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What's in my dinner?

A guide to understanding dog food labelling.

When doing our weekly shop, I often notice people in the human food section turning over a product to check the ingredients on the back of the pack, but rarely see people doing this for a pet food that they have picked up either in a supermarket or pet store. Is it that people are just not interested in what they feed their dog? Or maybe they have little or no understanding of what to look for? It may not be a surprise that a dog’s ideal diet is composed differently to our own, but what should a dog’s diet actually look like?

A balanced diet for a dog consists of eight building blocks these are Protein, Fats, Fibre, Water, Carbohydrates, Vitamins, Minerals and Enzymes. Let’s look at these in more detail.

Proteins are found in foods that are derived for animals such as lean meats, eggs, whole milk, and fish and are the most essential part of the Canine diet aiding in the production of hair, nails, tendons, cartridge and connective tissues as well as supporting the immune system, developing good muscle tone, blood production, maintaining strong healthy bones and repair of wounds. Protein should be the main part of a dog’s diet.

Fats are the major source of energy in the canine diet enabling a dog to stay strong and healthy as well as supporting the immune and nervous systems. Omega 3 found in fish oils, is important for skin maintaining healthy skin and coat as well as mobility and suppleness. Omega 6 is particularly useful, their bodies are incapable of producing this and it is essential for healthy skin, pads and coat. Found in poultry, eggs, cereals, vegetable oils and soya.

Fibre is particularly important for the digestion, aiding the formation of stools, the amount of fibre affects the rate in which stools are formed. More fibre allows stools to pass more slowly, the less fibre the quicker the stool will pass allowing for less nutrients to be absorbed. Typically, foods for growing or active dogs will have less fibre than those aimed at senior or dieting dogs. Fibre is mostly found in fruits, vegetables, and oats but also some nuts and seeds. Fibre sourced from legumes (chickpeas, lentils, peas, green beans etc.) whist safe in small quantities, should be avoided, as a high proportion these ingredient in a dog’s diet can be a link heart disease.

Water Dogs need to have a supply of clean water so that they don’t become d