Choosing The Best Food For Our Dogs
This article will tell you all about the food I tested and what I personally feed my own dogs. I have tested dog food since 2006 and have come up with what I believe is the best in each category. These include Dry Food (Kibble), Wet Cooked Food. Cold Pressed and Raw Feeding. You can make an informed decision on what to feed your own dogs. What do I feed my lot? Fish4Dogs and Bella and Duke. I have recently opened my own specialised natural Dog Store in Hampton Hill. I will be stocking some of the brands I have recommended there, that will include Raw and Kibble So I will be selling Bella a Duke, Paleo Ridge and Fish 4 Dogs
Different Types of Dog Food: When it comes to dog food, there are more bones of contention than you can shake a stick at. (all puns intended) There are dozens of brands of dog food and many ways of feeding. All claim to take the high ground.
These include, Holistic, BARF, Raw, Free Range, Kibble, Complete, Tinned, Pouched, Organic and the list goes on………One thing for certain, it is an extremely emotive subject and one that brings out many opinions.
Go on too many of the canine forums, you will see half a dozen back threads where people have argued the merits of their particular way of feeding. Food can have a serious effect on our pet’s behaviour, as well as their health; many have additives, ethoxyquin, colourants, preservatives, some of these additives can and do affect our pets dramatically.
It is often obvious from its appearance that food contains artificial colours. Some almost look as though they were made in Sellafield. Bakers, for instance, will fall into this category, it looks as though it should glow in the dark. I have now written a critical article reference (1) Bakers and Pedigree Complete Dog Food. Explaining the ingredients in these two best-selling UK dog foods.
However, it is not so obvious when other additives are present. As Chairman of PAACT the Professional Association of Applied Canine Trainers. I get to discuss and debate food on our behavioural forum. Many members claim to be able to spot a dog that is being fed certain foods just by their behaviour.
Certainly, a number of well-known brands appear to create aggression and hyperactivity. The behaviour is quite marked and is not that difficult to spot to the trained eye. I am not saying these foods affect every dog the same way. Some dogs are OK with them, but many are not. I have also written about Hils Science Plan, Burns, and Royal Canin. I am afraid I am not impressed with any of them.
In a recent PMFA (Pet Food Manufacturers Association) press release, they state: “In light of recent media coverage about prepared dog foods, the PFMA speaks out on behalf of an industry deeply committed to enhancing pet welfare through optimum nutrition”. They trotted out a so-called expert called Peter Neville, to confirm these ludicrous statements. I have commented on their press release and Peter Neville in my article (2) Peter Neville and the PFMA. I do not pull any punches, I believe they are taking the general public as fools.
I thought it prudent to also write an article about the old wive’s tale of high protein causing kidney and liver problems and hyperactivity. T
This is believed to badly affect older dogs. In fact, the opposite is true. Therefore, it is worth reading (3) The Myth of High Protein.
Before making any appointment to see a problem dog, I always ask a whole series of questions, one of the first on the list is always what food are they feeding?
I get lots of problem dogs in my physical store in Hampton Hill Greater London. I have a large online store as well and if people write to me or ask me about their dogs’ behaviour.
The first question I ask is have there been any recent changes in day to day routine or diet? In some cases, this simple question triggers an awareness that the behaviour started when they changed brands of food.
Therefore, a simple change of diet may be all that is needed to alter inappropriate behaviour. Because I have such a motley crew, sizes, breed, temperament etc they are good candidates for testing various preparatory foods including Kibble, Raw, and Cooked meat.
These are all the brands I tested.
