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 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.
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,
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.
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.
Or " Mannan-oligo-saccharide" is gaining popularity due to its beneficial pre-biotic effect
Or, "Fructo-oligo-saccharide", is a great pre-biotic which encourages the growth of "friendly bacteria".
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.
"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 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 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.
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 deterioration in the following areas.
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.
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.
Unusual gain or loss of weight could be due to excessive carbohydrates or not getting the proper amount of nutrients.
Scratching or itching more that normal can indicate a allergy to one or more of the ingredients.
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.
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!