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 been testing dog food since 2006 and have come up with what I believe is the best in each category, which includes Dry Food (Kibble), Wet Cooked Food. Cold Pressed and Raw Feeding. You can then make an informed decision on what to feed your own dogs.
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 affect 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 a 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 on 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 on them, but many are not.
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 (2) Blog. 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. 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? Have there been any recent changes in 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 the 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. Though I am more than willing to discuss the merits of the food I found to be excellent, I do not intend to use this article to denigrate or attack other dog food providers, though I will give a list of all the different brands tested.
Foods I tested
- Arden Grange (Kibble)
- ATTU (Kibble)
- Bakers (Kibble)
- 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 (Wet) and (Raw)
- Prize Choice Same Company
- Pedigree Tinned (Wet
- Pedigree (Kibble)
- Royal Canin (Kibble)
- Pro Plan (Kibble)
- Science Plan (Kibble)
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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, (2) Eden Multi-Meat and Fish Formula and (3) AATU
(1) 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 woofs it down, therefore, this food with its high proportion of natural fish (over 55%) 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 will be able to get it in for you or you can buy it direct.
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
(2) Eden Multi-Meat and Fish Formula: Do not have a large variety of recipes, But they do have a high degree of quality protein. Both fish and meat. Eden has an impressive 80-20-ingredient profile.
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.
(3rd) 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 o 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 second 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.
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
(9) 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 come in 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! A great nutritious food from fresh ingredients and smelled really nice as well
(2) 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. Mine get Natural Instinct, and Fish4Dogs
(1) Natural Instincts: This food has proved to be a real winner for my dogs. Even the really fussy one eat every scrap. Suitable for all breeds and sizes. A fresh clean, natural superfood alternative to kibble and tinned pet food. Natural Instinct products are all made in Surrey using human grade ingredients with no artificial additives, colours, preservatives, fillers or grains. They are keen supporters of British produce and use only 100% British meats and the freshest fruit and vegetables. Natural Instinct offer a wide variety of ranges for all life stages. In their Natural range, they offer Weaning Paste, ideal for puppies and kittens to their Senior recipe, ideal for dogs who feel their age as this recipe contains additional supplements to make it ideal for dogs with joint problems. Other ranges include the Working Dog Range, designed for active dogs with an added boost of Vitamin C. They also offer a very popular Country Banquet “superfood” range with organic options too. There is a variety of flavours including Chicken, Beef, Duck, Green Tripe, Turkey, Lamb and Fish.
Natures Menu/Prize Choice: This company has a fairly wide range of different choices which include Tripe, Chicken, Lamb, Heart, Liver, There minced menu in frozen blocks that also include peas and carrots and rice. Prize Choice the sister arm offer chunks which include Tripe Chunks, Poultry Necks, Beef Chunks, Liver Chunks, Breast Trim, Heart Chunks, Fish Fillet, Roast Chicken, Chicken Wings. My dogs loved the minced blocks with rice and vegetables mixed in. their favourite was Tripe and Tripe and Chicken. Stools were good small and had very little smell, coat and eyes shining and bright. The favourite of the chunks were, without a doubt, the Tripe. I did not feed the necks or the wings though I fed all the rest. If you are going to feed raw I think the frozen block offers a very good compromise. The tripe chunks were popular. The website was quite good.
Forthglade Frozen: A very good choice of different menus, though it must be said that they do not include vegetables or rice in their frozen blocks as do Natures Menu. The blocks are beef, heart, tripe, chicken, liver, and a nice touch, rabbit and mixtures of these, such as beef and heart, The free-flow version can be served raw or cooked and includes most of the same ingredients. Once again the dogs really enjoyed this food.
The above tests were observational only and were not carried out under laboratory or scientific conditions.Stools very good, coat and eyes shining. Very little smell from the stools. Their favourite was Tripe yet again though they did like the rabbit and I believe they preferred the free-flow. Behaviour was normal and they were not hyper in any way. The website is rubbish though I am reliably informed that it is being looked at.
December 27, 2006
Updated annually the last update July 2017
People have been phoning and emailing if I use supplements and if so are they worth having as an addition to a good quality food? The answer is yes!. Especially in very active dogs and dogs with injuries joint problems and diseases like arthritis. I have tested numerous ones there are two i would like to mention.
This one is Winston and Porter the supplement specialists and they manufacture three types of supplements that can be added to the food and given separately i personally add it to the food.
(1) Nourish + C for All round Health and Vitality - A Comprehensive ALL IN ONE Multi Vitamin and Mineral Dog Supplement for ALL Dogs. Shiny coat, superb skin condition and great for 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 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 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.
I now sell these treats, they are imported from Germany click on the picture on the right to see my full range which also includes. Bulls Pizzles Calves Hooves, Beef Jerky and Dried Scalp.
The Fish4dogs treats are small star shaped treats, called Superstar Training Treats. I use these little star shaped treats because they are easy to carry. I generally use them outdoors and indoors dogs love them,
and you can leave them loose in your pocket, or in a treat bag and they do not go off like cheese or frankfurter.
For indoor work, I now use Whole Dried Sprats. you can break them off for any size dogs and dogs go absolutely mad on them and the coats of my dogs are amazing. I also use them for stuffing Calves Hooves especially for Separation Anxiety
Super Star Training Treats are made by Fish4Dogs a company that does numerous fish based treats. Which range from fish and calamari treats to compressed fish skins. What I like about them is they are all natural and packed full of Omega 3.
I found these treats enhanced the coat and skin and the dogs love them. They are tiny and easily kept in the pocket.
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 three 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. All the four Cockers are working gundogs and work on 4 shooting estates during the season.
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 July 2017