Sunday, February 15, 2009

Reader input wanted: What do you feed a Bull Mastiff?

I am looking for input from Bull Mastiff owners. Please tell us what you are feeding your puppy and/or adult and what is your experience with doing it.
We have a customer in NJ who owns a puppy which is now about 6 to 7 months old (sorry, I am losing track of time). She e-mailed me the other day saying
“Moose was neutered today and the vet said to put him on adult food now so when I get down to the 2nd bag that is coming on Monday I will order adult food and begin to switch him over then.
Now to decide on what kind. I have a book on Mastiffs that says their diet should provide meat protein from beef, with a very high fiber content from barley, whole oats and rye, and that the main carbohydrate source should be from potato. It also said to avoid feeding him any food that contains lamb, fish or soy or any minerals from sulfate sources since Mastiffs have a problem digesting these and they can also get allergies.
They recommend the dog’s diets based on where they are originally from and the foods required that their ancestors would have easily digested. Anyway it made sense to me and of course it recommended holistic and natural foods such as I’ve been feeding him. This book was originally one of the reasons I started feeding my puppies the raw diets you sell because I didn’t want to give them the grain dog foods. I bought this book after my other Mastiff got cancer and died last year.
I went to your site and was checking out ingredients of some foods and it looked to me like the AFS freeze dried raw beef I was buying originally is closest to what the book recommends, what do you think? Or can you recommend a food that has all of the above for him?”

To provide some background: Moose so far has been fed AFS Freeze dried raw 100% All Beef Nibblets and AFS Freeze dried raw Beef Nibblets with 6% Veggies & Fruit. In addition and for budgetary reasons we also fed him Innova Large Breed Puppy Dry Formula. In between he also got sort of as a treat type of food some AFS Freeze dried raw 100% Real Green Beef Tripe Nibblets. We started out with the older formulation of the Innova, like a couple smaller bags or so and back then experienced some minor stool problems. However, at around that time Innova introduced its new and improved formulas and after we started using those the stool problems went away. I attribute that to the pumpkin content of the new formula. Moose currently weighs in at around 65 lbs and according to his vet is a very healthy strong and totally normal boy having no health problems whatsoever.
My response to her e-mail consisted of 2 parts: First the food itself and what I had to say about it. Second, and I will make this a another, separate comment, a detailed cost analysis of my proposal and what it will cost my customer to keep Moose a happy and healthy dog. Here’s part 1 of my response:
Before I get carried away on details as usual, please do not forget that if you make any change in your feeding habits, do so with a gradually slow transition period, i.e. do not switch over night as this may cause temporary difficulties. So please do not wait to the last minute to order any new food, initially you want to mix old and new for a few days. This will be way easier on Moose.
With regards to the brand and type of food: AFS is a very good raw food and it is probably the most economical raw brand we carry at this time. Please keep in mind that there is the AFS brand and the Natures Advantage brand. Natures Advantage is a subsidiary of AFS, the difference between the 2 all meat formulas (in patties and nibblets) is that the AFS formulas contain beef tripe and no kelp and vice versa in Natures Advantage. Both ingredients are good ingredients with many health benefits.

Kelp is a rich source of natural vitamins and minerals including essential trace minerals for balanced growth, health (and reproduction). Kelp helps stimulate kidney function, increase circulation, purify the blood and enhances the immune system. Kelp has also been known to treat inflamed joints and tissues.

