Sunday, March 18, 2012

Dog Food Review: Taste of the Wild

This is second of the dog food review series I'm doing.

Taste of the Wild Sierra Mountain Canine Formula
Dog Food Advisor rating: ★★★★★
This food is AAFCO approved for all life stages.

The bag
Ingredients: Lamb, lamb meal, sweet potatoes, potatoes, peas, canola oil, pea protein, roasted lamb, tomato pomace, natural flavor, salt, choline chloride, mixed tocopherols (a natural preservative and source of vitamin E), dried chicory root, taurine, tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries, yucca schidigera extract, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, vitamin E supplement, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, ascorbic acid, vitamin A supplement, biotin, niacin, calcium pantothenate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin D supplement, folic acid.

Items in italics will be discussed later. 

Bag's recommended daily feeding instructions for an adult dog 80-100 lbs: 3 3/4 - 4 1/3 cups
Crude Protein: minimum of 25.0%
Crude Fat: minimum of 15.0%
Crude Fiber: maximum of 4.0%
Moisture: maximum of 10.0%
Calorie content: 338 kcal/cup, 3,661 kcal/kg
Calculated amount to maintain Ebon's ideal weight (82.5 lbs): 4.93 cups or 0.46 kg (1.012 lbs)
Price per pound when buying the largest bag (30 lbs at $46.99): $1.566
Estimated cost of feeding Ebon per year on this food: $578.57 (12.31 of the 30 lb bags)
Ebon receives slightly less than the calculated feeding amount to allow for his daily treats
Ebon's overall health on this food: Rather good. Energy level moderate to high. Coat shiny, though he did have a slight increase in dandruff. Poop usually not as compact and not very consistent.

The kibble
I started transitioning from Ebon's old food on February 27th, and I just started transitioning him off of this food. The kibble itself is relatively large and flat. It has a moderately high meat content, as can be seen in the first several ingredients. Some ingredients are rather telling as, though this food boasts at being grain free and high quality, some ingredients seem a bit unusual. Inclusion of such things as pea protein will boost the protein content, even though a fair amount of the protein is still coming from animal sources. It does make me curious how much protein is coming from peas rather than lamb as vegetable proteins often lack a lot of the amino acids essential to good health and are also not as easily digested. Ebon did got excited at the smell of this food, which is likely thanks to the inclusion of roasted lamb in the mix.

Some nice things to see in this food: chelated minerals and probiotics. Chelated minerals are believed to be more easily absorbed and used by the body than non-chelated minerals, and probiotics/microorganisms help maintain good gut flora to provide for better digestion.

I was actually quite surprised at some of the changes that Ebon went through after starting this food, partly because I've heard quite a number of dog owners rant and rave about the brand. The fact that he pooped more wasn't surprising since he was getting a larger amount of food. Taste of the Wild is not as calorie dense as many other kibbles, and the fact that Ebon would need nearly five cups a day to maintain his weight rather shocked me. The majority of foods I have looked at require servings for Ebon around or below four cups. His poop was really inconsistent, including his first problems with a food transition. When he first started this food his poop became very loose for several days before firming up to a better consistency. Even after that, he would have a random loose stool every third or fourth day. Since Ebon already has issues with stress-induced loose stools, the fact that this food caused him to have basically regularly loose stools was...disappointing. Especially after the complete lack of loose stools when he was on the last test food (Nature's Variety Instinct).

As for his coat and energy, Ebon's energy level didn't change at all and his coat did have somewhat more dandruff than before, making him a bit itchy. It may have to do with the amount and type of fat in the kibble, which doesn't seem to be keeping his skin as oily as it usually is. I cannot, however, say for sure what may have caused him to be more flaky. He has not yet received his monthly bath, which is usually the cause of any dandruff he has.

