Dehydrated Dog Food Roundup

This one will work a little differently than the canned food, because there aren’t a lot of dehydrated foods out there. So I’m just listing everything that I know of. Again, please let me know if you see a brand that isn’t represented. As with all food, you really want to watch the nutrition labels. I’ve seen some astronomical fat percentages out there. Some dogs need that, but others really don’t. All of these foods are certainly not created equally, and you should make sure any of them meet your standards.

Dried foods come in a couple of forms. The traditional two are an almost powder, like The Honest Kitchen, and a patty, like Stella and Chewys. You rehydrate the powdery ones into the consistency of a thin canned food. I personally have found the water recommendations too high in the ones we’ve used, so watch the “One pound yields…” claims from the box. Water is heavy. The patties usually say they can be served rehydrated or dry, although I wouldn’t personally feed them dry except as a food topping. Some of the newer foods are supposed to reconstitute like a chunky canned food–SoJos is an example. I’ve heard about some very uneven rehydrating on these, so you might want to be careful. Make sure that any chunks are soft enough for your dog to chew.

If you have a large dog and a normal budget, most of these will be too expensive to feed exclusively. Very roughly speaking, dehydrated food is somewhat cheaper than canned food, depending on brand. There is some variety, though, and you may be able to score a deal. The Honest Kitchen, I know, runs a box-top redemption program and mails out coupons. My local store includes most dehydrated foods in their buy ten/get one free program. Some of the online stores give discounts if you schedule shipments.

For me, the beauty of the dehydrated food isn’t in everyday feeding, though. I feel like everybody who feeds raw should have a box of dehydrated/freeze dried food around. Most boarding kennels or vets won’t feed raw. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s great to have around in case the electricity goes out, or if you need to travel. Or, you know, if you forget to defrost the dinner. The powdered dehydrated foods are also much less bulky than the same quantity of kibble or (especially) canned food. Some of them are fantastically delicious, great for tempting appetites.

I’m sorting these by brand, with the protein sources and grains listed. If nothing is listed, it’s because the food is a single protein included in the product name. That is, the “Chicken” variety contains only chicken. This list is a mix of both freeze dried and dehydrated foods. While there are differences, the division is too ambiguous to merit separate lists.

Addiction Dehydrated
Perfect Summer Brushtail. New Zealand Brushtail.
Outback Kangaroo Feast
New Zealand Forest Delicacies. Brushtail, venison, oats.
Steakhouse Beef and Zucchini
Homestyle Venison and Cranberry. Oats.
Fig’licious Venison Feast
Herbed Lamb and Potatoes
Country Chicken and Apricot
Nutri-Rx Allergy-HS. Soy

D.N.A. Dried-N-Alive
Chicken. Chicken, egg, salmon oil.
Lamb. Lamb, eggs.
Venison and Salmon. Venison, salmon, egg.
Beef. Beef, egg, salmon oil.

Grandma Lucy’s Freeze Dried. All grain free and single protein.
Artisan Chicken
Artisan Lamb
Artisan Venison
Artisan Pork
Artisan Bison
Artisan pre-mix. No meat; for supplementing a raw diet.
Pureformance Chicken
Pureformance Lamb
Pureformance Rabbit

The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated
Love. Beef
Zeal. Haddock, whiting, salmon, egg.
Embark. Turkey, eggs.
Force. Chicken.
Keen. Turkey, oats.
Thrive. Chicken, quinoa.
Verve. Beef, oats, rye, eggs.
Preference. Grain free, meat free supplement/diet base.

I and Love and You
In the Raw Beef Recipe. Beef, eggs.
In the Raw Turkey Recipe. Turkey, eggs.
In the Raw Chicken Recipe. Chicken, eggs, oats, rye, and barley.
Power Pucks Beef. Beef, herring oil.
Power Pucks Chicken. Chicken, herring oil.

K9 Naturals Freeze-Dried
Beef Feast. Beef, eggs, green lipped mussels.
Lamb Feast. Lamb, eggs, green lipped mussels.
Venison Feast. Venison, eggs, green lipped mussels.
Lamb Green Tripe. 100% tripe.

