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Feeding Your Aussie

Faithwalk Aussies Miniature Amercan Shepherd Breeder Michigan

I want to discuss the very important issue of feeding your Aussie or Mini American Shepherd.  Just like people, animals are what they eat. If you skimp here and feed a cheap, bargain brand food you may be setting your dog up for a lifetime of poor health.  I can't stress enough to pick the best quality food you can find. It may cost more than the discount brands, but you will more than make up for that by feeding less, and having a healthier dog that will not constantly be at the vet with health problems.  You may add years to your dog's life but also improve the quality of life since the dog will feel better than it would on a poor quality diet.

  I feed my dogs a diet that includes human grade raw meat, bones, organs, and connective tissue, select supplements, and premium dry dog food.  At the present I feed mostly Nutrisource Adult Chicken, Turkey, and Trout, Victor Hi-Pro, Wellness Core whitefish, Holistic Select and a little Eagle Pack original.  I used Eagle Power Formula for over 20 years and it was my go to dry food but when Eagle Pack changed all their formulas to include peas, the dogs didn't do well on it.  Since they use a lot of peas, I won't use the food as a sole diet, only using a tiny amount. 

I also won't use any grain free kibbles. Any grain free still has to have a substantial amount of non-meat, so they use potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas/legumes or other items.  None of these is really ideal for dogs, any more than grain is.   They even suspect it caused DCM (a form of heart failure) in dogs fed only a grain free kibble.


For puppies I use Nutrisource Small/Medium Breed Chicken and Rice.

The big key is to look for foods without a lot of fillers, and with meats and whole ingredients as the first 5 ingredients on the list.   Meat should be at least the top three.


Many people can't feed raw, either due to lack of time to do the research to learn how to, or they can't afford it or the time it may take. That's okay, you can still feed your dog fairly well with the various quality dry foods on the market.  Expect to pay about two to three dollars or more a pound for good foods.  Most of the really good foods are  as much as three to five dollars a pound.  Using good ingredients isn't cheap!  Also, some of the brands that have a lot of advertising put more money into that than quality ingredients.  Some of the best foods will not be widely advertised.  Most can be found at the better pet stores, rather than discount stores, grocery stores, feed stores and such.  Look for brands with no soy or wheat, or fragments such as brewers yeast.  Also avoid ones with "mystery  meats" such as "meat byproducts" or "meat meal"  in favor of foods that list whole meat sources like beef, chicken or lamb.  Mystery meats may include all kinds of nasty things including euthanized pets, road kill, rotting meats and worse.  Finding a food with meat as the first few ingredients is very important, especially if you are not going to feed any real meat.  Even the very best foods are still half grain, and with dogs being carnivores, they don't need that. 


Definitely avoid the dry foods with food coloring, semi-moist bits or other "funky" things.  Just because there are pictures of vegetables, wholesome cuts of meat or other items on the bag, does NOT mean the food contains those same healthy ingredients.  I also recommend avoiding treats with the same, the semi-moist, artificially colored stuff like the snausages type treats, fake bacon types and so on.   It is soooo bad for dogs!  I also included a list below, of foods to avoid.


Another thing to do is watch how your dog does on the food.  Does he eat it well, have a nice small, firm stool, and does he thrive on it?  Does he have goop in his eyes, dirty teeth, dry or irritated skin, loose or smelly stool?   All of these are signs of poor nutrition. 


I also recommend feeding variety even in kibble. Rotate various protein sources and even through several brands. No one brand may be perfect for every dog, and mixing up protein sources is good anyway.  




This is not an all inclusive list but will have examples of common low quality foods.  These include:

    Beneful - all formulas

    Ol' Roy - all formulas  

    Any food that is of a semi-moist texture like "Moist and Meaty" , as the propylene glycol used to make it is not good for health

    Any food that has food coloring or colored piecies such as Kibbles N Bits, Beneful and others

     Any food that has food fragments like brewers rich, soy flour, "meat" by products as thos can legally contain anything inlucluding road kill and shelter pets that are euthanized.

    The low priced foods often sold at feed stores, farm stores and grocery or super stores like Wal-mart. These may include store brands or name brands that are the low quality end of the line of foods. 

    Because the company has a long history of fairly frequent recalls, I personally don't use or recommend any products made by Diamond including their Premium line, Taste of the Wild line and all others.  


     These brands are not going to help your dogs maintain the best health and condition they can, since they are just not made of the kinds of ingredients to support that level of health. 


For those of you who want to continue to educate yourself about pet food, check out this site:




Another website that can help you rate your food is







     I use and recommend adding probiotics on a regular basis (even if you only feed dry food.)  Most of a mammal's immune system is in the gastrointestinal tract, so keeping that healthy goes a LONG way toward overall health.   Most products come in the form of a powder you add daily to meals, or at least a few times a week and especially in times of stress.   If you ever have to give antibiotics for any reason, adding probiotics daily is recommended.   Two brands I use are Forti-Flora which comes in single serve packets, and a formula I buy online called Gentle Digest.


Something not everyone thinks about is food storage. Kibble gets stale just like our food.  If you have one dog, get smaller bags that are used up faster.  Store it in the bag. I know many people dump into a plastic bin, but did you know that the oils in the food leech into the plastic and turn rancid?  And chemicals from the plastic leech into the food?  Instead, keep the food in the bag it comes in and store THAT in the plastic bin.  It's good to keep the food as air tight as possible. 

And on that same note, feeding meals is better than free feeding, since the food doesn't sit out for hours or longer.   Teaching dogs to eat meals has other benefits, such as knowing if the dog is off food, since that's a first sign there could be  medical issue.  In a multiple dog home, there won't be any competition for food or potential food guarding.


"The Lord will command the blessing upon you in your barns and in all that you put your hand to, and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God gives you."

Deuteronomy 28:8 


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