We recommend all natural and homeopathic remedies whenever possible, and grain-free or raw diets and treats. We are not opposed to the use of chemicals and pharmaceuticals when necessary, but recommend them only as a last resort.
Kind of Food Should I Get?
I receive no compensation of any kind for any of the recommendations
that I give my puppy folks. I ONLY make recommendations based on my
knowledge and experience (to the extent that I have any). That is
true of anything you find anywhere on this web site.
is what we feed Covenant Farm Puppies:
~Grain-Free Puppy Formula
feed is available at Tractor Supply Co. If you don't have a TSC near you, please see below for our other recommendations. We chose this brand because of the combination of good price and good quality.
will receive a 3-lb. bag of this food with your puppy when
you pick him up. If you will be changing your puppy's food, mix the bag we give you with an equal amount of the new food and feed that until the mixture is gone. Then you can feed the new food straight.**
**We still also recommend Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Food, as we always have!
average lifespan of a Lab right now is 10-12 years. On a grain-free
(rice is not considered a grain) or raw diet, the average lifespan
increases to 15-19 years! Below are lists of the very best dog
foods. Some of the brands you might think are good quality are nothing
more than junk food. It's like feeding your child McDonald's everyday.
They include some pretty high-priced brands that are coasting on old
reputations they no longer deserve.
or "ancestral" diets are even better, but are more expensive,
unless you make them up yourself (which can be considerable work).
But if you're willing, it is the best possible diet for your puppy
or dog. Remember, dogs are carnivores! They are meat-eaters.
They are not herbivores or omnivores.
We often use a combination of grain-free and raw food (that would
be great for any dog, anytime). We give them a grain-free bowl of
food in the morning, and raw chicken at night. They can eat the raw
chicken, bones and all, if it's raw. Chicken bones only become dangerous
to dogs when they are cooked, because they become brittle and break
off in sharp pieces. When raw, chicken bones are soft, like cartilage.
**You can buy a 10-lb. bag of chicken leg quarters for about $7 at
WalMart or Kroger. That's just $.70 per pound, cheaper than most dry
dog food. The dogs absolutely LOVE it, and it's safe. We have been
feeding our Labs raw chicken for many years.
Raw/Ancestral diet. This
is the very best way to feed your dog. For detailed information on
raw feeding, CLICK HERE.
This page was written by a Covenant Farm Puppy owner who feeds a raw
We recommend a dog food that IS GRAIN-FREE. These are more
expensive, but well worth the price. . If money is not an obstacle, we recommend Merrick Grain Free Dog Food (any recipe). We have found this to produce the vey best results, not just in overall health, but in truly superior skin and coat condition.
Dry Dog Foods 5-Star
Raw Dog Foods
At the very least, we recommend you avoid any dog food that
has Corn, Soy or Wheat. These are the grains most commonly associated
with food allergies, cancer, diabetes and tendency toward obesity.
There are many good quality dog foods which have some grains (usually
barley, oatmeal or millet) but still avoid those health culprits.
Here are a few we recommend (there are many other good ones, but we
have actually tried these over the years):
"LIKE" them on Facebook, and receive regular updates on
recalls and other valuable information.
**CHICKEN ALLERGIES? Some dogs have been diagnosed with an
allergy to chicken, but it may not be true at all. Commercially raised
chickens have a soy-based diet. Soy contains phyto-estrogens, and
these transfer through the meat to both people and animals. Your dog
MAY in fact have an allergy to SOY, rather than the chicken itself.
The cure for that would be pasture-raised chickens, though they are
much more expensive.
If you are using a grain-free food, but your puppy or dog is still
having food allergy problems, try using a formula that contains no
chicken or chicken meal at all.
What about Spay & Neuter?
We strongly advise that you not spay or neuter your dog until he or she reaches full maturity. For Labs, about 20 months, Mastiffs, 36 months, Mastadors about 24 months. This is VERY important, as early spay and neuter is responsible for joint development problems, along with early hip/elbow dysplasia, ACL/CCL joint failures and an increase in three types of cancer. Please read our blog post on this topic below.
