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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello

I just adopted a four year old boy; still all aglow about having him home and my excitement hasn't abated in six weeks! I just found this forum and though you wonderful people could help me learn.

It seems he was heavily overweight when he came to the rescue (92#) and has just come down to his ideal of 74 lbs, losing about 7# in the first four weeks he was with us. He walks a mile morning and evening and I have started to feel his ribs nicely. We are in Arizona, so it's becoming quite hot and the vet said that may or not affect his appetite - I have to wait and watch.

I transitioned him to Chicken Soup FDLS adult when he came home and he's been doing okay on that. The vet suggested feeding him 1 cup twice a day (total 2) and this seems to have helped him lose the weight. I am almost done with the large bag and considering trying Canidae ALS, to see if he will do better on that (I think I will try 3/4 brands over 6 months and then settle on a couple to rotate).

My specific question is this: how do you determine feeding quanities? As an example, science diet & Chicken Soup both recommend feeding 3.5 cups a day for about 75# - if the vet hadn't told me to reduce the chicken soup, I would have been overfeeding him.

On all the blogs about kibble quality and quantity, people just say premium foods should be fed less than the grocery store brands without explaining how to measure it or on what basis. So they simply say I have to feed less of chicken soup than of Science Diet.

Chicken soup and canidae ALS both have very similar protein and fat content, but chicken soup is about 336kcal/cup whereas Canidae is 468kcal/cup. Does this mean I should be feeding him proportionately less than even CS (maybe 3/4 cup twice)? I imagine that is not going to fill him up. Though, canidae website recommends feeding 3 cups.

I know nutrition issues have been beaten to death on this forum, but I hope I can get some help with the specific foods and figures I've mentioned. Apologies if this has been discussed earlier - I could not find adequate information.
 

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Knife Swallower
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Hi! First, congrats on adopting your boy! Not to mention helping him get down to his ideal weight. I'm sure he'll be happier and more comfortable now, especially in a hot climate.

Second, very few people go by the feeding instructions on bags of food. Most of the time the feeding guides are WAY too much to feed a dog without the dog getting fat. Dog food companies want people to feed their dogs more because then they sell more of it! So don't worry about the recommended feeding per day. Go by what your dog's weight is telling you.

Is 74 lbs his approximate ideal weight? Can you easily feel his ribs when you run your hands over his ribs or closer to his spine? Does he have a visible tuck when viewing from the side and a waist from the top? You can post pics if you want to hear what people think. Sometimes vets/people get so used to seeing dogs as broad as a barn door that the image of an 'ideal weight' is skewed. I have people telling me all the time that Ranger is 'starving' and too thin. Well, leaner dogs live longer than overweight dogs. I'd rather be 5 lbs underweight than 5 lbs overweight (though to clarify I don't think he's underweight, he's just lean.)

If 74 lbs is your dog's ideal weight, then you want to try to feed him 740 calories a day, including food and treats like stuffed kongs, marrow bones and cookies. This is just a guideline. More active dogs need more food and some dogs have a higher metabolism than others. My brother's 90 lb great dane/lab X eats around 1300 calories a day and he's not heavy.

So if you're thinking of switching from Chicken Soup to Canidae, you'd be feeding less of the Canidae because there's more calories. Some dogs (especially goldens) need more volume to feel full. My vet friend once said a golden would be happier eating 5 cups of cardboard than 2 cups of a good food...but it's not what's best for them, obviously!

If your dog's activity/exercise level is going to be cut down with the heat, then i would stick with something low calorie otherwise you might have to cut it down to under 2 cups a day and that's not enough for most goldens to feel "full". I'd also caution you against trying so many bags in such a little time span. We don't see the full effects of dog foods for about 6-8 weeks after they've been eating it, so you wouldn't be leaving a lot of time for seeing what food is having what effect. Not to mention it could be hard on your dog's digestive tract and you might be dealing with digestive upsets, like diarrhea.

I think the best plan of action is to narrow it down to 2-3 bags that you think might work. Lots of people on the forum like Fromm, Acana/Orijen, Wellness, California Naturals, etc. Look into the calorie count on the bags, check out the ingredients, decide if you want to try grain-free or not, and then go from there. Keep him one food for 3-5 months and see what you think. If his coat is glossy, eyes bright, no ears infections, then it's probably working for him and you don't need to change. But if you see a lack of shine in his coat, his poops are either runny or he's pooping too much (3+ times a day), it might not be agreeing with him and you can try something else.

You mentioned rotating foods and lots of people on Fromm's switch between varieties to get different protein sources available to their dog. Some people rotate between brands, as well. I had Ranger on Orijen Six Fish for 8 months - it was grain-free and a different source of protein. I tried it because I suspected allergies in him, but turns out it was just a grain intolerance. Orijen was phenomenal for him and my brother still feeds it to his dog and his dog is thriving. I used to switch between a high calorie kibble in the summer and then a lower calorie kibble in the winter when we couldn't go outside as much. You may want to flip it and do the opposite. Find a lower calorie kibble (like wellness core or some acana varieties are around 325 - 350 cals/cup), and then switch to a higher calorie one when you're outside in the winter and he's getting more exercise.

Either way, I think 2 cups should be the minimum you're feeding him now that he's at a good weight. If he starts to gain, then either increase the exercise or try to find a lower calorie kibble IF you want to try something else for the summer. Good luck!

(and I think you'll find the excitement of getting a dog NEVER wears off!! I adopted my guy 2 years ago and I'm still as excited as ever! Congrats again!)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you so much for that long answer. I really appreciate all the information.
It seems our doggie reacts much to even small changes in his intake - like if we feed him an extra half a cup, he puts visible weight on within four to five days. So his metabolism is not quite as high I guess (he has thyroid issues, so we're hoping for his metabolism and thyroid levels to stabilize over two months).

If I had to feed less than two cups of the Canidae, he could feel hungry all the time like you said. We do try to take him on walks morning and evening with occasional visits to the dog park, which would be what we'd do in winter also.

He has really dry flaky skin, so I was considering trying grain-free since it seems from these forums that grain-free helps with skin issues. However, at two cups, while the calorie count in Blue Wilderness is just a bit more than CS, I wonder if that would be too much protein. I guess I have to try and see.
 

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Knife Swallower
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Instead of switching food for more oil content, I suggest you try adding some fish oil supplements to his food. I use human grade salmon oil capsules (from Costco) and give 2 a day to Ranger. Just make sure you hear them "pop" in the mouth to make sure the capsule has broken, otherwise you won't get the benefits of the oil since dogs usually can't digest a capsule lining. Or you can pierce the capsules with a pin and squeeze them onto the kibble. Alternatively, a raw egg once or twice a week can do amazing things for dry, flaky skin. I live in a super dry climate so Ranger's diet is made up to try to stop him from getting too itchy. 2 raw eggs per week, salmon oil (not cod liver oil) every day, and whole mackerel or sardines for a meal once or twice a week. His coat is silky and shiny and his skin is normal; not dry, not flaky, and most importantly, not itchy!

Oh, if you want to change to a lower calorie food, Acana has a "Light and Fit" formula and a Lamb and Apple formula which has fewer calories in it, too. Most grain-free formulas are pretty high calorie as they are very nutrient dense but Wellness Core Fat Free is pretty low calorie. I was just about to change Ranger over to that when I switched him to raw instead. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The salmon oil capsule suggestion is great, Ranger. I had seen suggestions to add olive oil but then I started seeing posts about how olives are toxic to dogs. I do give him a couple of egg yolks w/ shells but he still flakes off. I'll try adding salmon oil and see if that helps.
 
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