Questions arise regularly in puppy class about dog food. Often the question is raised in relation to a feeding or toileting issue, or sometimes owners are just curious.
So what is the best food for your dog? Well I'm not planning to advise you dash out and buy brands X, Y or Z, but I am going to give my rules of thumb when selecting a suitable food.
Things to consider:
- food allergies
- ease of buying (delivery or local pet shop)
- does the dog eat it?
Types of feeding
Dry Complete Food (AKA Kibble)
This is the food most people are familiar with. Dry food that comes in a variety of flavours and a huge variation on quality of ingredients.
Should be fed along with biscuits and as with the dry food a wide variety of quality of ingredients.
2 ways to feed this; a complete food containing mince, bone, veg & supplements. Sold frozen in either block or nugget form. The other option is to create a balance of ingredients yourself by feeding muscle meat, fish, bone & supplements.
This is a diet you put together yourself using cooked ingredients and supplements.
I've decided on the type of feeding, but what next?
Dry Complete Food & Wet Food
General rule of thumb is to check the ingredients, opt for a food with a named protein as the first ingredient on the list. Avoid too many additives (E numbers). Choose varieties that use potato or rice rather than too much cereal. Some brands are only available online so consider these too and ask for samples.
Select a kibble size to suit your breed and don't always buy the largest sack available. 15kg is OK for a large breed as this will be used fairly quickly but could last a small dog a year. A month at a time is better. A very easy convenient way to feed.
A good source of useful information is https://www.allaboutdogfood.co.uk/ The top grades of food are known as 80/20 foods; however this does not necessarily mean that they are suitable for all dogs as some may find the protein level too high.
Some research would be a good way to start. A couple of useful books are
Lonsdale T, Raw Meaty Bones
Schultze K, Natural Nutrition for Cats & dogs
Billinghurst I, BARF
Raw food is usually purchased in bulk so you need a large freezer for storage. It can be hard to get it right to start with so a good idea to begin with a complete food with maybe some recreational bones for dental health. Requires a bit more planning than kibble but with a bit of practice it can work well. Consideration needs to be given for those who travel a lot with their dogs. Raw can be tricky if you are staying in a hotel :D
A couple of suppliers who deliver (and there are many)
Nurturing by Nature
Honeys Real Dog Food
Pets At Home
This is an area that requires research and at this time I am not able to recommend any specific resources for this. As with the raw feeding it is essential that your dog gets a balanced diet with all of the nutritional requirements covered. This will include some crunchy element for dental health too.
If you need to change your dog's food for any reason, do a bit of research, buy within your budget, you don't have to spend huge amounts to find a good food. Ask for samples and try them out as treats to see if your dog likes them. When making the change you should do this over a period of about 10 days, starting with a small amount of the new food and gradually increasing it each day.
Next blogs will be looking at harnesses, choice, fitting and introduction