Barking Blondes: What do you feed your dog?
How do you decide what to feed your dog?
Is it convenience over content or price over processed?
The dog food market is massive and is worth around £6 billion in Britain.
You have only to spend one night viewing commercial TV to see how manufacturers are eagerly competing for our hound pound.
How brave then, for channel 5 to air a landmark documentary this week called, The Truth About Your Dog’s Food.
It explored the highly emotive subject of what you should feed your dog.
Investigating the five big food companies dominating the supermarket pet food shelves along with vet’s waiting rooms, this documentary revealed that we are being blinded by big advertising budgets and clever marketing. All of them attempting to sell tons of dry, tinned and processed treats for Fido.
The show also interviewed some Vegan and Vegetarian dog owners who choose to feed their dog on a non-meat based diet in line with their ethics.
These well meaning souls believe that to be an animal lover, it’s unethical to harm another animal simply to feed the dog.
However we also heard from vet Richard Allport who believes a non meat based diet is questionably healthy for a dog because they are both anatomically and physiologically pre-programmed to be primary meat eaters.
Dogs mouths can only move up and down, not sideways like a cow’s in a grinding action. This throws up the question of dry food as a staple diet where the dry pellets require grinding.
We also discovered that dry food processing involves melting ingredients at beyond boiling temperatures before binding with carbohydrate to make the pellets. Interestingly Allport points out that carbohydrate is the one ingredient that dogs can’t easily digest, it comes straight out in large volumous mounds of ‘poo’.
The average dry food brand is comprised of 55% carbohydrate, which means over 50% of the dog’s daily food intake is not only nutritionally void, but the value of the food is limited, having being heated to such high temperatures in its processing.
What was clear from the show is that feeding your dog is a very emotive subject with owners holding strong views about what’s best for their beloved dog. Yet if Allport is to believed, many of the modern common health problems in dogs from diabetes, colitis, dental disease, and obesity is down to a processed and ‘unnatural’ diet.
Our Bull breed Molly made a cameo appearance looking amazing and rippling with health and vitality, bearing in mind she is now a geriatric at 12 x years. She has been fed on a raw diet all her life comprising mainly of raw green tripe. Her teeth admired by vets, are those of a 4 x year old dog. Could this be anything to do with the tripe she’s been eating. There’s no science to back this up only anecdotal evidence.
But the science that shrouds dog food has been collated by dog food manufacturers, and is based on very small trials that clearly will favour the food being produced. Legislation maintains that, so long as no harm comes to your dog during studies over three months of feeding such food, (i.e. the dog doesn’t die) then it’s safe to market.
Many believe ‘you are what you eat’, and that colours, additives and preservatives are nether great for us humans, nor our four-legged friends. Perhaps its best to get back to basics and feed dogs what they were designed to eat naturally before the big conglomerates became involved.
By the way, if any of you tuned into our Tuesday pet slot on The Alan Titchmarsh show this week, you will have seen our bulldog Matilda showing the nation how NOT to eat! Blushes all round.
Barking Blondes by Jo Good & Anna Webb, published by Hamlyn, £12.99www.octopusbooks.co.uk