- Arden Grange (Kibble)
- ATTU (Kibble)
- Bakers (Kibble)
- Bella and Duke (Raw)
- Beta (Kibble)
- Burns Kibble
- Eukanuba (Kibble)
- Eden (Kibble)
- Forthglade (Wet)
- Forthglade (Raw)
- Guru (Cold Pressed)
- James Wellbeloved (Kibble)
- Hills Science Plan
- Iams (Kibble)
- Lifestage Menu (Wet)
- Lily’s Kitchen
- Natural Instincts (Raw)
- Naturediet (Wet)
- Natures Menu (Raw)
- Paleo Ridge Raw
- Prize Choice (Raw)
- Pedigree Tinned (Wet)
- Pedigree (Kibble)
- Poppys Picnic (Raw)
- Royal Canin (Kibble)
- Pro Plan (Kibble)
- Science Plan (Kibble)
These brands were tested over a period of 18 months. Obviously, these tests were not under laboratory conditions. However, they did cover observable data such as coat, stools, behaviour, general health and eyes plus a wagability tail test.
Of the foods I tested it became apparent that cost and quality tend to go together, but not in every case. A 15kg bag of dog food costing £14,95 could not possibly contain the same level of human-grade ingredients as the £45.00 or £60.00 brands. They would run at a loss if that was the case. So as a general rule of thumb the more expensive the better the quality of the ingredients.
This exercise also changed my opinion on some RAW foods. Before these tests I was actually strongly against all raw feeding, I was won over by the quality of some of the raw food available. I have changed my opinion on what was my first choice of kibble and Fish4Dogs now gets that pride of place. c2011
Kibble: Dry Pellet Type Food: Of all the brands I tested three came clearly at the top, they were (1) Fish4Dogs, (3) AATU (3) Eden Multi-Meat and Fish Formula and
(1st) Fish4Dogs: They have a selection of large and small bite puppy and adult food. Prestige and weight control. One of the great things about this food is even fussy eaters and one of my dogs is a very fussy eater woof it down, therefore, this food with its high proportion of natural fish is ideal. There are three choices, Salmon, Fish and Sardine My dogs seemed to like all of them. One thing I have noted about this food is the stools are small and hard and they do not smell. This is a food that will keep them fit. and with lots of vitality and no adverse behavioural changes were observed, in fact, the opposite was the case. I liked the consistency and ease of this food though it would be nice if it was available at some more outlets. Though any good pet shop including my own The Dog Store will stock it.
The website is informative and up to date. And the people at Fish4Dogs are very helpful. Just give them a call and discuss your particular needs and they are more than happy to help. I now feed my own dogs this food. I also use their wide variety of treats. See at the bottom of the page. I have also recently tried out their Salmon Oil and Salmon Mousse, and I was very impressed with my dog’s overall coat, condition, and bright eyes. I now sell this on my store.
(2nd) AATU: They have three recipes, Chicken, Duck, and Salmon. All of these have a very high percentage of quality meat products. Dogs really liked this food it is also enriched with fruits, herbs, and botanicals. It is based on an 80/20 ratio That is 80% Meat and 20% other high-end ingredients. This food is not cheap you are looking at £60 for chicken and £67 for the other two ingredients for 10KG. However, because of the meat content, you are looking to feed far less per serving.
It is free of grain, white potato and gluten (a composite known to cause allergic reactions).naturally made without artificial colours, artificial preservatives, artificial flavours and without GM ingredients. I was very impressed with the food and so were the dogs. The care that they take with this food is impressive and it deserves its place. AATU is the first single protein diet to include freshly prepared, preservative-free meat. Availability will not be the Supermarkets. They do have a list of stockists on the website.
The range of highly nutritious vegetables, fruits and herbs contained in Eden is also very impressive and includes excellent additions like sweet potato, lucerne (alfalfa), spinach, seaweed, and cranberry as well as a wide range of herbs and supplements to help with digestion and joint mobility. 80% from animal sources, 20% from veg, fruit and herbs and 0% grains. The idea is to recreate the ‘ancestral diet’ of the dog, although there is still a lot of discussion over what exactly the ‘ancestral diet’ should be.
Cold Pressed Dog Food: This is a fairly new process into the dog food market. What makes it very different from Kibble is that it not ultra heat-treated and extruded. Cold pressing is a method of producing complete dog food at very low temperatures.
