Confused by dog foods!

Hello! I’m new here, and I stumbled across your website while looking for some decent food for my Jack Russell Puppy, Ramone.

Ramone is a 4.5 month old Jack Russell Terrier puppy. He’s very active. He has dome issues though, which apparently might be caused by diet.

He has itchy dandruff skin mostly on his back, near his tail. He has always had some hair loss on his ears, but the vet ruled out anything serious and said he’d probably grow out of it. He also has had some problems with his anal glands (niffy!). He’s also quite portly for a puppy and likes to eat. A lot

Foods I have tried him on so far are:
Hills Science Plan puppy
Burns puppy (he loves this a bit too much)
And lastly a tailor made food from

The trouble is, I’ve read about how awful some foods are, the majority, in fact! And I don’t want to pay over the odds for a gimmick, which I have a sneaky feeling is. It’s very ‘flash’ but the ingredients aren’t anything to write home about IMHO. The same with Burns… Mostly rice? I want something that will help Ramone’s slight skin issue and anal gland problems while keeping his weight steady, obviously increasing as he grows.

I used the dog food finder on your website and foods which looked good were Millies Hunter Mix and Gentle Dog Food.

I can’t decide, Millies looks good in terms of ingredients but the Gentle Dog Food is cold pressed. Can anyone offer me any advice? Perhaps I’m BARKING up the wrong tree! (Sorry)


Hello and welcome to the forum. Well done for giving some thought to your dog’s diet - it is so very important, especially when they are young and have their whole life ahead of them. First of all, I think you should definitely consider going grain free in few of your dog’s dry skin and dandruff. I had this in one of my small terriers and once I had taken her off James Wellbeloved (lots of grain in there) and changed her food it completely disappeared. Fish is good for skin and coat so I opted for a grain free fish based product (salmon) and it worked very well. However, if you prefer other sources of meat you could top up with sardines two or three times a week to add omega oils. Best not to use the ones in brine.

You mentioned Gentle and yes, it is a good quality food. It has 28% brown rice so is not grain free. I use Gentle myself and have found that the dog with the dry skin/dandruff was absolutely fine with this product. I have recently had to change her food for a health reason but the other two are still on it. The one thing to note is that it must be weighed because it is quite heavy in comparison with kibble. You might find that the quantity looks small although it dissolves quite readily in water so you could soak the nuggets and then it looks more acceptable. It is an all life stage food and the company recommend increasing the quantity for pups. Normally it is 1% to 1.2% of body weight but would be more for a puppy. If you decide to try it, email the company or telephone them to get further advice.

Millie’s Wolfheart is also a good product and has the advantage of being grain free. They have a useful customer services so you may want to telephone to ask for further advice regarding the most suitable product (there are so many).

If you want to research the matter a bit more, use the Dog Food Directory and look at the filters on the left hand side. Just moving the rating filter to 4 to 5 stars will give you all the best quality foods. Normally at the age your pup is at you would be looking at lifestage puppy food but with these (better) sort of products it is not always necessary because they are high in protein/fat anyway.

BTW, although your pup is a Jack Russell and may not require much grooming attention, he is at exactly the right age for a puppy introduction at a good grooming salon. This will help him to get used to having a bath, being handled and having his feet/ears etc attended to. I use Sebocalm soapless shampoo for the problem you describe and it worked well for my dogs. If you are minded to try it you can get it online and bath the pup yourself or take it along to the groomer and ask them to use it instead of their own product.

Please let us know how you get on.

Hello and welcome to the forum Claire. i can only echo what Dottie said. It is definitely worth trying grain free to see if the itching improves.

You won’t really know what will suit your JRT until you try. Some of the higher protein foods have been reported to cause some stomach issues initially but this is often resolved by adjusting the amounts fed or introducing it gradually. Others have just made the switch with no problems.

I hope you find something that suits.

All of the issues you have mentioned certainly point towards a grain “allergy”. Grains are essentially grass seeds and are generally used as fillers, but are totally unnecessary in a dogs diet. This can be further seen by the larger output of undigested material.

Protein percentages in foods are a little misleading, since you feed far less of these foods, sontge grammes of protein consumed per day is only slightly greater,but the protein quality is better (animal not plant)

Since skin and fur is essentially protein you can see why more high quality protein will help, the body uses nutrients for core functions (heart, lungs brain etc) first and only when there is sufficient left after these core functions are satisfied does that surplus go to help repair the skin and fur.

Anal gland problems are often due to soft stools, another side effect of grains for many dogs, though there can be other causes. Firmer stools help to express the glands daily and stop them getting blocked and infected.

Finally weight, excess carbs tend to be laid down as fat, and you have to feed excess carbs with many foods to get sufficient levels of other nutrients like protein and fat. So by feeding appropriate amounts of a low carb (high protein) food the weigh issue can be easily resolved.

As already mentioned, take 2 or 3 weeks to switch over, start with a conservative amount of food, you can always add a little more once the excess weight is coming off,

Good luck with your decision, I’m sure it will resolve the issues.

Thank you all so much for your help. Very kind of you to take the trouble


Just wanted to say a huge thank you to the members of this forum. I can’t thank you all enough. This website is a godsend!

I’m happy to report that Ramone is cured! Thanks to you guys, I looked into the foods, (if it was widespread knowledge about the rubbish in dog food, no one would buy it). We got samples to try, and I had some great advice from the makers of three of the foods.

Turns out Ramone was upset by grain and also by chicken/eggs. We opted for Millie’s Wolfheart Gamekeeper Mix and he is doing BRILLIANTLY! No itching, no scabby dandruffy skin, his fur is growing back on his ears (for the first time in his life)! His poos are firm and dark and so far no niffy anal glands! It’s so good to see him healthy! He’s full of energy and his coat SHINES.

The food we had been feeding him previously was either full of corn (Hills Science Plan was a surprise, it’s sold in our vets, I assumed that meant it was quality rather than packed with cheap fillers like corn) or containing chicken, so no wonder poor Ramone was in a state.

Thank you so much for all your help.



Thank you so much for providing us with feedback. I am absolutely delighted that your dog is so much better on Millie’s Wolfheart. If an owner can be helped to achieve better health in their dog it makes forums such as this one worthwhile. :slight_smile:

That is really good news. So glad to hear he is doing better now.