All complete dog foods sold in the UK must meet certain standards and should provide all of the nutrients your dog requires. However, there is a large difference in quality and nutrient profiles between different diets. Cheaper foods may only provide the very basic and minimum requirements that they have to.
For the consumer, it can be hard to know which food is the best for their pet. Indeed, some of the ‘poorer’ quality diets have the biggest ad campaigns and are better known than the higher end foods. Have a read of this article to learn how to be more discerning when it comes to reading pet food labels.
You might notice a lot of ‘jargon’ on cheaper dog foods. Phrases that may not state clearly what the ingredient contained is. These unclear descriptions make it very hard for an owner to know what they’re giving their pet. Here are some terms you will see on some dog food labels (though not on Pooch & Mutt labels!).
‘Meat and Animal Derivatives’. This is a vague term that makes it hard to know what exactly has been put into the food. While there could be some muscle meat, this is not guaranteed. The ‘meat’ could be any combination of feathers, hooves, offal and beaks. The manufacturer can use any combination of meat and animal derivatives and can change the recipe at any time. Changing recipes can cause stomach upset, especially in those with sensitive stomachs.
‘Unknown cereals’ or ‘grains’. Many manufacturers put grains in their food as a source of energy. The issue with not stating which grain is used (e.g. barley, oats or wheat) is that if your dog has a grain intolerance, we won’t know which grain they are reacting to.
‘Derivatives of vegetable origin’. This is a bulking agent added to dog food that is to be avoided. It is the derivatives that are left after vegetable products including cereals, vegetables and legumes are treated. It is a fibre source but is highly heat treated so does not contribute any real vitamins or minerals.
‘Sugar’. Yes, you read that right. Some manufacturers add sugar to their food. The purpose of this is to make the gravy a brown colour. Sugar is not something we should be feeding to our dogs regularly as it can contribute to diabetes, obesity and dental disease. If your dog eats sugar-laced food, they may also become fussy and start to refuse healthier foods going forward.
‘Animal Fats’. When the source of fat is not listed, it can change from batch to batch. These fats are sometimes obtained from factory by-products. Again, as we can’t know which fish or animal the fat comes from, we should avoid this ingredient in animals with intolerance or allergies.
‘Artifical colours and flavours’. Sadly, manufacturers may put chemicals in dog food to alter the flavour and appearance. These chemicals add no nutritional value and may cause adverse effects. When you consider that the artificial colour isn’t something the dog notices and is just put in for the owner’s benefit, you begin to appreciate how unnecessary it is.
When affordable, we want to try and feed our pets the best quality food we can. Not only will this help maintain an optimal body condition score, feeding a healthy diet can prevent disease and will support your dog’s immune system.
Own brand supermarket foods tend to be inexpensive but may not provide the nutrients your dog needs for optimal health. The fillers, cheap meat and animal derivatives, unlisted vegetable derivatives and sugar are all to be avoided.
When you read a label, you should recognise every single ingredient. The recipe should be clear; a mixture of meats, carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables and supplements. Good quality foods often have supplements such as prebiotics and probiotics added, to help support your dog’s digestive health.
We want to stick to foods containing a high quantity of fresh meat as well as a listed carbohydrate source (such as a root vegetable), fruit, vegetables and supplements. Every single one of the Pooch & Mutt recipes sticks to this healthy formula.
A better quality food will be more calorific gram per gram as it is more nutrient dense. You will get more meals out of the same size can. This is especially important for dogs who can be fussy and may struggle to eat a lot at meal times. Smaller breeds and elderly pets tend to benefit most from eating calorie dense food.
Nutrition plays a key role in your dog’s overall health. Premium diets are more digestible and better tolerated by most pets. Dogs enjoy a healthier skin and coat as well as a bolstered immune system, keeping them fighting fit.
If any of the ingredients in a recipe changes, this will be clearly labelled by Pooch & Mutt. It is crucial you know just what you are feeding your dog, especially if they become unwell or develop a stomach upset.