Archive for category Top tips
How much of an impact does a dog’s diet have on its behaviour and wellbeing? Ralphie.co.uk talks to Fran Griffin, of Acorn Dog Training in Milton Keynes, who says we need to look beyond branding and marketing in order to give our dogs the nutrition they need…
How important it is for a dog to get a healthy diet – and what is a healthy diet for a dog?
The words “healthy diet” have been used heavily in marketing as a way of convincing pet owners that the food the company is selling is, as it says, “healthy”. However, a healthy diet should be one which is species appropriate which the dog can easily digest and use for muscle, bone, proper function of the immune system and nervous system. Dogs are carnivores and, as such, need a meat based diet. The pet food industry on the whole has done a great job of convincing many, including veterinary professionals that dogs are omnivores. We know that dogs are carnivores from their dentition. The starting point of a proper healthy diet should take this into consideration. Most of the foods available lean heavily towards carbohydrates, including rice and corn, and by their very nature cannot be fully utilised by the digestive system to maintain the animal. The kind of problems this causes in our pets includes obesity and diabetes, which is on the increase in pets as it is humans.
Many are blaming the increase in obesity in dogs on titbits, or lack of exercise rather than looking at what the diet consists of. Unfortunately the “lite” diets provided by the pet food industry don’t work, will never work, and show a true lack of understanding of the dogs basic needs. To get a real handle on what is happening in dogs and humans, take a look at this. He delves right into molecular biology just over the half way point of the lecture, but if you don’t understand, please ride with that section and hear what he has to say thereafter.
What Lustig says applies just as much to dogs as it does humans, because of the substances which pet foods contain, although in dogs it’s not so much fructose as how the other carbohydrates are metabolised.
Do you think dog owners put too much trust in certain brands names, because they’re recognisable and so trusted, rather than paying attention to the ingredients?
Without a shadow of doubt. This is the whole crux of marketing. The focus is drawn to the visual (human’s) appearance of the packaging, how the food looks when it leaves the bag, rather than what is actually in it. Just look at a bag of food and try to find the ingredients. The small area devoted to displaying the actual ingredients is deliberate.
Is it true that crude ash can be found in some dog foods? Why is this and are there any other ‘bad ingredients’ we should be looking out for?
Yes it is. It is used because it is considered a good way of getting most of the minerals into a dog. It is a convenient way of doing it when dried dog food is not providing the minerals that the dog needs for health. If the dog is fed a proper healthy diet in the first place, there would be no need to add another form of processing into the diet. A healthy diet will contain all the minerals the dogs need naturally. Other bad ingredients include rice, (brown rice is better as the fibre content is higher, although there is an argument that dogs being carnivores don’t need fibre at all. Corn, dogs are unable to digest. Derivatives of vegetable and animal origin. For a full low down, this lady offers some very good information, although there are a few things she says I don’t completely agree with.
How can diet impact on a dog’s health or personality?
There has been surprising little, if any proper research done which is independent of the pet food industry. Most information available is anecdotal. The pet food industry know foods can damage a dog’s health and personality, but they all deny their products are to blame.
What about if dogs don’t like their food? Any tips?
There are some dogs who hate the butternut squash in the Natural Instinct, in fact my dog Barkley is just one of them so he gets the pure beef. I also give him the chicken carcass and turkey backs which are free of the squash. Most dogs like Nature Diet, have yet to meet one who doesn’t.
Aside from unhealthy dog food, what ‘human foods’ should dogs avoid and what are the dangers?
Grapes, raisins and chocolate. Nobody knows what it is in grapes and raisins which can prove fatal to some dogs. It doesn’t cause an allergic reaction, for some unknown reason they go into renal failure or general organ failure. Chocolate contains a known toxin to dogs, theobromine.
Where can people go to find out information about a healthy dog diet?
The best thing they can do is independent research online and that’s why I provide the resources on our nutrition page as a starting point for those who want to know more.
Bonfire Night is almost upon us – and while it’s fun for us grown-ups, our canine friends don’t always agree. Here are some useful tips for keeping your pets happy during fireworks season.