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thistle
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I just brought home 2 (yes, 2!) 10 wk. old puppies-we think they're black lab mixes. Some rotten person dropped off a stray dog at my sister's house, that turned out to be pregnant, so we are the lucky new owners of 2 of the 4 puppies. Does anyone have any recommendations &/or opinions on puppy food? They're healthy & strong now-Taz (m) is 20 lbs. & Bella (f) is 15.5-I just want to feed them the best food I can (but I don't think I'm up for a raw diet).

This is the reason I had to cancel on the Pizzeria Orso dinner, which just killed me-it sounds like everyone had a wonderful time. I drove down to NC to pick up puppies last Thursday & back on Friday-they traveled like champs. Right now, it's just like having a new baby in the house, though-twins, as a matter of fact. Puppy-proofing & constant supervision-fortunately, like babies, they sleep alot. Anyone out there w/ dogs that would like to share some nutritional advice or just words of encouragement to get me through the puppy phase?

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Good luck with the little ones they can be a chore, but they will give you more love than you could possibly give in return. As for food, I have tried all sorts of different brands from the Science Diet to the super premium Orijen, we have settled on Science Diet - our vet is happy with it, the dogs love it, and they are incredibly healthy (including my Bella who weighs in at 75).

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Please remember that dogs, like humans, react to foods differently. While Science Diet is generally good, I have also seen dogs allergic to certain ingredients, or have extreme dry fur from it. The list I will give below are the same: I have had fosters that react poorly while others' fur or body thrive from it.

Out in Tyson's Corner (and Arlington), there is a nice store called Wylie Wagg that I have found more holistic foods for. Out in Arlington, there is Dogma Bakery (yummy doggy treats!) for sources or PetMac. In Del Ray, there is a natural foods pet store on Mount Vernon Avenue.

Brands I like are:

Canidae

Innova

EVO

Merrick "BG"

Orijen

Nature's Variety.

Best thing to do is ask for dog food samples and start trying a few on the puppies. Or buy the smallest bag.

People on the board that I know of that have dogs who can help are (sorry for leaving few folks out):

agm + nqd

zoramargolis

Choirgirl21

ktmoomau

leleboo

ericandblueboy(?)

durwoodx (?)

eta: monavano

who might be good sources (as well as sthitch).

Finally, kongs are great investments, as puppies teethe and start biting everything under the sun.

Don't forget to invest in pet insurance. As that can save money in the long run.

Congrats on the puppies!!

Edited by goodeats
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We only feed dry, and have tried a number of different foods. None of our dogs (all Akitas) have liked Flint River Ranch. Aki and the recently-departed Moki liked Verus (which has the added benefit of being made in Maryland), but only for short periods of time. They both love(d) Castor and Pollux Organix (available at Whole Foods) and Blue Buffalo (available at PetSmart).

If you want to feed whole foods but don't want to go raw, I recommend checking out Dr. Richard Pitcairn's "Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats." It's a general dog/cat raising book, but it has some good recipes in it, along with ideas for doing your own balanced meals.

I hope you and the puppies are doing well! They're lucky to have you. :(

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We use EVO red meat formula. When we first adopted our dog we gave him what he had been used to eating. It was either Iams or Science Diet but I can't remember. We consulted a dog behaviorist who said that it was giving him the equivalent of rocket fuel for dogs, which is one of the reasons why he was running in circles even after long periods of exercise. We switched to a grain free diet and he calmed down a lot. Make sure that you use natural peanut butter with no added sugar in the Kongs.

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After our beloved dog, Kashmir (standard yellow dog, looked like a Golden, was an Afghan/collie/lab mix), died 2 years ago, I wasn't sure if I could have another dog, but these puppies came at the right time (I'm still unemployed, the kids begged, & I had to help my sister out), they've already won us over. Thanks for all the ideas, I know lots of you are dog-folks....

They've just been weaned, have been free-feeding Purina puppy chow. I picked up a bag of Nutro Ultra Puppy (best food they had on post), & then found Bark Avenue, right around the corner. They recommended Verus Puppy Advantage, also picked up some bully sticks (they chew everything) & Big Catch chews (cod skin/sweet potato)-which they love!