Nature’s Variety Instinct Freeze Dried Raw. Grain free.
Chicken. Chicken and turkey.
Beef
Lamb

NRG All Natural
Maxim Grain-less Beef. Beef, eggs, goat milk yogurt, salmon.
Maxim Grain-less Buffalo. Buffalo, eggs, goat milk yogurt, salmon.
Maxim Grain-less Chicken. Chicken, eggs, goat milk yogurt, salmon
Maxim Grain-less Salmon. Salmon, goat milk yogurt, cod liver oil.
Optimum Large/Active Dog Beef. Beef, oats, wheat germ, eggs, salmon, goat milk yogurt, cod liver oil.
Optimum Large/Active Dog Buffalo. Buffalo, oats, wheat germ, eggs, salmon, goat milk yogurt, cod liver oil.
Optimum Large/Active Dog Chicken. Chicken, oats, wheat germ, eggs, salmon, goat milk yogurt, cod liver oil.
Optimum Large/Active Dog Salmon. Salmon, oats, wheat germ, eggs, goat milk yogurt, cod liver oil.
Vital II Small Breed Beef. Beef, oats, wheat germ, eggs, goat milk yogurt.
Vital II Small Breed Buffalo. Buffalo, oats, wheat germ, eggs, goat milk yogurt.
Vital II Small Breed Chicken. Chicken, oats, wheat germ, eggs, goat milk yogurt.
Vital II Small Breed Salmon. Salmon, oats, wheat germ, eggs, goat milk yogurt, cod liver oil.

Nutrisca Freeze Dried Dinner Bites
Salmon Dinner Bites.
Beef Dinner Bites
Chicken Dinner Bites

Only Natural Pet
Easy Raw Dehydrated Chicken and Oats. Chicken, eggs, oats, rye, barley.
Easy Raw Dehydrated Turkey and Sweet Potato. Turkey, eggs.
Easy Raw Dehydrated Beef and Sweet Potato. Beef, eggs.
Grain-Free Max Meat Air Dried Beef
Grain-Free Max Meat Air Dried Chicken
Grain-Free Max Meat Air Dried Lamb and Cod.
Freeze Dried Patties Beef and Veggies. Contains herring oil.
Freeze Dried Patties Chicken and Veggies. Contains herring oil.

Petsana
Turkey Feast. Turkey, eggs.
Beef Feast. Beef, eggs.

Primal Freeze-dried
Beef
Chicken
Lamb
Turkey and Sardine
Duck

The Real Meat Company
90% Meat Chicken
90% Meat Beef
90% Meat Lamb
85% Meat Lamb. Lamb, green lipped mussels.
85% Meat Beef. Beef, green lipped mussels.

SoJos Freeze Dried.
Turkey Complete
Beef Complete
Grain free mix. Vegetables/supplements only.
Original mix. Grains/vegetables/supplements.

Stella and Chewy’s Freeze-dried
Stella’s Super Beef
Chewy’s Chicken
Duck Duck Goose. Duck, turkey, and goose.
Dandy Lamb
Surf N Turf. Beef, salmon, and turkey.
Simply Venison
Absolutely Rabbit
Phenomenal Pheasant

Vital Essentials Freeze Dried. Single protein and grain free. Contain herring oil.
Freeze-Dried Nibblets Beef
Freeze-Dried Nibblets Chicken
Freeze-Dried Nibblets Turkey
Freeze-Dried Sprinkles Beef
Freeze-Dried Pet Patties Beef
Freeze-Dried Mini Pet Patties Beef
Freeze-Dried Mini Pet Patties Chicken

Wysong
Archetype. Chicken, fish oil.
Uncanny Beef and Egg. Beef, cheese, egg, chicken.
Uncanny Chicken and Yogurt. Chicken, cheese, egg, yogurt.
Uncanny Pheasant and Fruit. Pheasant, cheese, chicken.
Uncanny Seafood. Pollock, shrimp, catfish, cheese, chicken.
Archetype Buffet. Chicken, rice, oats, wheat, millet, fish oil.
Archetype Burgers. Beef and chicken.