Overall, I was a bit disappointed with this food. I don't even know how many people have told me how wonderful Taste of the Wild is, but hearing something is not the same as seeing it for yourself. The changes were overall fairly minor and not that hard to deal with, but they were still frustrating. It's quite likely this may very well just be Ebon's reaction to the food and not a good reflection of dogs in general. I still don't think Ebon will be eating this food again. However, I would be curious to know how other dogs have responded to a switch to TotW.

Will I change foods? We'll see. More reviews are to come. Next up: Wellness.


  1. Since my two BC/Lab mixes were switched from Pedigree to TOTW, the increase in health was very noticeable with them. They pooped a lot less, they stank a lot less (still somewhat stinky, though) shed less, less dandruff, ate less, the "grease" almost completely vanished... I was very satisfied with how well they do on it. They get all four formulas and they do tend to do best on the bison formula, then duck, then salmon and lamb. Not sure which of the last two they do better on, I haven't much paid attention enough to notice.

    However, they have stomachs of steel and can eat about anything and not have digestive issues. I have heard of many dogs who have not done well on TOTW, and those who have sensitive digestive tracts are sometimes not able to have consistently good results.

    Conker is one of them. I have tried a couple times in the past to feed him a few different kibbles, very slowly, and while he can eat a couple bites as a snack, a whole meal of TOTW does not sit well with him no matter how gradually I switch him over. I am going to try again soon though, but even if he can stomach it he will continue to eat raw and home-cooked foods since he does best on them. (I am looking for commercial alternatives to use in emergencies, if I go out of town, or have to board him for some ungodly reason.)
    He can, however, eat three varieties of Solid Gold, all of which are grain inclusive. That makes me wonder a bit about how "grain-free" isn't always the best option for some dogs despite what people claim.

    1. The changes you describe remind me a lot of what happened when Ebon went from Iams to Blue. Bad breath dropped off, coat improved dramatically, better poop, and a huge increase in energy. He trimmed down too, building lean muscle where before he was a bit "puffy". Now, however, I'm moving between foods with far more similar lists of ingredients. I'm not expecting really drastic changes, but so far I've been a bit surprised that certain changes have been as noticeable as they have been.

      I wouldn't really call Ebon sensitive. He can eat just about anything without an issue, however he does do better if he's getting a fairly consistent diet. His biggest issues are stress-related, as I've mentioned a few times before. The first time we went on a long road trip he ended up pooping at every stop. It was insane. Otherwise, he seemed perfectly fine other than not wanting to be out of my sight. It's amazing what his stomach can handle too. As a puppy he once ate part of a ball without me realizing it and barfed it up some time later. During the time it was in here, he didn't show any symptoms of having an upset stomach at all, which is why it surprised me so much. Dogs are weird.

      I got a free sample of Solid Gold once and Ebon loved it. I'm tempted to do a trial on it as well if I'm able to find any locally. That and many other foods. As for Conker, he has issues with potatoes, doesn't he? It seems that the vast majority of "grain free" foods use a lot of potato products in place of the grains (if I remember right, starch is needed to help form the kibble), so in that case it makes sense that he would do better on grain-inclusive foods.

    2. I have noticed benefits after switching to TOTW from beneful. My dog was having fits of what I thought were asthma attacks and dizzy spells, my vet said they were actually sneezes and he might have a food allergy. I suggest trying a different flavor for your dog after reading reviews. One reviewer on amazon says her dog doesn't react well to lamb. And TOTW says the southwest canyon formula is better for dogs that prefer a red meat diet because they use peas instead of potatoes. Just a thought.

  2. This may be of interest in regards to probiotics in kibble:

    1. Thanks, Jess! That's a very interesting article and, honestly, I'm not surprised. I wonder how often manufacturers look at whatever cultures they use in their foods and check for the concentration of cells and other such factors. It is a bit disappointing the labels aren't good representations of the microbes within. Not good if your pet's on antibiotics and looses all of its good gut bacteria.

      I wonder how many owners even understand what a probiotic is and why it's being put into foods.

  3. 4 small dogs on taste of wild one a 4 month old puppy loose stool off & on larger stools.not finished with 30lb bag yet but I think Ill be gooing back to blue.