Upset Tummies & Weight Loss
your puppy or dog has loose stool, and an obviously upset stomach,
you need to contact your vet and bring him a stool sample to test
for worms or parasites. But in the meantime, there is a way to
bring relief to your dog. What he needs is mild food and something
to harden the stool. Both white rice (not brown) and sweet potato
are excellent for this. We cook some sweet potato and white rice
(both) and mix it with just-barely-warmed-up ground meat of any
kind (venison, beef, chicken). You don't want to cook the meat
through, just warm it up and then mix it all together, meat, rice
and sweet potato. You can add salt and garlic (from cloves, not
powder) to the meat as you warm it. You want about an equal amount
of rice and sweet potato, and about half that amount of meat.
This recipe is also good for putting weight on a dog that has
not been well. The only difference is that you would include
more meat, so that the meat is about half of the total mixture.
A regular diet high in carbohydrates, fat and protein will be
the best path to proper weight gain. You MUST have the dog diagnosed
as to why the weight was lost, as you could be dealing with parasites
or a gastro-intestinal disorder, or even a blockage caused by
indiscriminate eating (like a sock or something). The photo
is the actual mixture that I made for Lilly to help her gain weight.
Treats & Chews!
treats are an important tool in training and nutrition. Here at
Covenant Farm Puppies, we do NOT recommend store-bought biscuits,
chews, jerky and the like. Baked biscuits are full of the same grains
we urge you to avoid in their regular food. And there is no end to
the recall announcements on jerky treats. Here are a few of the things
we like and recommend:
CHICKEN HEARTS, GIZZARDS & LIVERS: This stuff is less
than $1.50 per lb., a fraction of what you pay for commercial dog
treats. Lay these out on a cookie sheet (so they don't touch each
other) and put them in the freezer overnight. In the morning, just
scoop them up into a ziplock bag for storage. They freeze hard, but
chewy. You puppy or dog will work on it for awhile before swallowing
it. They LOVE this, and it's GREAT for them.
Every dog loves cheese. It's another high protein, high
fat treat that's perfect for rewards and training. DO NOT get "Processed
American Cheese Food". I would argue this is not food at all
(but I digress). If your dog doesn't get much exercise, give cheese rarely, as it is high fat. If they are already overweight, skip this one. :)
OIL : Fish oil capsules are great treats. Not only do dogs
LOVE them, they are great for your dog's skin, coat and cardiovascular
system. You can get them pretty cheaply at any of the warehouse stores
like Sam's, Costco, BJ's, etc., or at WalMart. These are already filtered
to remove mercury, so that is not a concern.
MEAT: Your dog is a carnivore, not an herbivore or an omnivore.
I love to cook. When I cook, whichever dogs are inside know to stay
close by, because there are always trimmings and extras for them!
Any kind of red meat is fine. Any kind of poultry is fine. Serve it
RAW. It's much better for them than cooked meat is. Bone-in is fine
as long as it is uncooked, and your dog has his or her adult teeth
in (6-7 months).
DEER OR ELK ANTLERS: These last
a pretty long time, much longer than bones. They are a little pricey
at the pet store, but during hunting season, they can be had easily
from neighbors and friends if you live out in the country.
BONES: If you live anywhere that you can talk to a butcher
and purchase raw bones, DO IT! Don't let your dog have the whole bone
all at once, though, because the marrow is very rich, just like organ
NYLABONE WITH PEANUT BUTTER: Nylabones
are big nylon bones made for dogs. Peanut butter is a good treat for
dogs.It's high protein and fat, it tastes great, and they LOVE it.
Smear a nylabone with peanut butter and stick it in the freezer for
a couple of hours. Your dog wil be licking and gnawing and having
a great time! This usually isn't a messy deal, but you probably should
try it out on the tile floor in the kitchen the first time to see
how he or she works it.
