Nature's Variety (or TOTW)

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Nature's Variety (or TOTW)

Postby Absoulte » Mon Sep 12, 2011 7:53 pm

Just curious - I am feeling like a cereal food switcher. :oops:

I started Chaos out on Science Diet as a puppy. I started educating myself and read a lot about how the "natural" foods are better. I decided to stop by the local pet store that caters to this market and they told me I should stick him on Nature's Variety Prairie formula. Still feeling really uneducated, I decided to sit in on a Science Diet rep that came to my vet's office. She said the following (if I can remember correctly it's been months):

    - No food is called natural, they go by holistic or other such names because they are not really natural - and once a law was established making companies meet certain requirements in order to put "Natural Food" on their bag they all started calling themselves "holistic"

    - Science Diet can be called "holistic" if they wanted to going by the same standards as these other food companies

    - All the foods say their first product is meat, but that is because they separate, say rice, into a bunch of different categories to make it appear there is less rice - ie. brown rice, white rice etc. - and SD doesn't do that

    - Corn isn't as bad as people make it seem - they say it is indigestible (which she said is true) but in dog food it is ground up so it does not cause issues

    - Science Diet is one of the few food companies that actually run trials on dogs with their food to see how it affects them over I think maybe 6 months time (maybe longer I forget)

    - The natural foods are just buying into what is big now - people are becoming more aware of their health and they are now transferring that to their pets

Phew! I think that covers most of what I remember - details might be slightly different.

Anyways, she passed around a bunch of empty bags of dog food and pointed out the reasons why they were bad or decent or good. She convinced me to switch back to SD, and so I did. He did fine on it, aside from he had gooky eyes, chewed on his feet, and had yeasty ear infections.

So, after a few months we switched to TOTW, which I have been pleased with but now he has higher protein levels in his urine. Could have had this all along, I am getting a urine protein:creatinine ratio done on him this week.

Also, my mom doesn't like the idea that there are a million different "natural" food companies and not all of them are really regulated or test their food on dogs. I read that Nature's Variety is AAFCO approved and they check for bacterial/parasites before sales of the bags. Which would be better to feed - Prairie or Instinct?

I have read some mixed reviews on TOTW, unsure about their sources etc. and see a lot of good about Nature's Variety. I like Nature's Variety because they have the raw patties too that I can get for treats here and there. :)

Anyways, opinions on ANYTHING in this post would be greatly appreciated! If you prefer one type of food over the other please let me know why. :)

Thanks! (Sorry for the book!)
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Re: Nature's Variety (or TOTW)

Postby Curly_07 » Mon Sep 12, 2011 8:26 pm

Ok, this is just my opinions and from my experiences...

TOTW is what I feed now, and have for the last 6 months or so. Just now starting to add the occasional egg and raw here and there(Working to switch to raw completely over the next few months). I've had the dogs on anything from Natures Variety, EVO, California Natural, Rachel Rays Nurish, and so many more. I always add Salmon oil to any meal I feed them.

My Findings:

TOTW- I've found that my girls have better skin, hair, teeth, and no eye gunk. They are also more spunky. But they both have had urine probelms on it, mostly Lady having a UTI every 2 months and Curly's urine is darker.

Natures Varitey-I had nothing but bad results with the kibble. The raw is awesome!...but VERY expensive! :(

EVO- Dry skin and hair, also urine issues.

RR Nurish- My girls actually did really good on this food as long as I added a lil Salmon oil to their food. I've debated going back to it, but now I'm focussing on switching to raw.

Blue Buffalo- My only complaint with BB is the weight gain. When I'd cut them back on it enough to maintain a healthy weight(like a cup a day) , I felt like it was just too little daily intake.

California-Dryer skin and hair, not as energetic, eye gunk.

That's all I can think of right now...I'll try and remember the other foods I've experimented with.
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Re: Nature's Variety (or TOTW)

Postby k8nkane » Mon Sep 12, 2011 8:41 pm

The SD meeting you sat down in is basically an opportunity for the SD rep to talk up their product to the vet hospitals to get them to sell and recommend it. Of course the food is going to sound amazing. But SD has crap ingredients in it. It's basically like if you fed your kids McDonald's for every meal. It looks delicious and man do those commercials make you WANT to eat it, but it's not healthy at all.

