The Importance of Routine for your Dog

The importance of routine for your dogDogs, like us, are creatures of habit.  We might not be able to function without our daily coffee and, similarly, our pets might get stressed if they don’t go for a walk at a similar time each day.  A daily routine will give your dog a sense of structure, helping them to feel happy and confident.

Here are a few Rooke’s Recommendations for creating a routine and the benefits of sticking to it:

1. Set Meal Times

Providing a structure to mealtimes will help regulate your dog’s metabolism so they can consistently burn calories throughout the day.

Feeding your dog in the morning will boost their energy ready for a walk later on in the day, and feeding them again in the evening will enhance their nutrition after that period of exercise.

Maintaining a routine for their mealtimes helps you to ensure they don’t become too heavy and therefore at risk of diabetes, arthritis or other health-related complications.

In addition, feeding your dog at set times will prepare them for other activities that might pop up such as play time or visitors, and allows you to plan your day around them.

2.  Working to a Routine

Setting a schedule that aligns with your daily routine will help to keep your dog on the same cycle as you.

Letting them out first thing in the morning to go to the toilet and to have a quick leg stretch, before their breakfast, means there’s less chance of accidents.

Try to keep their breakfast at the same time each day, before following up with a walk.  This way, your dog will have another opportunity to do their business and burn off some energy before you go about your day.

Sticking to a routine should also free up some time for you to play with your dog – they’ll be happy, relaxed and ready for some ad-hoc playtime as they get to spend more time with their favourite human – you!

Ultimately regular meal times and exercise will help prevent your dog from getting bored, reducing the risk of bad behaviour as they’ll feel mentally stimulated and ready for a well-earned rest each night.

 3. Active Dogs are Happy Dogs

There are a lot of pros for regular exercise for dogs:

  • It keeps them mentally and physically engaged as they can stretch their legs in a different environment and find new smells and trails, so there’s less chance they can become overweight and lethargic
  • It can prevent health complications such as diabetes, arthritis, obesity and heart disease
  • Combined with a well-balanced diet, you can prolong their life with regular exercise and improve their overall quality of life
  • They’ll feel more relaxed and confident with a sense of structure
  • Burning excess energy can help prevent boredom which could result in poor behaviour

If you work during the day and feel your dog might be missing a walk then it may be a good idea to invest in a dog-walker.

Providing your dog with a routine to support a balanced diet and regular exercise will benefit their metabolism and help them feel engaged and stimulated as they display positive behaviour.

And don’t forget, matching your daily schedule with your dog’s routine allows you to spend some much-needed time with them for play, licks and fussing!

 

Lite Food Options for Dogs

Lite food options for dogsYou might think it’s not possible to love your pet too much. But if you’re finding that bestowing your dog with delicious treats is leaving them a little unfit and, dare we say, on the heavy side, then perhaps now is as good a time as any to consider changing their diet to a ‘lite’ option.

Keeping Your Dog Healthy

If your dog is overweight, you’ll notice their breathing becomes heavier as their stamina drops, and they’ll be a little slower out on walks than what they once were.

Switching their diet to a lite food option can help your dog lose weight and reduce the risk of potential weight-related health problems such as arthritis, diabetes or even heart disease – all the same health problems that plague us as humans.

If your dog has a well-balanced diet to suit their unique requirements, combined with regular exercise and interactive play, the more likely they are to having a longer and better quality of life with you.

Choosing A Lite Food Option

Dry dog food, otherwise known as ‘kibble,’ is a great food option for dog’s who need to lose some excess weight.

Specifically prepared lite foods from brands such as Seven Dog Food or Royal Canin offer healthy, lean diet options with a balanced, nutritional intake.  James Wellbeloved, Arden Grange and Autarky also have lite options tailored to the age and size of your pet.

It’s so important that dogs continue to receive the nutrients they need from their food especially while trying to shed a few pounds. Remember it’s weight they need to lose, not nutrients that support their overall wellbeing (we don’t want them feeling lethargic in any way).

As a guide, a dog should be fed 2 – 3% of its bodyweight each day; so your average sized medium dog at 12kg will need about 300g per meal.  Of course, this rule of thumb may alter slightly for dogs needing to lose a few pounds so we recommend seeking advice from your vet in the first instance (nor is this a set rule for puppies who generally require a much larger percentage of their overall bodyweight in food each day whilst they grow and develop).

It’s not all about the food…

Just like us, dogs need to amalgamate a balanced diet with exercise to ultimately lead a well-balanced life.

Making sudden changes to diet or exercise routines could cause some issues especially in older dogs such as stomach upset, difficulty breathing or a negative effect on their overall happiness.

Switching your dog’s food to a lite option, while gradually increasing the frequency and duration of walks, will help to ensure that your pet pooch can handle this lifestyle change without suffering any discomfort.

It’s also worthwhile investing in some interactive dog toys so your dog’s activity levels are boosted in a familiar environment and at their own pace.

Remember, all dog owners should seek advice from their vet before making a significant change to their pets’ diet and/or lifestyle – it’s for their benefit.

 

 

How to keep your dog active

How to keep your dog activeLike all pets, our dogs rely on us to keep them well fed, exercised and mentally stimulated to ultimately lead a well-balanced lifestyle.

Here are a few Rooke’s recommendations for keeping your dog active:

Exercise… it keeps ‘em happy!

An active dog is naturally happier and less likely to develop weight-related issues such as diabetes or joint issues.  Energising your dog, both mentally and physically, has numerous advantages for their wellbeing. A mentally engaged and well exercised dog is a calmer dog, less likely to get bored and act out.

