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Hi Kristen.....

Quick question......What is the best pupy food out there??? Want to make sure my new pup ets good nutrition.....
Also if you have any advice on the runt of the litter, I would appreciate your input. We have picked out the smallest maltipoo (runt) and I want to know if there is medical concerns???? What should I look for????

Thanks Bunches....Gail

I'm SO Sorry this has taken so long. It's a long story, though and I won't bother you with it. Here is the article as promised:

Dog Foods - How to Choose?
    by: Kristen Cabe

The topic of dog food is a heated one amongst dog owners. Some people believe that dog food is dog food, and buy the cheapest brand available, because, well, their dog is doing just fine, thank you! There are others that believe the most expensive brand is better because it costs more, so it must be, right? Neither of these people are correct. Saying "dog food is dog food" would be like saying "McDonalds food or TV dinners are equivalent to a meal at an expensive restaurant". However, saying that "the most expensive brand is the best just because it costs more" is like saying that a $10 hamburger and fries meal at a restaurant is more nutritious than a $2.99 Happy Meal."

The key to choosing the right dog food is to know how to read the label. The most expensive food isn't always the best, but a store-brand is most certainly not as good as a holistic, all-natural brand either. In this post, I will attempt to give you some insight as to how to read a dog food label, and what to look for and avoid when making your choice.

Price really shouldn't be a factor, because after you’ve been feeding a better-quality food for a month or two, you’ll begin to notice that your dog will require less of the better food since it will be more nutritious, so you’ll be feeding him less. As a result, the amount that you end up paying for the better food usually equals out to about what you were paying for not-so-good food before. However, just paying more for a dog food does not make it better. Take Science Diet, (or any of the Hill’s brand foods) for example; Hill’s foods are fairly expensive, but in reality, their foods are no better than the brands you can buy in the grocery store. Here’s a visual for you:

These are the ingredients listings for Science Diet, Iams, Pedigree, and Purina ONE, not in this order, however. Can you tell the difference?

1. Chicken, corn meal, ground grain sorghum, ground wheat, chicken by-product meal, soybean meal, animal fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), corn gluten meal, brewers rice, chicken liver flavor, vegetable oil, dried egg product, flaxseed, DL-methionine, preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid, minerals (potassium chloride, salt, calcium carbonate, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, copper sulfate, manganous oxide, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), rosemary extract, beta-carotene, vitamins (choline chloride, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (a source of vitamin C), niacin, thiamine mononitrate, calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement).

2. Chicken, brewers rice, whole grain corn, corn gluten meal, poultry by-product meal (natural source of glucosamine), whole grain wheat, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), animal digest, chicken cartilage (natural source of glucosamine), dicalcium phosphate, salt, malted barley flour, potassium chloride, calcium carbonate, choline chloride, L-Lysine monohydrochloride, zinc sulfate, Vitamin E supplement, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, niacin, Vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, copper sulfate, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin B-12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, garlic oil, folic acid, Vitamin D-3 supplement, calcium iodate, biotin, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), sodium selenite.

3. Chicken, Corn Meal, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, Chicken By-Product Meal, Fish Meal (source of fish oil), Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E, and Citric Acid), Dried Beet Pulp (sugar removed), Natural Chicken Flavor, Potassium Chloride, Dried Egg Product, Brewers Dried Yeast, Salt, Flax Meal, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Acetate, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate (source of vitamin B1), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement (source of vitamin B2), Inositol, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (source of vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), Calcium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Carbonate), DL-Methionine, Rosemary Extract



I realize that at this point you don’t really know how to read dog food labels, but you should be able to see that all three of the previous foods are very similar, with almost the exact same ingredients. So why is one brand more expensive than the other? Because you’re paying for the name, that’s why.

The ‘lesser-quality’ dog foods are heavily advertised, so that their names become familiar to the general public. The general public is more likely to purchase something that they recognize the name of, and trust what is said in the commercials put out by these companies as being gospel. For example, there’s a new Purina commercial out now that says that they did a study and that dogs fed Purina from puppyhood lived 2 years longer. Longer than what? They don’t say. They also don’t say that dogs fed a better-quality food with more nutrition and less fillers (like Solid Gold, or Canidae) live on average 5 or more years longer than dogs fed lesser-quality foods like Purina. The Kibbles-N-Bits commercials are also misleading, leading you to believe that dogs love it, and that Kibbles-N-Bits is just as nutritious as the higher-quality foods, when in reality, it is one of the worst foods available (down there with Alpo and store brands). The companies that produce these dog foods can afford heavy advertising because they use cheap-o, bottom-of-the-barrel ingredients in their products. The foods that are much better for your dog, like Solid Gold, Canidae, Nutro Natural Choice, Wellness, Innova, California Natural, and Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul are not advertised like the crappy brands are because:

1) The people that purchase their products do not need advertising because they already know they are buying a better product,

2) They use more expensive, better-quality (often human grade) ingredients in their foods, so advertising would make the cost of their products go up as they had to compensate for the cost of advertising, and

3) Their foods are usually only available in certain pet stores or specialty stores that are not located in just about every city or town, as the crappy brands are. Advertising, therefore, simply wouldn’t be worth the cost for the better-quality dog food companies.