Tripe is the stomach of ruminating animals. These animals (i.e. cow, buffalo, lamb, deer, etc.) are classified as cud chewing mammals with a stomach that consists of four chambers. The four chambers are known as the rumen, reticulum, omasum and the abomasum. Food these animal eats is swallowed un-chewed and passes into the rumen and reticulum where it is then regurgitated, chewed and mixed with saliva. It is again swallowed and then passed through the reticulum and omasum into the abomasums. There it is then further broken down by the gastric juices, amino acids and other digestive enzymes. These same gastric juices and enzymes not only aid the animal in digestion. They also can aid dogs in digesting and efficiently utilizing their food. Amino acids are necessary for muscular development. The Woodson Tenant Lab in Atlanta, GA performed an analysis of a sample of green tripe. During the analysis it was discovered that the calcium to phosphorous ratio is 1:1. Overall pH is on the acidic side, which is better for digestion. Protein is 15.1, fat 11.7. It also contains the essential linoleic and linolenic fatty acids in recommended proportions. Additionally green tripe contains the lactic acid lactobacillus acidophilus, a good intestinal bacteria. Disadvantage of green tripe: Some humans (!) do not like the smell.

With regards to the dry food formulas and ingredients I have to say that I have two areas where I draw information from: First my research and second my customer base. I have many customers owning the same breed as Moose, most of them we have on the Innova Large Breed Adult, nobody has any problems, their dogs are healthy and happy. This is somewhat contrary to what your book is telling you as the formula contains some ingredients your book does not agree with. But I also did quite some searching on the Internet and came up with for example that many breed specific sites even recommend fish as an ingredient, which again is contrary to what your book told you.
I found one formula which comes close to what your book says. I do not have it on the site yet as I am in the process of setting up this brand within the next few weeks. It is made by Solid Gold, the formula is called MMillenium. I picked the formula not for its manufacturer intended purpose, but because the ingredients come closest to what your book suggests. The short description and ingredients are:
Dry food formula made with Beef, Barley, and Brown Rice. Ideal for active adult dogs, to provide the energy levels required for sports or performance, and to maintain total health.Protein, Min 22%; Fat, Min 12%; Fiber, Max 4%; Moisture, Max 10%Calories per cup, 387
Beef, Beef Meal, Cracked Pearled Barley, Brown Rice, Millet, Rice Bran, Canola Oil, Ocean Fish Meal, Tomato Pomace, Flaxseed, Natural Flavor, Salmon Oil (source of DHA), Choline Chloride, Taurine, Dried Chicory Root, Parsley Flakes, Pumpkin Meal, Almond Oil, Sesame Oil, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Thyme, Blueberries, Cranberries, Carrots, Broccoli, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Thiamine Mononitrate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganous Oxide, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Calcium Panthothenate, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D Supplement, Folic Acid

I have quite a few more dry brands and formulas, none of them however are in “compliance” with your book. For your information however I do recommend any of the dry food formulas we carry. Timberwolf Organics for example is an excellent food, but all formulas contain fish. Addiction with its kangaroo and venison formulas is excellent. Both, Timberwolf and Addiction are on the high side of the price scale, but because of their high quality rightfully so. Canine Caviar is another great food. As a matter of fact on the West coast it is kept on the veterinary list of alternatives and in California it is very often used in place of the vet’s usual Hills Science and prescription formulas. Another recommended option is Wysong, both with its dry food and its archetypal TNT processed raw formulas.

Ok, with that I am going to stop here for the day. I think I gave you enough material to think about. More detail on each product can be found on our site.
The bottom line is and remains as I said initially: Going with the AFS option in my books is probably the best solution. Dry is only an option to ease the financial burden.
Needless to say that I have plenty of more alternatives to offer should the above not be sufficient enough. They include Primal frozen raw formulas, Omas Pride Frozen Raw, Steve’s Real Food Frozen and freeze dried raw. Plus there are other alternatives such as dehydrated food mixes from The Honest Kitchen, Sojos, Addiction, See Spot Live Longer and Dr. Harvey. Some of them to be used as stand alone, some require the addition of ingredients such as raw meat.

Have a wonderful day and lots of fun making a decision. Please do me a favor, ask Moose what he thinks.

And to my blog participants and readers: Mastiff owners, what do you think? By the way, our 3 year old Mastiff girl Brandy is doing just fine on the food I have recommended above. Surprisingly even the vet can’t find anything wrong with her (yet he still would not sent his clients our way… you think that has to do with his large inventory of scientific pet food?)

No comments: