When I bought my 6 week old lab, who is now 3 months, I just bought her some retriever dog food from Tractor Supply. She gobbled this down like, well......a hungry dog. Then I took her to the vet and he suggested high quality dog food and listed 4. These are very expensive dog foods, such as Iams. Iams, surprisingly, though is expensive, was the least expensive of these foods so we bought a big bag. I gradually changed the food to the Iams, but her appetite has really decreased. She takes a bite or two then leaves it. I have noticed that though she is growing, she seems to have slimmed down. I don't think she likes it. Should I just go back to the cheaper brand she liked better or try another one of those expensive brands to see if she likes one of them? I want the best quality food for her and know that some of the cheaper brands don't offer the best nutrition. I've had her on Iams for weeks now and she likes it no better now than she did at first.
Iams isn't a "high quality" food. Vets, unfortunately, are not necessarily your best source of education on dog foods.
Do you have access to Canidae? Look for foods that have NO corn. Check all the labels and if you can find one where the first ingredient is a protein (look for "meal" as in "chicken meal") that's a good start.
Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul is a good brand. There are many more and I'm sure you'll get a million opinions from folks on this board.
Regarding quality of food, I agree with Blaisberg that Iams is not particularly high quality and that very few vets are expert on food choice or quality. And some are very biased by commissions/kickbacks/promos by pet food manufacturers.
A high quality, inexpensive food is available at most TSC (Tractor Supply) stores.
Look for (or ask for) Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy Food. This is available for roughly $27/40 lb. bag. (They also carry "plain" Diamond which has more fillers (corn, etc.) and is a lower quality, cheaper food -- so if buying one of these, pick from the Diamond Naturals line.
Diamond is made by the same company that makes the food I feed Puff: Kirkland Chicken, Rice & Veggies (sold only at Costco). At Costco, it's a few bucks less a bag.
If TSC doesn't carry it, Google Diamond Naturals dog food and click on their "dealer locator" link. There'll usually be many stores in your area that carry their food. And it'll also be available to buy in smaller bags so you can try it at lower cost. "Diamond Naturals" products are higher quality and cheaper than many other popular products because Diamond does no advertising, depending instead on word of mouth.
BUT, a problem I had with Puff when she was a pup MAY be bothering your pup's appetite.
How do you store the product once you open the bag?
I found that when we got about halfway through the bag, Puff lost her appetite for it.
I experimented with different food formulas & different methods of storing the food once opened and finally discovered the method of storing had ENORMOUS effects on Puff's appetite.
She loved many foods when the bag was freshly opened but, in time, lost interest in it.
The method of storage that works best for us and which maintains her appetite for the food is this:
As soon as I open a new bag, I transfer its contents to 10-11 one gallon ZipLock Freezer Bags, suck the air out of each filled bag (with my mouth), and then seal it. I used to store 5 bags in the freezer and, after the first 5-6 were used up and a new one needed, take the new one out the day before so its contents could warm up to room temp before opening the bag. But now, I just reload the 40 lb. dog food bag with the sealed ZipLockers.
I'd experimented with a number of other storage methods before hitting on this one. While other methods (RubberMaid containers w/ tight lids, etc.) prolonged the length of time before the food no longer met Puff's taste test, no method worked as well as the ZipLock freezer bags.
As I understand it, dog food kibbles are similar to crackers and cookies and we know that those, if left exposed to air and humidity for a long time, lose their appeal. That won't affect the eating for the majority of Labs because they have a richly deserved reputation as gluttons. BUT about 10% of Labs, my Puff among them, are self-reguating feeders and NOT gluttons. So food for these Labs need special care that's not needed for most.
Since Puff (now as an adult) eats only 1 cup at breakfast and another 1 at supper, a 40 lb. bag lasts us months. When she was a growing pup, say at 6 months age, she was eating about 5 cups a day before her appetite declined to her adult level. But even at 5 cups a day, a 40 lb. bag lasted a L-O-N-G time, long enough to lose its flavor.
Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]
Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
Iams made my black boy, Buddy, have gas that turned the air into a noxious green haze. It also went right through him. Same thing with my yellow, Champ, and Pedigree.
Jackie, Champ, and Buddy
You may (if it is possible) want to compare the calories per cup between the foods. Some foods have more fillers so the dog eats more in quantity (and usually has more outputs if you will). Foods with higher calorie count you feed less of.
I agree with the avoe, though Iams does work well for some dogs it is generally NOT considered "high end" by any means.
When looking for a food I tend to keep it simple (and this is just me). I want more meat than grains (and if they say "chicken" you have to consider the water in there adds to the weights). Then I want fewer ingredients, none of the cancerous ones (BBT and BBH I think) and preferably low on wheat and grains as a whole.
But also, as mentionned above, watch how you store the bag I use a big air proof container. If this is the first bag you feed it may be either an older batch (i.e. older from teh store) or it is getting too much air.
Charlie (foster) and Rocky
We have Abbey and Coco on Pinnicle Trout and Sweet Potato. Coco had gastro issues so we changed from Wellness LB puppy to the Pinnicle based on the recommendation of several people. Coco has not had any issues on the new food and Abbey's "gas" problem cleared up too once we moved her to the new food. I did a lot of research on dog foods and was amazed at what is put in some highly advertised dog food. Read the labels. The first 5 ingredients are very important. The first listed should be a good protein. Walk away from any dog food that has by-products, artificial colors or flavors, corn or wheat. Wheat is a high allergen and the others are just not good for animals. Corn is very hard to digest. A good quality food will cost you a bit more but you feed less too. Quality food also reduces the "output" which is a nice bonus. Most of the time you can get a smaller size bag to try out the food before investing in a 30-40 lb bag. I am not sure what is available in your area but it is worth shopping around and making some notes about the ingredients on the labels. Good luck!
Love JL. Justlabradors.com!!!
Is there a 'maximum' storage temperature, as well? I was iming at buying smaller bags, but here we are already getting temps over 80 degrees. I don't have a place in the freezer for food, so my storage is going to be at room temp; about 75 in the summer. (Unless I get whimpy, then we crank it down to 72 and suffer from the electric bill instead.) Will a couple of weeks over 70 degrees affect that flavor enough? (It's our 'other' dog, not the lab, that walks away.) Or maybe I could add somthing to help boost a better flavor?