Review: Merrick Backcountry Freeze-Dried Raw Real Beef Recipe Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Dog Food

Howdy!  I had indicated in the past that I am honored to be part of the Chewy Influencer Program.  What this means is that monthly, I choose a product for Dash & Bolt to try, and then I share my thoughts on the product.  Chewy provides the product to me free of charge, but not a single person or entity compels my opinion on the product(s) at any time.  From time to time, we will also be reviewing other products (there’s a big surprise coming soon!), but as always, all opinions are my own, and no one even tries to influence what I write.KBN_5534.jpgBut, before we go further, I do want to make one thing clear.  No one influences my opinion, but you should know from the get-go that none of my reviews are unbiased.  What I mean by that is that I would not even review the product if I had not thought that the product has potential.  I love my pups, and that means I am never ever going to have them try anything that I do not think would be good for them.  Phew!  Sorry for that flood of words haha.

So, this month, I chose this

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I’m a huge fan of food toppers, just to add variety.  We have some faves (I’ll share those with you in another post), but because variety is the spice of life, I give D&B new things to try.  The ingredients in this product are very decent: Deboned salmon, dried potatoes, potato protein, gelatin, salmon meal, dried kelp, salt, mixed tocopherols (a preservative), potassium chloride, apples, carrots, blueberries, minerals (zinc amino acid complex, iron amino acid complex, potassium chloride, copper amino acid complex, manganese amino acid complex, sodium selenite, calcium iodate), vitamins (vitamin e supplement, vitamin a supplement, niacin, thiamine mononitrate, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, vitamin d3 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin b12 supplement, folic acid), choline chloride.

I picked the salmon, but there are also freeze-dried chicken or beef.

I tried to look, but I can’t find anywhere that states the “grade” of the ingredients.  In my experience, if the food is human grade, the company will make sure you see it in big letters somewhere.  So, more likely than not, it’s not human grade.  There are some ingredients I don’t particularly care for, like gelatin, potato protein (what is that?), and the list of supplements is a bit long.  So, I do have some reservations about the ingredients, but overall, it seems OK and certainly worth a try.

What did D&B think?  Actually, they loved it.  And because we were doing this while I was moving, I didn’t even get to a chance to take a pic of them with it.  But they ate it up.

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So, there it is, I think it’s a decent food.  The price is roughly in the same ballpark as other companies that make freeze-dried toppers.

Would I add this to my rotation?  Probably not at this time, since we already have 3 “musts” on this rotation already.  I don’t think I’ll rotate more than that on a regular basis, and the a product would have to be pretty darn good to knock any one of those three out of the top.

In conclusion, let’s try to systematize the reviews a bit by giving it a rating system across the reviews.  Since Dash is the pickiest of them all (and Bolt basically not at all picky), we’ll rate the products with Dashes (hehe).

This product gets: 6 Dashes on a scale of 10.

Thank you for reading!

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Beware Heat Stroke!

As we enter into the some of the hottest days of the year, I am reminded from various social media posts that these can be some dangerous times for our canine kids, especially brachycephalic (flat-faced) like Frenchies.  The danger is heat stroke, and while this is an especially problematic time for brachys, all dogs can get heat stroke.

1. What is heat stroke?

Simply, heat stroke is the inability to dissipate (remove) excess heat.  When this happens, blood flow in the dog starts to slow, and body temp starts to increase.  A dog’s regular body temperature is around 102F.

Unlike us, dogs cannot sweat (except through their paws), and their major way of cooling (or warming the air) is through breathing.  As you can imagine, this process is severely impaired in flat-faced dogs.  The second step is through panting, and you see this happen when a pup gets overly excited or physically exerted. Panting is not a very efficient process for cooling purposes, and when the temperature rises, breathing and panting together do not get rid of excess heat all that well.  When the dog’s body temperature gets to be about 109F, damage to the organs start to occur.  This includes damages to blood vessels, the kidneys, the liver, the digestive system, and the brain.  Needless to say, this is a very serious problem, and one that should not be ignored.

2. What are the symptoms of heat stroke?

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3.  What to do?

  • prepare to take your dog to the vet immediately
  • to help cool down your dog, do this: cover your dog in towels with lukewarm water, and place a fan in front of the dog to maximize heat drain.
  • do NOT put your dog in ice cold water, or throw your dog in water.
  • take him/her to the vet

4.  Things to do to avoid heat stroke

  • never leave your dog unattended outside
  • when the weather gets above 80 degrees, minimize your walk time during the day.  Brachy breeds, because of their flat faces, have a much harder time cooling down already
  • invest in cooling vests, cooling bandanas, etc.
  • always bring water with you on your walk
  • never ever leave your brachy dog outside.  I don’t think that most dogs should be outside dogs (but that’s beside the point here), but brachys are most definitely not outside dogs!
  • walk your dogs in the evening when the sun’s down and the temperature has gone down

Stay cool, stay safe, and enjoy your pups!

