Dogs aren’t like humans, their stomach is like a concertina - all the food goes through the colon in a soft, sloppy state, containing lots of moisture and the nutrients the dog needs are absorbed into the body. It’s not until what’s left of the food reaches the rectum that the moisture is removed and it passes as solid, small poos. Indeed a wild dog, who is hunting for food might pass very few stools as he is using up all the nutrients in the food he’s catching. As the colon is much bigger than the rectum, if you’re over feeding then you’ll know about it because the first couple of poos excreted will be solid, dry and are true waste as all the nutrients have been absorbed, but then the dog will continue to produce poo where the first part is hard and the end of it is sloppy making it difficult to poop scoop.
Because of the better nutrition contained in Healthy Paws, you only need to feed 50% of the amount of some other premium foods and up to 60% of the amount of a standard supermarket food. This is why Healthy Paws can work out cheaper than most other foods, including supermarket brands. The recommended amount to feed your dog is given on the bag of Healthy Paws food, but for the optimum amount for your own dog, there’s no better way than to study their stools! A medium sized dog fed on Healthy Paws complete adult dog food costs approximately 60p per day to feed.
Some owners report that their dogs have begun to be quite picky about their food. Unfortunately, this is usually a result of something we humans have given them. A dog shouldn’t be picky if he or she’s being fed correctly. If you give a dog wheat, for example in a piece of your toast in the morning, then it will sit in its stomach all day and the dog will not be hungry for its food later. If your dog starts chewing its paws, that’s an easy sign that it’s been eating something containing wheat or wheat gluten which does not agree with its metabolism. Take a look at our YouTube channel for a video containing useful information about dog digestion.
We’re often asked whether dogs go off food – dogs don’t taste like humans, they have 600-1700 taste buds depending on their age, whereas we have 6000-9000. A dog’s sense of smell is just as important as their taste buds so if you think your dog is not showing as much interest in his food as previously one trick is to rub some garlic on the bottom of the bowl before you feed him. The dog will smell something different and interesting and will be encouraged to taste it, but you can still be confident that you’re feeding the right nutrients. If your dog starts to be picky, cut down the amount of food you’re feeding and put it in the oven for a few minutes to get warm – what that does is release an odour from the fat contained within it and be very appealing to your dog.
Because doggy digestion is not the same as human digestion, there are a few important things to watch out for – you might think it’s good to give your dog some chicken breast or steak now and again, but meat is full of phosphorus which absorbs calcium, too much phosphorus and the calcium is robbed from bones and teeth which can create problems with metabolic bone disease, so be very careful. Healthy Paws recipes are nutritionally balanced to give the right phosphorus/calcium ratio. Our recipes also use small quantities garlic and herbs to help deter fleas and worms and natural preservatives like rosemary and vitamin E. The complete dry dog food by Healthy Paws is also produced with a crunchy kibble that’s ideal for healthy teeth.
There’s a choice of four complete dry adult food recipes from Healthy Paws, take a look at the details before selecting the one you feel is best for your dog. Healthy Paws does also provide wet food, but remember that if a dog has 100 grams of dry food, he would need 500 grams of wet food to give the same nutritional benefit because of the moisture content of wet food (generally 80%). Wet food is a good option if a dog is convalescing, but normally a complete dry food is a good, nutritionally balanced choice.
The use of treats can be very handy for dog training and rewards but remember that the quality of treats that you feed can impact on their digestion too. Don’t use treats containing wheat when you’ve been so careful to avoid it in their food. If your dog needs to lose weight, you need to reduce the amount of food given by the amount of treats given during a day.
Things you wish you’d always known about dog food
When you first have a puppy your main concerns are about making it feel at home, toilet training, teaching it to sit, stay, walk to heel and socialise with people and other dogs, no-one tells you what a minefield buying the right dog food can be, yet what a huge difference it can make to the new member of your family. Take a look at our ‘Bringing Your New Puppy Home’ post if you’d like to know more about feeding puppies in particular – this post is all about the ingredients used in dog food, because we are incredibly proud of the recipes we use for Healthy Paws and we’d like to help you steer clear of unhelpful ingredients.
