There are so many different feeding regimes to choose from that selecting the right dog food can be pretty confusing. This post attempts to guide you through making the right choice. Remember, any changes in diet should be made very gradually over at least a week to avoid upset and you should try a new diet for at least 10 days before making any further changes.

Wet Food

Tins or pouches – can be classified into 4 groups; Cereal Based, Premium, Ultra-Premium and Raw Feeding.

Cereal based dry food

Can be low in real meat content, high in low quality cereals which can contribute to food intolerances or allergies and possibly obesity

Super premium

Rich in real meat with a consistent quality carbohydrate source. Generally easier to digest and more nutritious.

Ultra premium

Rich in real meat with a consistent quality carbohydrate source. Generally easier to digest and more nutritious.

Raw

As nature intended. No cooking, no preservatives, no additives – just plain goodness. If you’re too nervous to make your own then try a prepared raw available from a number of suppliers such as Natural Instinct or Cotswold Raw. 

raw food

Raw: meat, eggs and supplements. This is providing your dog with the building blocks to help them fight illness from the inside!

Excuses

We’ve all done it. Made a food choice by following marketing ploys, social media or our vet. We’re then stuck in a rut feeding a food which we’re not really sure about but which seems to be ok. Our pooch is eating it .. well most of the time … and friends feed it too, the vet also said it was good (and it’s got to be as it was on the shelf in the waiting room).

But do we really know what this food is doing to our pets? Why not stop making excuses about why you feed a particular product and dig a little deeper?

“Oh but my dog loves the food I give him and laps it up without fuss” – yes this is true, but he might be loving the gravy and jelly in his wet food because it’s high in salt and sugar! The food may taste nice but if you inspect the ingredient list carefully you will see that it is actually far from healthy. Not only will it rot their teeth just like junk food, it will not be providing much in the way of quality nutrition.

“I buy it because it is economical” – ever wondered why this is? How about because the ‘meat’ is really by-product containing feet, fins, feathers and other artificial ingredients you probably can’t pronounce.

“But still …. it’s just soooo cheap” – canned food can contain as much as 85% water. Take this out and what do you have left? Is it really still that cheap? Why not put your own tap water into your bowl of dog food instead, that really will cost you less!

“Dog food is dog food is dog food” – but is it? Cheaper foods will have a higher cereal content which our canines can’t digest, so it ends up as squishy, stinky poo which you’re no doubt picking up a number of times per day. It will also be contributing to a host of other health issues such as diabetes, allergies, cancers and more. Transition your dog to a higher quality product – or my personal favourite: raw 🙂 –  and you will see fewer, firmer stools with a far less pungent smell.

“I feed it because it’s such a well known brand (or my vets promote it), so it simply must be good” – this one really frustrates me. If a dog food has a household name all this means is that it has a bigger advertising budget, not that it’s the healthiest food to feed. Just like there are many popular human foods being advertised on telly all the time (McDonalds anyone) doesn’t make it healthy or the right choice for your child. The same applies to your dog. Get under the wrapper, read the ingredient list, do some research on the manufacturers and what other foods they sell, interview your vet properly to understand just what qualifications they hold in canine nutrition and you might be surprised at what you find …

kibble dog food

Dry food (kibble): full of colours and preservatives, heated to an inch of its life. Helpful or harmful, what do you think?

What are animal derivatives or ‘by-products’?

This is what’s left of a slaughtered animal after all the best cuts have been removed for human consumption. With the exception of feathers, this can really include almost anything… feet, beaks, head, undeveloped eggs… the list goes on. Not what I would class as a quality ingredient.

And a final point when choosing dog food: Look out for sodium nitrite listed in the ingredient list. This is a color preservative which has been linked to the production of cancer-causing substances when meats are exposed to high cooking temperatures.