The first picture is of Bolt in his ultra-hip cooling vest! 😛 (Not really, but it works very well.)

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The Deal with Dog Food (Why I Choose Cooked Food for Dash & Bolt)

Hello friends,

First off, I apologize for having written exactly one blog post and then running off. I did have somewhat of a good excuse (I think).  I was studying for a state licensure exam (day job), and I am now finished.  So, I am back, and will write regularly, with the plan being one blog post every week.  Please send me suggestions for what you’d like to see. So here goes 🙂

Dog foods are now sold everywhere, from convenience stores to high end boutiques. And you can order them online.  Compared to even a decade ago, there are now so many different choices: kibble, freeze-dried, air-dried, raw, and cooked.  And they come in all kinds of animal protein sources, with or without grain.  So what’s a pawrent to do?

First, if you haven’t, I recommend watching the “dogcumentary” PetFooled.  I think it does a very good job of giving you the basics of why you should be aware of what your dog is eating.  After all, there is quite a bit of truth to that saying “You are what you eat!”  I don’t agree with everything in Petfooled, but there are many things that I do agree with, like: 1) you should really pay attention to what you dog eats because your dog’s health is depends heavily on the food (s)he eats, 2) processed foods are bad for your dog, just as they are for you, and 3) so picking a good food for your dog is a huge investment, both for your dog’s health, and for your wallet, as it will minimize trips to the vet.

So, what to choose? Here, I will share with you my experience, and then explain why I have settled on cooked food as the food of choice for Dash and Bolt.

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I’m sure you will have read by now about the virtues of raw food, and it rises almost to cult-like level.  The idea behind feeding raw food is that it’s the “ancestral diet,” and approximates more closely to the dog’s ancestral diet.  But that’s where the logic of raw food just falls completely apart.  Guess who else’s “ancestral diet” is also a raw diet? Yup, that’s right.  Humans!  We ate raw until we learned to cook, and then, other than the occasional yummy sushi etc., most of us cook our food.

Dogs, who have come to live in our homes for some 30,000 years, ate what we ate.  That means for some 30,000 years or more, domesticated dogs have abandoned their “ancestral diet,” and adopted a new diet.  And their genes actually evolved to show those changes as the result of coming to live with us.  They now have genes to digest starch, whereas wolves don’t, and they have evolved fundamental genes that have wired them to be the human’s best friends that they are today.

So, raw proponents are simply wrong if they are relying on that rationale.  Am I saying raw is bad?  Absolutely not, except in some limited circumstances.  Raw food is great because it is unprocessed food, and you can know exactly what’s in it, especially if you prepare it yourself.  And we know that dogs do quite well on it.  Raw food does make your dog’s fur so incredibly soft and shiny, and I bet a whole lot of dogs love it.

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But raw is not for everyone.  If you are living in a household where there are elderly people or people whose immune systems are suppressed, this could be a problem.  Dogs retain their ability to deal with bacteria much better than we do, and when they eat contaminated food, they are most likely just fine.  But they shed those bacteria in their poop, and if the bacteria are those that can harm humans, the ones with the weak immune systems may get sick from that.  That’s the limited circumstance where I would not recommend feeding raw.  So here’s the big takeaway point, raw is great if circumstances allow you to feed raw and if your dog does great on it, and if you can afford it.  BUT, raw food is not the only acceptable dog food out there.  That’s the part that a lot of raw proponents seem to forget, and it irks me (a lot!).

Dash, the chihuahua, actually ate a great commercial frozen raw for three years.  But he didn’t love it.  I would have to spoon feed him, and I could just tell he didn’t love it.  Then he developed an allergy to something in the food mix and started licking his feet until they were bald!!  That was the straw.  Between Dash not loving it, the newly developed allergy, my hating to handle any kind of raw meat, and the expense, I stopped.

More recently, we had the chance to try a frozen raw food, courtesy of Chewy, and that was a life-saver.  Before that, Dash & Bolt were eating rehydrated freeze-dried food.  Bolt loved that, but Dash, being the pain-in-the-doggy-booty divo that he is, just tolerates it and gives me accusatory looks when he eats.  So when I had a chance to try to frozen cooked food, I jumped at the chance.  And it was amazing.  Both Dash & Bolt now LOVE LOVE LOVE their food.  The price is very reasonable, and I see great results.  Their furs are amazingly soft and shiny, and they are just energetic happy pups.  [Disclaimer: this is not an advertisement for the Chewy food.  I love it, and I do recommend it to anyone.  But there are also a number of other choices out there.  Do your research and pick what works for you.]