Now, comparing TOTW versus Nature's Variety.

The thing I don't like about Nature's Variety Instinct is that all of their meat sources are some form of meat meal.

Here are the AAFCO definitions of "meat" versus "meat meal":

Meat
"Meat is the clean flesh derived from slaughtered mammals and is limited to that part of the striate muscle which is skeletal or that which is found in the tongue, in the diaphragm, in the heart, or in the esophagus; with or without the accompanying and overlying fat and the portions of the skin, sinew, nerve, and blood vessels which normally accompany the flesh. It shall be suitable for use in animal food. If it bears a name descriptive of its kind, it must correspond thereto.".

Poultry
"Poultry is the clean combination of flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, derived from the parts or whole carcasses of poultry or a combination thereof, exclusive of feathers, heads, feet and entrails. It shall be suitable for use in animal food. If If it bears a name descriptive of its kind, it must correspond thereto. If the bone has been removed, the process may be so designated by use of the appropriate feed term."

"Meat meal is the rendered product from mammal tissues, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices. It shall not contain added extraneous materials not provided for by this definition.The Calcium (Ca) level shall not exceed the actual level of Phosphorus (P) by more than 2.2 times. It shall not contain more than 12% Pepsin indigestible residue and not more than 9% of the crude protein in the product shall be pepsin indigestible. The label shall include guarantees for minimum crude protein, minimum crude fat, maximum crude fiber, minimum Phosphorus (P) and minimum and maximum Calcium (Ca). If the product bears a name descriptive of its kind, composition or origin, it must correspond thereto."

"Poultry meal is the dry rendered product from a combination of clean flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, derived from the parts of whole carcasses of poultry or a combination thereof, exclusive of feathers, heads, feet, and entrails.It shall be suitable for use in animal food. If it bears a name descriptive of its kind, it must correspond thereto."

"Fish meal is the clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish or fish cuttings, either or both, with or without the extraction of part of the oil. If it contains more than 3% salt (NaCl), the amount of salt must constitute a part of the product name, provided that in no case must the salt content of this product exceed 7%. The label shall include guarantees for minimum crude protein, minimum crude fat, maximum crude fiber, minimum Phosphorus (p) and minimum and maximum calcium (Ca). If it bears a name descriptive of its kind, it must correspond thereto."

Basically, "meat" is one specific part of whatever meat it is, versus "meat meal" being a whole bunch of parts from whatever meat it is, whether it's necessarily a good part of the body or not.

Comparing NV to TOTW, you see that TOTW, while it does have meat meal ingredients, the first ingredient (therefore what is the majority of their product) is always a whole meat source, like lamb, bison, duck, whatever.

Another thing, specifically about the Praire Nature's Variety, is that it's not actually grain-free when you look at the ingredients. Depending on the product, it has brown rice, millet, barley, etc.

I've never had an issue with TOTW, I know of dozens of people who feed TOTW to their dogs and have never had an issue and have enjoyed the results, and IMO, it gives you the best bang for the buck. It's reasonably priced for the quality of ingredients.

If you're stuck on Nature's Variety, I would go for the Instinct, as that seems to be better quality and is actually grain-free.

However, all that being said, every dog is different and what food works for one dog may not work for another. I know of dogs that have been fed Dog Chow or Purina One their entire lives and have lived to the ripe old age of 15-16-17. The question is, even if they live to a good age and seem to have no ill effects, would you rather feed them McDonald's or a good home-cooked meal (in terms of quality).

Sorry this got so long. :)

edit: And sorry, since this came up both in your post OP as well as in a previous comment -- I've never had an issue with urine problems with TOTW. This is actually the first I've heard of it.

