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Hi Daryl Polland,
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Most dogs are only on puppy food for the first year or so of their life, then switched to adult food. Choice of food is really a personal choice that each owner has to make. I do know that financial issues are a consideration for most owners especially those that have large breeds. However, you can be educated on the things that need to be taken into consideration.
The first step is to read the label of ingredients when picking a dog food for your dog. Ingredients are listed on a dog food bag according to the amount by weight of the ingredient from most to least. So, in general, the first ingredient is a very large part of what the dog food contains. A great deal of dog food contains corn or wheat as one of the first 3 ingredients meaning that a large amount of the food is filler. Neither item is necessarily bad for you and Corn can be very nutritional, but some dogs do have allergies to these ingredients. . Many dogs have skin problems which are vastly improved or resolved when they are switched to a dog food which contains little to no corn or wheat. So if shopping for a brand of kibble for you dog, be sure and read the bag or go to this site which lists the ingredients of most dog food including store brands. My rule of thumb is not to use anything that lists Corn or wheat as one of the first 2 ingredients and one that uses Meat of some sort as the first ingredient. Most puppy foods contain meat as the first ingredient so there isn't as much difference when it comes to puppy foods in my opinion. Now one thing I should mention is that many people think meat meal is a bad thing and prefer a food that just says chicken or beef, but you need to know that the weight of that chicken and beef would include moisture which would make it weigh more , so take that into consideration. My personal favorite as a food is Innova or Eagle Pack.. Here is a great comparison site: Click on pet food comparison.
You can also read up on the BARF diet, which is feeding bones and raw foods. many grocery stores and butchers have meats that have to be sold by a specific date and thus mark them down greatly on that morning. This makes this diet pretty cost effective since a hundred pound dog only eats about 2 pounds of meat a day.
Be advised that feeding a raw diet does have risks associated with it as well as you can read here:
Here is a homemade diet.
I do want to stress that the best food may not be the most expensive food so check out all the foods you come across including feed stores like tractor supply which has their own brand which many breeders use as it contains meat as the first ingredient.
I tend to use a combination of raw diet and kibble for my dogs and it seems to do real well as far as keeping their nutritional needs met and keeping the coat shiny, immune system working well and the teeth clean.
Your dog's coat condition and the way you describe the shedding concerns me though. All of the breeds of which your dog is a mix are prone to a condition called hypothyroidism. This condition can cause poor coat condition, brittle dry hair that tends to break off at the skin leading to excessive shedding and even aggression or behavioral issues.
You might want to go ahead and ask your vet if your dog has any other indicators of a thyroid issue and have a thyroid panel done to ensure there isn't a health issue. Since these breeds can have joint problems, a dog food containing glucosamine might be something you want to look for as well. These tend to be a bit more expensive and it can be given as a supplement if your vet feels it is necessary.
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