KONG TOYS : These toys are very hard rubber and hollow inside. Put kibble or peanut butter or some other treat inside the Kong and your pup will lie down with it and work it and work it until they get the goodies out. Great for satisfying the urge to chew as well, and these are very tough. Lab tested!
Your Dog Pills
are all kinds of things you can use to give your dog pills and be
sure they swallow them. The most common ways are to wrap it in a piece
of meat or cheese, but sometimes those rascals manage to eat the meat
and spit out the pill. We use either cream cheese (a little
messy, but foolproof), or hot dogs. I recommend the hot dogs,
especially if you have to give a dog pills or capsules
over a long period of time. Get a decent quality hot dog and cut a
piece just big enough to push the pill into. This makes the whole
med-preparation process really easy, and your dog or pup will BEG
for his or her meds! Please, please DO NOT buy those "pill pockets"
from the pet store. They're just hideous. They are horrible for your
dog. Hot dogs are like steak compared to that garbage.
Natural Supplements & Treatments!
are several supplements you should consider either for the relief of symptoms, or even for general good health and to keep certain symptoms from appearing.
COCONUT OIL: We highly recommend coconut oil as a daily food supplement. This stuff is a virtual miracle-food for humans and animals. The first thing you will notice is a huge improvement in skin and coat condition. But even more than that, coconut oil has both antibiotic and anti-fungal properties and is an excellent treatment or preventative for digestive problems, yeast infections, urinary tract infections, ear infections, and much more. We HIGHLY recommend this as a daily supplement, at the rate of about a tablespoon a day for an adult Lab.
You can get this at WalMart, Sam's Club, Trader Joes, and other retail outlets, but if you are serious about using it, we have an excellent, low-cost source online . This is MUCH cheaper than the retail stores ($24 for a 54-oz. jar of organic, non-GMO, virgin coconut oil). By clicking the link and opening an account at this site, you will get a $10 discount off your first order of $30 or more (as a referral from me), and free shipping on any order over $49.
GLUCOSAMINE & CONDROITIN: We recommend that all adult Labs get glucosamine and chondroitin as part of their daily diet. This keep joints well-lubricated and prevents and controls damage from hip dysplasia, arthritis and othe bone and joint disorders. Some grain-free foods already contain this as a supplement. That is sufficient in most adult dogs. But if you dog already has the symptoms of dysplasia or arthritis or other bone problem, giving tgis as a supplement will help alleviate discomfort and slow down degeneration.
FOR EAR MITES AND YEAST INFECTIONS: As we mentioned above coconut oil helps control yeast infections throughout the body, and should be given alongside whatever other treatment you are using. For this, we use Vet Organics Eco Ears. This product is an all-natural, organic treatment that clears up itchy-ear problems regardless of their cause! Whether the source of the itching is ear mites or a yeast infection, this product will clear it up. Usually you will see relief in 2-3 days, but follow through for 10 days to make sure it is completely taken care of. We have used this on our Shelby, who has had persistent yeast problems in her ears over the course of her life. We would not be without the stuff now.
FOR HOT SPOTS: The folks that make the EcoEars above also have a natural remedy for hot spots. We have usedthis product many times, and have always had success with it. It is called Vet Organics EcoSpot
tick & internal
Covenant Farm Puppies, we love our dogs! And we have a lot of them! In the past we have had as many as 17 adult or adolescent
dogs to care for each month. Quite honestly, the cost in treating
this number of dogs with the standard products purchased from the
Vet would be astronomical! Here are some treatments, both natural and chemical, and some off-label treatments that we have discovered over the years
a Persistent Flea Infestation
can be a real headache, especially if you have several pets, and
they are allowed in and out of the house. If you have used the
standard flea & tick treatment, but you continue to have tormented
pets, you will need to use The Three-Pronged Fork. Treat
the dogs, the house and the outside environment.
To rid your dog of fleas instantly, and keep them off for
up to a month, we recommend Comfortis®.