Guru: Not a large selection but has quality ingredients. They currently have two main recipes. Their top brand is called Full on Feast and is totally grain and additive-free, the ingredients are: Dried Ground Duck Potato Dried Ground Sea Fish Green Tripe Mixed Dried Vegetables & Fruits (apples, carrots, chicory, cranberry and parsnip), Sweet Potato, Pumpkin, Organic Minerals, Oils (Cold Pressed Rapeseed oil, Rice Germ Oil & Wheat germ oil), Seaweed, Yucca Schidigera (dried), Prebiotics FOS/MOS, Dried Green Lipped Mussels. Their other recipe is Surf and Turf this does have maize germ in the menu. Main ingredients are Dried Ground Beef, Brown Whole Grain Rice, Dried Ground Sea Fish Sweet Potato, Dried Poultry Liver, Maize Germ, Mixed Vegetables (alfalfa, broccoli, carrots.
This is not available in supermarkets. However, they will give free delivery if you buy two bags or more. My dogs really enjoyed this food. It is almost like feeding raw without the mess. it is quite hard and crunchy and comes in small squarish chunks. You can add water if you wish.
Tinned or Pouched Wet Food Cooked: This included pouched, tinned, tray, sachet type meals that are primarily wet rather than kibble or cold-pressed which are dry. All of this food is cooked and the ones I chose had vegetables mixed in
(1st) Barking Heads: The dogs really liked this food it comes in a sealed tray, It was their favourite of all the wet type foods and they really appeared to look forward to it, wagbility was very evident and the stools were good, Coat and eyes bright. These adult and puppy cooked complete foods a number of choices. Chicken, Lamb, and Salmon with Sweet Potato. The Meat Recipe comes with 80% Meat, Brown Rice, Carrots, Peas, Potato, Sunflower oil, The Salmon has Salmon oil, Tomato, Seaweed & Basil in it. The puppy version is chicken and salmon which includes Chicken 80%, Brown Rice, Carrots, Peas, Potato, Sunflower Oil, Salmon Oil, Tomato, Seaweed & Basil. No artificial colourings, No artificial flavourings, No artificial preservatives, and no GM ingredients… And they say that’s a promise! Great nutritious food made from fresh ingredients and it smells really nice as well.
(2nd) Lilys Kitchen: This is a tinned food. The dogs lapped this up. Only real fresh meat used: For example, the meat for their tinned food is delivered fresh in the morning and the food is made that afternoon. No rendered animal parts or derivatives, nothing Genetically Modified, no artificial preservatives, colours or sweeteners. No wheat, corn or soya. Comes in a number of flavours: An English Garden Party, Homestyle Chicken and Turkey Casserole, Slow Cooked Lamb Hotpot, Beef Potato and Vegetable Dinner, Wild Campfire Stew, Fishy Fish Pie with Peas, Goose and Duck Feast with Fruits, and Venison and Wild Rabbit Terrine. Sounds like something we would order and that is clearly the message Lily’s Kitchen is putting over. The website has an old-style kitchen feel about it, is a bit fussy getting around it but in keeping with the quality of the food. I intend to test all of these foods on a regular basis, as ingredients do change.
Raw Food: This included minced and free-flow chunks and raw frozen blocks mixed with vegetables and rice and in some cases maize. I would have no hesitation in recommending Raw to anyone who feels that it suits their beliefs and lifestyle.
Bella and Duke: To some extent, this company was born out of sadness. Mark and Tony who started the company lost both of their dogs last year to cancer. Probably one of the biggest killers of dogs today, caused by numerous reasons including some dog foods. This caused them to investigate the dog food market and Bella and Duke named after the two dogs was created. Though a very new company I decided to test their recipes that currently includes, Beef, Duck, Lamb, Tripe, Wild Haddock, Chicken & Turkey, Puppy Food is also available in four different flavours Beef, Chicken, Fish, Turkey these have a higher rate of meat and bone and Calcium and Phosphorous for a healthy coat and bone growth in growing youngsters. Should be fed until the pup is 12 months.
