What should I feed my dog?

In our job, we are lucky enough to "talk dog" all day and this is a question that we are asked frequently.  Whilst there is not one definitive answer we can give you, we can share with you our research on this topic and help you know what to avoid at all costs.

A good dog food should cause no upset tummies, give your pup the right amount of energy, keep his coat shiny and smooth, and his eyes bright and clear.  There are many different feeding methods to choose from, such as dry, wet, wet and dry mix, raw and homemade.  Within this, there are many different qualities.

Throughout our research, we were shocked and dismayed to discover that some of the leading brands of dog food sold in major UK pet shops and veterinary practices have very little nutritional value.  Brands that are well known and trusted in dog loving households nationally are manufacturing and selling dog food that is terrible for our beloved pets’ health.

Did you know that the UK’s Big Three dog food brands are owned by Mars (i.e the chocolate,) Nestle (i.e the coffee company) and Colgate Palmolive (i.e the toothpaste and soap company!)   They dominate the market because they have the huge wealth to invest in aggressive marketing.  They offer substantial monetary incentives to veterinary practices for recommending and stocking them.  You just need to look through the ingredients to see how awful they are… you wouldn’t let your child live exclusively on sweets and chocolate, so why are we putting our dogs through this?

Here you will find some of the most popular UK brands, their ingredients and their nutritional value.  Be prepared to be shocked:

Pedigree Adult


CerealsMeat and Animal Derivatives (Including 4% Chicken), Oils and Fats (Including 0.2% Fish Oil, 0.2% Sunflower Oil), Derivatives of Vegetable Origin (Including 2% Dried Beet Pulp), Minerals (Including 0.7% Sodium Tripolyphosphate), AntioxidantsPreservatives.

  • Low meat content – Labelled as “chicken dinner” yet only contains 4% chicken!
  • Wheat
  • Artificial additives
  • Unclear labelling
  • By-products / derivatives
  • Unnamed artificial preservatives

NUTRITIONAL VALUE – Only 17%

 

Bakers

Wholegrain Cereals 55% (Including min. 4% Wheat, 4% Maize), Meat and Animal Derivatives 15% (Including min 7% Beef), Derivatives of Vegetable OriginOils and FatsVegetable Protein ExtractsGlycerolVegetables (0, 3% Dried Pea and 0, 3% Dried Carrot), MineralsPropylene Glycol.

  • Low meat content – Labelled as “beef dinner” yet only contains 7% beef!
  • Wheat
  • By-products / derivatives
  • Propylene glycol linked to allergic reactions and asthma

NUTRITIONAL VALUE – Only 23%

 

Hills Science Plan


Ground MaizeChicken and Turkey MealCelluloseSoybean MealDigestMaize Gluten Meal, Dried Beet PulpPea Bran Meal, Animal Fat, Dried Whole EggFlaxseedVegetable OilPotassium ChlorideL-Carnitine Supplement, SaltL-Lysine Hydrochloride, Dicalcium PhosphateTaurine, L-Tryptophan, Vitamins and Trace ElementsNaturally Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, Citric Acid and Rosemary Extract. Total Chicken and Turkey Combined 30%.

  • Unclear labelling
  • By-products / derivatives
  • Ingredients linked to allergic reactions

NUTRITIONAL VALUE – Only 48%

 

Royal Canin


Dehydrated Poultry ProteinMaize FlourMaizeWheat FlourAnimal FatsWheatHydrolysed Animal Proteins, Beet PulpFish OilMineralsSoya OilYeasts and Parts Thereof, Hydrolysed Yeast Antioxidants.

  • No meat percentages provided. Naming it first doesn’t mean it’s the biggest ingredient
  • Artificial additives
  • Wheat
  • Unspecified animal fats and proteins

NUTRITIONAL VALUE – Only 33%

 

 

Whether you are feeding dry, wet or raw, the nutritional value and the ingredients contained in the feed should be of the utmost importance.   Please remember that if you are going to change your dog’s diet, it’s important that you gradually transition from the old food to the new food to avoid digestive issues.  Over 7-14 days, switch to the new food by gradually decreasing the amount of the old food while increasing the amount of the new food.

 

Age, size and breed specific food

Your pup’s physical characteristics, behaviour and overall health are super important when choosing the right dog food. Puppies and lactating mothers need more calories while senior pets require fewer. Similarly, highly active breeds require more calories than less active breeds.  The type and amount of food given will help your dog avoid health issues.

Many brands formulate foods based on breed, but this seems to be a clever marketing ploy as the ingredients do not vary across most of them.  Some brands distinguish between small, medium, large breed and so on and the difference here is generally the size of the kibble so that you can ensure your dog is eating safely and comfortably.

Should I feed grain free?

If you are considering the switch to a grain-free diet because you suspect that your four-legged friend has a food allergy, visiting your vet should be the first port of call. Grains are not inherently bad for dogs unless they have an allergy to them.  Grain free formulas tend to come with a higher price tag so it might be beneficial to investigate your pup’s allergies first.

Food allergy and intolerance tend to involve excessive licking of the paws, scratching, vomiting or diarrhoea and your vet will help you find the answer. Even with a confirmed allergy it is often the food’s main protein (i.e meat or fish) that causes it and not the grains. Before buying into the hype – including gluten free dog foods, consider your dog’s individual needs.

 

 

An excellent source of information is a website called All About Dog Food.  Here you will be able to easily search for a specific food and view its ingredients, nutritional value and in some cases, further research.  It has a handy search tool to select your doggy’s age and weight plus your budget and food type preferences. 

Our findings have been disturbing but we have learned an important lesson.  To protect the health of your pooch, don’t rely fully on recommendations given by your vet or pet shop without doing your own further research.


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