Does all that make sense?

Now, having said all that, I will begin to tell you what to look for (and what to stay away from) on a dog food label.

First, anything you can buy in the grocery store, Wal-Mart, or K-Mart type stores should be avoided. These foods include Purina, Iams, Pedigree, Alpo, and any “off-brand” or store brand (like Ol Roy or Maxximum Nutrition at Wal-Mart). This makes things difficult for many people because the grocery store is the only place around that they can purchase dog food from, without having to drive 50 or more miles to a pet specialty store. Hopefully this isn't a problem for you.

Foods sold in feed stores can be even worse, but there are a few feed stores throughout the US that sell higher quality dog food, like Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul. Your best bet if a feed store is the closest place you can buy dog food is to go in and take a look at what they are selling, armed with the information you are reading in this article.

Now, on to the label reading!

The following is a list of ingredients that you should try to stay away from when purchasing dog food:

1) By-products. By-products are what is left over after the processing plants remove what meat is fit for human consumption and send it to the grocery stores. By products can contain anything from chicken heads and feet, to cow hooves and horns, fur, feathers, blood, skin, bone, feces, and even dirt and sawdust from the floors. By-products are not kept fresh, and in some cases have even been known to sit in containers for 5 days or more before being picked up from the meat plant and taken to the dog food rendering plant.

2) Corn in any form, including “ground yellow corn,” “corn meal,” and “corn gluten meal.” Corn is what is called a ‘filler,’ and it serves one primary purpose in pet food – to make the animal feel full. Dogs and cats cannot digest corn, so it just passes right through the digestive system and you get the privilege of cleaning it up when it comes out the other end. It also makes dogs hyper, being that it is a carbohydrate. Dogs do not get their usable energy from carbs like people do; they get it from protein and fat. Some dogs are also allergic to corn, so just avoid any foods that contain any form of corn in their ingredients listing.

3) ‘General’ ingredients like “animal fat,” “animal digest,” and “meat meal” – you have no idea what these could contain (and you don’t want to know). Instead, you want to look for things that are more specific, like “chicken fat” and “chicken meal,” that way you know exactly what is in the food.

4) Chemical preservatives such as "ethoxyquin," “BHA,” “BHT,” and “propylene glycol (which is also found in antifreeze, body lotions, hair gels, perfumes, bubble bath, shampoo, smoke machines, and paint). Chemical preservatives make the food last longer, but every single one of them has been proven to cause liver and kidney failure, cancer, or other life-threatening diseases in lab rats. They will tell you that in small quantities, the preservatives are safe, but if you stop and think about it, your dog will be ingesting small quantities of these preservatives every day over his entire life span. They then build up to toxic levels inside his body and that’s when they become deadly. You want food that’s been naturally preserved. “Mixed tocopherols” is a natural preservative.

5) Brewer's Rice. White rice or brown rice are both okay, but brewer's rice is not. Why? Brewer's rice refers to the tiny pieces of broken rice that remain after the milling process is complete. These particles are so tiny that they will pass through a sieve with a 1.4 mm round perforation. Look on a ruler to see how small that is. Each mark between the inch marks is 1 mm. Brewer's rice is used as another filler in dog food.

6) Soy, in any form. Soy is another filler, like corn, and some dogs are also pretty allergic to it. It’s best to just stay away from foods containing soy altogether.

7) Sorghum is another filler. Sorghum is an Old World grass that is cultivated as grain and forage. Sounds like the perfect thing for a dog to be eating, don't you think?

8) Wheat – I only say this because some dogs are allergic to wheat. If your dog isn’t allergic to wheat, then foods with “wheat flour” are okay. It won’t hurt him unless he’s allergic to it, and then you’ll know because he’ll likely develop skin problems.

9) Salt, while found in many dog foods, is an unnecessary ingredient, so if the dog food you choose contains salt, make sure it’s down near the bottom of the list of ingredients, as there is usually a form of sodium in the added vitamins, and you don’t want to be giving your dog too much of it.

10) Brewer's yeast. Again, some dogs have a problem with this ingredient, so watch for skin problems and/or ear infections if your dog food contains brewer's yeast.

11) Flax is something else that some dogs do not tolerate well. Some dogs have no problem with it whatsoever, but others do. Usually dogs that are sensitive to flax will have soft or loose stools, but it usually does not cause an allergic reaction or anything super-serious.

