This may be a long read, but I hope it is worth it when you are done.
Well there sure are a lot of questions about feeding and what foods to feed on this forum. I have had personal experiences shopping around with a bunch of different brands. And for fewer dog households, I really think that feeding a better food equals out pretty evenly. Now I am no expert, but I've done some reading, and like I said personal experience over the last 2 1/2 years of shopping around. I've fed quite a few different variates of Diamond foods, from regular Diamond up to some brands you may not have known are made by diamond. Such as, chicken soup (for the dog lovers soul) Premium Edge, and Taste of the Wild. I've also fed some Purina brands, and Innova brands. While I did not care at all for the lower end Diamond named products, I have had good to excellent results on their higher end brands. Think "Toyota to Lexus"
First you should consider and ask yourself these questions.
1. What am I paying for my current food, and how big of a bag, and how many cups a day does my dog eat total?
2. What is my dogs age and current weight? Does my dog need to lose, gain or is s/he at a healthy weight?
3. Does my dog have food allergies?
4. Is my dogs coat healthy and shiny on her current food?
5. Is my dog having a lot of bowel movements in large amounts? It may seem gross to some but I do examine my dogs (visually!) lol everytime to check for color and consistency changes.
6. Does my dog require any special joint care formula dog foods?
I hope to touch on all of these through my personal story below.
I avoided feeding a better food for a long time. Because of the initial sticker shock. As in when I was feeding Premium Edge at 24.00 a bag for an 18lb bag. It went up to over 26.00 a bag. But I kept feeding it, and kept looking at Innova with initial sticker shock at $30.00 for an 15lb bag bewildered why would I pay 4 to 6 more dollars for a few lbs less??
What I didn't realize was I could totally equal out that few extra dollars and make the bag last just as long, if not go a few more days on it!
So Helena had been eating 2 cups a day, one cup twice daily of Premium Edge. Which was about the same as she was eating previously on Chicken Soup and Purina One ( I'm leaving these two out because she wasn't on them long)
So the 18lb bag of Premium Edge was lasting me about 3 weeks, I spent about 26 dollars for almost a month of feeding. And I was feeding the "skin and coat" formula.
I decided to try the Innova since it was only a few more dollars and I realized I could reduce my feeding to a only 1 1/2 cups a day at to even 1 full cup a day if I really needed to stretch the food. And this 15lb bag for a few more bucks lasted just a long! I started noticing a way better coat than the "skin and coat" formula offered, and this was plain adult Innova food no frills or special advertising on the package. No special formula. Her poop got smaller and firmer, she only goes twice a day. She lost a good 3 to 5lbs and gained better muscle form and this was without conditioning, not a huge difference but noticeable to us.
I moved up the ladder to EVO and fed the small bites, and saved a few bucks that way as well. The EVO went just as far. And it was only 13lbs but I was spending over 30 dollars at this point. But man did she really gain muscle tone! Drop weight and "tuck up" I took her off this food because it was very high in protein and I figured out that a dog that is not doing much doesn't need to be on such a high protein diet. I was feeding her it because I thought more protein would give us even better results.
We finally leveled out to Taste of the Wild. Thanks to some advice from friends. TOTW is an all stages food so I made this switch when my puppy Onyx came into the household. I bought a 5lb bag for around 11.00 after taxes. This lasted us a week! For a growing puppy eating about 2 cups a day and my adult dog eating around 1 1/2 cups. So that is nearly 4 cups a day. That would mean I would be paying a little less than 30 dollars for 15.lbs for 3 weeks. For a puppy and an adult. And I'll be feeding less when my pup grows into an adult! But when I went to a local feed store I found the exact same 15 lb bag (the pacific stream with salmon type) for only 21.00! It pays to check out feed stores instead of only dog/cat pet stores. My pup looks great and so does Helena. Even the vet said Helena was very healthy and her coat was beautiful (pretty good for a demodedic mange pup)
When feeding brands such as Dog Chow and regular Diamond I was feeding more and Helena grew to a whopping 50lbs! Just adding that extra 5lbs made her a fat dog. And this was about 12 dollars for 20lbs lasting me less than 2 weeks. Think if I was buying puppy and adult dog food??
As far as special formula's regarding age, weight, dog size, and health. There sure are a lot of variables right? Wrong! If your dog food is balanced and you do some ingredient research you will find that most of these are just a marketing ploy to charge more for different types.
Age, well that was fixed with the all stages TOTW.
Weight? Does your dog need to go on a diet? Don't spend more for the "diet" foods. Once again, switch to a higher quality food, feed less and examine your dogs progress over a few weeks. And adjust the amount accordingly. I don't worry about how much the bag tells me to feed. I feed the same 1 1/2 cups no matter the food and my dog has never gotten skinny, just fatter (on low quality foods) And this was without adjusting the amounts.
Size? If the ingredients are as complete as they say they are than your dogs size should not matter in selecting an all stages dog food. Again I believe this is a marketing ploy to charge more for "large" breed dogs. Which "apbt
's" are not large breeds.
And are you feeding a special "skin and coat" or "senior" diet for joint health? Well I found in feeding salmon I got the best skin and coat and joint results without feeding a special formula. Generally I found that when a food advertises glucosomine and other joint supplements in the food, this is another ploy. Because the amount is far far less in the food than a dog actually needs for daily maintenance. Helena needs around 1250 maintenance does normally of glucosamine, as an added supplement. The food she was eating from Premium Edge boasting about glucosomine actually had a scarce amount compared to this. And not enough to make a difference. The salmon has the omega 3's and 6's to really improve the coat and also help with joint care.
And visually examine your dogs bowel movement to check for colar and consistency. I noticed on better foods Helena's were smaller and darker. Compared to larger and yellow colored on cheap grocery store brands. This means she was getting less nutrients and it was going through her system. To make her just feel "full"
As far as allergies go, I recommend feeding a food that is non beef and no grains.
But remember, I learned all of this from asking questions from experienced dog people online and offline, just google and reading about ingredients and of course trial and error results. Which the latter are your best advice.
Well I hope this helps! And I think I got most of the bases covered. But I might add more later. And if you have a question feel free to ask and I hope I can answer and if I can't there are more experienced here who can.