morning with strep throat.”

    In the months leading up to a dog’s death, the dog’s appetite often decreases. When this happens, the pet parent may buy a top rated dog food. The dog may be getting a meat-based grain-free food for the very first time, and it whets the dog’s appetite. The dog eats more for a while, and the pet parent thinks the problem is solved. A while later, the dog stops eating and is sick. The vet can’t save the dog, and often the cause of death is unknown. People blame the new food because it’s the last thing that changed. Also, before the widespread Chinese-manufactured, contaminated dog food deaths in 2007, I never heard people blame dog food for their dog’s death. I think it’s a new phenomenon.

    As for picking the safest food, I have three suggestions. First, even the most careful manufacturers have to issue recalls, many for reasons beyond their control. Always save the label’s date and product numbers, and subscribe to recall alerts from DogFoodAdvisor. Second, Editor’s Choice foods are selected for transparency and safety. Many 5 star foods (in terms of the ingredients listed on the label) are not on Editor’s Choice because of safety and transparency issues. My third safety suggestion is to choose a grain-free food. Dog’s don’t require grains, and they get contaminated with mold in the silo. The manufacturing process kills the mold, but the toxins that the molds secrete remain. These toxins cause dangerous illnesses as well as cancer and remain in the dog’s liver permanently.

    in reply to: Ketogenic Diet For Dogs #111510 Report Abuse

    I believe the most Ketogenic food on the Editor’s Choice list is Primal Freeze-Dried Canine Venison Formula. The Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content is 62% protein and 1% carbohydrates. It is high in fat, which is okay for dogs, but you should be careful of how many calories you feed. If dogs are like people, what looks like a small serving will satisfy your dog’s appetite after a few weeks. If your dog gets pancreatitis, a high-fat food may be bad. In that case, a canned food for a weight control may be your best option. Wellness Core Grain Free Weight Maintenance (Canned) has a dry matter estimate of 50% protein, 16% fat and 26% carbohydrates. Grain-free low-fat foods are not all ketogenic. Some include potatoes and legumes full of carbohydrates.

    If you feel like you would be feeding Bambi’s mother to your dog, the next most ketogenic food is Stella and Chewy’s Chewy’s Chicken Dinner (Freeze-Dried.) Its dry matter is an estimated 51% protein and 12% carbohydrates.

    For a large breed, these freeze dried ketogenic foods are expensive. The next best ketogenic foods on average are wet, but not all quality wet foods are ketogenic. The Editor’s Choice canned foods with 5 stars are a good place to start looking for high-protein, low carb foods you can afford.
    Fish oil, such as Bayer Snip Tips, is supposed to help a wide range of brain-based neurological conditions, and I think CBD oil is an excellent supplement.

    l am sorry about your dog. Mine too. I urge you to go grain free for treats and food because of the liver disease they can cause. Please read this article to protect your pup:

    The ‘star ratings are based exclusively on an analysis of the label, with 5 stars awarded to foods with a high estimated meat content, minerals that are chelated, low fat , and only healthy ingredients. The Editor’s Choice foods, in contrast, are based on the safety practices, transparency, and integrity of the manufacturer and the food processing plant. Mike Sagman has done exhaustive telephone surveys of the major manufacturers of 4 and 5-star food lines. One reason “I and Love and You” may not be listed is if they would not discuss the recall below: a-dog-treats-recall/

    If they answered, their issuance of a recall or strategy to prevent contamination may not have been sufficient. If they use the Diamond processing plant, they are disqualified. You can nominate the I and Love and You food for Mike Sagman to investigate, but he might have already disqualified it.

    in reply to: Elk Horns For Large Breed Puppy #60315 Report Abuse

    No. Raw diet dogs eat bones every day, and they have just as much calcium. If your puppy is going through the elk antlers fast, costing you a lot of money, you might invest in a moose sntler segment. The large size adds a challenge for the dog to hold onto it (they are heavy.)

    in reply to: Origin Adult Dogfood High Protein and Weight Gain #56480 Report Abuse