I know this seems like a lot, but if you want the best for your dog, you just aren’t going to get that if the food you feed him contains the ingredients named above. The four ingredients listings I gave you previously will help you when looking at and comparing labels in the store, because all three are foods to stay away from. Below are three ingredients listings from foods that I not only have used, but that I recommend to those wanting to switch to something better for their dog:

1. Canidae <> - This is what I feed my dogs. Canidae uses human-grade meats, meaning that their meats come from the same place that ours does, and their meats do not contain hormones, antibiotics, or other chemicals. This is the "All Life Stages" formula, but it also comes in a "Chicken & Rice" formula that contains only chicken as the meat protein source.

Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Brown Rice, White Rice, Lamb Meal, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, Rosemary Extract), Herring Meal, Flax Seed, Sun Cured Alfalfa Meal, Sunflower Oil, Chicken, Lecithin, Monocalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Linoleic Acid, Rosemary Extract, Sage Extract, Yeast Culture, Dried Enterococcus Faecium, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Aspergillus Oryzae Fermentation Extract, Dried Bacillus Subtilis Fermentation Extract, Inulin (from Chicory root), Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Fermentation Solubles, Yucca Schidigera Extract Mixed Tocopherols (source of Vitamin E), Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Cobalt Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Ascorbic Acid (source of Vitamin C), Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (source of B2), Beta Carotene, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Calcium Iodate, Folic Acid, D-Biotin, Sodium Selenite, Dried Papaya, Vitamin B12 Supplement.

2. Solid Gold <> - I used to feed Solid Gold, but the store I used to buy it from began having difficulties keeping it in stock. The following is the ingredients listing for their ‘large breed’ formula (WolfKing).

Bison Salmon Meal Brown Rice Millet Cracked Pearled Barley Oatmeal Rice Bran Canola Oil Flaxseed Oil Garlic Amaranth Blueberries Yucca Schidigera Extract Taurine Carotene Choline Chloride Vitamin E Supplement Iron Proteinate Zinc Proteinate Copper Proteinate Manganese Proteinate Potassium Iodide Thiamine Mononitrate Ascorbic Acid Vitamin A Supplement Biotin Calcium Panthothenate Selenomethionine Pyridoxine Hydrochloride Vitamin B12 Supplement Riboflavin Vitamin D Supplement Folic Acid

3. Innova <> - Natura makes four different dog foods, all of which can be found by clicking on Innova, above. Below is just the ingredients listing for Innova. On the web site you can click on each ingredient for a description.

Turkey, chicken, chicken meal, ground barley, ground brown rice, potatoes, natural flavors, ground white rice, chicken fat, herring, apples, carrots, cottage cheese, sunflower oil, alfalfa sprouts, egg, garlic, taurine, vitamins/minerals, Viable Naturally Occurring Microorganisms

Other foods that I recommend include:

* Wellness <> - (this food can be a bit rich for some dogs, but it IS a very high quality food),

* Nutro Natural Choice <> - (there is also a Nutro Natural Choice Ultra, which, in my opinion, is too expensive for what it is),

* Premium Edge <> - (a step down from Chicken Soup, but much better than Diamond),

* Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul <> - (the highest quality food that the Diamond company makes, to my knowledge), and

* Eagle Pack HOLISTIC <> - (please note that their Holistic formulas are the ONLY ones I recommend buying).

Of course, you might also consider the raw food diet. I feed Canidae kibble to my dogs now, but in addition to that, I also give them raw every few days and they absolutely LOVE it. Given raw, even bones are safe – it is only when you cook them that they can become dangerous for dogs. Even raw chicken bones are okay, but you should never give your dog any bone unless you can supervise, just in case the dog chokes or something. I’ve never had it happen, but you never know. If you’re interested in going completely raw, the yahoo rawfeeding list is a good place to start, as is The Raw Dog Ranch <>.

I surely hope this isn’t too much information all at once. If you have any more questions, or if you come across a food in the store that you are unsure about, please don’t hesitate to ask. You may e-mail me by clicking on my name at the end of this article. I’ll do my very best to answer any question you may have. I have been studying canine nutrition and dog foods for more than 5 years.

Don’t forget to introduce the new food gradually to avoid tummy upset!

© 2005-2006, Kristen Cabe <>


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Kristen Cabe


I can answer training questions, both basic and advanced, and am familiar with almost all of the methods and tools used. I am not closed-minded and do not think that one method and one tool is the best/only way to train. I answer questions with consideration to both the owner`s and the dog`s needs and abilities. I am also very knowledgeable about canine nutrition.

IF YOU HAVE A HOUSETRAINING QUESTION, PLEASE go to my web page on housetraining, located at If you try the suggestions there, and are still having problems, let me know.


I have been training for more than five years, and studying canine nutrition for more than six years. I have taken three online veterinary assistant classes given by the local community college, and received final grades in the high 90's for all three.

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