The Canine Diet Challenge
Updated: Aug 18
Hi! I’m Jude and I’m a dog walker and canine care professional from Honiton and I’ve found some fantastic information and some pretty hard hitting and worrying facts about our dogs diet. Don’t panic though because I’ve also found out ways to make massive improvements, a great big list of what you can and can’t feed your dog and where to find more information.
Canine nutrition is a mystery isn’t it? I hear new things being banded about all the time and even I get fed up with trying to keep up. First raw hide treats are dangerous, cooked bones even though they sell them in the pet shops, and now bloody dental sticks!! That’s without getting into the nitty gritty of your dogs daily diet.
So what is the everyday dog owner to do? With herds of Eno’s out there (Eno’s everything!) with strong opinions that just don’t match our suitability it can leave us thinking ‘well dog food is dog food. It can’t be that bad!’ We’ll stick to what we know.
Is it that bad?
It depends on lots of factors but generally cheap is definitely not cheerful! at least we have lots of options now from wet, dry, raw and fresh and the main factors feeding your dog can depend on availability, convenience and budget.
The facts are that dog food has to be nutritionally balanced and should be made to a high standard so that people don’t poison themselves if they eat it. The food is even tested by humans who do actually eat it! Weird!. The cheaper brands will use synthetic vitamins and minerals which aren’t as good as natural ones so keep an eye out for that, it will say all natural ingredients with added vitamins and minerals leading you to think it’s actually better, sneaky rats!
With this in mind I’m going to hit you with some hard ass facts that I think will shock you.
The canine diabetes epidemic in the UK is up by 900%. Dog Obesity is up 60% in America and now cancer in dogs kill 1/2. Dogs have a higher likelihood of dying of cancer than any other species on the planet!
Scientist are now finding out in a huge experiment that 10% of cancers are genetic while 90% are the result of lifestyle and environment influences. Research suggests stress, obesity, infection, toxins and pollution - but according to multiple studies 30-40%of all cancers can be prevented by dietary changes.
That’s incredible isn’t it?
How can a good diet change my dog?
So what did these clever guys do? they went and found owners of the oldest dogs and asked them why they thought their pets managed to live longer. Everyone said that they restricted their calorie intake, gave regular exercise and added fresh, unprocessed food to the diet. Placing a dog on a nontraditional, fresh food diet nearly doubled the life span in these dogs.
Another experiment brought stage four cancer dogs from a dog rescue centre and fed them unprocessed, fresh food and were able to slow down, halt and in many cases reverse the cancer. how cool is that?
It’s not only preventing cancer and giving you’re dog a longer life that you can achieve. How about making them happy, changing their mood, increasing serotonin levels, preventing anxiety, stomach issues, better cognition, behaviour and immunity. Sounds like some hippy rubbish to me I hear you say!
Well… have you heard of microbiome? no I hadn’t either until recently so i’ll tell you what it is. It’s your guts flora and fauna, it’s like a little rainforest of bacteria, viruses and fungi, sounds pretty gross doesn’t it? But we are born with this and if we give it the right foods then it will look after every aspect of our health even down to our mood. Recent studies suggest that an unhealthy microbiota can actually cause anxiety and depression, where we were always lead to believe that illnesses like I.B.S. were a symptom of these illnesses now it can be the cause of them.
So what can I do to make my dogs diet better?
Surprisingly you don’t have to do much! With the best will in the world the average dog owner will not get a well balanced diet by completely changing to fresh. If you want to do that I would strongly recommend going on a accredited canine nutrition course or employ a canine nutritionalist to guide you through it otherwise you could seriously mess up your dog.
A word of warning, most dogs are use to eating the same diet day in day out, there’s no wonder when dogs diets change that they get upset stomachs so you may want to try a few different fresh vegetable, fruits and fresh produce in small amounts to let them get use to it.
I would recommend getting some small yogurt pots to put food in to hide in areas of the house so they can find them. Dogs are natural scavengers and science has proven they get enormous enjoyment from scatter feeding and finding little tidbits. A study found that dogs with anorexia through anxiety only ate when they had to go and find it so it may encourage them to try new things they wouldn’t usually eat out of their bowl.
From the list of fruit, veg and fresh foods, replace 25% of your dogs usual food three times a week. I like to put something really smelly or meaty to really get the juices flowing like sardines or raw dog food that you can get in pellets but you could use chicken stock or low fat yogurt if you like.
I decided to buy a mix of frozen summer fruits, frozen bag of green beans, sweetcorn, carrots and peas, spinach and a little bit of broccoli and fresh ripe tomatoes then let it thaw with the frozen raw dog food and place it in little pots. Elsa devoured the lot and I can already see a brighter side, more playful and settled.
Remember! no processed foods, no foods with a high fat content like animal fats, skins and cheese. There are also lots of foods you need to be careful feeding to much of so refer to my next blog for this.
I wish you luck and remember, if your dog doesn’t like anything, it maybe because they’re just not use to it but keep trying with different foods, build it gradually and leave little treats they can find for themselves. We all know if a dog thinks he’s not allowed it, they will probably eat it!
If you would like to find out more the school of canine science have a short online course for around £49, you can find it here https://www.caninescience.online/courses or you can get some brilliant advise on https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com
Find Park Life’s comprehensive list of foods you can and can't feed your dog here.