    InkedMarie–You are very right that dog obesity is a human-mad problem, not a dog problem. Humans with overweight dogs may project their own feelings about weight loss and portion control to their dogs, and the consequences can be serious. Dogs will almost always have room for any treat or larger serving of food a human offers, and dogs quickly learn who and how to ask for treats and table food, not because they are hungry, but because that is what dogs have done since ancient times. However, I think there is such a thing as a dog who is fed correctly but is still hungry. Here’s why:
    My Leo lived in a no-kill shelter for 21 months and was fed a 1 star dog food the whole time. Because it was not nutrient-dense, he got 4 cups per day of food per the manufacturer’s guidelines. When I transitioned him to 1 and 1/3 cups per day on a 5-star food, split into 2 meals, my dog inhaled his 2/3 cup serving of kibble in literally 6 seconds. Immediately afterwards, he would put his paws on the sealed dog food bag and–I swear this is true– he would cry, swat the dog food bag with his paws, try in vain to open the bag, and cry some more. I ignored him and told myself, “In 30 minutes he will know he’s full.” Alas, Leo would camp out next to his bowl, and if you walked by the room, he would bark once, wait for you to look at him, and then lick the empty food bowl and look at you again. Even after obedience school, when we established that he was not the boss of humans, he still continued these behaviors. I didn’t give in, but other humans in the home must have because he got fat and I ran out of food too soon. It was embarrassing to be told to feed Leo less at the vet, only to find that he had gained weight at every subsequent visit. I was also concerned that he was at risk for bloat–a medical emergency typically striking barrel-chested dogs– from eating in 6 seconds. Even though he isn’t barrel chested, my vet was alarmed by a video of Leo “Hoovering” his food. I got a sectional flat-bottom bowl designed to slow him down, and I added warm water to further slow him down per a customer suggestion in a review of the bowl. He was not only much slower, he also reduced his antics. I have been in Weight Watchers, and I was told it was important to drink plenty of water to feel full with meals and to metabolize fat. Maybe the water helped Leo’s hunger.
    At Weight Watchers, I also learned to load up on very low calorie, high fiber foods before a restaurant meal or party to prevent over-indulging. By adding green beans to Leo’s “soup,” his antics completely stopped. When the antics stopped, the human conspirators stopped cheating, and Leo lost 12 pounds. He is now a muscular dog with a physique that makes my vet very happy. I share this success story because the solution was very simple, cost-effective and safe. Even if dog hunger is only a human projection, the water and green beans make the owner feel like they are feeding a more satisfying meal to their furchild, and they will be less often taken in by those sad brown eyes.

    in reply to: Origin Adult Dogfood High Protein and Weight Gain #56343 Report Abuse

    My dog, Leo, was like yours–begging for more food. He went from 62 lbs. down to 50 lbs.over the course of a year on a grain-free dry food. Here are my 4 tips for dog weight loss:

    1. Feed the calories for your dog’s ideal weight, not her current weight: Leo gets 725 calories per day, including treats, and has gotten that amount since he hit 62 lbs.. Use The Dog Food Calculator on this site’s home page to figure out you dog’s caloric needs, entering an estimated ideal weight in pounds from your vet or from a time before your dog was overweight, and for activity level, select “overweight.” Leo’s food is 500 calories per cup, and I feed him 1 and 1/3 cups per day, for 650 calories from a high protein dog food. I leave 75 calories for other food, and because the grain-free food I use is so nutritious, I am confident he is well-nourished with the small quantity. Leo gets 2 meals of 2/3 cups, measured with a measuring cup (never eye-ball the quantity.)

    2. Pump up the volume with warm water: Use a big, flat-bottom bowl to spread the kibble out, and add enough warm water to just cover the kibble, letting it steep on the counter for a minute or two.. Some kibble swells to make it more filling, and even if your part kibble doesn’t swell much, you are making a tasty broth to drink without adding calories. The water makes the meal take longer to eat, and tricks Leo into drinking extra water, which is necessary for weight loss. My dog goes crazy fpr the aroma while it steeps. Many vets recommend canned dog food for weight loss for exactly these benefits I provide by adding warm water to dry food. My way is much less expensive.

    3. Feed green beans liberally with every meal. You can use frozen or salt-free canned (never give salted canned vegetables to a dog.) Of all the vegetables, green beans have an extremely low caloric density but, when cooked (canned green beans are pre-cooked and can be fed directly,) they are appealing to dogs. My dog won’t eat cabbage, lettuce, or celery, but he loves green beans. He gets 1/2 cup at each meal, stirred into the steeped kibble. This adds about 20 calories per meal, but he feels very satisfied with each meal, gets plenty of fiber for bowel regularity, and thinks I am preparing something special for him at each meal. He watches each step, and if I leave the kitchen while the kibble is steeping, he barks and cries as if to say, “you are forgetting to finish cooking my dinner!” If he starts begging before I put the green beans in, I show him the bowl and say, “Don’t you want green beans?” He barks and cries until I add the green beans! If I run out of green beans, he looks so disappointed. When I get back from the store, he goes to his bowl and waits just to get his half cup of green beans by itself.

