We live in a very commercialised world and even things like what we feed ourselves and our pets have also become widely focused on profit and financial gain over what is beneficial to us and our pets. Everywhere you look you'll see fancy names, bright bold labels and big lettering telling you all the wonderful things this food can do for your dog!
In a world with so many differing opinions and research out there, how are dog owners able to make the most informed decision on behalf of their dogs?!
Did you know that 80% of your dogs immunity comes straight from their gut? That means that what we feed our dogs directly impacts their overall health and immunity to diseases! The better the food, the better the gut health and therefore the better the dogs overall health and immunity.
What we feed our dogs also has an impact on them physically, mentally and behaviourally but we’ll talk more on those as we go along.
So here are some top tips to help you make the most informed decision on nutrition for your pet!
1.Make sure you read the ingredients!
It may sound dull and time consuming but it is so important to read the ingredients of your dog food before buying it. Dog food isn’t regulated like human food is and so it is important for us to read the ingredients and not just rely on what the front of the package says it has or doesn’t have. The first ingredient in a good dog food should always be some kind of meat (and proper meat not meat meal or animal derivatives!) and then the second should be either another meat or vegetables. Anything that you don’t know what it is or what it means is probably a no go. Think about it in terms of you eating it. Would you eat a food it you didn’t know what the ingredients were in it?
2. Steer clear of meat meal and animal derivatives
Meat meal and animal derivatives is basically all the ground up meat and bone we don’t eat as humans. This is then ground up all together and made into dog food for our pets. Now there isn’t anything wrong with giving your dog these scraps that we wouldn’t normally eat but ask yourself this question: do you know what the meat is, what the cut is and where it came from? We want to be feeding our pets the best food that is going to be the most beneficial from them nutritionally. Knowing what meat is going into their foods and that it is high quality meat and not scraps is really important and can really tell us whether a food is going to be nutritionally beneficial for our dog or not.
3. Stay away from salts and sugars
A lot of processed dog foods contain lots of salt and sugar. Now we know how harmful lots of salt and sugar can be to humans and it works in the same way for our dogs. Too much salt can cause your dog to get dehydrated and all other kinds of issues like humans get. Too much sugar rots teeth and causes dogs to be come hyperactive as it would children who eat too many sweets! Too much slat and sugar in your dogs food can have a big impact on their energy levels, overall health and behaviour just like it can on humans. Feeding your dogs a healthy food that isn't full of nasty additives and unnecessary sugar and salt is much more beneficial for your dogs overall health.
4. If you don’t know what an ingredient is, move on!
If you are sat there reading the ingredients and you get to something you don’t know, it’s probably not beneficial. Good dog foods will contain things that we would naturally eat ourselves. Meat, vegetables, herbs, vitamins and minerals are the main things that are a big tick in dog food, these are the things they need and that are beneficial to their health. Anything you don't know of or google doesn't say is natural and healthy - steer clear of! We don't want our dogs eating things they don't need to and some pet foods put a lot of unwanted or unnecessary ingredients to add flavour, bulk out the food or to make it more appealing.
5. Go grain free Dogs are unable to process cooked grains and it has little to no nutritional value to them. A lot of dogs are actually becoming increasingly allergic to grains in food which can cause skin irritations, itching, ear and eye infections and sickness. Try to find a food which is grain free and go for a meat from an animal that isn’t fed grains, especially if you dogs seems to show signs of an allergy. Chickens and turkeys are fed a predominantly grain based diet and so some of those grains will be retained in the meat. That doesn’t mean your dog can’t have them but instead give these in smaller doses and focus on things like beef or salmon which won’t have any grains in them for the main bulk of their meals.
Finding the right dog food for your dog can be an overwhelming task and with so many brands out there and so many different companies sponsoring or being sponsored by different brands of food and the information on what is best can be lost in translation.
Hopefully these steps should help you out when you are standing in a pet shop not knowing what food to buy and what not to!
If you would like to speak to a member of our team on dog nutrition or on finding the right food for your dog then please do get in touch! We would be happy to help you find the best food for you and your dog so that your dog can live a long and happy life, with a very happy tummy!