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A Very Brief Guide to Dog Food

  • dog-with-ballIngredients have to be labelled with the greatest ingredient first and the least last. Look for foods where the first two ingredients are specifically named. These will probably be a meat and a cereal, so make sure they are named i.e. ‘chicken’, ‘rice’ and so forth. Avoid maize based products.
  • Avoid products which contain ‘derivatives’ of meat, just ‘meat’ or ‘animal fat’ or any general terms like this. ‘Meal’ is fine as long as it is named i.e. ‘Duck meat meal’ this just means dried, ground duck.
  • Avoid foods that contain EC permitted additives, or have the additives listed by name or ‘E’ number. Most details should be in the ingredient list but they may be elsewhere on the packet as well.
  • Avoid BHT and BHA (preservatives), these are banned in human food in most countries as they have been found to be carcinogenic in animals (cancer causing).
  • If you buy small bags, check the ingredients on the corresponding large bag in the shop – small bag labels don’t have to be as detailed by law.
  • Don’t worry too much about protein content as labels can be very misleading. Many people say that high protein levels cause over activity or behaviour problems and neither is scientifically proven, in fact low protein levels have been proven to cause behaviour problems in some cases. Labels are very misleading because they give the total protein content including the cereal and vegetable proteins that your dog cannot use as well as meat protein. Look instead for equal or higher meat content, checking for all the cereals not just the first one in the list – they often split them so they don’t look as much.
  • Be aware that many popular brands contain very high levels of sugar which cause higher activity levels, tooth decay and also make it more difficult for the dog to accept a healthier food.
  • There is no definitive answer to whether dry food or moist food is better, see what your dog likes and just make sure it’s healthy.
  • If you want your dog to enjoy dry food more, try using some of the pet mince you can buy locally. Don’t teach your dog that by refusing food he will get tastier and tastier things added, just see what makes it more palatable for him.
  • Try feeding food in food dispensing toys (see information in your Induction Pack – much more fun for your dog and make help him enjoy it more too.
  • Don’t buy dry foods in too big packets for your dog’s consumption. As soon as food is opened, the vitamin content starts to deteriorate so use airtight containers and don’t buy too much.
  • It doesn’t follow that the more you pay the better the food is as there are some awful foods that cost the earth, but equally, you rarely get a good cheap food.

Any Questions?

Kerri Bee is a qualified APDT dog trainer with experience of behaviour and agility training. For more information please visit or contact Kerri.

A Very Brief Guide to Dog Food

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