Their food is all sourced from human-grade factories in the UK and is fully traceable. In all their varieties they add salmon oil ground bone, vegetables and most have tripe added to them. I like this food the packaging and containers and the fact that every one of my dogs including miss fussy chops our spoilt Dachshund, Flossie.
The packaging and containers were quality and they have a professional feel about them. However, what is far more important is the dogs also loved it. The meat had a great texture and it sang quality. This is certainly one to give a try. I look forward to testing the new recipes due out shortly. They now have a Freeze-Dried Variety. Same raw food but you do not need a freezer great for holidays and days away.
They have been voted The Best Raw Dog Food In the UK for consecutive years, and they continue to strive to offer only the best for your dogs.
When I tested this food I was surprised to see that all the packaging is compostable, they are aware of their carbon footprint.
They also offer a comprehensive complementary range that helps support a balanced raw diet or can be offered as a treat. I was impressed with Paleo Ridge the meat content was amazing and is a quality product
They only use farm fresh human-grade ingredients of the highest quality, with a firm commitment to ethically sourced produce with high animal welfare standards. (organic, free-range or wild where possible).
They are certified Organic processors, which means we have met the strict requirements laid down by the Organic Farmers and Growers Association. This allows us to purchase, process and sell organic goods.
I do not sell any of it online except for the smaller bags because of the cost of transport and the difficulty of transporting raw frozen food. They are not on here because I sell them, they are on here because they are the best and I have recommended them for many years.
Some I recommended have been removed as the quality changed or some concerns have been raised and after research, If I have found the concerns to be true. I am not paid for these listing, these people are here by their own merit
We have just launched a new website and we will deliver within 24 hours if you are in our catchment area of the Hampton Hill Store
Why I No Longer Recommend Natures Menu: I have had quite a few people contact me and ask me why I no longer recommend Natures Menu, There are a number of reasons. I do not believe they have kept up with changes in the market, I believe that other manufacturers are probably now producing better quality Raw Ingredients. I had not tested their food for about five years. When I contacted them, they did not want me to test their products and preferred for us to remove the listing despite the fact they had received thousands of click-throughs in the last few years from this page. I think that says it all.
Why would any company with a good product be concerned about a third party assessing their food again? And also not want thousands of click-throughs for free? I do not charge any company to be on this page. Probably, because I say it as it is and do not pull any punches if it is bad I say so. But make your own mind up?
Click on the picture left which is Gunner one of my five dogs and it will take you to the range of all my treats scroll down to see all of them. All grown as nature intended with no growth hormones, steroids, or antibiotics and non-halal.
All meat and animals must come from EU regulated livestock. Made from fresh raw ingredients No chemical additives.
No flavourings or colourings Gently dried and natural. No preservatives, No sugar, rancid fat or caramel
Most are suitable for puppies and older dogs Come from EU regulated livestock Human grade meat.
These are never stored in massive warehouses for years on end waiting for the price to rise. They come from the open field air-dried. You cannot get any fresher than that.
I currently have 40 different treats that will rise as new ones arrive. They range from cows horns to bull willie, beef scalp to chicken necks, rabbits ears, Pigs tails, dog spaghetti and ear shells (Auricles) and lots more.
I have started a range with fur in including Beef Scalp with Hair and Rabbits Ears With Fur. Why? Simple, they are natures natural dewormers. As they pass through the stomach and intestines the fur picks up the worms and eggs and deposits them outside the animal
Supplements: Especially in very active dogs and dogs with injuries joint problems and age and lifestyle-related diseases like arthritis, lameness and stiffness. Then there are many tried and tested supplements on the market I have tested numerous ones there are two that really stand out. These are the three I use on my own dogs.
now stock a pack of Air Dried Natural Dog Treats that are selected because they are particularly good for joint and bone health.
