We are getting a very large German Sheperd soon. We want to feed it as well as we can, but for now a raw diet is not in the budget. Does anyone have recommendations for a good dog food brand, or feeding combination, that is affordable and healthy? Also, do you feed your pets table scraps? We have always done that with all our dogs, but someone told me I shouldn't. I can understand not giving them certain things, like dairy, grains, soy, but why would you not want to give them meat scraps or veggies if they would eat them?
Two of my three dogs are 100+lbs and though we have raw fed in the past it's also out of our budget for right now. I've been feeding them Taste of the Wild dry food instead and they are doing terrific on it.
The no table scrap thing is very dependent on the dog. Some dogs are going to be fine with it and other dogs aren't. One of my dogs can eat anything and be fine, another can eat some food and be fine, the third needs to stay strictly on dog food or raw unless I want to deal with massive diarrhea. Because of dogs like my number three it's usually easier to just make a blanket statement of no table scraps for dogs. You'd really have to experiment for yourself though to see how your dog does though I would be careful with a GSD as they are prone to bloat and stomach issues. I probably wouldn't personally worry about plain stuff but I wouldn't do anything with spice or sauce (and keep in mind what is poison to dogs, like onions, grapes, macademia nuts, etc... are often totally acceptable food for us.)
We also do Taste of the Wild and our dogs do great. One is right around 50lbs the other is closer to 65lbs. We do spend close to $60 a month on a huge bag, but they do fantastic on it (my SIL works at a pet store and will often buy it for us with her discount). My dogs also seemed to do well on 4-health, but I moved them to Taste of the Wild as I wanted a grain free food.
As for table scraps, both our dogs do fine with a little. However, the other weekend my husbands uncle fed the dogs what was almost a whole steak and the smaller one had horrible diarrhea. But he does just fine with the occasional scrap or bone.
There are several reasons to avoid feeding table scraps to a dog. First, it's very difficult to judge how many calories are coming from table scraps. I have always measured my dogs' dry food, to better control their weight. Because GSDs are prone to hip problems, you certainly don't want to see any extra weight on him.
The second reason for us has to do with manners. I hate dogs that beg. Even if you put table scraps in the dog's bowl, instead of feeding from the table, he is going to assume that people food is for him, making him more likely to beg, and to raid the counter or table for food.
Finally, in our family we eat our own leftovers! I'll bet you'd find (if you could accurately measure such a thing) that feeding leftovers to your family would be more cost-efficient than feeding them to your dog. If I can get a lunch or two out of leftovers, I'm saving the cost of one or two people meals - likely more expensive than kibble.
As for dog food costs - while there can be a big difference in price between dog food brands, I do think it's a case of getting what you pay for. Higher quality (more expensive) dog food contains less fillers, so the dog eats less - sometimes a lot less - to get the same nutritional value. You may find you pay the same per month for higher-quality food, and clean up a lot less poo!
We're seeing this in our household this week. We just got a dog Sunday night (now it's Tuesday morning). It's the same breed we had for 10 years, and almost exactly the same size. The previous owner fed him about 3 cups of dry food a day. When he arrived at our house, his first three poops were enormous! We started feeding him abot the same amount with our food, and now his poops are what I consider normal size (the same as our previous dog). I strongly suspect we will be cutting his rations soon, as he puts on weight with that much of our food. Our previous dog got 1-1/3 cups per day - half what the new one got in his old home. I would rather pay more per bag and feed less.
If the chips are down, the buffalo is empty.
Our new dog is not comparative at all really. LOL He is a young chihuahua mix & we are giving him Pedigree small breed food for now since that is what he was getting before we adopted him. I am currently researching his breeds & plan to find a decently priced food with less / no grains if I can get one locally. Being so small I don't forsee his food costing a huge amount.
I'm a raw feeder, but if I had to feed a commercial dog food for some reason, can't imagine what, I would feed Ziwipeak. It would probably cost me way more than what I pay for my dog's raw meat though, and my dog is a mastiff so he eats around 5 lbs of meat a day!