I’ve noticed that as my chocolate lab Coco has gotten older her eating habits have changed. We rescued Coco as a young dog approximately two years old so we never really had her as a puppy. When she was young she would devour any amount of food that we put out for her as soon as the bowl hit the ground. That led to us splitting her food into two servings during the day so that she wouldn’t eat her entire quota of food in the morning and be hungry and begging for food the rest of the day.
Now, as an eight year old “senior” dog Coco has lower energy needs than those of a young pup. She tends to eat when she wants and only as much as she wants. Some days she’ll still eat all two cups of her kibble right away, other times she’ll snack when she feels like it, and sometimes she’ll look at it and look back at me as if to say “The exact same kibble again dad? Really?”, and proceed to wait me out to see if she gets offered something better – she usually wins :)
Recently she has slowed down eating her regular kibble and I felt it was time to make a change. I didn’t want to change just for the sake of it or just for a new variety or flavor, I felt it was time to change the quality of her food and toward something that would give a senior dog like her what she needs.
Merrick Backcountry ultimate ancestral canine diet
Dogs crave a protein-rich diet the way nature intended. The Merrick Backcountry ultimate ancestral canine diet recipes provide this by combining two quality components. The first is a protein rich kibble that is made with deboned meat as the number one ingredient. It is grain free with no gluten ingredients. The second is freeze-dried real raw meat pieces in a pure state for easy digestion.
This combination is designed to provide dogs with the nutritional benefits of a raw diet they would have discovered in the wild, but in a convenient recipe that’s easy to serve at home or on the move. Furthermore it is made in the USA in Merrick’s own organically certified kitchens. Their foods do not contain any ingredients from China.
Transitioning between dog foods
According to our veterinarian it’s never good to transition from one type of dog food to another too quickly. Doing so can result in upset stomachs and unwanted accidents, it’s also just rough on your best four-legged friend. The correct way to transition between dog foods is to slowly mix the new food into your dog’s current food over the course of 5-7 days. You should continuously increase the amount of the new food each day while decreasing the amount of their current food – always maintaining the correct total amount (E.g. 2 cups) that your dog needs to be fed. For example:
- Day 1-2: 25% new / 75% previous
- Day 3-4: 50% new / 50% previous
- Day 5-6: 75% new / 25% previous
- Day 7: 100% new
How much should you feed your dog?
Based on the recommendation of Coco’s veterinarian I have been feeding her four cups of dry food a day. I break that into two meals, breakfast and dinner each consisting of two cups. That has been working well for several years, but it is always a good idea to know how that was arrived at. If you don’t know how to calculate how much to feed your dog here is an example that shows the math.
Coco currently weighs 88lbs and that is just about right at her ideal weight. Her level of activity is pretty much normal – she is relaxed most of the week with regular walks and the usual ball throwing, then longer hikes and games on weekends. , and the number of calories per cup for her new Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Pacific Catch recipe is 362 kcal. Using an online dog food calculator and entering in her numbers (88 lbs / normal activity level / 362 kcal per cup of food) the estimated amount of food Coco needs each day in order to maintain her weight is 1,750 kcal per day or 4.8 cups of dog food.
On the side of the Merrick Backcountry dog food bag there is also a basic feeding guide table. It lists the amount of calories and cups of food your dog needs per day based on the ideal body weight. Using the same numbers (Coco’s weight is 88 lbs) the recommended serving size for Coco based on the Merrick guide is 1,778 kcal per day or five cups. The Merrick Backcountry guide is based on goal weights in ten-pound increments so I used the 90 lb option as it was the closest to 88lbs. So Coco would be slightly under those amounts which means that both the online dog food calculator and the Merrick Backcountry feeding guide provided very similar results.
Note: Online calculators are intended for educational purposes and should not be used as a substitute for the expert advice from your veterinarian. Every dog is unique, breeds, age, size, level of activity.
Results so far
I’ve already noticed that Coco seems to be enjoying her food much more again. If it were just because of the change in taste from her old food I’d expect to see her eagerness wain after a week or two, but she seems genuinely ready for her food each morning and evening – and she’s back to finishing what’s in her bowl. Even if she were still snacking, and I expect that time will come as it starts getting hotter during the day, I’m excited about the quality of the ingredients in the Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused line of dog foods. Coco’s coat has an increased shine to it from the omega fatty acid rich formula and her breath (and gas) doesn’t smell as bad as it used to – sorry, but you notice these things when you have a dog sleeping next to you all day in a small home office.
We’re also taking Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused kibble with us on hikes so that she can continue to eat the food she is used to over the course of the hike rather than have a sudden change while outside, which can lead to stomach issues. The small size of the kibble definitely makes packing her food in her own backpack much easier.