A multitude of commercial dry dog foods are marketed by a host of manufacturers, each of which describe 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:
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.
At Superior Pointers, we currently feed IAMS puppy food until about nine months of age, at which time we transition to IAMS Healthy Naturals Adult dog food. We feed the standard 28% protein/18% fat content puppy food, and not the small or large breed blends. We have experienced good results with both IAMS Smart puppy, and IAMS Healthy Naturals puppy foods.
Pointers are a "medium" breed, with corresponding nutritional requirements. The protein and fat content of small breed formulas are unnecessarily high, and can contribute to loose stools. 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 most 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.
The IAMS Healthy Naturals Adult dog food, on which our dogs thrive year round at Superior Pointers, contains high quality ingredients and an analysis of 28% protein and 15% 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 "performance" formulation during these higher stress periods as such feeds, in our experience, contribute to digestive difficulties manifested by loose stools. Changing feeds also causes digestive problems. Dogs prefer consistency, not variety, in their diet. We have found that it is best to find one feed on which your dog(s) thrive, and stick with it year round.
We feed and recommend these IAMS products, and other similar high quality puppy and dog food formulations. However, owners are encouraged to conduct their own feeding trials to determine what works best for your dog(s).