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.

What Kind of Food Should I Get?

Disclaimer: 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.

This is what we feed Covenant Farm Puppies:

Grain-Free Puppy Formula

This feed is available at Tractor Supply Stores

You will receive a 4-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 Grain-Free Puppy food, as we always have!

The 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 13+ 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.

Raw 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.

COMBINATION: 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.


1) 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 diet. And internet search for "raw dog food" will also yield resuylts for pre-packaged raw meals, that cut much of the preparation work out of feeding raw. This is a more expensive way to feed raw..

2) 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.

NOTE: the recent controversy over grain-free foods and the link to DCM, a heart disease, is under review. At this point in time, we are still recommending grain-free food for your puppy, but we recommend that you mix raw red meat with it for your adult dogs, in order to replace the substance that the grain-free food may be deficient in. As new information is unveiled, we will update this page.

5-Star Dry Dog Foods5-Star Raw Dog Foods

GOOD: 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):

4HealthNutri-SourceMerrick'sSolid GoldFromm


Also, "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. Even some red meats contain chicken fat, so we recommend a grain-free fish recipe.

FINICKY EATER? Lost interest in his or her food? Before you experiment with all kinds of other brands, try this simple trick: Canned Mackerel! You can get this at Kroger or WalMart, and probably other grocery stores. The best value I've found is Kroger.

Mackerel in the 15 oz can is whole fish, not processed sections of a large fish, like tuna. It has very soft bone (good for additional calcium) and skin (good for extra fish oil/Omega 3s). It has a stronger taste than tuna, and all of our dogs love it. We have made it an everyday part of the diet of our adult dogs. It is roughly the price of cheap chunk light tuna.

Treating Upset Tummies & Weight Loss

If 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.

Dog Treats & Chews!

Dogs 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:

FROZEN 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.

CHEESE! 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. :)

FISH 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.

RAW 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.

BUTCHER 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 meat.

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!

Giving Your Dog Pills

There 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!

There 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 Mastador.

You can get this at WalMart, Sam's Club, Trader Joes, and other retail outlets. Make sure you buy organic. The "refined" coconut oil does not have the strong coconut taste and smell. If you are serious about using it on a daily basis you can buy a gallon of it for only $30! Nutiva is the brand that we use here.

GLUCOSAMINE & CONDROITIN: We recommend that all large breed dogs get glucosamine and chondroitin as part of their daily diet, starting at middle age. 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.

An excellent supplement for joint health is called COSEQUIN. It is available in pet stores, farm stores and online. It comes in various strengths, and is the most-recommended supplement by vets. When our old lass Liberty was 12, and slowing way down, this gave her very improved mobility for the last year of her life.

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, ACNE AND SKIN RASHES: The folks that make the EcoEars above also have a natural remedy for these problems. We have usedthis product many times, and have always had great success with it. It is called Vet Organics EcoSpot

LOOSE STOOL:  If your dog has persistent loose stool, the first thing to do is have your vet do a fecal exam to check for parasites.Just collect a stool sample and bring it in, and avoid the office visit charge. If the fecal exam is clear, it could be diet related, or your pup could have an upset gut. There are several ways to deal with this naturally.

First, switch your pup boiled white rice and boiled chicken (I usually cut up cheapo chicken breasts from WalMart at $2/lb.). Add canned 100% pumpkin to the food, about 1/3 of a can. Pumpkin will help straighten out either constipation or diarrhea. Feed this for several days or a week. Second, start your pup on aprobiotic supplement. This will be more effective, more quickly, than just feeding yogurt.

Finally, order some SeaCure. It is hydrolized fish powder and works pretty quickly to firm up stool. Use it for a week or so to start, then gradually return the diet to normal and quit the SeaCure. If the loose stool returns, it's time to search for a new brand of food, regardless of the fact that the one your pup eats is very high quality.

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. NOTE: Our health guarantees are null and void if spay or neuter occurs before 24 months of age!

~Flea, tick & internal parasite control~

At 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

Treating a Persistent Flea Infestation

Fleas 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.
1. 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.

2. To 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.

3. To 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 year.

Natural 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.

Treating Tapeworm

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 (FORTE) 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.

Cheap Heartworm & Internal Parasite Prevention

The most 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 use Ivomec®. 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.).

You must 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 whipworms.

This stuff 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 on-line.

SEE BELOW (Treating the Deadly Heartworm) for a twice-per-year dosing of Ivermectin which will protect your dog year-round!

Treating the Deadly Heartworm

Our girl Liberty - healthy and cured of heartworm!



Your dog 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 dose.

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.

NEVER use 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!

A Personal Testimonial

We rescued 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.

We used 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.

Puppy Training & Containment

We 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.

HOUSE 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 nap.

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 elements.

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.

HIGH-DRIVE 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.


Dog Toys & Beds

Dog toys can be pretty expensive, and get destroyed in a day or two. We have a few recommendations.

STUFFED 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.

Shelby & 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.

Drake, son of Shelby & Big Jake, in training for duck retrieving.

TENNIS BALLS : Labs and Mastadors love to fetch tennis balls! When you buy balls for your pup, 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 larger dogs. 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 prove it).

BEDS : 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!

We have 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 bought.

You can 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.

DISCLAIMER: 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!).