Okay, so about every 12-18 months it seems like I decide I want to try switching foods... I'm there again!
I've been feeding Chicken Soup for the last year. I was feeding Canidae before that, and Eagle Pack Holistic before that. I like the EP Holistic the best overall for my less active dogs (I especially love the coat on them - I have Shelties). I've been happy with both Chicken & Soup & Canidae - and in fact, I've found it's really easy to keep the weight down on my really lazy dogs on the Chicken Soup...
My problem is that since our move last summer I've noticed that in the warmer months I have a couple of dogs that are enjoying the big play yards TOO much (with the move we gained a lot more space so I put up bigger excercise yards). They are literally running themselves thin and in order to keep weight on I'm feeding obscene amounts of food on Chicken Soup. It makes no sense to me to feed them 4-5 cups of Chicken Soup when I can get something with higher protein and calories and feed less...
I put the two really athletic Shelties I have (both are "teenagers" and going through their ganglies anyway) on Innova EVO and have been really pleased with the results. However, the only place I can get EVO is my vet and they are selling me 30 lb bags for $65... I know I can get similar quality foods for less (and feeding multiple dogs I'd prefer not to pay $65 a bag).
I don't want/need to switch everyone...
Any personal preferences in dog food for those who show active dogs or compete performance/have working dogs?
I usually try and order my food from the distributor in bulk (you wouldn't believe what it saves over a year) and can get quite a few different brands from one of the two distributors I can use. (everything from Nature's Logic, to Diamond)
I don't breed or show, but I have 2 very active hunting dogs. In the past, I fed Canidae and Innova (not Evo-just regular Innova) About 3 months ago, I switched to Merricks, and it's the first time Maggie has ever really eaten with gusto-she LOVE'S the stuff!
I wonder if you were happy with Evo because of its high protein content? If so, you might want to consider Nature's Variety Raw Instinct. It's 42% protein, the same as Evo. I've never tried it, though, so I have no idea of the cost.
I think it's the higher protein and calorie content. I didn't look closely at the calorie content in Chicken Soup until I started thinking about this a couple of days ago and it's actually really low in Calories (which is why my chubby dogs all lost the weight I wanted them to!). The EVO is higher in calories and protein. I had looked into Nature's Variety and liked what I saw... Their Prairie formula looks really good too (possibily for the less active dogs)... I need to call my distributor and get some prices today... I like the idea especially of not feeding "Chicken & Rice" too... the more unique protein and carb sources in their foods sound interesting.
Abbylynne, have you tried cooking up a smorg for them? If I look at my dogs and decide they're looking a bit thinner than I'd like, I cook for them. It packs the weight on, and fairly quickly too. Some of the items I cook only lightly, and add them at the end, to preserve the nutrients. The dogs go nuts over it.
I've tried that, and then they run the weight back off. I need something I can keep them on long term without too much work involved on my part (I barely keep up with the 10 irons I have in the fire at the moment). The big yards work really well for my lazier dogs and everyone I'm showing is in excellent condition (which makes their movement look just beautiful) - but I'm tired of feeding them huge amounts of food to do it... When I switched to the EVO with the two dogs I did, they are eating less than 1/2 of what they were on Chicken Soup and maintaining a nice, athletic weight now.
On a side note, you should see the abs on some of my dogs... I could bounce pennies off of them! And they love the big yards for playing... I could put up a smaller yard - but that doesn't seem like the better solution if I can find a food that works.
The way I do it is to cook up a huge pot of meat, rice, potatoes, vegetables, eggs, fish oil, and freeze it in 2 dog portions. When it's thawed to room temp, (overnight) I add cottage cheese. Yes it takes a bit of time, but no more than the time it takes do do a couple of loads of laundry, and wash the floor. It is the cheapest, and best way I've found to fatten them up. This would be good for show purposes, if you just wanted a bit more weight and shinier coat.The other thing I've always found, is a chicken based food puts more weight on a dog than anything else. Of course we have different breeds, but I've also used it on my Rotties, and distinctly remember what my father and grandfather fed their dogs to get them in super condition for shows. This was, of course, before the days of the amazing array of commercial dog foods.