Dog Food Jenga

Does it sometimes feel like feeding the dogs is a game? A hard one?

I’ve spent the last few days intensively trying to navigate the crazy world that is dog foods. We’re currently feeding a lower quality food I’m not ashamed to admit, simply because the brand we fed previously had more than £15 added to each sack within just 12 months. And with our large family feed (and not just a few mouthfuls), it’s not an easy pill to swallow. In the interest of keeping costs down we plucked for an old faithful brand, used by many a Bulldog breeder.

And its only on reflection this last few weeks that we’ve come to realise this really isn’t a great choice for our pooches, nor is it actually even cost effective in the grand scheme of things!

The Poodles are a fussy lot. I’ve tried all sorts to entice them, cooked dog food delivered to the door even (before anyone suggests it, I just don’t have time to cook for us all - the dogs included, the kids are lucky to get a hot meal most days !).

But no, even fresh cooked they go off it! And then I’m back to square one buying what is fundamentally sh** just to keep them eating. Their coats are suffering, their ears are suffering and I’m suffering trying to think of what next. So despite the fact that I am not the biggest raw advocate for lots of reasons... I’ve turned to my imaginary dark side and put the poodle pack onto raw!

Paleo Ridge as a brand do offer a fairly decent breeder scheme, even though I’m not the greatest fan of raw, I have to say so far it’s been pretty stress-free (unless you count having to order new scales for the dog kitchen to weigh out 150 grams of food for 7 bowls) ….and so far they’re eating it!

I’m yet to see a huge difference in their coat quality etc but it’s only been three weeks. They’re definitely happy eating it though and their plates are clear.

And my English Bulldogs? Completely different drum of badgers!!

The Bulldogs as a rule will eat ANYTHING. Fussy isn’t in their vocabulary, however their sensitivities as a breed means that Raw wouldn’t suit them, or me - as it also means that, as I said before, they’ve been on what I personally feel is a low grade food because they're happily eating it and doing ok, you kind of feel like you don’t want to rock the boat!

However, my friendship and working relationship with Isobel, The Canine Nutrition Coach, has changed all that and now having EVEN MORE knowledge, is dangerous!

Proud “mum” moment! I’ve watched Isobel develop her own range of natural supplements over the last 18 months. Backed by her degree, her dog knowledge and also her working relationship with Sara, the Canine Family Planner - I have driven her forth to bring to market her own range of supplements to aid breeders in supporting their dogs reproductive health

Bear with me, I will bring this back round to where I was talking about dog food!

Anyway, listening to Isobel and learning about that brands supplements I would previously have trusted and worse still, recommended, aren’t as squeaky clean as they claim with regards to fillers and content! Or even other brands of supplements doing what they even actually says it should on the tin..  in one way this has been a breath of fresh air….. in another way it’s been my undoing!

I am now questioning our pack as a whole and having sleepless nights over what, and whom I’m trusting brand wise with my furry friends digestive systems.

There’s an abundance of options on the UK market with regards to dry foods. Making an informed choice isn’t made easy by the industry as a whole and, as with us, budget makes a massive difference in your options.

There are companies with mahoosive marketing budgets, they tell us they’re the best on the market but are they? They say their foods have the right amount of this and that with regards to fruits and veg, to supplements like folic acid when it comes to breeder foods, or green lipped muscle for the senior foods… BUT does it?

Does the food contain ENOUGH of that supplement to have any benefit for your dog or for even their breed?

There is a huge lack of transparency with dog foods and supplements within the industry. Many manufacturers use vague or misleading labels making it difficult to determine the actual quality of the ingredients. Terms such as “natural” or “premium” are misleading and for those of us that don’t have the time or inclination to look much further, we believe what we see on the packaging or we pay a premium fee and think we’re doing right. Most of the time we actually don’t KNOW what we are feeding ourselves, let alone the dogs.

What doesn’t help, is each dog has its own nutritional requirements based on age, breed, size and activity levels. Which is an even bigger nightmare for breeders or show people (who like us tend to have a pack rather than one or two pets). From my search this last few weeks I literally feel like I need a degree to make an informed choice and understand the ins and outs! Lucky Isobel does.

The quality of ingredients, how they’re sourced and processed changes massively from brand to brand. Some feel cost cutting is their priority, and this results in masses of low quality fillers, artificial additives and by-products making up their ingredients list. Finding reputable sourced ingredients in dog food and reputable suppliers is worth the time.

You need to also consider food allergies and sensitivities which can manifest as skin irritations, digestive issues or other health problems is also imperative. Identifying particular allergens can be a complex process in itself then finding a suitable dog food that avoids the former becomes its own challenge.

There are literally thousands of dog food brands on the market, short of making your own food, not an option for me, there is undoubtedly something you’re going to have to make a compromise on. The reliability of online reviews can’t always be trusted now either, paid for reviews and manipulated re-prints... Is your brain in a tizz? Times that by three weeks and you’re about where I am now!!

In conclusion, after weeks of adding up costings, looking at what’s good and what’s not for our breed and what we can afford, I’ve got with a relatively unknown brand, Carnilove. A decent breeders discount helps a little towards the (basically double) cost on what we’re currently feeding, but I’m praying that if I can cut down on the supplements and the dogs ears are cleaner, they're happy and healthy - then it’ll be worth it.

We’ve also had pretty rubbish luck with regards to litters with the Bulldogs the last few years, which is ironic considering the successes we create daily for our clients and I’m now mindful that that this could be diet supported too. I’m hopeful, diet change and Isobel’s Who knows, but it’s worth a shot and I’m sure the dogs won’t mind a change, it’s not like they can read the ingredients anyway is it?

​What brands do you swear by? Or swear against? Swear I won't tell.

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