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ace canine healthcare

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Feeding for Optimum Health

We’ve been doing a lot of research recently into the best way to feed our own dogs, triggered by a growing realisation that so many health or behavioural issues are food related.

Traditionally our dogs have been given dry complete food partly for our convenience and partly because as puppies that was what each puppy’s breeder had weaned them onto.  If the brands given on weaning were not the one we favoured then we would gradually switch them over to our tried & tested brand.

We have been influenced by the debate on the merits of raw meat feeds because it more naturally matches what the dog was designed to eat in nature. So we gradually changed their regime to giving all 4 (now 5) dogs one meal of dry complete & one of raw with the aim of doing our best for them.  One concern was the amount of ‘waste’ but that hasn’t been affected adversely.  On the plus side the teeth & gums of even the oldest (15+) are clean, white  & healthy.  If the dogs themselves could choose it would be no contest!

As we have freezer space & 5 dogs we have been buying in bulk on-line various raw minced meats (with & without raw veg)  plus chicken wings to exercise teeth & gums.  With a little more effort we have recently found a local farm shop & game butcher that does their own ‘pet mince’ ready frozen and fresh chicken carcasses too for a fraction of the cost – both work out at £1 per 1kg.  

As for the convenience of feeding dry we’re also going to switch to a kibble that is roughly 75% meat & 25% veg, more expensive naturally than the bigger brands but the more we learn the more we are convinced that for us this is the right way to go. There is now a lot of scientific understanding that cereal fillers in dog food are just not good for long term health – they can lead to obesity and diabetes just like in humans.

Notes. A small amount of vegetable (up to say 10% is not detrimental), but almost any carbohydrate is detrimental (includes cereals/rice/potato/swedes) Consumption of carbohydrate leads to fast calorie production resulting in increased insulin production and hyperactivity in a lively dog or conversion to body fat in a sedentary or older dog.

The cheaper forms of vegetable oil used in petfoods is high in Omega 6 fatty acids and these generally aggravate internal inflammatory effects that are detrimental to all aspects of a dog’s health. The only (and best)forms of oil that a dog needs to consume are animal fat (a saturated fat) and fish oil (a poly unsaturated Omega 3 fat).

With specific reference to L-Carnitine, which is often added to premium dry dog food, older dogs produce less of their own carnitine and supplementation may help with general mental and heart health and energy levels.  Carnitine is found in red meat and dairy products.  The concentration of carnitine in vegetables and carbohydrates is virtually zero and even in white meats it is 30 times lower than beef for example. Therefore Chicken/Duck and Turkey are not the best main protein sources.