Some people fantasize about weddings, careers and babies. I don’t buy into any of that nonsense.* I dream about dogs. And late last month, with perfect timing to be the best adult birthday present ever, we brought home the first of (hopefully) many, many doggies.
In almost every aspect of preparation, I was a confident decision maker arranging his trousseau. Except, that is, for food. Unfortunately in the UK there doesn’t seem to be the same breadth of high-quality kibble options as compared to the States. PetsAtHome is the local superstore. There’s quite a variety of food, but it’s all what I would relatively quickly discard as the mainstay kibble feed. I look for a couple things:
- A short list of ingredients which are recognizable as food, my immediate heuristic to weed out additives and preservatives.
- The first ingredients to be a named meat meal and/or a meat. As ingredients are listed by weight, meat meal is going to have more protein than the wet meat, which includes water. I’m also looking for “chicken meal” vs. “poultry meal.”
- The protein percentage. If I’m comparing two otherwise indistinguishable supermarket dog foods, I’ll more than likely go for the one with the most protein.
- Soy meal and flour. There are higher quality nutritional options out there, so I view it as a filler more than anything else and will reject the brand swiftly.
I found The Dog Food Project to be very helpful with providing ingredients lists and breakdowns of things to avoid.
Something like Blue Buffalo is probably not going to be found in the local shop, so we’re making do with what we have. We needed to buy a supermarket kibble to provide continuity between Dog Wonder’s kennel and home feed. I chose Iams, because it was relatively unobjectionable and one of the brands they were feeding him at the shelter. Luckily, there’s an independent pet store near where I volunteer, which stocks Arden Grange, the highest quality kibble I have found available in the UK, and we’ll be feeding that too.
On the next dog food run, when we’re finished with the Iams and ready to switch off of it altogether, I will probably also buy a bag of the high protein (approx. 30%) Prestige range.
I had heard good things about Wellbeloved. Their twee website and marketing about the quality of ingredients aside, I wasn’t impressed by it when I actually looked at the nutrition. All of the readily available options had average protein content. The parent company also manufactures Royal Canin (one of the many hit in the 2007 melamine-tainted food recall), which gives me pause. It is manufactured in the UK, although it’s not clear to me how much that really means in terms of the supply chain and the quality of ingredients.
Obviously kibble isn’t my favourite option. I’d like to be introducing more vegetables and raw food into his diet through treats and supplementary feeding, though I don’t think it’s feasible for us to move completely over to raw feeding. But, in the two weeks Dog Wonder’s been here so far, he’s perked up, put on some muscle tone and his coat has gotten really soft and silky. It seems like we’re doing something right.
*Weddings: Did it, enjoyed it no desire to ever repeat it.
**Careers: In recession-years, 20s are the new teens. Right?
***Babies: Just terrifying.