Understanding the provenance of our pet’s food, knowing that it only contains the very best ingredients we can afford, is of utmost importance to us as loving pet owners. Increasingly we’re turning to a natural diet for our pets – a diet that is biologically appropriate and packed full of wholesome goodness.
To be sure that your dog or cat is getting only what nature intended, check that the bag states:
No artificial colours
No artificial flavours
No artificial preservatives
Ingredients can only have come from an animal, plant or mined source – though some added vitamins are exempt from this. In fact, vitamin E and C are often added to keep your hound’s food fresh and extra-nutritious. Even better! One of the best reasons to serve up natural grub, is that it can ease any sensitivities or allergies that your dog may be dealing with. This is because natural foods often cut out the ‘fillers’ (the cheaper bulk food and grains).
Sometimes bags of identical kibble or perfect cubes of meat don’t always tell the full story. Cheaper and unnatural dog foods frequently contain by-product meals; this means ground up skeletal meats, connective tissues and organs (gross). That certainly doesn’t do much for our appetite and whilst these things won’t harm your dog, they certainly won’t thank you for it. On the other hand, natural foods usually use high quality cuts of lamb, chicken, salmon, fruits and vegetables, bound to leave your pup barking his gratitude.
Should you be feeding organic?
As with our own diets it’s a matter of personal preference. Whilst we’re fans of feeding food close to a cat or canine’s natural diet, it is of course dependent upon each pet owner and how particular the pet. If your pet still experiences sensitivities with a natural diet, then we’d strongly recommend trying a 100% organic diet. Top of our list of suggestions would be the Lily’s Kitchen range.
Is grain-free best?
If you’re finding that your pet’s tummy is extra-sensitive, it could be time to go against the grain and opt for foods free from wheat, soy, corn or barley. We aren’t suggesting that your pooch cuts the carbs all together, but there are some tasty and trouble-free alternatives to consider, such as white or sweet potatoes, green peas, carrots and chickpeas. Barking Heads and Wafcol offer some premium potato alternatives that won’t break the bank. A lot of our customers find that rice works as a great substitute, even though strictly-speaking it isn’t entirely grain free. Arden Grange Lamb & Rice dog food is especially popular for sensitive tums. If you decide to include rice in your dog’s diet, closely monitor them for any clues that may point towards a sensitivity (itchy skin or gastro-intestinal problems are the most common indicators).
Don’t worry if you have to remove grains entirely from your pet’s diet – many owners are choosing to do this even if there are no signs of an intolerance. Grains were never previously a part of canine diets – their ancestors generally fed on live prey and sporadic fruit and vegetables. Whilst your pooch can enjoy improved digestion from a grain-free diet, you may even notice a positive change in your pup’s skin and coat health – and of course, their mood and energy. Whilst forgoing the grain is something to consider for every pet owner, there are some dogs who should certainly be sticking to a grain-free diet. Your vet can offer in-depth information but we’d suggest seeking advice if your dog suffers from diabetes, kidney issues, is inactive or overweight.
Have you recently changed to a grain-free diet and are disappointed with the lack of results? Don’t give up. It can take up to twelve weeks for food sensitivities to respond to the change in diet and most vets recommend persevering with the new food for around six to eight weeks. At the same time, cut out anything that could be interfering with the results, such as treats or the occasional fork-full from your own plate – no matter how pleading those puppy dog eyes!