The best foods for a healthy dog
In the past when it came to feeding dogs, it was often a case of picking one of the better-known brands off the supermarket shelf, putting it in a bowl and seeing if the dog liked it.
A hungry dog being a hungry dog, more often than not the food would disappear and, from there, the dog’s diet would be established for years to come.
But times are changing. In recent years, dog lovers are becoming more discerning about what they feed their pets. And it’s about time too!
The food we give our dogs plays an essential part in their well-being. The old saying ‘we are what we eat’ is as applicable to animals as it is to humans.
So with that in mind, have you done the research to find out which dog food is best for your companion?
Co-founder of Guru pet food Lisa Clarke takes a look at some of the key considerations around the most common types…
Extruded dry kibble
Dry kibble is currently the most popular food on the market and accounts for around 95 per cent of all dog food that’s produced. This is mainly thanks to the way it’s manufactured through a process call extrusion, which is inexpensive, quick, flexible and allows for practically any mix of ingredients.
Cheap production means cheap prices, which is all well and good, but the contentious issue is the high heat involved with extrusion, which varies from manufacturer to manufacturer but can be as high as 180 degrees. This can considerably degrade the natural nutrients in the ingredients.
Also, kibble swells in water, expanding to many times its size, which can lead to bloating.
This can be a mix of products, including organ meat, muscle meat, bones, some dairy products, vegetables, fruit or eggs. The benefit is this is close to a dog’s natural ‘wild’ diet. The big negative is that it’s expensive and most ingredients come frozen, so you have to plan ahead before feeding. Other potential pitfalls to consider are the risks of nutritional imbalance, allergic reactions and choking on bones. It’s essential to undertake thorough research around this option.
Baking allows for much lower cooking temperatures, which plays a key part in retaining nutrients. But despite baked foods being rich in nutrients, many dogs are gluten intolerant, and with gluten wheat being an essential part of baking, this option is rarely taken up.
Air or freeze dried
A little-known method in the UK due to its expense, this sees moisture extracted from the food using air drying or freeze drying to the point where bacteria can’t survive. It means food can be preserved for a long time without cooking or the addition of preservatives. This then allows for the food’s natural nutrients to remain largely unaltered, a big plus in its favour.
Cold pressing is a little-known but traditional method of production that uses very low temperature – about 45 degrees – before the food is pressed (only for a few seconds), meaning it contains much more of the natural nutrients than extruded kibble. Grains need to be thoroughly cooked to make them digestible for dogs, so any grains used in cold-pressed foods must be pre-cooked (sometimes called pre-treated or pre-conditioned) to avoid problems.
You can find an objective view of dog food at allaboutdogfood.co.uk, which is hosted by canine nutritionist David Jackson. This independent website reviews all dog food types and scores them out of five. Why not look up your existing dog food and compare it against some of the top scorers? You could be in for a surprise!
Lisa Clarke, alongside husband Andrew, is the owner and founder of Guru nutrient-rich pet food. Visit gurupetfood.com