Our Guide to Choosing a Great Dog Food

HELPFUL TIPS

  • When choosing a complete dog food, you should always have a look at the ingredients label.
  • Look for a high proportion of good quality meat along with simple ingredients that you've actually heard of.
  • A good dog food should contain at least 20% meat, ideally 50%-80%
  • Not all meats are equal. "Fresh meat" or "meat meal" are good, whilst "meat derivatives" can be far less nutritious and should be avoided.
  • If the ingredients label is a huge list of ingredients you've never heard of, it might be best to avoid it.
  • Look for single source protein! Having only one meat in the recipe helps you to find out which meats best suit your dog, and which to avoid.
  • Unless your dog has no allergies or food intolerance, it's best to avoid foods which can be the most common causes, such as dairy and wheat gluten.
  • Fewer ingredients will mean there's less chance of allergies or intolerance. 
  • All dogs are different, so it might take a little trial and error to find which recipe best suit your dog. Following these tips and sticking to good quality recipes should make this process quicker and easier.

GREAT THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR

High Meat Content

Dogs are omnivores, not vegetarians, and dog foods with high proportions of meat are proven to be very beneficial to a dogs health. Meats contain high quality proteins, which dogs thrive on. Look for foods with at least 20% meat. 50%-80% is thought to the ideal. Some argue that 80% is best however, some dogs will find 80% too rich. We'd recommend 50-60% as the optimum amount.

"Freshly Prepared Meat"

Freshly prepared meat is the latest improvement in dry dog food. Fresh cuts of meat are gently cooked in a vacuum cooker. This low heat cooking preserves as much nutritional value and flavour as possible. Whilst meat meal (meat cooked and dried at higher temperatures) is a perfectly good ingredient, freshly prepared meat is one step up!

"Grain Free" and "Wheat Gluten Free"

As some dogs have allergies to certain grains, it's not always easy to pinpoint the exact cause. These foods are a great way to reduce the likelihood of allergic reaction. 

Wheat Gluten Free - this is great if you know that wheat gluten is the problem. Wheat gluten free dog foods will usually still contain other grains and cereals

Grain Free - These foods have no grains or cereals at all, removing many common causes of intolerance. They typically use potato as the main source of carbohydrate instead, which is more gentle on the digestive system.

Sweet Potato

Sweet Potato as the main source of carbohydrate has many benefits over the common potato. It contains much more fibre. It's a fantastic source of vitamin A and is rich in vitamins C, B6 and several other beneficial minerals.

Beneficial Supplements

Glucosamine

Or, " Glucosamine sulphate" is widely recommended as a very effective joint supplement. Great for older dogs, large breed dogs and breeds with a tendency to develop joint problems,

Chondroitin

Or Chondroitin sulphate, is known for easing the symptoms of osteoarthritis and other joint conditions. Although Chondroitn will already be present in almost all dog foods, as it occurs naturally in meat and cartilage, some dog foods have added Chondroitn to ensure that your dog is getting a good dose.

MSM

Or "Methyl-sulphonyl-methane" has an anti-inflammatory effect and is so it can be helpful with treatment and prevention of osteoarthritis and other joint problems.

MOS

Or " Mannan-oligo-saccharide" is gaining popularity due to its beneficial pre-biotic effect

FOS

Or, "Fructo-oligo-saccharide", is a great pre-biotic which encourages the growth of "friendly bacteria".

INGREDIENTS TO AVOID

Dairy Products

Many dogs have difficulty digesting lactose. The lactose in dairy products can cause flatulence, stomach aches and diarrhoea. Dairy products are generally best avoided, especially for dogs with sensitive stomachs.

Meat and Animal Derivatives

"Derivatives" is a very vague term and could indicate ingredients with poor nutritional value. It does not specify which meats are used so you can't choose the meat which best suits your dog. It could contain a mixture of meats and the manufacturer would be free to alter the mix from batch to batch. It's always best to know exactly what's in your pet's food.  

Wheat

Wheat is a common low-cost filler in budget dog foods. Some dogs are known to be intolerant of wheat and it can affect their ability to absorb nutrients from their food through damage to the intestine. Dogs with wheat intolerance can suffer wide ranging health problems when fed recipes containing wheat.

Soya

Soya is often used as a low cost alternative to meat, to boost the protein content of a dog food. The problem is that dogs cannot digest the protein from soya as effectively as they can digest meat protein. It has also been linked to intolerance and allergies.

Our Recommendations

INTRODUCING A NEW DOG FOOD

Always introduce a new food gradually. Start by mixing just a little of the new food with dog's current food and gradually increase the proportion of new food over a period of around one week.

Monitor your dog's overall health and wellbeing and check for improvements or determination in the following areas.

Illness

If your dog vomits, shows signs of illness or discomfort after eating, it's a strong sign that the food does not suit your dog.

Bowels

Check for healthy regular stools. Loose stools, diarrhoea, excessive flatulence and problems with regular bowel movements indicate that the recipe doesn't suit your dog.

Weight

Unusual gain or loss of weight could be due to excessive carbohydrates or not getting the proper amount of nutrients.

Skin

Scratching or itching more that normal can indicate a allergy to one or more of the ingredients.

Energy

Your dog should have the energy levels that you would expect for the age, breed and temperament. If you dog is unusually sluggish, the food may not be providing sufficient nutrients.

Behaviour

An unsuitable food can lead to behavioural issues. A dog may start to beg more or try to steal food if the dog isn't receiving sufficient nutrients. Loss of appetite can also indicate that the dog is not happy with its food.

 

All dogs are different, so it might take a little trial and error to find which recipe best suits your dog. 

We hope that following the tips on this page and sticking to good quality recipes should make this process quicker, easier, and will ultimately result in a happier, healthier dog!

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