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Big Dogs Huge Paws cares about your pets health, so we've compiled the following information to help you make the best Nutritional decisions.

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List of Recommended Foods for Giant Breeds

Food with Grains:

Food with No Grain:

  • Addiction Foods - Salmon Bleu and Viva La Venison ONLY (made by Taplow Ventures, Vancouver BC; Pied Piper, Hamlin TX; and Texas Farm Products, Nacogdoches TX),
  • Canidae Corp. (made by Diamond Pet Foods in Lathrop CA, Meta MO and Gaston SC),
  • Champion Pet Foods, Acana Grain Free and Orijen (made in their own plant, BC Canada),
  • Diamond Pet Products, Taste of the Wild (made in their three facilities in Lathrop CA, Meta MO and Gaston SC),
  • Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance, Natural Balance Limited Ingredients Formulas (made by Diamond Pet Foods, Meta MO),
  • Firstmate Pet Foods, Firstmate Grain Free (made in their own plant in Chilliwack BC Canada),
  • Fromm Family Foods, 4 Star Surf N Turf(made in their facility, Mequon WI),
  • Merrick Pet Care, Before Grain (made in their own plant, Hereford TX),
  • Natura Pet Products, EVO (made in their own plant, Fremont NE),
  • Nature's Variety, Instinct (made by Pied Piper Mills, Hamlin TX),
  • Petcurean Pet Nutrition, Now! and Go!Natural Grain Free (made by Elmira Pet Products, Ontario Canada),
  • Solid Gold Health Products, Barking at the Moon (made by Diamond in Meta MO or Lathrop CA),
  • Wellpet, Wellness CORE (made in their own plant in Mishawaka IN; Hagen Pet Foods, Waverly NY; CJ Foods, Bern KS; American Nutrition, Ogden UT; Diamond Pet Foods, Gaston SC and Lathrop CA),

    USE CAUTION IN FEEDING GROWING GIANT BREED PUPPIES! Many foods, especially those high in protein and/or grain free (like EVO) have calcium and phosphorus levels that are too high for growing giant pups. Feeding those foods can harm your puppy because young puppies can not get rid of excess calcium and instead incorporate it into their bones causing growth diseases like pano, HOD, OCD and Wobblers. Unfortunately, many foods do not label the amounts of calcium on their bags.  So, if you are unsure, ASK the company.  It is most important to monitor calcium levels until your dog's growth plates have closed (usually around 2 years of age). The general rule is if the calcium level is under 1.3% by dry matter, you are probably safe.  Depending on calorie content, sometimes foods up to 1.5% calcium by dry matter can be safe.  If you want to check your dog food or choose one, here are some charts that will indicate the calcium levels and the safety of those foods.

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Dog Food: Choosing the Right Products

Dog food is a very important aspect in owning a dog. We understand that many pet owners may not even realize that what they are currently feeding is not in the best interest of their pet. We also recognize that most individuals do not have the time to fully educate themselves, so we have done the research for you!

We have researched for years, had various discussions with animal nutritionists and animal behaviorists, and reviewed many reputable books and online sources in order to fully educate ourselves as to the ingredients to avoid and the ones to look for when considering what to feed our dogs. We thought it might be helpful to share our findings so that you can benefit as well.

Please see below for a brief summary.

What to avoid:

Dog Food brands available in the grocery store or mass retailers are generally based on cheap byproducts of the human food industry, with artificial colorings and flavorings, and contain ingredients our pets were never meant to eat.

Many of the ingredients in even highly advertised "brand-name" dog foods are nothing but "floor sweepings" and the "tail of the ill" from grain processing plants, rendered remains of animals and roadkill and recycled restaurant grease from rendering facilities, all cleverly disguised in non-descriptive phrases like "meat meal", "cereal food fines", "meat andbone meal" or "animal fat".

