Food Related Issues

Which Type of Food is Better? Which Type of Food is Better?

Hi Pippa,

I have a two year old Labrador and would like your advice on what feed I should be giving her. Given her breed I obviously keep a close eye on what she eats but I hear such conflicting advice on the suitability and ingredients of pet foods. Are foods made by well known brands in the supermarket considered a better quality?

I do not mind spending more on her food as long as the quality is better, but I am not just paying for marketing and advertising costs.

Many thanks,

Sarah, Folkestone

Dear Sarah,

There is a huge difference in the quality and the ingredients used in dog food. Some really is not fit for canine consumption at all! The main problem is that legally the labelling of dog food is not nearly as comprehensive as food for human consumption, meaning that it is hard for owners to immediately recognise what is in the food.

I would avoid high-street supermarket brands. In the majority of these brands the first ingredient listed states minimum 4% animal meat and derivatives. This means that 4% of the food is of animal origin such as beef, chicken, lamb, pork etc. However it often does not specify which animal or which part of the animal. As I am sure you can imagine animal derivatives are not the nice Class A meat that we would all like to believe our dogs are eating.

The remaining 96% of the ingredients is usually cereal (non-specific), bulking agents, minerals, colourings and preservatives. Highly coloured foods contain high levels of additives and preservatives. This will cause many dogs to become hyperactive, destructive or even aggressive, in addition to providing little nutritional content to the diet.

I recommend complete dry foods such as Burns, Barking Heads, Royal Canin, Arden Grange and James Wellbeloved, or wet foods such as Nature Diet and Bozita. These can all be purchased at local pet shops, the big pet specific stores or the internet. They are slightly more expensive but of a much better quality. It is always advisable to speak to your vet before making any changes in the diet and to overlap the feeds for a couple of days. Follow the weight related feeding guide on the package.

The same guidelines apply to treats. If they are highly coloured, avoid them! Raw or cooked vegetables work well and carrots are normally the favourite for training rewards. If you are asking your dog to concentrate on a harder task or something they find harder to do, increase the value of the treat. High value treats include small pieces of cheese and cooked meats such as chicken, liver, or ham.

As with people there is a clear link between food and behaviour. If you know you are feeding your dog a good quality food you are going to be giving your dog a healthier and better life.