ZiwiPeak Daily Dog Air Dried Cuisine
Lamb. Lamb and New Zealand Green-Lipped Mussel.
Venison. Venison and New Zealand Green-Lipped Mussel.
Venison and Fish. Venison, Hoki Fish, and New Zealand Green-Lipped Mussel.

Snapshots

A handful of photos of Silas, living the big life in the country.

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You can click through to my flickr stream to see lots more in the same vein, if you need some more distant photos of a running dog in your life.

He had fun doing things like running behind my husband’s bicycle (at 18 mph) and getting to go leash free.

We went to the local pet store here, where he was fantastic about letting me actually shop, but not wild about the store employees. Not crazily upset, just a little unhappy. This store has a lot of narrow aisles, and the employee wanted to walk the length of the aisle toward us. Umm, no.

He was fantastic with my in-laws this trip. Such a relief. He’s always barked every time my father-in-law so much as moves. My husband and Silas spent three consecutive days there on our last trip, which was apparently enough to get him comfortable. I hope it takes the edge off of the dog-behavior headache that is Christmas with my husband’s loud, exuberant family. (We can’t crate him, because we have to crate him for my huge family’s evening party.)

Tomorrow we’ll be making the trek back home, where my posting and commenting should resume their usual pace after the weekend. I’ve got another food roundup post scheduled for tomorrow. I like making lists; they appeal to my inner researcher. There’s one upcoming about dehydrated/freeze dried foods, and I may do a run down of the frozen raw diets. Just don’t hold your breath for one about kibble. Too many!

Canned Food Roundup:

I realized, when stocking the “emergency” pantry, that there are a lot more turkey-based canned foods out there than there used to be. So, for my own edification, and for yours if you need it, I’m presenting a list.

Fine print: My starting point for this list is The Whole Dog Journal’s  “Approved  Wet Foods of 2012” list. They don’t list every brand, I’m sure, so if you know of a top-quality food that didn’t make it, feel free to leave it in the comments. “Natural Flavors” have been known to hide allergens, so that knocks quite a few otherwise eligible foods off the list. To be on this list, every meat source must be explicitly named. No “liver,” for instance. Some of these are mixers/toppings, rather than whole diets, which I indicate when it’s obvious on the website. Some of these foods are much better than others, but sometimes allergies make for compromise. We have actually tried very, very few of these. Some of them I’ve never even heard of before. My label reading cannot substitute for your label reading. I’ll be updating this as I find new things.

Turkey Based and Grain Free

-Pinnacle Turkey and Potato. Contains egg and fish oil.
-Castor and Pollux Natural Ultramix Turkey and Vegetable Dinner. Be careful–they have several turkey foods; this is the only one that is single-protein.
-Evanger Slow Cooked Turkey Stew
-By Nature 100% Organic Turkey. I’m not sure that this is a complete diet. The 100% is the organic part, not the turkey part, but the ingredients list is suspiciously short.
-By Nature Organic Turkey, Sweet Potato, and Peas.
-Nature’s Variety Instinct Limited Ingredient Turkey Formula.
-PetGuard Turkey and Sweet Potato Dinner in Gravy.
-PetGuard Turkey and Barley Dinner. Contains egg and fish oil.
-Spring Naturals 95% Turkey Dinner. Contains egg.
-Spring Naturals Turkey Stew.
-Wellness Simple Grain Free Turkey and Potato Formula.
-Wellness 95% Turkey. Not a complete diet.

Turkey Based, With Grains

-Blue Buffalo Turkey Meatloaf Dinner with Carrots and Sweet Potatoes. Contains rice.
-Blue Buffalo Basics Turkey and Potato Recipe. Contains oats. Also in a Large Breed formula with glucosamine.
-Mulligan Stew Turkey. Rice, and the weirdest website copy.
-Spring Naturals Turkey Dinner. Has quinoa, so kind of grain free. Contains egg.
-Spring Naturals Organic Turkey Dinner. See above.
-Verus Turkey and Veggie. Contains rice and oats.
-Wellness Turkey and Sweet Potato. Contains barley.

Bonus round: other unusual proteins.