    4. Give very small treats. Except for 2 regular Greenies per week (90 calories each,) Leo gets tiny treats for going potty the right way or listening well. They are about 1/2 the size of the tip of my pinky finger. Most dogs will enjoy one treat three times more than they enjoy three treats all at once. Liver biscotti treats are Leo’s favorite tiny treat. Zuke’s mini naturals are also a convenient size. You could chop up human cold cuts or pepperoni and keep them as treats in the refrigerator. If your dog loves to chew for a long time, antlers are great because only a small amount is ingested or digested at a time, and your dog will burn calories by chewing. Elk antlers seem to be a good size and wear down just fast enough for Leo to get flavor and satisfaction from his efforts. Marrow bones from cattle are similarly good chews for dogs, but bully sticks, pig’s ears, raw hide, and the like present a choking hazard, can cause bowel blockages, have empty calories, and often contain chemicals. By the way, my dog loves his Greenies so much that they serve as his emergency recall reward. For the emergency recall reward, don’t worry about calories!

    in reply to: Syberian Huskey Sensitive Stomach #56285 Report Abuse

    I agree with theBCnut’s advice–especially about serving sizes. My 50-pound dog has 2/3 cups twice daily, 1 cup of the new food may be an entire meal! The animal protein in a cup of Wellness may be the biggest serving in her life, and her stomach and intestines may overreact at first.Use “The Dog Food Calculator” on the main website to make sure you will feed the same calories as with the Science Diet. The smaller volume of food may look puny, but it is very rich, and your dog will quickly learn that the small volume doesn’t leave her hungry.

    If a more gradual transition doesn’t work, she may have an intolerance. Mike Segman has a great article about food intolerance and allergies at . The intolerance means you dog has difficulty digestng an ingredient, and the particular meats used are the most likely culprits. Wellness Core uses chicken and turkey, and you might want to try another protein source and/or a limited ingredient diet.

    in reply to: Budget Friendly Dry Dog Food Toppers. #56254 Report Abuse

    Frozen or salt-free canned green beans are great low-calorie and economical add-in. Sugar-free pumpkin and no-sugar added sweet potatoes are great mix-ins for new dogs who may have an upset tummy from transitioning to a new home with new food. Is there a no-kill rescue or shelter that will let you foster your 8 dogs? They could help cover some of the costs and find a forever homes for the “dumped” dogs. My dog and his brother were dumped by an amusement park in a rural area and wandered around for months before anyone helped them. A no-kill shelter 100 miles away took them and paid for their medical rehabilitation, so there may be a rescue somewhere that will help you foster you dogs. Thank you for caring for these helpless dogs.

    in reply to: Dry Diet Dog Food For My Bichon? #54438 Report Abuse

    I tried it and wrote the most helpful review on Amazon (as MedWonk.). The manufacturer, Diamond, has had several salmonella recalls on multiple brand, all but not all at once. The salmonella kept recurring, which suggests the could not isolate the problem that put lives in jeopardy.

    The only advantage of diet dog food is that you can feed a larger serving thain with more calorie dense foods, so your dog won’t beg or go through the trash to get full

    in reply to: Dry Diet Dog Food For My Bichon? #53356 Report Abuse


    I am sure you already have tried cutting back, but you need to know by how much. Every dog food label I have read overestimates the serving size. On this site, the Dog Food Calculator is helpful, but I have personal advice on how to use it, it worked for my Leo-he lost 12 pounds in a year and has kept it off. I’ve taken the liberty of using it for Koda.

    First, websites differ on what a Bichon should weigh. In the breed standard, the range is 7-12 lbs. On sites that are not sticklers for the breed standard, they say a healthy weight is between 10-18 lbs. Ultimately, the right weight for Koda is one where he has a physique that has a well-defined indentation at the waist and that does not feel feel flappy on the ribcage. If Koda ever had that physique you can use that weight as your target. If you don’t know what his personal target should be I would suggest 14 lbs. for the time being.