You will see dead fleas within 30 minutes! This product also kills
the eggs and larvae. It costs about $17 per dose, but is worth
it when you're trying to do a comprehensive extermination. It
is by perscription only. It can be used with Imidocloprid safely.
rid your home of fleas and eggs, we recommend Precor®.
A small bottle of the concentrate (around $10) mixes with a
gallon of water, and will cover over 1,200 square feet. Spray
it liberally wherever your dogs lay or play inside your home.
Floors, dog bedding, everything that your dog has body contact
with should be sprayed. Precor is an Insect Growth Regulator
(IGR) used by professionals.
rid your dog's outdoor environment of fleas and eggs, use
the Ortho® Max Tree & Shrub Insect Killer. Follow
the label directions and mix up a gallon at a time in a common
garden watering-can. Soak all the areas where your dogs commonly
lie down or play. This product will stay active for nearly a
Flea, Tick & Internal Parasite Treatment
The problem with natural flea and tick treatments is that they must be done every day during the heavy tick seasons and during flea infestations. But they are completely harmless to your dog, and far less expensive. The same goes for internal parasites.
Our number one recommendation is Springtime Bug Off Garlic Chewables for Dogs. As a chewable, it is the easiest way to administer natural flea tick prevention. The number of chewables to give per day is determined by weight. They also sell it in granules that you mix with food which may work out to be a little cheaper.
You can also use Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth. This is a white powder made up of microscopic fossils. They have sharp edges (though so small the powder is very soft and smooth), which scrub the exoskeletons of the parasites, which causes them to die of dehydration.
For fleas and ticks, a daily dusting (avoiding eyes, nose and genitals) will kill both adults and eggs when done daily. Dusters are usually available from the same folks that carry the DE.
For intestinal worms, a tablespoon a day of DE sprinkled over the food will kill internal parasites and eggs. We recommend an initial treatment of at least 15-20 days. After that, use it in the food for one week per month to keep your dog parasite-free.
IF YOUR DOG HAS FLEAS, HE PROBABLY HAS TAPEWORM! Tapeworms most commonly come from dogs chewing and ingesting the fleas. The fleas carry tapeworm. It can also be gotten from eating the guts of dead animals, though that isless common. Tapeworm shows itself as flat, white segments
about a half inch long, moving in the stool (looks like rice).
Tapeworm cannot be killed with most deworming medications. We have not yet determined whether Diatomaceous Earth will kill it. There are two ways we know of. The first is by treating with Panacur or its generic brand, Safeguard. Thisproduct will kill at least one kind of tapeworm and must be given as a 5-day treatment.
The second medication is Praziquantel. For dogs it comes by prescription from your vet by the brand name "Droncit". It is very expensive. The dose for a large Lab costs about $20-$25 at the vet. It kills every type of tapeworm, though.
A much cheaper alternative is Praziquantel for FISH. That's right. Fish. It comes in a product called "Fish Tapes". The smaller dose is good for dogs under 60 pounds, and the larger dose for dogs over 60 pounds. You can buy 5 large doses for $30, just $6 per treatment instead of $25! It is also available in smaller doses.
Heartworm & Internal Parasite Prevention
common products recommended by veterinarians are HeartGuard®
and Interceptor®. The active ingredient in both of these
is Ivermectin, a common anti-parasite chemical used for
livestock. This must be used carefully, as the quantity for
use in dogs is small and must be accurately administered. We
The box says "injection" but we give this orally.
We just use a syringe to extract the liquid from the bottle.
Remove the needle, insert through the lips and teeth back by
the jaw so they have to swallow it. NEVER use this (or any
heartworm meds) unless you know your dog tests negative
for heartworm. Ivermectoin should NEVER be used on herding dogs (German Shepherds, Austrailian Shepherds, Collies, etc.).
have an accurate weight for your dog. Use your bathroom scale,
set your scale to zero while you're on it, then hold your dog
and read his weight. Use 1/10 of a CC (ML) for each 10 pounds
of body weight. In other words, if you have a 70 lb. dog, use
0.7 CC (ML) of Ivomec. Besides heartworm, Ivomec also kills
many other internal parasites like hookworms, roundworms and
costs about $35-$40 for a 50 ML bottle, which will treat 5,000
lbs. of dog. One bottle will last for years on a single dog!