-Addiction New Zealand Venison and Apples. Grain Free.
-Pinnacle Salmon and Potato. Fish based foods are common, but it’s fairly rare to find a one without an umbrella like “fish broth,” so I’ve listed the ones that popped out at me.
-Evanger Catch of the Day. Sardine based.
-Fromm Four Star Shredded Pork Entree. Grain Free.
-By Nature Entrees Pork Roulade With Bacon, Sweet Potatoes, and Apples. Pretentious, but grain free.
-Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Rabbit and Brown Rice. Has salmon oil and a lot of rice.
-Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Venison and Sweet Potato. Has salmon oil and a lot of potatoes. —Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Wild Boar and Brown Rice. This line in general is lower protein than I would feed personally, although it varies flavor to flavor.
-PetGuard Venison and Rice Dinner. Contains egg. Small can only.
-Wellness Venison and Sweet Potato. Contains barley.
-Wellness Simple Grain Free Salmon and Potato.
-Wellness 95% Salmon. Not a complete diet. (Would probably be the same price to feed human canned salmon.)
-Weruva Marbella Paella. Grain free, with mackerel.
-Weurva Cirque De La Mer. Grain free, with tuna.

The walk of shame:
Merrick’s “Real [Protein] 96%” line is not single protein in any case except chicken. Evanger’s grain free game meats are specifically market as allergy friendly, then include ingredients like “fish broth” or “liver.” They might mean “liver to match protein;” I would ask Evanger very pointed questions before feeding it. Addiction has a similar problem–an unnamed liver in most of their otherwise novel proteins like rabbit and buffalo. Nature’s Variety puts pork liver in both their rabbit and venison foods. Several companies ruin some otherwise awesome looking foods with “natural flavors.” It would probably be worth while to check. I’ve had a 50/50 success rate on people at least telling me “yes, that’s meat derived in some way.”

Mountain or Molehill?

I took Silas to a store on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. It turned out to be busier than I expected, probably because it shares a parking lot with the grocery store. Three clerks and four customers, in a tiny strip mall store with a lot of merchandise.

Once again, he was great. He started getting a little overly excited/playful by the time I was done checking out, but he was happy. He even greeted almost everyone appropriately, only jumping up on one person.

Which has me pleased, but puzzled.

I’ve always said that he’s better with people who don’t surprise him. So, going into a store doesn’t bring up nearly the issues that, say, going through a drive-through window does.

There are, no question, still some issues with people. Even at his best, he can get too excited, which can lead to some (usually inappropriate) attempts to ask people to play. He can be hesitant to “warm up” to those people who have surprised him. But these seem to me to be pretty “regular” problems, especially for a young, sensitive dog.  His reaction to being surprised needs a lot of work, but it’s a much easier job if there’s fundamental good will beneath the barking.

What I’m puzzled about is the why and the how, so to speak. Did I do something that actually helped him? Was that last round of obedience class really that useful, even though we worked with people comparatively little? Was this whole anxious-about-people thing just puppy adolescence (Silas is officially 18 months old on the 30th)? Or, was I just making a mountain out of a molehill the whole time?

Right now I’m feeling pretty optimistic. Next week after we come back from another trip home, where we’ll have to do a lot of managing, I’ll try to come back and read this all again, and take a deep breath.

Emergency Rations

As someone who feeds a diet that is entirely dependent on the refrigerator, I worry. What if the electricity goes off for a few days? What if we need to evacuate? What if we need to board Silas?

Maybe, eventually, we can do like other people and have an emergency bag of kibble. Right now, we can’t. The other options, freeze dried or canned foods, have really started looking up, after a few new discoveries. Turkey canned food seems to be a booming field, suddenly. Here’s our “emergency pantry” right now.

Emergency Food

The Spring Naturals brand is new to my local store, and fairly new in general, I believe. I bought the “Turkey Stew” and “Turkey” flavors to test. I really like the ingredients list on these, so I hope Mr. Picky will eat at least one of them.