They're definitely labs, they dive into anything wet-my neglected waterbowl garden, the micro-irrigation system, the neighbors' pool-it may limit our going out (I'm trying to figure out puppy sitting for the picnic),but they're worth it...Thistle/Linda

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Hey Thistle/ Linda,

Congrats on the pups! I am not sure where you are, but PetMac in Arlington is awesome about researching foods and updating you about your food, for instance they alerted us that a bunch of brands such as EVO just got bought by Iams and they have 6 months before they have to reflect any changes on the label, but they are keeping an eye on it. They also have samples of many foods. They also have cool agility classes and other classes, their website is a great resource.

We have a very picky eater, so we had to go with what he liked, he just wouldn't eat some food . He likes EVO. I get the red meat blend because chicken/turkey gives him gas, so you might watch for that. But as he is a tiny fluff ball I don't know that we would have the same priorities as you. He is so small and eats so little a bag of food lasts forever so the price isn't too bad. I am sure with bigger dogs it gets much more costly.

Also Wylie Wagg has a frequent buyer food program. I highly highly recommend the Kong, I have two and I freeze some peanut butter and treats in it to keep Max busy during the day. A lot of people say not to get puppies rawhides, but those and flossies are a nice relief when your dog is chewing on everything else, it didn't seem to hurt him at all. We also got one of those soft clear plastic toys and put it in the freezer so it felt soothing to the gums. Luckily Max stayed away from most things shoes, etc, although he did chew through a mac computer charger wire. Oh and we found while he was teething he had awful breath, so we got this water additive that cleaned plaque and gave him better breath, it worked well.

Our dog loves the water too which is surprising, he tries to leap into fountains, rivers, lakes, etc.

Oh and Max & Ruffy's treats are made in Arlington and make good training treats, Max loves the pizza flavor.

The Shirlington and Glen Carlyn parks are great for socialization if you are in that area.

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They're definitely labs, they dive into anything wet-my neglected waterbowl garden, the micro-irrigation system, the neighbors' pool-it may limit our going out (I'm trying to figure out puppy sitting for the picnic),but they're worth it...Thistle/Linda

Harnesses are great at training puppies to walk well.

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We are in the midst of puppy hell with our super high energy, very intelligent 5 1/2 month-old Aussie who is just breathtakingly destructive. In the past, I've had a puppy destroy a couch--this one has ripped up two couches. she is currently eating Innova, a mix of kibble and canned, but she will eat anything I give her or she can steal from a counter or find outside (heirloom tomatoes, broccolini, dill, toothpaste, quinces from the ornamental quince trees in the yard, deer and fox poop). We take her to the Madison dog park in North Arlington, which is a really nice park--you'll have to wait until your pups are fully vaccinated and 4 months old per the park's rules, but the people who bring their dogs there are very nice. I get a couple of hours of peace after an hour of active play at the dog park, and she loves bully sticks--the dried tendon. One of those will keep her busy and out of mischief for a long stretch, but they are pricey, so we can't do it every day. We were really glad when the puppy needle teeth finally went. I'm going to check the ingredient list on the Innova after reading above--the last thing this puppy needs is rocket fuel.

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We are in the midst of puppy hell with our super high energy, very intelligent 5 1/2 month-old Aussie who is just breathtakingly destructive.

Some people recommend Bach's Rescue Remedy to calm puppers down. I have used it in the past when I have minor anxiety attacks and it sort of has a soothing flavor to it. You can find it in WF. I really like the beans or pennies in a jar trick, though. Any time you find pupper's paw on the counter, shake that can!, but for awhile, I had to baby gate my kitchen to prevent pupper access, until one of the fosters charged it down like a good linebacker. I also know people to put chili sauce on chewable places to discourage chewing - hope that helps too. One last recommendation is Barker's Grub, which has great and various recipes to help puppies and dogs.

ETA: I lied - here's one more recommendation: Tripe for dogs. It's really handy when you have a greyhound who boycotts 36 different brands or for a dog that needs to take medication.

