thanks for the quick response.
Unfortunately my answer is pretty lengthy since I found there is a lot to consider.
Part of the story I did not tell yet is that the food that I had just started feeding, which is called Timberwolf and is considered a very good food in the industry made 8 out of 11 of my dogs sick (throwing up, diarrhea, refusing to eat). Needless to say that all the bags I had bought went back to the store I got it from. It turned out that the food's manufacturer had been dropped by the supplier of our local pet food store. That should have been my tipoff. I since learned on the internet that this food had a major recall in 2008, but also that the "Whole Dog Journal", a well-respected source for dog owners in the US, has since dropped Timberwolf off their recommended list because the manufacturer of the food was not open about some things about how and where it is made.
Long story short, I did a lot more research yesterday.
The food you mentioned, Natural Balance, still contains a lot more grain then the one I was considering and unfortunately the company has been involved in many recalls over the years. The food is less expensive then the one I am considering and better then grocery store food.
Here are two websites that I have found useful for reviewing and comparing dog foods and I'm linking the pages for the organic version of Natural Balance. Both are giving it a 4 star rating.:http://www.dogfoodanalysis.com/dog_food ... 68&cat=allhttp://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-food- ... -food-dry/
The food that I'm considering and testing out right now, Organix, is rated here:http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-food- ... -food-dry/
I found this page interesting as well:http://www.dogfoodproject.com/index.php ... od_reviews
My assumption was that the grains to avoid for dogs are primarily corn and wheat, esp. since these are usually GMO crops in the US and very frequent allergens for dogs.
I also read that other grains like oats, barley and rice etc. are digestible by dogs when cooked, same for legumes (peas and lentils) and that it's just better to get the organic and non-fragmented versions of them (not bran, meal etc.). Am I wrong about that?
Of the foods that do not contain any grain (incl. rice) most contain potatoes or sweet potatoes in large amounts and some are so high in protein (in the 40-50 % range in all the EVO products) that they have caused bad diarrhea and kidney failure in sighthounds (and possibly other breeds). Potatoes and sweet potatoes have a very high glycemic load which makes me think would be even worse for dogs than grain, but I really need to research this more.
Another common problem with dog foods is that the smaller companies continue to be sold to very large companies that make mainstream dog foods and almost always the ingredient lists change after that and people often find that the food now causes problems for their dogs because cheaper ingredients are used or ingredients from bad sources are used.
While the problem of ingredients in dog foods is bad enough the worse problem may be the unethical standards of it's production.
I found another surprisingly helpful source for evaluating dog foods that were listed there the ratings on amazon.com
In any case, I am very careful about any dog food manufacturer now and have resubscribed to the 'Whole Dog Journal' for more info on an ongoing basis. I've also just ordered their guides for making your own dog food, both cooked and raw.
Part of my question was how to deal with the combination of kibble and raw meat.
So far most of the research I have done is on dog foods but I think the same principles can be used for cat foods as well.
The only difference may be that cat's are less able to utilize non-animal derived products.
After doing some more reading I also thought this page deserved special mention:http://www.dogfoodproject.com/index.php ... ngredients