Menadione in any form (also listed as vitamin K3 or vitamin K supplement)

Most sulfate and oxide based mineral supplements (zinc oxide, iron oxide)

Preservatives: BHA (Butylated Hydroxysanisole), BHT (Butylated Hudroxytoluene), Tethoxyquin, Sodium Metabisulphite

Sweeteners: Cane molasses, corn syrup in any form, sugar, sorbitol, sucrose, fructose, glucose, ammoniated gylcyrrhizin, propylene glycol

Dyes: Blue 2, Red 40, Yellow 5 and 6, other numbered dyes

Protein: All generic meat ingredients that do not indicate a species (meat, meat byproducts, meat byproduct meal, meat meal, meat and bone meal, blood meal, fish, fish meal, poultry, poultry byproducts, poultry meal. poultry byproduct meal, liver, liver meal, glandular meal etc). Byproduct meals, even if a species is identified (chicken/beef/turkey/lamb byproduct meal etc), since highly questionable ingredients may be used in these rendered products.

Any food that contains corn (ground or otherwise) as a first ingredient, especially if corn gluten meal is also a main ingredient and no concentrated source of identified meat protein (chicken meal, lamb meal etc) is present.

Fats and Oils: Non-specific sources such as animal fat, poultry fat, vegetable oil, generic fish oil, mineral oil.

Carbohydrates: Fragments like potato product, middlings/mids or mill run of any kind. Unspecified grain sources like cereal food fines, distiller's gran fermentation solubles.

Fiber: Corn bran, peanut hulls, rice hulls, soybean hulls, oat hulls.

Fruits and Vegetables: Apple pomace, grape pomace, citrus pulp

Flavorings: Any highly rendered products (digests of any kind), ingredients of unknown origin (meat broth), glandular meal, artificial
favoring. Onion of any form is toxic to dogs!

What to look for:

Dog Food brands available in specialty pet stores and feed stores generally offer all natural, super premium, human grade ingredients that are easily digestible, provide greater nutritional value, and are overall much better for the health and well-being of our pets.

Chelated or sequestered minerals (also labeled as chelates, proteinates, amino acid chelates or complexes, polysaccharide complexes)

Carbohydrates: Whole ground grains such as rice, oats, barley, millet, etc, potatoes, sweet potatoes. Corn often gets an undeserved bad reputation and while it is not acceptable as a main source of protein, as a carbohydrate it is no better and no worse than other grains.

Fiber: Depending on the inclusion of ingredients that are naturally high in fiber (ex brown rice, oats, certain fruits or vegetables), a food may or may not include specific, isolated types of fiber. Beet Pulp is another ingredient that has an undeserved bad reputation and is a gentle, beneficial source of fiber that is well tolerated and suitable as a source of nutrition for the beneficial bacteria that reside in the intestinal tract.

Fruits and Vegetables: Unprocessed, fresh items are preferable to already processed ones, and organic is always the best choice.

These websites will help educate you so that you can make the right choices for your "best friend":

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Scoring Your Dog Food

Scroll down to see the list of dog food that have already been scored.

How to grade your dog's food:

Start with a grade of 100:

  1. For every listing of "by-product", subtract 10 points
  2. For every non-specific animal source ("meat" or "poultry", meat, meal or fat) reference, subtract 10 points
  3. If the food contains BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin, subtract 10 points
  4. For every grain "mill run" or non-specific grain source, subtract 5 points
  5. If the same grain ingredient is used 2 or more times in the first five ingredients (i.e. "ground brown rice", "brewer's rice", "riceflour" are all the same grain), subtract 5 points
  6. If the protein sources are not meat meal and there are less than 2 meats in the top 3 ingredients, subtract 3 points
  7. If it contains any artificial colorants, subtract 3 points
  8. If it contains ground corn or wholegrain corn, subtract 3 points
  9. If corn is listed in the top 5 ingredients, subtract 2 more points
  10. If the food contains any animal fat other than fish oil, subtract 2 points
  11. If lamb is the only animal protein source (unless your dog is allergic to other protein sources), subtract 2 points
  12. If it contains soy or soybeans, subtract2 points
  13. If it contains wheat (unless you know that your dog isn't allergic to wheat), subtract 2 points
  14. If it contains beef (unless you know that your dog isn't allergic to beef), subtract 1 point
  15. If it contains salt, subtract 1 point