Edited by goodeats
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When we adopted Jack (our hot mess of a rescued pitbull), he had been eating whatever the shelter had on hand - junky grocery store pet food, mostly. He would get this nasty, itchy rash on his belly, and we finally figured out that he was allergic to grain (a lot of dogs are, apparently). So, since then - and that was about two and a half years ago - we've been feeding him a mixture of Taste of the Wild dry food and Blue Buffalo wet food. TOTW is a great food and is considered an "all stage" diet, so it doesn't really matter what age your dog is. It's high-protein, so it's good for large, high-energy dogs. Jack likes the bison flavor. :( The only downside is that it is somewhat hard to find. As far as cost, I'd say it's mid-range - more expensive than the Petsmart-type stuff, but less than some other premium brands. The cans of Blue Buffalo are available at Petsmart, and they're about $2 each, but we only put about 1/4 can in each of Jack's two daily meals. He just likes the textural combination, I guess.

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We are in the midst of puppy hell with our super high energy, very intelligent 5 1/2 month-old Aussie who is just breathtakingly destructive. In the past, I've had a puppy destroy a couch--this one has ripped up two couches.

Have you tried a DAP collar? We have a yellow lab that was rescued after spending a year tied up in someone's backyard, he is one of the sweetest creatures you could ever find, but he had a wee bit of an issue with eating things, like Venus Razor cartridges - blades and all, any sort of soap, various types of feminine hygiene products, books, rocks, lip balm, and some things I do not even want to think about. Our vet gave us a DAP collar and told us to try it before we went the route of giving him any drugs, and while we were dubious, it has worked like a charm. They are not cheap and they cannot get wet, but they last about four weeks if kept dry. As a side benefit, we have also noticed that once we put it on he was all around a happier dog.

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The good news is, labs are easy, at least when it comes to food. We have a little white maltese/poodle mix - basically, this thing was bred to be spoiled, finicky and manipulative. We've never found a commercial food that he'll eat longer than a few weeks, maybe a couple of months, tops. We tried making healthy meals for him, occasionally hitting on something he enjoys, but it never lasts.

We tried not giving in, just giving him a decent quality commercial food and leaving it up to him to eat whenever his hunger overcame his fussiness, but for a while he was suffering from severe digestive problems that were triggered by not eating, so he'd snub a couple of meals in a row and we'd all suffer.

Now, he's going through chemo for bladder cancer, so just keeping his calories up is important. Right now, eggs seem to be a favorite (but we have to watch his fat intake), and he's fond of ham and cheese sandwiches, if I cut them up into very small pieces. He did enjoy a big meatball last night, but he's less enthusiastic about chicken then he used to be.

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We recently added a puppy to our menagerie (two other dogs, a cat and a fish; gone are the spring peeper, numerous hamsters, guinea pig and hermit crabs - we have an interesting animal burial ground near our house!). I should clarify - my teenage daughter brought home a 4 week old puppy, apparently being abandoned somewhere in NC on the route home from the beach; she has now gone back to college and the rest of us are dealing with the now 4 month old, undetermined breed of tasmanian devil-like energy. Anyway, for food, we have the puppy on Blue brand puppy food, mixing a small amount of canned with dry, and have also switched our other dogs (and cat) to Blue and other no bad grains/filler foods and all seem to be doing nicely. We have always used a better brand of food since our 12 year old golden mix has skin issues, but there are so many more available now and at easier to find shops. I would try several different foods, over a few weeks, to see what your dogs like best. Also, sign up for coupons - Blue is expensive, but i have found $3 and $5 dollar coupons on line and through the company website.

Zora - Madison is our home dog park as well, although it is my husband who usually takes the dogs there. I am more inclined to a walk around the neighborhood or along the canal.

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agm, big hugs for you & your dog-bladder cancer is what Kashmir had & it was rough for all of us. He was a great dog & I'm hoping these puppies will follow in his footsteps. Everyone has warned me against bringing home littermates (when they're not telling me I'm crazy), but these puppies needed a home & we needed them, so...

Sthitch, that Pet Expertise site is great!-lots of training tips & gear. It's been so long since I've lived w/ puppies, I'm just anticipating all the damage they'll do-they leaped on an Earthbox last night, chewed off the plastic cover, then started playing tug of war w/ the (dead, fortunately) tomato plant-I'm just waiting for them to try that w/ the habaneros...

I picked up some Kongs for them, put peanut butter in them (Jif Omega 3, because I'm the one that can't handle natural pb on my morning bagel) & they love them- How do you clean these out? throw them in the dishwasher?

I really must be crazy, just started a fitness boot camp that meets at 5 a.m. & I can barely walk today, but I've got to get into shape to keep up w/ these puppies...