Also in the photo is Fromm’s Shredded Pork. I haven’t researched it exhaustively, but this is the only single-protein pork canned food that I’ve seen so far. This can is getting elderly; I don’t even know why I bought it. The grumpy news is that my store seems to have stopped carrying it. I couldn’t remember the brand, so I’m not sure if the clerk and I overlooked it or if the brand has been replaced. There is a dehydrated pork food on the market right now, from Grandma Lucy’s, but I wasn’t willing to pay for a full bag just yet.

The thing I didn’t get in the photo is Wellness’s 95% Turkey. It isn’t nutritionally balanced, but I can work with it. Wellness gets bonus points for being reasonably available. Even the big box pet stores have either this one or their Turkey and Sweet Potato flavor, which Silas will grudgingly eat.

Tripett you’ve heard me rave about before, just like you’ve heard me pout over Silas’s rejection of the Honest Kitchen Embark. These two would make a fantastic emergency diet on their own, but Silas would rather eat rocks than Embark. The company also sent me a sample of Keen (because I’m apparently on their mailing list now, not because I’m a famous blogger), which is basically Embark with oats. We need to try it–I wonder if the oats would cut down on the “too green” flavor.

Canned pumpkin is a great mixer, either to get some veggies in something like the Wellness food or to tempt an anxious appetite. Also good to have on hand in case of digestive emergency.

That little purple packet to the left is Stella and Chewy’s Freeze Dried Cat Food, in the turkey flavor. Silas adores Stella and Chewy’s, but the dog version doesn’t come in a flavor Silas can eat right now. There’s no way Silas could actually eat the cat food for more than just the most extreme emergency. Not only is it staggeringly expensive–12 oz of “Tummy Tickling Turkey” is $26 and would last two and a half days–but it’s also very rich, with both a higher meat and higher fat content than their dog food. I would do my best to at least mix it with some canned pumpkin. What I’m really excited about is that, historically, Silas will eat anything if I sprinkle Stella and Chewy’s on top. Hopefully even the Honest Kitchen Embark.

(And with that, we’re off. In the most backwards of travel logic, we’re leaving town for the week after Thanksgiving. This isn’t a real vacation, so I should be around with at least a few photo posts. If not, you’ll know why.)

All The Turkeys!

After two months of spotty turkey availability, I have to confess that I went a little crazy.

Two whole turkeys.

Three tubs of turkey liver.

Three packets of turkey giblets.

One turkey back.

I would have bought more, but I was afraid I was going to run out of freezer space. It turns out that I could have maybe fit in one more turkey, which I will almost certainly be doing if I catch one on the post-Thanksgiving sale.

Then I went across the street to the pet food store, where I asked if my dog could eat a freeze dried cat food. (Silas loves Stella and Chewy’s Freeze Dried food, but they don’t make one he can eat. They make a turkey-only food for cats. The clerk thinks it would probably be fine as our emergency food, especially if I add a few additional vegetables. The cat food is a higher meat content and a higher fat content, which we might want to cut down.)

This is what food allergies do to you.

On the up side, pork is still working out. On the down side, pork is actually not any real help. Pork is more expensive than turkey, and it also isn’t really a common dog food ingredient.

Party Shoes

I mentioned yesterday that I was rebelling, and that part of that was buying new high-heeled shoes.

I haven’t routinely worn heels in a long time. I started out like a good Southern girl. My grandmother firmly believed in two things regarding clothes–wearing as many slips as it took for your skirt to be completely opaque in every light, and never wearing low heels. Then I moved away and spent five years living in a town where “dress shoes” meant the metallic Birkenstocks. Then we moved to a town with serious snow. People there considered it acceptable to wear their pajamas to the mall. I’m a little rusty.

I bought serious, grown-up, “investment” shoes. They are stunning. They are high. I bought them the same height as my current, elderly, worn-out heels. I did not consider that I’ve aged ten years since I bought the last ones and maybe should have “invested” in something under 3.5.” They need breaking in, and I need to get used to heels again.

Yesterday afternoon, I got dressed up in my date-night clothes (going out on Monday=perk of childlessness), including the new shoes. They aren’t ready to hit the town yet, but I’ve only got a month before my husband’s company party, where they’re a prominent feature of my outfit.