Healthy Paws dog food uses 100% natural ingredients, it’s hypoallergenic and extremely palatable, which means that dogs love it and they thrive on the nutrition it provides. Here are some facts you may not know about dog food generally and reasons why there are some things you are best to steer clear of.
- The one key ingredient that can cause problems for a dog’s digestion is wheat. It can cause them to chew their paws, scratch their skin and generally feel under the weather. It’s wheat gluten that is the issue here and changing the diet to exclude wheat gluten can mean you have a happy, healthy dog within literally a few days. All Healthy Paws dog foods exclude wheat and wheat gluten – it’s a big No No for us.
- If a dog food says it contains cereal, that’s what’s known as an ‘open ingredient’, so it can change according to what’s available at the time of manufacture, so it could be barley, wheat, grass, roots and stalks or even soya bean mill waste. Some foods contain what’s called ‘wheat feed’ – that’s actually poultry waste which is also used as a fertiliser on fields – it is palatable for dogs, but it’s not great nutritionally.
- Not all gluten is the same. Wheat gluten tends to be the allergen for dogs, but gluten is a cereal protein and maize gluten, or prairie meal as it is sometimes called, is a prebiotic and hypoallergenic, so it can be a useful ingredient.
- The most important thing about dog food is the ratio between phosphorus and calcium. This is because phosphorus absorbs calcium and helps the body to replenish cells including bones and teeth. If there’s not enough calcium in the mix, then the teeth and bones will suffer. A balanced diet should see a ratio of 1.2:1 phosphorus to calcium or greater.
- Meat derivatives are also an open ingredient, so they can include all sorts of things that we wouldn’t normally regard as meat. Often people would think that meat derivatives are things like offal, hooves and ears. However, that’s not the case – there is more commercial value in selling hooves and pigs ears as treats than in putting them in as a component of the food. Meat derivatives in dog food are more likely to be things like veins and the scum found around the pan after cooking. Strangely enough we don’t like that idea for our dog food, so you won’t find meat derivatives in Healthy Paws food.
- Protein in itself does not make a dog hyperactive, fat is their energy source, meat protein is used for a dog’s muscle growth and is stored in different parts of their body, vegetable cereal proteins are mostly stored in fatty tissue. It’s generally artificial preservatives that make the dog hyper even though they are European approved preservatives.
- Some proteins are complex such as hair, feathers and hide – these cannot be broken down by dogs and these are listed as crude protein. However, good proteins can also be listed as crude, but you can tell the quality of the protein in the amount of food that is needed to feed your specific dog.
- Meat is also an open ingredient – that’s why at Healthy Paws we specify precisely what meat is used in our food. Because it’s an open ingredient, it can include roadkill and diseased animals. Farm animals cannot be fed meat products because of the possible transmission of disease. At Healthy Paws we think if it’s not good enough for farm animals, then it’s not good enough for dogs.
- Our recipes include diomethianine amino acid which gives the meat flavour, it also binds ammonia which will help stop lawn burn.
- Sometimes we’re asked what calories there are in our food – this is a flawed measurement for dog food – you need to look at the fat and the specific protein content because different sorts of proteins are used in dog food, some of which animals can’t break down. For example, some manufacturers will use feathers and leather as part of their protein content –a shoe might be 50% protein (leather), but that can’t be used as part of a calorie count as it has nothing nutritious in it. In other foods crude protein can mean protein from vegetables.
- Raw food is currently very fashionable, but be careful, if a dog has raw food and licks a child, the chance of it passing on bugs like salmonella is very high. A recent report from the United States has been very clear that feeding raw food can have a negative impact both on humans and dogs. We’ve all been taught to be very careful about preparing chicken for example, but we give raw food to our dog and think nothing of it then coming and licking us. Calcium/phosphorus levels are very important, so bone-on meat like chicken wings is better.