The great thing for me is that I can keep the food frozen, take out what I need for 3 days and leave that in the fridge.  When I feed D&B, I simply measure the amount needed out, pop it in the microwave on defrost for a couple of minutes, and out comes warm and tasty food for the pups.

So that is why we feed frozen cooked food.  It’s healthy (just as healthy as raw) and the dogs love it.

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Does that mean that I’m saying you should only feed cooked or raw food? Nope.  In the end, everyone must do what works best for them, and there are some great kibbles out there.  Just be careful.  Expensive doesn’t meat great, and cheap might mean it’s full of fillers and no meat.  Check the first five ingredients in your dog’s food.  They should be meat, meat meal, and/or some healthy veggie.  I tend to prefer grain-free, and so the non-meat ingredient should be peas, lentils, quinoa, or something similar.  Most definitely it should not be corn or rice.  And most importantly, the first two ingredients should come from an animal.

In the mornings, Dash and Bolt actually still eat kibble.  We rotate between Fromm, Acana, or Zignature.  During those meals, I go light on the kibble and supplement with air-dried lamb, venison, or beef.  I also add a little bit of olive oil or mackerel oil.  Every week or so, I’ll switch it up and use coconut oil.

Sorry for the long post, but I think choosing food is the single most important decision you make for your pups.  Thanks for reading, and until next time!

Chewy.com’s Awesome 30-day Tylee’s Food Challege, Part 1

As a pet pawrent, a huge concern for me is what to feed Dash and Bolt.  There will tons of future entries on various foods, snacks, and treats, but first…the Tylee’s 30-day food challenge by Chewy.com.

When I was given the chance to participate, I jumped at the chance.  In exchange for Chewy providing me with a 30-day supply of Tylee’s All Human-Grade Frozen Food, I write three reviews about the food, one at the beginning, one during the middle of the trial, and one at the very end.  We’ll get one thing out of the way right away — after a few days of trying this food, you’ll be hearing a lot from me about it!

So what is Tylee’s?  You’ve probably seen a lot of advertisements lately about prepared (cooked) food for dogs.  The food comes already cooked and frozen, and all you have to do is thaw the food and feed.  Tylee’s is Chewy’s answer to the competition, and is available only on Chewy.com.  There are 4 different meats: chicken, turkey, beef, and pork.  The food comes in 4 different sizes, with the largest being 6 pounds.  For the challenge, I chose pork, because I am not a fan of chicken as the main meat source for by dogs and because both Dash & Bolt have done really well with pork-based foods.

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These are the ingredients: Pork Heart, Ground Pork, Water (Sufficient For Processing), Beef Liver, Broccoli, Kale, Carrots, Butternut Squash, Pineapple, Tricalcium Phosphate, Chia Seeds, Sunflower Oil, Ground Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Cod Liver Oil Powder, Dried Parsley, Ground Cinnamon, Dried Kelp, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Rosemary Extract, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate.

All of it is human grade, and none of it from China.  This is a complete meal, and there are clear feeding instructions, as well as the approximate calorie content per cup of food. (This is the part about Tylee’s that I really appreciated.  In contrast to the several other frozen food providers, the company provided the caloric information, so that I can decide for myself how much to feed my dogs.  The other companies send you pre-portioned bags of food, which I do not like.)

The food is shipped overnight on dry ice and comes with a cute blue cup that measures exactly one cup.  The food arrived still very frozen and with plenty of dry ice.  Included in the shipping are directions on how to transition your dogs to the food.  You are to either freeze the food, or keep it in the fridge.  The refrigerated food is estimated to be OK for about 10 days.  After opening the bag, I divided the food into several containers to freeze, and I leave about 2 days’ worth of food in the fridge.

Here’s what the food looks like after taking it out of the fridge and warming it up a tiny bit in the microwave:

Looks pretty darn good, don’t you think? You can clearly see that overwhelming part of the food is meat, but there are veggies as well.  The food smells great, and I was tempted to try some (LOL, I didn’t, but I still might).

What did Dash and Bolt think? Dash is a super picky eater, and with the exception of my home cooked food for him, which I did for 3 years, he is not excited about any other food.  He will eventually eat it, but he does not love it.  Bolt is much easier, and loves basically everything.  Well, both Dash & Bolt did not wait to be invited twice to eat, and they licked their bowls of Tylee’s clean in record time.

So, so far, so good. I’m loving it, and Dash and Bolt are loving it.  We’ll report back in a couple of weeks! 😀