I was planning an afternoon of reclining on the sofa, admiring my feet. Until I went to get my refreshing beverage and spotted it: the bag of turkey hearts that I’ve been procrastinating about dehydrating for Silas. There was nothing else for it; today was really the last day that they needed to sit in the fridge.

I’ll bet I’m the only woman in America who wore her brand new holiday party shoes to make dog treats.

Hobbies

My favorite picture of Silas as a wee tyke:

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The pose is just a coincidence, but it captures his feelings toward the spinning wheel so very well. “Pleeeease. Can’t I have a little taste?” The spinning wheel had a (very) short tenure on the stair landing, which quickly became–and still is–one of Silas’s favorite places. Then it was moved upstairs, which we kept gated off thanks to Silas’s gleeful unraveling of the upstairs carpet. By the time he learned how to move the gate, he was trustworthy upstairs EXCEPT for the spinning wheel, which is the only piece of furniture he even tried to chew after his adult teeth were in. Now it lives in the way-back of my walk in closet, complete with the half spun yarn I was making before Silas arrived.

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I’ll confess now that I’ve been rebelling since we came back from our trip. These last two weeks have been about as non-dog as you can possibly be while still taking reasonably good care of a high-maintenance dog. Some of my rebellion has been unintentional. It has taken me forever to get back in the routine of defrosting Silas’s food, and I’ve let all of his training slide. I completely forgot to buy him more food before his store closed for Thanksgiving week. But there have been other things, too. I went out yesterday and bought ridiculous high-heeled shoes, while wearing my emphatically pre-dog black cashmere sweater. I’ve been giving preferential treatment to the half of my blogroll that is about non-dog things and reading books that don’t involve dog training. Instead of buying Christmas presents for Silas or for anyone else, I’ve been putting together my own, entirely frivolous, holiday wish list. My mental energy has been in very non-dog places.

It’s not a bad thing. Just like mothers shouldn’t let their children take over their identity, I don’t think we should let dogs take over ours. I’ve done a lot of that, in part because it helped me paper over some non-dog life stuff that I didn’t want to think about. Now that Silas is an adult, or very nearly one, it’s a good time to remind myself that he isn’t a needy puppy anymore. We’ll all come out better for it.

Forgive me if I’m a little more absent here in the meantime, between my scattered brain and holiday travel.

Road Tripping

Silas has a lot of miles under his belt. My family lives about 700 miles away, and he’s made the trip several time. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that getting puppy Silas used to the car is our one unequivocal socialization success. He’s a little nervous for the first few miles, but then he settles in like he’s just reclining on the sofa.

In order to keep him, I had to drive him the 700 miles back here from my parents’ house, where he was abandoned. He spent the trip alternating between his crate, which fit in the front passenger seat, and my lap.

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He was a champ. We stopped at every rest area and a good score of gas stations, and he didn’t have a single accident. This was before I knew that a highway rest area wasn’t a good place for an unvaccinated puppy, but he was fine. Five weeks old. Two and a half pounds. That collar was so big that at one of the rest areas he put his front leg through it.

The intervening trips were a little rockier, most notably because Silas does not like to use the bathroom in strange places. On his first trip back, at about five months old, he saved it all up for Mom’s kitchen floor. Fifteen hours. We’re possibly the only family ever who was seriously relieved when their male dog started to territory mark. (I asked the vet “Will he still like to pee if I neuter him?” and she thought I was crazy.)

This last trip back was the first time I’ve had to do it alone since the original trip. It took a little more preparation this time. Silas barks at people in drive-through windows, and we’re still working on his reactions to people walking near the car. He’s very improved, but I know it still stresses him. So, food and drinks in a cooler in the front floorboard. We made two kinds of stops–rest areas and gas stations. At the gas station I payed at the pump and did nothing except buy gas. At rest areas we parked at the far end. We got out together and ran around for five or ten minutes, then Silas went back in the car while I went inside.

That’s our low-sress way to get a dog 700 miles in twelve hours. Low-stress for the dog, anyway. I’m not wild about doing it again next week, although my husband will be along then.

What’s the longest road trip you’ve done with your dog?