They are natural, healthy, and full of chondroitin and glucosamine as well as been natural teeth cleaners
All of the treats in this joint aid pack are naturally very high in these two vital ingredients.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are the primary triggers for glycosaminoglycan, a molecule used in the formation and repair of cartilage and other body tissues.
Similar to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, glucosamine sulphate has been shown to have unique anti-inflammatory effects.
Additionally, in some laboratory tests, the glucosamine supplement demonstrated a protective effect on the cartilage as well. These studies suggest that these two compounds may inhibit the breakdown of cartilage associated with osteoarthritis and may have the potential to help build up damaged cartilage
(1) Nourish + C for All round Health and Vitality – A Comprehensive ALL IMulti-Vitaminitamin and Mineral Dog Supplement for ALL Dogs. Shiny coat, superb skin condition and great for the gut and digestive health. Puppies to adults.
(2) Nourish + C MAX STRENGTH with all the benefits of Nourish + C and the additional advantage of TRIPLE ACTION (MSM for dogs, Glucosamine and Chondroitin for dogs) High Spec ingredients for JOINT Health. Great for Very Active Dogs, Working Dogs, Injured or Older Dogs. Aids arthritis discomfort, dog joint stiffness and mobility.
(3) Nourish + C MAX STRENGTH Pain-Free with all the benefits of Nourish + C MAX STRENGTH containing a Natural Anti Inflammatory and Pain Killer for our Injured or more Senior Companions.
I put this in with my senior dogs and one that broke his elbow earlier this year on one of the last days of the pheasant season. Though i doubt he will work again it certainly has eased the pain and has allowed him to be more mobile and keep up with the other dogs. I give this and Joint Aid for all my senior dogs and any dogs with stiffness, Aches and pains and especially arthritis.
I now sell the full range of the above supplements in the physical and online store.
Joint Aid The second one I use is for all my gundogs and older dogs and especially for dogs that are older or who are arthritic. Joint Aid, just a small scoop a day makes an enormous difference. I came across this company called GWF Nutrition about 8 years ago whilst working with dogs from the audience at the East of England Showground. It made a massive difference to my White German Shepherd called Kai. He almost turned into a puppy again.and enjoyed his last years of life with this wonderful little formula. I put both Winston and Porter and Joint into the food once a day.
Kennel Club Survey: Our dogs are dying far earlier than they were ten years ago according to a recent Kennel Club Survey. These are frightening statistics and came right out of the blue as no survey before showed this trend. I decided to investigate and research the reasons for this drop in longevity. The Kennel Club just announced the findings, without suggesting why this may be happening. My research pinpointed three areas that I believe is instrumental in these shocking figures. One I believe is dog food, the other two may just surprise you? (7) Why Our Dogs Dying So Early.
Dog Treats: I have been asked on many occasions what treats I use. If I am training I use Sprats, Jerky, and fish4dogs. For special treats used to occupy the dogs for longer, then I use Bulls Pizzles Ends or Calves Hooves and Beef Scalp They are brilliant for instance as a final treat at night or when you want to give them a treat that lasts a long time such as going out or leaving in the morning.
For indoor work, I now use Whole Dried Sprats. you can break them off for any size dogs and dogs go absolutely mad for them and the coats of my dogs are amazing. I also use them for stuffing Calves Hooves especially for Separation Anxiety
Be very wary of any treats you feed your dogs they could be full of the very things you are trying to avoid in their food. (6) Since 2012, I have added four dogs to my little pack. Fizz a female working Cocker and Flossie a Miniature Dachshund and Cora a Black Female Working Cocker that I got as an 8-week old puppy and Gunner, a working Cocker Spaniel That I personally bred. The first litter of puppies ever.
I have also lost three of my pack to the curse of old age. Kai my White German Shepherd and Edward my Springer and a couple of years ago Charlie the cross Jack Russell Dachshund They are always in my thoughts and my heart.
©Stan Rawlinson 2006
last updated June 2019