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I find that PB makes a big mess because they'll just lick it until they gets all the PB out. As an alternative to PB , we have found that the Merrick brand "sausages" are the perfect size and consistency to fill a Kong. Our 7 month old lab mix LOVES them- especially the Venison Holiday Stew and French Country Pate varieties (the Merrick products have hilariously foodie names). The "sausages" are sort of smooshy so they are easily packed inside, but also break up nicely making them an excellent option for brain-stimulating-play/reward-delivery device function of the Kong. The dog really has to work at the Kong and play with it to get the goodies out. They don't deliver any treat from licking alone and so they make virtually no mess. The real disadvantage of the "sausages" over PB is that they are pricey at $1.25 each.

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Lizzie, good luck w/ your new puppy, it's funny that you mentioned 'tasmanian devil energy'. Taz's puppy name was Elvis (puppies were born when my sister was in LV), but the kids didn't like that name, said it made him sound like an old dog (?), so now he's Tasmanian Elvis Noble, Taz for short...he's really pretty mellow...

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I find that PB makes a big mess because they'll just lick it until they gets all the PB out.

That's why I freeze the kong after I put in peanut butter, I put some in smush some treats in it then freeze. This seems to eliminate most of the mess, which is good because PB beard on a bichon just doesn't look very good and is hard to get off, though he would try his darndest to lick it all off. But the sausages sound quite tasty, might have to try that now and then. Especially when we babysitt the in laws dog as peanut butter makes him gas up the place to an intolerable level.

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I love the idea that I could put something around Chloe's neck and she'd be mellow and calm. But fortunately (or not) she is not the least bit fearful, in fact she's the boldest puppy I've ever owned--thunder doesn't phase her a bit, unlike my previous Aussie, who would cower in the bathtub until the storm passed. The high energy is a breed characteristic, as is the willfulness which compels her to return to the shredded arm of the sofa to inflict more damage despite having been sternly reprimanded previously. What I have learned is that the sweet calm submissive Aussie we had who tragically died of cancer in June 2009 was an outlier in terms of behavior and temperament, and Chloe is more typical of the breed. And Chloe was the calmest most submissive puppy in her litter of 10, believe it or not.

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I love the idea that I could put something around Chloe's neck and she'd be mellow and calm. But fortunately (or not) she is not the least bit fearful

The DAP collars are not just for fear, my blond is scared of nothing, but the collar has caused him to calm down and yet still maintains energy for when he needs it (like standing in the window sill with his junk plastered against the glass and letting the mailman know that he would like to rip his left butt cheek off - the collar is not perfect, but it is better than when he used to want to cause mortal harm to the mailman).

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The Whole Dog Journal puts out annual reviews of dry foods. They include an explanation of how to evaluate unrated foods based on ingredients lists. (Disclaimer--they're squarely in the camp that views corn, soy, and animal byproducts as garbage, and they are also against BHA/BHT.) We're feeding our 2 year-old standard poodle Evo, alternating between the red meat and poultry types. We occasionally feed a bag of Into the Wild or similar other high quality food, but it is hard to find anything with an ingredient list that stands up to Evo's. We did like Blue Buffalo's ingredients, and it is carried by Petsmart, but our dog won't eat the vitamin bits, so we had to rule that one out. Our small local pet store went under in mid-June, so we've been visiting the pet store that is in the same plaza as Duck Changs when we are in Annandale. Their prices are good and they have an extensive selection of high-end dog foods.

When you use a high protein food like Evo, you end up feeding a lot less, so it can often end up not costing much more than junky food that is mostly filler. Plus, less food=less poop.

We also give our dog marrow bones several times a week, using the 2-3 inch bones that you can find in the freezer section of every Asian market in the region at $0.89 or so per pound.

Edited to add:

Evo does not have a puppy formulation, so we didn't use it until Storm was a year old (fully grown for bitch standard poodles). We used Innova prior to that.

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Got to get harnesses for the puppies, at least for Taz, before he strangles himself-they are still demons in the morning, once I can walk them both at the same time, it might be a little better. They have slacked off their food a bit (I hope it's due to the high protein), but still love to chew up misc. stuff-potting mix (what a mess!), plants (most need pruning), & almost anything you don't put out of reach...

I'm going to look for marrow bones at the store, & I'm hanging in there w/ the every 3 hrs. housebreaking schedule....they are very sweet puppies!

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