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The low-down on good pet nutrition

31 January 2018

As consumers we’ve become savvy when it comes to checking out what’s in our food, and so it’s only natural that we’ve started to take a closer look at what we give our furry friends. We are more aware than ever of the link between good nutrition and our pets’ health, and as loving pet owners we want to offer the right diet.

But, with so much choice of pet food out there and an increasing number of trends, it can be hard to decipher what’s important from the deluge of information. The pet food industry has undergone a huge revolution in recent years, with a greater focus on healthy options.

To guide you through the possibilities, our expert nutritionist Will Bisset offers the low-down on good pet nutrition – what we should be looking out for and what to avoid. Will has spent years investigating what goes into pet food and is instrumental in selecting the food products that go onto our shelves. For Will, the number one priority is quality. He says:

“The best place to start is to examine the label. Ingredients are listed in size order which means the first ingredient is the most abundant. Look out for labels that clearly list all the ingredients, and beware of terms like ‘derivatives’ and ‘of origin’ which can be used to ‘hide’ less desirable ingredients. Greater transparency guarantees higher quality and better consistency.”

Nutritional advice for your dog
As omnivorous carnivores, the best diet for your dog is a mixture of meat and plants. Dogs need a balance of protein, carbohydrates, fat, fibre, and vitamins and minerals. Look for a named source of meat as the first ingredient, such as chicken or lamb, and carbohydrates such as barley, rice, oats and potatoes. Generic terms such as ‘cereals’ may include low grade plant matter which is harder for your dog to digest.

For some dogs, food such as corn, wheat, soy, milk, sugar and colourings can provoke an allergic reaction, resulting in a range of symptoms from itchy, flaky skin to bloating and hyperactivity. If you suspect sensitivity to an ingredient, exclude it for a period of four weeks and reintroduce it to see if the condition reappears. As the ‘home of natural pet food’, we stock dog food products that are guaranteed to be preservative-free, from manufacturers MORE, Greenacres, Symply, Canagan and McAdams.

Feeding your cat
As carnivores, cats need twice the protein that humans and dogs require, which means meat and fish should figure heavily in their diet. Carbohydrates are less important, so low-quality, carb-rich dry foods have very little nutritional value and should be limited, to avoid your cat piling on the pounds. You may also find your moggie turning up its nose at products with a high cereal content.

A popular food movement at the moment is to feed dogs and cats raw meat. Whilst this may seem unpalatable to us, it is more natural for your pets. Check out our range of raw meals from reputable supplier Natures Menu, which offers a variety of nine different meats.

With a continuing rise in pet obesity, the other vital consideration is portion control. Will says:

“Over eating can be severely detrimental to pets’ health. Just like in humans, obesity can lead to diabetes and arthritis, as well as breathing difficulties and increased blood pressure. Showing your pet you love them doesn’t mean you have to shower them with extra food and treats.”

If you need tailored advice on your pet’s dietary requirements, pop into your local store to talk to our knowledgeable staff.