  1. If any of the meat sources are organic, add 5 points
  2. If the food is endorsed by any major breed group or nutritionist, add points
  3. If the food is baked not extruded, add 5 points
  4. If the food contains probiotics, add 3 points
  5. If the food contains fruit, add 3 points
  6. If t he food contains vegetables (NOT corn or other grains), add 3 points
  7. If the animal sources are hormone-free and antibiotic-free, add 2 points
  8. If the food contains barley, add 2 points
  9. If the food contains flax seed oil (not just the seeds), add 2 points
  10. If the food contains oats or oatmeal, add 1 point
  11. If the food contains sunflower oil, add 1 point
  12. For every different specific animal protein source (other than the first one; count "chicken" and "chicken meal" as only one protein source, but "chicken" and "" as 2 different sources), add 1 point
  13. If it contains glucosamine and chondroitin, add 1 point
  14. If the vegetables have been tested for pesticides and are pesticide-free, add 1point

Here are some foods that have already been scored.

Dog Food Scores:
94-100+ = A
86-93 = B
78-85 = C
70-77 = D
69 = F

       Alpo Prime Cuts / Score 81 C
Artemis Large/Medium Breed Puppy / Score 114 A+
Authority Harvest Baked / Score 116 A+
Authority Harvest Baked Less Active / Score 93 B
Beowulf Back to Basics / Score 101 A+
Bil-Jac Select / Score 68 F
Blackwood 3000 Lamb and Rice / Score 83 C
Blue Buffalo Chicken and Rice / Score 106 A+
Burns Chicken and Brown Rice / Score 107 A+
Canidae / Score 112 A+
Chicken Soup Senior / Score 115 A+
Diamond Maintenance / Score 64 F
Diamond Lamb Meal & Rice / Score 92 B
Diamond Large Breed 60+ Formula / Score 99 A
Diamond Performance / Score 85 C
Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance Ultra Premium / Score 122 A+
Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance Venison and Brown Rice / Score 106 A+
Dick Van Patten's Duck and Potato / Score 106 A+
EaglePack Holistic / Score 102 A+
Eukanuba Adult / Score 81 C
Eukanuba Puppy / Score 79 C
Flint River Senior / Score 101 A+
Foundations / Score 106 A+
Hund-n-Flocken Adult Dog (lamb) by Solid Gold / Score 93 B
Iams Lamb Meal & Rice Formula Premium / Score 73 D
Innova Dog / Score 114 A+
Innova Evo / Score 114 A+
Innova Large Breed Puppy / Score 122 A+
Kirkland Signature Chicken, Rice, and Vegetables / Score 110 A+
Member's Mark Chicken and Rice / Score 84 C
Merrick Wilderness Blend / Score 127 A+
Nature's Recipe / Score 100 A
Nature's Recipe Healthy Skin Venison and Rice / Score 116 A+
Nature's Variety Raw Instinct / Score 122 A+
Nutra Nuggets Super Premium Lamb Meal and Rice / Score 81 C
Nutrience Junior Medium Breed Puppy / Score 101 A+
Nutrisource Lamb and Rice / Score 87 B
Nutro Max Adult / Score 93 B
Nutro Natural Choice Lamb and Rice / Score 98 A
Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Puppy / Score 87 B
Nutro Natural Choice Puppy Wheat Free / Score 86 B
Nutro Natural Choice Senior / Score 95 A
Nutro Ultra Adult / Score 104 A+
Pet Gold Adult with Lamb & Rice / Score 23 F
Premium Edge Chicken, Rice and Vegetables Adult Dry / Score 109 A+
Pro Nature Puppy / Score 80 C
Pro Plan Sensitive Stomach / Score 94 A
Purina Benful / Score 17 F
Purina Dog / Score 62 F
Purina Come-n-Get It / Score 16 F
Purina One Large Breed Puppy / Score 62 F
Royal Canin Boxer / Score 103 A+
Royal Canin Bulldog / Score 100 A+
Royal Canin Natural Blend Adult / Score 106 A+
Science Diet Advanced Protein Senior 7+ / Score 63 F
Science Diet for Large Breed Puppies / Score 69 F
Sensible Choice Chicken and Rice / Score 97 A
Solid Gold / Score 99 A
Summit / Score 99 A
Timberwolf Organics Wild & Natural Dry / Score 120 A+
Wellness Super5 Mix Chicken / Score 110 A+
Wolfking Adult Dog (bison) by Solid Gold / Score 97 A