What you might want to do is switch to a lower protein variety of TOTW. Not all of the varieties have the same levels. Their High Prairie and Wetlands Canine are at 32% and their Pacific Stream and Sierra Mountain formulas are at 25%. Most protein levels in kibbles that I'm familiar with are around 32-36%, so that's something to pay attention to if you're having issues with it.
Last edited by k8nkane on Mon Sep 12, 2011 8:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Nature's Variety (or TOTW)

Postby Curly_07 » Mon Sep 12, 2011 8:44 pm

^^^ :goodpost:
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Re: Nature's Variety (or TOTW)

Postby k8nkane » Mon Sep 12, 2011 8:50 pm

Oh, I also forgot. This is a good website to use to compare foods: http://www.dogfoodanalysis.com/

It's got a 6-star rating system and the thing I really like is that they explain why they gave the food the rating they did, going into details and explanations about certain ingredients and what they mean exactly.
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Re: Nature's Variety (or TOTW)

Postby Curly_07 » Mon Sep 12, 2011 8:52 pm

Just saw your edit...

I feed the Salmon formula(Pacific Stream).
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Re: Nature's Variety (or TOTW)

Postby mtlu » Mon Sep 12, 2011 9:23 pm

I switch Molly's kibble fairly often too :) She was on TOTW Pacific Stream for well over a year – that is probably the longest I have kept her on the same brand/formula of kibble. She did really well on it but I sort of have some weird ideas about needing to switch up her protein sources so I've been trying out some other brands.

After Chaos' urine/creatine test results come back, then decide what you want/need to do. I don't find chicken/beef/lamb/fish meal to be of too much concern – if the label says "meat meal," then I drop the bag. There's a longer explanation for why "meal" isn't necessarily a bad thing but I'm too lazy to dig it up.

We tried a couple different formulas of Nature's Variety Instinct in the past and I thought it was a pretty decent food. However, at the time were still working out what food allergies Molly had and many of their formulas contain multiple protein sources so it was not an ideal line of food to use for a food trial (turns out Molly is allergic to beef).

I had been feeding TOTW when it was still an independent company and continued to feed it after Diamond bought them. I think the formula has changed a bit since Diamond bought them and I noticed that Molly was not doing as well on it as she did before so I started switching to other brands. Also, TOTW is priced towards the "premium range" at many pet stores in my area so it is not that much more to pay for other brands which I am trying out right now (Orijen and Acana).
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Re: Nature's Variety (or TOTW)

Postby Mya&theSiebenDackels » Mon Sep 12, 2011 9:29 pm

It really just depends on the dog and trying different dog foods and see what works best for YOUR dog. Every dog is different and some brands of dog foods work better for certain dogs than for others. :)

We had to try out several different dog foods until we found a food that agreed with Charlotte our dachshund. We now feed Charlotte and Kaia Fromm which they do wonderful on!
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Re: Nature's Variety (or TOTW)

Postby Misskiwi67 » Tue Sep 13, 2011 3:30 am

k8nkane wrote:
Basically, "meat" is one specific part of whatever meat it is, versus "meat meal" being a whole bunch of parts from whatever meat it is, whether it's necessarily a good part of the body or not.


If meat meal is "exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices. It shall not contain added extraneous materials not provided for by this definition."

Then what exactly parts are you talking about that would be BAD for dogs?? I will agree that a named meal (fish meal, or chicken meal) is much more desirable than meat meal, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with foods that use a meal instead of meat.

In general, meat meal tends to have more "by-products" that are MORE nutritious than muscle meat alone.

To the OP, I think serial food switching is a good thing. I've done it for years also, so I can know and understand not only what is best for my dogs, but also to recognize all the crazy things out there my clients feed. I also started my dog on Science Diet. He did fine on it. I then switched him to a wacky gimmicky "holistic/natural" food that happened to have a lot of beef in it, and he developed food allergies. Weather the food allergies were there before or not I will never know.

My dogs are both on Taste of the Wild now. I've tried many many foods over the years, and this is the one I've settled on. Both my dogs do fantastic on it, and unless that changes, we're finally sticking with one thing.