    I looked up the Acana Fit and Light food and it has 360 calories per cup. I notice that the Fit and Light food uses oats as the second ingredient, unlike any other Acana products. That makes me a uncomfortable because I don’t even know That it would get 4 stars, let alone 5 stars. Dieting dogs can’t afford to waste calories on oats! You should consider going to the 5-star low glycemic product line from Acana, even though it will make the serving size smaller. For this exercise, I used the Fit and Light calorie count since that is what you used to. The dog food calculator says that for an overweight dog with a target weight of 14 lbs, Koda should be consuming 280 calories per day. With the Acana food you’re using that comes out to 0.78 cups per day (just over 3/4 cups).

    You have to keep in mind that calories from treats count in the daily total. A couple of dog biscuits would be the equivalent of half a day’s food. You are going to have to find an extremely small treat. I would suggest Zuke’s Mini-Naturals which have about 3 calories each.
    As another member mentioned, Bichons do have a risk of kidney problems. Many dogs don’t drink enough because they are trying to accommodate their owners’ availability for walks. I pour lukewarm water on my dogs kibble, just enough to cover it in a flat-bottomed dish. The food retains some of its crunchiness, but he automatically consumes more water and feels more full. Green beans and sliced carrots are very low in calories and high in fiber. They also help the dog feel more full. I put two heaping teaspoons of canned green beans (no salt added) on both meals, and that is only 10 calories per meal.
    Therefore, I would suggest two meals a day, each with just over 1/3 cup of dog food, water to cover, and two heaping tablespoons of green beans. I hope that this specific recommendation will work for Koda. When you are dealing with a small breed, there’s a fine line between cutting back appropriately and malnourishing your dog. My dog really looks forward to his meals and he does not beg for food excessively after meals. Before, when I did not add water and green beans, he would put his paw on the bag of food and whine after he ate!
    One last piece of advice: make sure that everyone in your household understands that a little bit of table food or a few too many treats will have a huge impact on Koda. If Koda is not losing weight, somebody is cheating.

    in reply to: Your Most Recommended Dog Treats? #51399 Report Abuse

    I am very concerned about the calories from treats. I budget an average of 50 calories in treats per day for my dog, Leo, a 50 pound Australian Cattle Dog. If I had a smaller dog, I would be even more restrictive. If the treat had equal nutrition to his food, I could simply reduce my dog’s meal calories on days with high treat calories, but I have not found a treat that is an Editor’s Choice dog food substitute. I classify treats as empty calories, even though some may have some nutritional value.

    Another consideration is whether the treat serves the functions of a treat. I use treats for 5 purposes:
    1. Drop that and chew on this–I use a cow leg marrow bone or an elk antler for this treat because Leo can express his nerves, annoyance, or stir-craziness with it for hours. He will drop the electrical plug, frozen food container, or plastic bag for these treats.
    2. The potty treat. I give Leo a tiny 3-calorie treat for behaving and going potty in the right place in a reasonable time. He gets 6 per day usually.
    3. The dental treat recommended by veterinary dentists. These are large, high calorie. and very expensive. I only give him 2 per week, which is less than the recommended amount, because of the calories. He won’t let me brush his teeth.
    4. The cute dog treat. A treat for when I give in to his eyes begging or when he is being very good. This is different from the potty treat because it is not as automatic–I make him obey commands to get it– and it has to be more valuable to to Leo than the potty treat. These must be 5 calories or less.
    5. Lastly, Leo needs a treat he would do ANYTH ING to get. In an emergency, I can use it to get Leo to come back if he runs out the door (after figuring out that it is not 100% latched and opening it himself!) In Leo’s opinion, the dental treat is the treat of the gods. He will run to me, faster than a bullet for it.

    When it comes to the elk antler and cow bone, I am concerned that it is from a safe source and is stored and processed safely. He does so much work on them that he probably burns more calories than he consumes, so I am not worried about the calories in that case. My dog’s food is grain-free, but because the treats are regarded as empty calories in Leo’s diet and are given in small amount’s, I allow them to contain grains. If I were to use a treat as a food equivalent, I would need it to be grain free because Leo has food intolerances.
    I hope this list of attributes helps the treat committee in their mission. I think most dog parents would agree with many of these criteria.

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