The absolute best dog foods for your dog or puppy is either a WELL-BALANCED raw or homed cooked diet. This page will give information on how to feed these highly nutritious foods.
However, we realize that home cooking is time consuming. Also, even store bought raw food can be somewhat intimidating to some. Others are afraid of not getting a home made diet “right”. Therefore, we have researched dry dog foods extensively in order to make recommendations for those that especially want to feed a dry food.
We Use Dry Dog Food Until Puppies are Four Months
We prefer feeding raw or home cooked food to dogs and puppies over 4 months. However, we have found a need to start our very young puppies out on dry food rather than raw or home cooked food. Raw or home cooked will not work because of the training we do with our puppies.
About 75% of our puppies’ food comes in the form of treats for training. Because we train so much, we must take the “treats” into account or we would be grossly overfeeding. A balanced or home cooked diet is virtually impossible to feed during training sessions with puppies. Home cooked food tastes better than dry food. If we fed our puppies home cooked or raw food at meal times, they would not be inclined to work for the dry kibble we offer during training sessions. Dry food, for us as trainers, is a necessity. Therefore, we’ve researched dry foods extensively.
Our First Choice is Raw or Home Cooked Food
Still, our first choice, is raw or home cooked. When we keep a puppy past about 4 months, we transition to raw or home cooked when we are able to train with “Jack Pot” rewards instead of using a treat bag full of kibble.
If you are unable to feed a full diet of real food, consider feeding at least a portion of your dog’s food in the form of real food!
Either way, read on. We’ll discuss both how to feed raw or home cooked as well as our favorite dry food.
*Disclosure – Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.
If you would like to make your own food, we recommend the book “Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs” by Lew Olson, PhD. It is full of details on what to buy, how much to feed, and why feed it. This book is a very “meaty” book. It is full of information that will make you a believer in the benefits of feeding your dog real food!
Why TLC is Our Favorite Dry Dog Food
After reading the details on How to Choose a Good Dog Food, continue reading below to see why our first choice in a dry dog food is TLC. Finding the best dog foods for your dog can make a big difference in his lifelong health.
We highly recommend and feed TLC pet food. It has no corn, wheat, soy, or vegetable proteins, and has high levels of meat-based protein. In addition, it does not have peas, other legumes, or potatoes as the PRIMARY ingredients (listed as one of the first in the ingredients label on the dog food bag).
Dogs with sensitive stomachs do well on TLC because it has probiotics and a little bit of grain for fiber.
TLC has just the right amount of the ingredients that we look at when evaluating dog food. TLC can only be bought directly from the company. It is not sold to distributors or stores so that it always comes fresh from the manufacturer without sitting in warehouses or store shelves for months. Shipping is free and our dogs love it. Click on the picture below to go to their website and get $5.00 off your first order. Read on below for more information on why we recommend it.
We have been very impressed with the ingredients, service, and honest representation of the TLC dog food. The people at TLC have made it a priority to be forthright with regard to ingredients in their food. Some dog food manufacturers have become experts in hiding things while still complying with labeling regulations. Some of these hidden ingredients can be dangerous. Marketing tactics (especially within the grain-free industry) has caused a huge increase in DCM (Dilated Cardiomyopathy), a nutritionally linked and dangerous heart disease that has come to the forefront of nutritional dog discussions in 2018. It is refreshing to work with a dog food company who is trustworthy and makes it easy to learn about the nutrition of their food.
Picking out a Dog Food
First of all, we recommend (require for our puppy buyers) that you rule out all foods that are rated less than 4-stars on www.dogfoodadviser.com. The people who run this site are very knowledgable. However, they do not seem to be totally up-to-date with regard to a few new developments in canine nutrition. It does make a great starting place, but we recommend further research. We often prefer food with grain because of the positive effects of fiber on the dog’s digestive tract. Many 5 star foods are rated as 5 stars because they have very high protein levels. Many dogs can handle these high levels in dry food, but some cannot and end up with loose stools.
We at Summer Brook recommend foods high in meat-based proteins, some grain, minimal potatoes, and no vegetable proteins. Many grain-free products are excellent, but too many grain free companies are hiding the lack of meat protein by replacing it with vegetable proteins.
For more information on choosing a dog food, see our How to Choose a Dog Food page.