Literally hundreds of commercial dry dog foods are marketed by a host of manufacturers, each of which describes the benefits of feeding their product(s) in glowing terms. The published analysis and material content of these feeds are often bewildering to the layman. Website articles which we have found to be particularly helpful in deciphering manufacturer’s content labels are:
Dog Food Reviews [ www.dogfoodadvisor.com]
Pet Food: The Lowdown on Labels [www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/NewsEvents/FDAVeterinarianNewsletter/ucm130726.htm]
Identifying Better Products [www.dogfoodproject.com/index.php?page=betterproducts]
Ingredients to Avoid [www.dogfoodproject.com/index.php?page=badingredients]
An informed dog owner can better select- or disqualify- an appropriate feed for their canine companions. Your selection should, ultimately, be validated by your own feeding trials. If your dogs eat enthusiastically, maintain good flesh and muscle tone, produce a relatively low volume of formed stool, sustain a good coat without supplementation, and exhibit appropriate stamina, you probably have chosen a good product. A food with a 4 star, or better rating from Dog Food Advisor is a good place to start. Note that regionally available dog foods can be an excellent value, as these companies are not supporting expensive national advertising campaigns. At Superior Pointers, we currently feed Redpaw X-Series Puppy food until about nine months of age, at which time we transition to Redpaw PowerEdge 32K Adult dog food.
Pointers are an active "medium" breed, with corresponding nutritional requirements. Large breed puppy feeds are formulated for retrievers, shepherds, Newfoundlands, and other large, fast growing breeds with a relatively high incidence of hip and elbow dysplasia. The comparatively low protein and fat content of large breed puppy feeds is intended to control growth rates, and guard against the obesity to which these large breed puppies are prone. While the susceptibility to dysplasia among these large breeds is genetic, the risk is heightened for overweight puppies. Similarly, the nutritional value of large breed adult dog food formulations is marginal to inadequate for medium sized working breeds, like pointers. They will require more of it to maintain a healthy body weight and, subsequently, produce a proportionally greater volume of stool. Note that quality puppy foods contain the specific vitamins and minerals growing puppies require for proper development, and are not simply adult food formulations produced with smaller sized kibble.
It is important to emphasize that a good dog food formulation is no better than the plant in which it is produced. If a manufacturing plant's quality assurance protocols and procedures are inadequate, the products produced will be inconsistent- and possibly even hazardous- to your dog's health. Equally important is for the manufacturer to use only good quality raw material sources, and not continually "shop" globally for low-cost spot buys of ingredients of unverified quality from questionable sources. Additionally, the products of manufacturers who regularly modify their formulations to maximize short term profits should be avoided. Dog foods are relatively poorly regulated, and manufacturers have 90 days after changing key ingredients to change their packaging label. This allows less responsible manufacturers myopically focused on short term profit to change formulations, and change back, without disclosure. The track record of the manufacturer is, therefore, as important as the product formulation.
The Redpaw PowerEdge 32K Adult dog food, on which our dogs thrive year round at Superior Pointers, contains high quality ingredients and an analysis of 32% protein and 20% fat. We feed a mature 50 lb. dog approximately 12 oz., by weight, daily in the off season. During cold weather, or when hunted hard, this daily ration is increased to as much as 16 oz. to maintain optimum body weight. We do not transition to a higher protein and fat content "super-performance" formulation during these higher stress periods as diet changes, in our experience, contribute to digestive difficulties manifested by loose stools. Frequently changing feed brands also causes digestive problems. Dogs prefer consistency, not variety, in their diet. We have found that it is best to find one premium feed on which your dog(s) thrive, stick with it year round, and adjust the volume to reflect the dog's activity level and condition.
We feed and recommend these Redpaw products, and other similar high quality meat based puppy and dog food formulations. However, owners are encouraged to conduct their own feeding trials to determine what works best for your dog(s).