We know that there are huge numbers of dog foods on the market, and for a dog owner this can be overwhelming. We all want what is best for our dog, but with so much choice it makes it hard to make an informed decision on what diet you should go for. We at Ruffley’s do not recommend for/against any specific diets but want to go through the key things to look for, and what to consider when choosing what to feed your dog.
Of course, just like people, not every diet works for every dog – some have intolerances to certain ingredients or health conditions which give them additional dietary requirements (e.g. kidney disease, Diabetes Meillitus, liver disease). We advise consulting your vet prior to any dietary changes, and to wean your dog over to a new diet gradually over the period of 1-2 weeks. Always make sure your dog has plenty of fresh water.
Where to Begin
The first think you need to look at when it comes to a dog food, is the ingredients. Ingredient lists are formulated in a standard way – with ingredients ordered from highest amounts to lowest amounts. So what does this mean for when we look at a diet? Let’s have a look at one commercial complete dry dog food:
Composition: Brown Rice (67%), Chicken Meal (20%), Oats, Peas, Chicken Oil, Sunflower Oil, Seaweed, Minerals
The first thing we notice about this ingredients list is that a huge proportion of the diet is made up of brown rice – over 50% of the diet is grains. Already, this is a concern as for a dog food, the first ingredient you want to see on the list is going to be meat, not grains.
The second ingredient is chicken meal. This makes up 20% of the composition, and although that might sound ok, you need to fully understand what meat meals such as chicken meal are, and consider if that is an ingredient you want making up all of the meat content of the diet.
What is Meat Meal?
Meat meal is meat that has been rendered (cooked at very high temperatures) to produce a stable, concentrated protein powder. The main concern with meat meal is knowing where it has come from – if it does not state the species it comes from (e.g. chicken), or calls itself by-product meal, then it is likely of poorer quality meat. Meat meal allows a recipe to have high proportions of protein from a smaller amount of ingredients due to its high concentration – so although it is not necessarily something to avoid, it is something to look at in relation to the rest of the ingredients in the recipe – even the best dehydrated meat has more nutritional value when fresh, so ideally a recipe should contain some portion of fresh meat. Freshly prepared meat retains more of the valuable protein than if it is heated to high temperatures.
What About Grain Free?
Grain free diets are becoming increasingly popular in the dog food industry. Anecdotally, there have been numerous reports of owners finding improved skin and coat condition as well as improvement of digestive issues. Grains are not an ingredient that a dog’s ancestor would find and eat in the wild. It is important to note that dogs are not wild animals and have been domesticated over thousands of years. However, some dogs do suffer from grain sensitivity/intolerances and as a result can have problems with their skin (e.g. poor coat condition, itching) and digestive issues (e.g. flatulence, loose motions).
As a result, a proportion of owners now feed their dogs grain free diets – reducing the amount of grains bulking out the diet often (although depends on the brand) can mean an increase in the all-important meat protein which is essential for a healthy diet.
Lets Talk About Raw
So if you’re thinking of cutting out grain, why not go full on raw diet with your dog? Raw diet popularity has skyrocketed over the last few years. The theory behind raw diets is to treat your dog like their wild ancestors (wolves), as raw meat has the maximum nutrients. The more you cook a meat the more you degrade the proteins in it.
Raw diets are important to get right, if you do decide that is what you want to go with. Randomly throwing together some meat and hoping for the best is not the way! You need to ensure your dog is getting the right amounts of essential vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. A commercial raw diet is likely the safest, most balanced way to feed your dog raw. The same as how raw meat can cause us to become unwell, it can also do the same to your dog, so getting responsibly sourced, well tested meats (commercially prepared) is the best way to reduce your risk of causing illness. However, even with the best care, it is still possible for either your dog, or you to get ill from handling/eating raw meat.
If you decide you want to feed your dog a raw diet, we recommend being very thorough with your cleaning, ensuring you clean your hands after touching/preparing their meals, stroking your dog, and not letting them lick your face. Immunocompromised people and elderly/young children are particularly vulnerable so extra care there must be taken.
Ruffley’s Food Range
We are proud to announce our two complete dry dog food ranges, which we believe are of much higher quality than a lot of brands on the market.
Both ranges are made from responsibly source, traceable meats, all of only human grade quality. Made in the UK, with British meat used where possible. Both ranges are free from added artificial colours or preservatives.
Ruffley’s Grain Free is our first, quality range. We are proud to provide recipes suitable for all breeds and ages.
- Perfect for dogs with intolerance/sensitivity to grain
- Added prebiotics to aid digestion
- At least 50% meat, of which minimum 26% is freshly prepared
Ruffley’s Deli 65 goes one step further, with increased fresh meat content and added superfoods.
- Manufactured without grain
- Each recipe has a blend of 5 superfoods for additional health benefits
- Prebiotics to aid digestion
- Naturally occurring collagen to maintain healthy joints and skin
- At least 65% meat, of which minimum 35% is freshly prepared