You can get it at any Tractor Supply or other farm store or
SEE BELOW (Treating the Deadly Heartworm) for a twice-per-year dosing of Ivermectin which will protect your dog year-round!
the Deadly Heartworm
girl Liberty - healthy and cured of heartworm!
does NOT have to be treated for heartworm every month! Your
vet may or may not know this. In most parts of the country,
two treatments per year will keep your dog protected. These
treatments need to be done at a particular time, depending on
where you live. If you use Ivomec (above) for parasite prevention,
you are already covered.
Check out THIS
SITE. Look at Map A, whatever number is printed over your
state, that is the month to do the first dose. Then look at
Map B. The number over your state is the month to do the second
If you end
up with a dog that tests positive for heartworm, whether through
your own neglegence, or by buying or adopting a pet that has
it, the treatment for it must be done very carefully, because
chemical treatments which kill the heartworm, can also kill
your dog. This happens when the worm(s) are killed, and the
dead worms form a clot in the dog's blood vessels, essentially
causing a heart attack.
a heartworm preventative on a dog unless you are CERTAIN that
they are heartworm-negative. In fact, your vet will not sell
you a preventative without first running the test, unless he
knows for certain himself. If your dog tests positive, it is
VERY serious, even life-threatening, but it is curable!
our first female Lab, Liberty from a disreputable breeder several
years ago. We traveled 150 miles to buy a breeding-age female.
What we found when we got there was a crated, miserable girl
with fur like straw and long nails. She didn't even know her
name. We discovered the next day when we took her to the vet,
she had a serious case of heartworm that included a chronic
cough. We bought and paid for her just to get her away from
her previous owner, thinking perhaps she could never be bred,
but that we could give her a good life here.
an all-natural, herbal remedy called Parasite
Dr. on her faithfully for a couple of months and took her
in for another test. She still tested positive. We continued
treating her with it. I'm not exactly sure how many months or
how many bottles we ended up using. It was perhaps 4-5 months
worth. After that time, she was going into heat, so we brought
her in to be tested again. She tested NEGATIVE, and the vet
re-tested to be certain. The vet was impressed with the results,
and so were we. He gave a go-ahead to breed her. We got four
litters from our girl before we retired her from breeding. She
has a permanent place on a mat at the foot of our bed, and remains
in perfect health. I haven't tried Pet Dr. for other parasites
that it claims to treat, but I can testify that if you are patient,
and don't expect overnight results, even a serious case of heartworm
can be overcome.
Training & Containment
recommend crate training as the fastest, easiest and most effecient
way to house train your new puppy. There are hundreds of on-line
instructional articles and videos to help in this process. We
recommend starting off with a large crate that has a divider which
allows you to control the inside space of the crate.
TRAINING: This biggest challenge to owning a new puppy is to get
him or her house-trained. We have found that crate training is by
far the fastest method. The crate should NEVER be used as a punishment.
When you first use it, you may have to get up in the middle of the
night with your pup to put him out to do his business. Don't be lazy
about this. The divider should be positioned so that he just barely
has enough room to lie down. He doesn't want to mess his sleeping
area, but he will if you neglect him in the crate, and then you are
working against yourself. If you do this right, your dog will go into
the pen on his own at night, or even when he just wants to take a
CONTAINMENT: Lab puppies need exercise and companionship. They are very social
dogs. If you plan to keep your Lab as a house dog, you'll have to
ensure they get daily exercise in the form of walks, playing fetch,
or trips to the local dog park if you don't have a yard. DO NOT keep
your dog tied out to a stake all day. This is a horrible life for
a dog. If you have a yard, either invest in the money to fence it
in for your friend, or get an Invisible Fence, an underground electrical
fence with a wireless transmitter that fastens to your dog's collar.