- Some pet owners prefer wet food – Healthy Paws wet food contains the good nutritious ingredients you find in the complete dry food. However, because wet food is generally made up of 80% water, you have to give some thought as to the actual proportions of protein and look carefully at how the protein content is labelled. For example, a 400 gram tin of wet food with 10% protein would have 40 grams of protein. The same 400 gms, taking 80% of it away for water content would give us 80 grams of dry food, 40 grams of which is protein, so it would actually be 50% protein content. Vets will often recommend a low protein food for kidney problems and people will buy wet food believing it is lower in protein when in fact it is higher.
- Ensure that you spend as much time looking at the ingredients of the treats that you feed as the food itself. If a dog has been given human food as a treat, for example sausages, they could well contain wheat and cereal – sausages for example generally contain 50% cereal. Healthy Paws fruit cookies have been developed using apples, pears and bananas, dogs love them and they provide a quick energy boost.
- Smell is more important than taste for a dog, so if a dog seems to be bored with its food (usually because it would prefer a treat instead!), the best solution is to put it in the oven for a few minutes to get warm. By releasing the odour from the fat content in the food, you’re suddenly making it much more appealing.
- At Healthy Paws we make use of garlic and herbs in our recipes to provide a natural preservative and to help prevent fleas and ticks. We also provide a herbal supplement if your dog has a particular requirement for this – Herbolistics contains a combination of 13 herbs and seeds which compliment your dog’s diet – this can be particularly useful if your dog has been unwell or seems to need a boost. It stimulates the metabolism and its seaweed content helps dental health.
Just like humans, dogs can start to feel hungrier in winter and they do need to put on some extra fat to combat the cold. They also grow a thicker coat, which is fine if they live outside, but if we keep them in centrally heated houses, they will start to moult.
We know that humans feel more like comfort food in the winter – stews rather than salads tend to be on the menu and it’s fine to increase your dog’s food slightly, but you must study their stools to guide you as to how much is enough and also watch their body shape. It’s easy to overdo it and then find that they are getting overweight.
There’s no getting away from it, the way to decide precisely what quantity of food is right for your dog is by studying its poo. The rule is that their poo should be small, dark and firm and not too much of it. Sloppy poo means you’re feeding too much. We recommend that you increase the evening meal slightly in the first instance and you may find that is plenty. Likewise, when the evenings start to get lighter, you can reduce your dog’s food intake.
If a dog still seems to be hungry, then try giving it some sweet potato – around 50 grams in weight, softened in the microwave – this provides a bit of bulk to stave off hunger pangs. Never overdo the amount you feed your dog, apart from the risk of obesity, it might also get copraphagia which is not pleasant.
This body shape chart should help you to know when enough is enough. A long term study of Labradors, half of whom were fed ad hoc on demand and half of whom were fed on a restricted diet gave interesting data about how much to feed a dog to keep it healthy. After 11 years, those fed on a restricted diet were alive and healthy, those fed on demand were all dead and the owners had incurred expensive vets bills due to obesity related ailments.
When is a dog overweight?
The body shape chart above (provided by the PFMA at www.pfma.org.uk) is a useful tool to help you decide if your dog is overweight. Look down at its shape. Your dog needs a waist – its shape needs to go in and out – if it has a big tummy, then it needs to diet.
The way Healthy Paws food is formulated means that it contains high quality ingredients, designed to ensure that your dog receives the best nutrition. It is important however, to ensure that you take note of the quantity you feed your dog – just like humans, over feeding, even on excellent quality food, will mean that the dog will put on weight.
A less active dog or an older dog, needs a lighter food that’s gentle on the stomach. The Healthy Paws senior/light food contains less fat (as fat is higher in calorific value), but a good source of meat calories and low GI rice and oats to keep hunger at bay. This light food also contains glucosamine, chrondroitin and MSM to maintain and support healthy joints.
Choose quality over quantity
The problems caused to dogs by being overweight mirror those of humans; mobility problems, lethargy, constipation and colitis. That’s why we at Healthy Paws talk so much about the cost per day of feeding your dog – which is based on giving a smaller, better quality quantity of food, rather than the fixed cost of a bag. Take a look at our blog about doggy digestion to understand more about why this is.