  4. been cleaning up diarrhea non stop after our 1 yr old pup had this awful food! not surprised. good old Purina was working just fine and yet I had to mess with changing it b/c everyone at the dog park kept raving about it :(

  5. It is interesting to hear the differences our fury family members have when it comes to TOTW. I have an almost 5 year old Welsh Pembroke Corgi (Tricolor). I have tried several different brands that include Blue, Purina, Solid Gold and a few others. Still TOTW has kept my little boy strong and running regular and going regular, for him TOTW is perfect. The only version of TOTW he cannot eat is duck, other than that he lets me know it is time to eat or go out to do his business. Everyone that sees him remarks on the quality of his coat, and bright looks. Other than the required shots our Vet doesn't see Tecumseh (Te-cum-sah) in his office. Take care of your fury family.

  6. I am so happy with this! My great pyreneses could never keep weight on and I was feeding her iams. She always had a really bad odor when she was damp. Now she is full weight and smell free! Thanks to this food.

  7. This article is might be useful and helpful to all those people who have dog. Dog food always does meters in dogs health and fitness, so providing these type of food to them can be very beneficial for them.

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  8. I am following this information and my doggy keeps healthy, fit, active and energetic. I am feeding my dog with best natural components like meat. He is staying well.

  9. I love this food and so do my dogs...... I like it way better then blue buffao because totw is grain free and has more protein....... my dogs are in to weight pulling and this food keeps them looking great...... btw people that are having problems with loose stole is because when you switch a dog to a new food u need to mix it slowly in to the old food it's easier on your dogs stomach because it has higher protein then most foods

  10. My dog a Jack Russell Terrier 7 years old, started with allergies at her 3 years old, I use to feed her with purina, pedigree, this brands with grains and meat waste, and she developed a serious allergies problems, her whole stomach, legs, arms were red and with blisters and she use to scratch a lot and chew her rear to the point to make it bleed (she is completely white). At the dog park somebody advise me to change the food, so I did I went to the pet store and they suggested me TOTW lamb version. At the second week my dog was completely cleared and healed that was amazing! and I was grateful with God because was really sad for me to see her in such pain. So I realized she was allergic to the grains and the chicken, main ingredient in her previous diet. After that I tried the salmon formula, but since it is not wild caught salmon I decided no to give her that food. Two months ago I start with the bison formula, but the blister came back, what I did not realize that was chicken meal in the formula! So I am going back to the lamb formula. I will have to avoid poultry and even eggs in her diet.

  11. I had my dogs (mini dachshunds) on Wellness, they are always hungry it seemed,they were shedding like crazy,chewing on their feet and I'm not going into the rear problems. I switch their food to TOTW and WOW they are eating less and are staying full (no puppy eyes looking at you and then towards the food bowl) they love breakfast time. They are no longer clearing the room and they have stopped chewing on their feet. I mixed a lil of TOTW canned salmon and their coats or gorgeous-not greasy in the least. They no longer shed everywhere. I am very happy with this food and so are they. Plus my older dog has had more engery and is playing more and more.

  12. If your dog has loose stool due to emotional or psychological causes, make sure they excersize more and dont keep them cooped up all day. We will talk allll day about providing our dogs with natural foods but it won't do a lick of good without providing them with environments that also suit them. Just my two cents. This is amazing food for my two bearded collies and has cleared up some allergy issues we had been noticing pre TOTW.

  13. I've been giving my Samoyed Taste of The Wild (Bison) food for several years now. However, the last bag she was reluctant to eat -- I put it down to aging. If I hand fed her she'd eat. This bag is giving her diarrhea. I've taken her off it for a plain chicken and rice (homecooked) twice now to heal, and every time I put her back on it, mega soft stool with mucous.

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  16. Has Ebon tried Acana before? What are your thought son that brand?

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  18. My 4 month old boxer is on this food and he does nothing but poop after eating it. This morning after we fed him he went 3 times in an hours time.

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