Updated: Feb 9
Choosing a food brand for your dog is one of the most important decisions you're going to make as a dog owner. Most dogs have two meals per day and a life span of around 14 years, that works out to be around 10,220 meals!!
We have all heard the saying “you are what you eat”. Studies have shown that the healthier the food the better we feel, mentally and physically and the longer we live. That applies to our dogs too! We all want our dogs to live as long as possible and we all want our dogs to be healthy, happy and well behaved. So picking the right food will help to achieve this.
There are A LOT of different food brands out there and food types. It can be an absolute mine field for dog owners to choose the best dog food for their beloved pet. Vets will recommend one brand, your friends will swear by this other brand, your grandparents will say their dogs have always had X brand! Agh what to choose!!!
I’m not going to advice you on only one specific food brand that’s not what this blog post is about ... wait don’t go click off yet!! What I am going to do is share with you what things you should look for when choosing a type of dog food and how a few simple adjustments to your dogs food can make a massive impact on their health and wellbeing.
Types of dog food
There are four main types of food out there dry, wet, raw and fresh.
Dry - this is typically a processed dry biscuit kibble.
Wet - cooked and comes in a tin or pouch.
Raw - either a minced raw product or part / whole prey.
Fresh - a mixture of all of the above with added table scraps or a home cooked diet.
The gut affects our dog's behaviour
Serotonin is a chemical that like in humans affects our dogs mood and can cause anxiety and depression. Serotonin acts as a neurotransmitter, a type of chemical that helps relay signals from one area of the brain to another. Although serotonin is manufactured in the brain, where it performs its primary functions, 90% of our serotonin supply is found in the digestive tract.
Why is that important? Well it means that what we feed our dog will have a chemical affect on our dogs behaviour. If our dog is anxious, depressed or aggressive it can be partly down to the food we are giving them.
If your dog is not getting a good quality of protein, vitamins and minerals their blood sugars can drop which can make them feel tried, snappy or even depressed.
Protein contains amino acids, which make up the chemicals your brain needs to regulate your thoughts and feelings It also helps control your dog’s blood sugar level.
Your dog’s brain needs fatty acids (such as omega-3 and -6) to keep it working well.
Look at the labels
Ingredients are always listed in descending order of weight (biggest ingredient first). Meat should usually be the first and therefore greatest ingredient. A good quality food will list all the ingredients by their specific name, rather than vague descriptions of ingredients such as ‘meat and animal derivatives’, ‘cereals’ or ‘vegetable derivatives’.
Dry food diet ( Kibble diet)
If you are thinking of giving your dog a dry food diet / kibble make sure you buy a few different flavours ie chicken, fish, beef etc otherwise your dog will not get a diverse diet. By just sticking to buying the same flavour every month like Chicken flavour, your dog will miss out on other proteins that are not in chicken. Even though dry food claims to be a "complete food" It's still missing the important proteins, OMEGA 3 and 6, vitamins and minerals that your dog will need from having different flavours like; fish, lamb, beef etc in their diet.
Dry food gets baked to a high temperature to preserve its shelf life but by baking the food it reduces the quality of the vegetables and minerals by around 60% and reduces the quality of the protein from the meat by around 70%
Another thing to also check when choosing a good dry food diet / kibble is to look out for added chemical premix. This is a synthetic vitamin and mineral mix they put in some dry food to make it an approved complete food. By adding a premix to the food it means that they are not providing the dog with naturally sourced vitamins and minerals instead it is a chemical synthetic ingredient.
look out for the words " All natural ingredients with added vitamins and minerals." This means they have added a premix synthetic chemical instead of fresh vegetables and minerals.
Finding the right food for your dog
When looking for the best quality dog food you want to make sure it contains the following:
At least 60% fresh human grade meat content
A named animal protein ie chicken, beef etc. Avoid if it just says ”meat”
Must contain whole vegetable, fruits and grains
Ideally lightly cooked or poached rather than baked
Foods to avoid
Avoid food brands that list the following in their ingredients collum
Meat by-products or poultry by-products
A generic fat source
Artificial colours, flavours or preservatives (ie BHA, BTH, ethoxyquin)
“All natural ingredients with added vitamins and minerals."
A great website that rates all the dog foods in the UK and can help you choose which one will work best for your dog is www.allaboutdogfood.co.uk another useful website for those in the UK and worldwide is www.dogfoodadvisor.com
One simple thing YOU can do today!
Wether you change your dogs diet today or stick to your current choice one easy way that will greatly increase the quality of your dogs life is, adding just a couple of handfuls of fresh human grade food into your dogs daily diet, can help give your dog a more diverse diet and a better quality of protein, vitamins and minerals. Along side making sure your dog has a good amount of physical exercise and mental stimulation.
You could start today by just replacing 25% of your dogs dry food / kibble with fresh lightly cooked vegetables just 3 times a week then gradually increase this as time goes on.
Dog food recall’s
There have been a few popular dog food brands that have been recalled recently Hills, Royal Canin and Burns. There is a blog post with more details: https://www.doglistener.co.uk/dog-food-review-royal-canin-hills-and-burns