It has been a revolutionary few years in the dog food industry with pet owners now realising the importance of feeding their dog a healthy, well balanced and tasty diet! However, we still have a way to go. Us humans have a tendency to think of our dogs as domestic wolves and therefore what we feed our dogs is influenced by this e.g high protein, raw food etc. In fact, the digestion system of the dog is quite different from their ancestral wolves! Dogs are much better adapted to diets more like people, with higher amounts of cooked starch and cooked meat is digested just as well as raw.
Diet can impact upon your dogs: health, behaviour, energy levels, mood, trainability, motivation and life expectancy. This means that good diet is essential for our canine companions but sadly for many dogs, they are fed with the most convenient or cheap option with no thought as to what is actually in there. I hope this blog will urge you to really think about what your dog is fed and perhaps reconsider what might be the best diet for you.
It is hard to make a decision on what to feed your dog as there are many factors to consider and a wealth of different food brands offering a variety of food types. The four main types of food that you will be familiar with are:
Which one you choose is up to you and will depend on your dog, environment and lifestyle, it’s not as black and white as one is better than the other; it is all a little grey and there are pros and cons of all of the above foods. Don’t get me wrong, in my opinion, some are better than others but at some point I will feed all of the above to my dogs. Here are a few things that I think everyone (and their dogs) would benefit from hearing:
Diversity is ESSENTIAL. Letting your dogs explore and experience a variety of food is not only enriching but also important to the nurturing of a healthy microbiome. When I mention microbiome I am referring to the vital ecosystem of beneficial microorganisms living inside our gut. This not only maintains a healthy gastrointestinal system but also contributes to a healthy mental state. The gut is called your second brain for a reason! See the pictures below showing scavenger boards that Alex Hammond put together for her dogs Amber and Remi, they are a great way to introduce novel food items to your dog! Have fun with it but ALWAYS research new food before you give to your dog.
The neurotransmitter Serotonin is crucial for balancing mood in both us and ours dogs, a large percentage of this is produced inside the gut from what we eat. Diets with high levels of protein may hinder the production of serotonin as it needs carbohydrates to be absorbed successfully. This means that your dog’s diet needs to have a good source of carbohydrate, such as potato, vegetables, lentils or rice.
A Global study looking into our longest lived dogs found they had the following in common: Fresh food, good exercise regime and calorie restriction. Obesity and resulting illnesses such as diabetes are on the rise in the pet dog and quite often this is a result of too many calories (and calories from the wrong sources) and not enough exercise. This is a finding that seems fairly obvious when you think about it. What was more surprising to me was how much of an impact fresh food makes. By fresh food I mean fruit, cooked veg and cooked meat rather than the more common processed dog food. In fact research in Scottish terriers found that adding fresh food to the diet (and reducing processed food) increased life span and prevented/slowed the development of cancer!
Food should be fun for you and your dog and not a boring task. I talk about the importance of enrichment in my previous blog, have a visit and use diet as an opportunity to improve your dogs life.
Look for food brands that use well sourced meat and veg, are created by CANINE nutritionists, use natural ingredients, contain no artificial flavourings or colourings, have 60% plus meat content and a healthy source of carbohydrates.
Avoid food brands that use synthetic supplements, this may be written as ‘added vitamins and minerals’. Avoid those that use words such as: By product, meat meal or meat derivative. We want fresh meat! Organic is preferable, but not everyone can afford this, especially with multiple whiskered mouths to feed.
I am not suggesting you completely tailor your dog’s diet from scratch, that isn’t easy or necessary! I am not a qualified nutritionist so I would not attempt that. However, you can make it more exciting in: how you present it, by providing variety and by reducing the amount of processed food and replacing it with some fresh dog friendly foods.
Butternut box is a newly emerging brand of dog food that ticks all the right boxes for what I want in my pets diet, it is home cooked, has natural ingredients, a large meat percentage but also all the veggies that are just as important. It is vet approved and sourced and manufactured in the UK. Not only this but I have to admit, my dogs LOVE IT. Even if Rex cannot have it as his main diet (he's on a prescription diet for aging joints) he still gets a box every now and then to put in Kong's and puzzle feeders!
The best thing about Butternut food (ok apart from what's already been mentioned) is that it's completely tailored to your dog, so you don't need to get out the calculator and scales to figure out daily allowances! Just tell Butternut all about your dog and they do the maths for you and then deliver it to your door.
If you are interested in Butternut Box food then please contact me directly for 75% off your first box.