So go for it, be a serial switcher. Read you DOG, not the label, and you will eventually find what works for you. I recommend trying a food for 3 months at a time.
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Re: Nature's Variety (or TOTW)

Postby haircrazie016 » Tue Sep 13, 2011 9:57 am

natures variety instinct is the best food Ive ever had my dogs on. unfortunately its too expensive for me to feed six dogs on, here it costs about $15 more then TOTW, so thats what I feed.
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Re: Nature's Variety (or TOTW)

Postby amelie » Tue Sep 13, 2011 11:32 am

I just switched my dogs back to totw from diamond naturals. i really like the diamond for my guys, but the price went up again, and totw was like ten bux off a bag. feed whatever your dog does well on, if he has energy a shiny coat and good stool stick with that food. if he had any goopy eyes, feet chewing etc, id switch it.
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Re: Nature's Variety (or TOTW)

Postby elegy » Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:46 pm

I'm a serial food-switcher as well. I often feed the pit bulls TOTW. They do well on it. It's a bit less calorically dense than many of the other foods that I feed, so Mushroom gets to eat more, which suits him. I look for the opposite for my Border Collie- it's a struggle to keep weight on him, so Nature's Variety (and I feed both the Prairie, which includes grain, and the Instinct, which doesn't) is a good choice for him. I also buy Innova, Blue Buffalo, Merrick's... if it's on sale or I can get a good deal on it, I'll choose that.

The Hill's (ie Science Diet) people are big on "ingredients don't matter, nutrients do". We have nutritionists not "ingrishionists" wink wink nudge nudge. Personally I do think ingredients matter. I think it matters that the protein in my dogs' diet comes from a meat source vs a grain source. It's important to me that the grain in their diet not be sweepings off the mill floor. But it scares me to think what the price of Hill's food would be if they subscribed to the "good ingredients are important" line of thought.... :wow
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Re: Nature's Variety (or TOTW)

Postby Cherry » Wed Sep 14, 2011 10:02 pm

"He did fine on it, aside from he had gooky eyes, chewed on his feet, and had yeasty ear infections."

I wouldn't consider that doing fine by any means....

Cherry has tried several different foods. She has a ton of allergy issues and raw isn't an option for her. She does best on salmon foods so that lowered our options even more.

She was on Wellness Ocean Core for almost 3 years. Her kidney and liver levels were pretty high on it and her allergy threshold started "going over" the last 6 months she was on it.

She has been eating Nature's Variety Instinct (grain, potato and rice free) for 4 months now and is doing good. It has lower protein levels that Orijen so we chose it. Her kidney and liver levels are closer to normal and she does well on it. A little oilier skin but I also give A LOT of supplements while her environmental allergies are acting up.

Science Diet is a horrible food. They wouldn't come close to being holistic and they're full of corn and byproducts. Can't argue with what is right on the ingredient list. Anything that is so mass produced that it is stocked on Walmart and grocery stores shelves next to Pedigree, Beneful and Ol Roy (with nearly identical ingredient lists) will never, ever be put in my dog's food bowl. Yuck.

Check www.dogfoodanalysis.com
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Re: Nature's Variety (or TOTW)

Postby xKayleighx » Wed Sep 14, 2011 11:46 pm

I would agree on the website www.dogfoodanalysis.com!! It's a fantastic resource. I would definitely say that the SD rep was just skewing "facts" to make the food look decent so the vet will hock it for them. Sad but true... and I'm in sales! haha

We had Bruce on TOTW and rotated between the different proteins. We didn't have too many negative results from it. Just more runny stool. I'm not a huge fan of Diamond products in general, but think TOTW is a decent kibble.

I still absolutely love Acana kibble, though. It's the best Bruce has done on any kibble. Compact stools, only goes once a day, shiny coat, great energy, etc. I prefer Acana to Orijen due to Orijen's high protein content... it makes Bruce's stool runny again and too gassy.
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Re: Nature's Variety (or TOTW)

Postby Misskiwi67 » Thu Sep 15, 2011 12:08 am

xKayleighx wrote:I would agree on the website http://www.dogfoodanalysis.com!! It's a fantastic resource. I would definitely say that the SD rep was just skewing "facts" to make the food look decent so the vet will hock it for them. Sad but true... and I'm in sales! haha


Dogfoodanalysis is a TERRIBLE resource based in hype and heresay. Their ratings are meaningless. Half of their 6 star foods happen to be formulas of my LEAST favorite food... Innova EVO. I have seen more dogs do poorly on this food than on Iams...
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