An alternative to yard fencing is a kennel pen, but it MUST be large
enough to roam around in, and your dog still must be let out to run
and play. We recommend no smaller than 10x20 (200 square feet) as
a pen size for a Lab. These pens come with an optional heavy-duty
tarp roof, which we also recommend for shade and protection from the
We do not knowingly sell our puppies to anyone who intends to leave
their puppy alone all day without human or canine companionship. If
you are already in that situation, consider getting your friend a
doggy companion. You will find that you come home to a much calmer,
happier, emotionally-balanced friend.
PUPPIES & DOGS: If you have a very high-drive puppy that is
proving very difficult to manage, first, read the paragraphs above.
Labs are very social, and need lots of human and/or canine companionship.
They need an outlet for their energy. A high-drive Lab left alone
will be a miserable wreck, an emotional basket-case, and you will
not enjoy him when you ARE home. Our best suggestion for making life
with your high-drive Lab easier: GET ANOTHER DOG! No, I'm not kidding.
This is one of those times when two dogs are easier to care for than
one! Two dogs will spend their drive and energy on each other, and
will be much easier to manage during their time with you.
YOU CAN ALWAYS CALL OR WRITE TO US FOR ADVICE ON YOUR SPECIFIC SITUATION,
WHETHER YOU OWN A COVENANT FARM PUPPY OR NOT!
Toys & Beds
toys can be pretty expensive, and get destroyed in a day or two. We
have a few recommendations.
TOYS: These don't usually last that long, but puppies and
dogs LOVE them. So, don't spend $5 or $10 on a stuffed toy that
will be history
by the end of the week (or the day). We go to Goodwill or Salvation
Army and spend $.50 a piece for good quality stuffed toys. These
have been cleaned, and we look for the most rugged-looking ones.
You can keep a dozen stuffed toys for your pup for the price
of ONE at the pet store.
& her daughter Ruby tug on a stuffed toy from Goodwill.
BUMPERS: Labs love to fetch training bumpers. They are made of rubber,
plastic or canvas. Some are just cylinders with a foot-long
rope attached to launch it with, while more expensive ones are
made of heavy canvas and look like ducks. HOURS of fun will
be had with you and your Lab with a bumper. The plastic and
rubber ones run around $10-$15. The canvas ones and the ones
that are duck dummies run around $25, but are virtually indestructible.
They can be found at any hunting and sportsman's supply store.
son of Shelby & Big Jake, in training for duck retrieving.
BALLS : Labs love to fetch tennis balls! When you buy balls
for your Lab, MAKE SURE they are big enough that they cannot
be swallowed! Pet stores sell smaller balls that look like tennis
balls except for the size, and they are dangerous to Labs. One
of our puppy customers had to bring in their lad for surgery
after he swalloed three of them whole (and had the x-ray to
: Labs are notorious for chewing their dog beds to shreds
and spreading the stuffing all over the room. You gotta have
a tough bed! If you have had this trouble, we recommend the Carhartt
Canvas Dog Bed. Carhartt is famous for rugged farm clothing,
and their dogs beds live up to their reputation. This bed is
"Lab" tested and approved!
owned one for a couple of years. It has been outside on the
porch for weeks at a time, gotten filthy and muddy from Labs
coming back from the pond, and been dragged around the farm
just for fun! It is in just as sturdy condition as the day we
spend a small fortune on a fancy bed for your friend, only to
watch it be destroyed before your eyes. Or you could spend a
very modest $50 and have a bed that will last for years.
The information contained on this page should not be substituted for
professional veterinary care. These are simply suggestions for the
regular health maintenance of your puppy or dog, and Covenant Farm
Puppies and the Murch Family assume no liability for any situation
arising from the use of the advice given here (but we'll take the
credit if it works out well!).