Posted on by claire mccarthy

Pet store managers tell us that they often see customers looking at the back of the packaging to see what the protein content is of a particular complete dog food – but that’s only part of the story ...

At Healthy Paws we’ve taken time to highlight some of the key features in bullet points on the front of our packaging as well as easy to understand graphics on the back, this means you can make an educated choice of what food is best for your pet.  Unfortunately, what that doesn’t do is help you decipher some of the rules and regulations of the wording dog food suppliers have to abide by.  All our packaging goes to Trading Standards before it is approved and printed, because all our claims must be scientifically proven.  You can be confident that everything on a Healthy Paws pack has been verified scientifically.

Some of the terminology you see on dog food is tricky to navigate – for example:

If a packet has Adult food with chicken, it has to have 4% chicken in it

If it says Rich in chicken, it has to have 14% of chicken in it

If it says Chicken and Millet, it has to have 26% chicken in it

There’s also the difference between wet and dry to understand ...

Take a bag of a well known complete food which says with fresh chicken – this means that they use wet meat, rather than dry – so, in a 2 kg bag containing 5% of fresh meat  - which would equate to 100g of chicken breast meat -  80% of that fresh meat is water, so you’re left with 20g of dried chicken in a 2 kg bag – equal to about 4 teaspoonsful.  That same bag could say that it uses best quality chicken meal, but this means it could be the chicken carcass and may or may not have actual meat on it.

As a customer, the word fresh looks to be good, but actually it’s not a good point.  It’s just a way of getting the main ingredient to the top of the list.  Remember, if it’s fresh meat, then it includes water content, so when dried down it is less by volume.

It’s a minefield and the only real way to tell the nutritional quality of food is to see what daily quantity is recommended to give the nutrition the dog requires.  Take a look at the quantity chart on the back of the bag of complete dry dog food, find the rough weight of your dog and look at the number on the left which specifies the minimum quantity to be fed.


Our blog post  Dispel the myths about dog nutrition  tells you about open ingredients – the ones that can change in every pack.  At Healthy Paws we specify precisely what meat we use in our food – for example our game and millet recipe contains 33% game – made up of dried rabbit, duck and venison meat.   If you have named ingredients on the pack, that’s good as they will stay the same in each batch. The problem with open ingredients is that they can be changed – that makes it difficult if your dog has an allergy as it can be fine with that brand once, but not the next time it’s fed the same food because the ingredients have changed in the meantime.    

Healthy Paws food has been compiled using balanced natural ingredients, there’s a reason for everything contained within the recipe, like beet pulp which is a prebiotic and helps movement of digestion.  Garlic in small quantities is included together with a combination of herbs, because it helps repel fleas and ticks.  Methionine, an amino acid that gives meat its meaty taste (and the lab version DL Methionine) has the side effect that it binds ammonia contained in the dog’s wee – so helping to prevent lawn burn.  The game and millet recipe for example is good for your dog’s skin and coat because it contains zinc and sunflower oil, a natural preservative.  It also contains linolaic acid for your dog’s skin and coat and helps prevent moulting.

One way to tell the quality of the dog food you choose is by the volume required to feed your weight of dog.    If the volume required to provide the nutrients your dog requires is too big, it doesn’t get properly digested and that encourages copraphagia (the horrible habit of a dog eating its own poo).  Healthy Paws dog food ingredients are such good quality that the volumes of food your dog needs are much less.


The reason Healthy Paws food is good for house training a puppy is because you feed less, so the puppy needs to drink less water and therefore produces less wee.  If you feed more and the puppy drinks more, they will be caught short more often.  The more nutritious the food, the less water they have.  Imagine a human eating 20 cream crackers, they’d need at least two cups of tea to wash them down.  A human eating two cream crackers would probably require only two sips of tea to wash them down.

Storing dog food: 

You should always store your dog food in a cool dry place.  You will see the best before date on the top of the packaging.  Some brands contain no meat at all, so they spray the food with animal fat to make it palatable - that makes is difficult to store, so they then use artificial preservatives to keep it fresh and so are able to claim a two/three year period before the best before date.  Preservatives of course can then make the dog hyperactive.

Can dog food be fed beyond the best before date?

Yes, it can, but the vitamin content would start to deteriorate and eventually it would go rancid and finally go off totally.