We've had our 4 month old lab on Pro Plan Large Breed Puppy since we got her 2 months ago. That's what the breeder had her on so we stayed with it. I had a private trainer come today (great session----but that's another topic)......she advised feeding our lab Nutro Max or Natural Choice. She says to always make sure the first ingredient reads: "Chicken MEAL or Lamb MEAL. The main thing is MEAL." I want to feed my puppy the best quality and most natural food possible; whatever is best for her. I don't care what it costs. Any suggestions? Thanks!
ProPlan and Nutro are pretty good foods (I've fed both in the past with success) but if you want "natural" you can do one better. There are so many good foods out there. This website is really helpful: www.dogfoodproject.com
High quality brands off the top of my head: Eagle Pack, Canidae, Timberwolf Organics, Solid Gold, Innova, California Natural, Fromm's, Merrick
Any of them are decent foods. But if they are my only choices I'd go with ProPlan.
A note on foods that are "natural" or "organic" etc. You really have to understand how food companies lable and get a full understanding of the USDA and AAFCO version of them.
"The term "natural" is often used on pet food labels, although that term does not have an official definition either. For the most part, "natural" can be construed as equivalent to a lack of artificial flavors, artificial colors, or artificial preservatives in the product. As mentioned above, artificial flavors are rarely employed anyway. Artificial colors are not really necessary, except to please the pet owner's eye. If used, they must be from approved sources, the same as for human foods. Especially for high-fat dry products, some form of preservative must be used to prevent rancidity. Natural-source preservatives, such as mixed tocopherols (a source of vitamin E), can be used in place of artificial preservatives. However, they may not be as effective.
"Natural" is not the same as "organic." The latter term refers to the conditions under which the plants were grown or animals were raised. There are no official rules governing the labeling of organic foods (for humans or pets) at this time, but the United States Department of Agriculture is developing regulations dictating what types of pesticides, fertilizers and other substances can be used in organic farming. "
Also when it comes to organic and claims of Free Range one has to really be careful again. Free Range may not mean what you think it means.
A few of mine ate the ProPlan Sensitive Sytems for a while and did fine. If I were going to feed Nutro, I would feed this one: http://www.nutroproducts.com/ncdoglamb.asp
Only has rice "stuff"; and not any of the other grains.
I feed Canidae and have had wonderful results with it. I know a couple of people have recommended Pro Plan, but check the ingredients. I was on the website and both the Chicken/Rice and Lamb/Rice formulas (for puppies) have corn or corn gluten as their third or fourth ingredient. I also checked their adult formulas...same thing. Every one of their foods that I checked have a substantial amount of corn products. Another strike against them (IMO) is that their main protein is listed as a whole protein as opposed to a meal. This means it is inclusive of water...once the water has been removed for processing, there will be a substantially lower percentage of the protein. Most likely these foods have a higher percentage of grain (corn, wheat) than they do protein.
I agree with your trainer about looking for a food with a named protein meal as its first ingedient. Trickster posted the website for the Dog Food Project. It is really informative...if you are looking to feed a high quality kibble, start there and arm yourself with some info. Also, you will not find the better foods in your typical grocery store or pet supply store (PetCo, Pet Smart, etc.) When you find a food you want to try, check out their website. They should have a section to find a dealer near you.
Here is a comparison of the Pro Plan LB Puppy formula & Canidae....you figure out which is better!
Pro PLan LB Puppy (from their website)
Ingredients: Chicken, brewers rice, corn gluten meal, poultry by-product meal (natural source of glucosamine), whole grain corn, whole grain wheat, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), pea fiber, fish meal (natural source of glucosamine) , animal digest, calcium phosphate, dried egg product, fish oil, salt, potassium chloride, potassium citrate, L-Lysine monohydrochloride, choline chloride, zinc sulfate, Vitamin E supplement, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, niacin, Vitamin A supplement, calcium carbonate, copper sulfate, calcium pantothenate, garlic oil, pyridoxine hydrochloride, Vitamin B-12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin supplement, calcium iodate, Vitamin D-3 supplement, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), folic acid, biotin, sodium selenite.
Well I had my dogs on Canidae and they lost all their hair, developed hot spots, bald spots, gunk in the ears, hematomas of the ears, yeast in their feet, licking feet, split nails and anal gland problems.
Yep, its a better food all right. Give me ProPlan any day.
I try not to let those items in red scare me too much. There is absolutely nothing wrong with them. My guess is you are mislead as to what they are and their uses. I look at the guaranteed analysis first, ingredients second.