Rooke’s recommends walking your dog at least once a day, every day of the week.  The breeding and fitness of your dog will depend on how long you should walk for (in general most dogs benefit from between 30 minutes to 2 hours of physical activity per day – which averages out to 3.5 to 14 hours of walking per week).  Depending on your lifestyle and daily routine, and the needs of your dog, you might find it easier to break that time up into 2 or 3 walks each day.

Taking your dog for regular walks is one of the best ways to keep them active (walkies anyone?).  Most canines are excited by the new smells and trails that come with a walk in the great outdoors, and it burns calories for dogs and owners alike.  Dogs can use up their excess energy resulting in better behaviour at home, while humans are more likely to stick to their exercise plans when they have a responsibility to their four-legged friend.  You and your dog can embark on a new-found fitness journey together!

Dog walking accessories

There is a wide range of dog walking accessories on the market today and it’s important they not only keep your dog entertained, but safe too.  If you’ve been thinking of introducing some new activities or products, why not consider the following:

  • Ball chucker’s – A hand-held device enabling you to throw a ball for your dog over longer distances.  These are great for more energetic dogs that need to stay outdoors for longer. But be sure to warm your dog up first as sending them running after a ball when they’re not ready could cause joint pain. Also avoid repeating this activity throughout the walk. Dogs can also suffer from repetitive strain injuries from this sort of chasing activity.
  • Headcollars – These are handy if your dog is stronger and harder to control on walks. The neck strap applies gentle pressure to the back of the neck rather than the throat, and the nose loop controls the head without discomfort.  The combined effect works in conjunction with your dog’s natural reflexes to produce a calming effect on excitable dogs and a subduing effect on dogs who are more commanding.  
  • High-vis – Light up dark evenings and keep you and your dog safe and seen with a high-vis coat, collar or lead.  LED lights are a good idea and really easy to use – just attach them to your dog’s collar.

Let’s play!

Dogs love interactive games like obstacle courses, fetch and tug of war. Whether you’re playing at home or in the park, why not introduce some toys?  Ambling along on a lead has limited calorie-burning potential compared to running after a ball, jumping or grappling with a toy. Toys help dogs achieve mental stimulation which they may not experience sitting at home or going for a walk in a familiar location.  Toys can also help your dog burn off any excess energy – perfect for helping them relax in the evening with you.

Combine daily walks with play and you and your canine companion will no doubt benefit from a well-balanced lifestyle.  Remember to always take your phone with you whenever you and your dog go out for a stroll and, if it’s dark, remember to take a torch and use an extendable lead rather than allowing your dog to run off into the dark.

 

3 Ways to Keep your Dog Happy and Healthy in the New Year

Dog and owner keeping fitDog owners tend to feel happier and healthier with their pet pooches around – why wouldn’t we with the endless walks in the fresh air, making fun out of a game of fetch and the belly rubbing evening rituals (for the dogs, obviously!)

Our four-legged friends help us feel more optimistic and less stressed, but how can we ensure our pets are just as happy, healthy and feel as much love from us as we do them?

Here’s 3 tips to help keep your dog happy and healthy this year:

1. A Balanced Diet

If you’re not sure what to feed your dog then fear not as we’ve reviewed the best foods for dogs from complete kibble to wet/tinned to raw and bone fed (BARF).

Your dog’s age, weight and overall health will affect what you should feed them, for example puppies will need feeding more often than older dogs, and larger breeds will need a lot more food than your average terrier.  But no matter what size, age or breed your dog is, it’s important they receive key nutrients every day.

-       Wet food is a hit with our furry friends as it’s often found to be tastier particularly in dogs with low jaw strength and sensitive stomachs.  Wet foods generally have a higher meat and moisture content which helps keep dogs hydrated, but it can be expensive and some cheaper products aren’t always as nutritional as they could be.

-       Dry dog food, otherwise known as kibble, is a great food type for most dogs.  It comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and flavours and is a little more friendly to your budget.  It does however contain lower quantities of meat and less water content than wet food, and it’s worth noting there is a different between complete dry food which is served on its own, and mixer kibble which should be served alongside another food such as a small portion of wet food.

-       Raw foods are increasing in popularity and considered to be a more natural choice for dogs.  Raw foods can be bought at pet stores (Rooke’s included) or made at home (but your Vet may recommend store-bought raw foods as they’re usually specifically made to contain the right nutrients based on the needs of your dog.

2. Staying Active 

The breeding of your dog will have a considerable influence on the frequency and intensity of exercise they need, for example golden retrievers are more physically active and tend to enjoy longer walks where smaller dogs like pugs and chihuahuas aren’t built for speed and might benefit from a slower-paced and shorter walk. Greyhounds on the other hand love short and fast bursts of exercise.  Regular walks will keep your dog active and occupied, preventing boredom and outbursts of poor behaviour.

Dogs also love to play!  Showing them attention and interacting with soft play toys encourages positive behaviour.  If you’re out of the house a lot, it might be worth investing in a dog walker or pet sitter so they get an extra bit of love and attention.

3. Routine, Routine, Routine 

Like us, dogs benefit from a routine; set feeding, walking and sleep times provide structure, helping prevent feelings of boredom and laziness.

Rooke’s recommends letting your dog out first thing in the morning for a leg stretch, then giving them their breakfast before taking them out for a walk before work or school.  In the evening take them for another walk if you can and then let them relax with you.

Your faithful friends are just like you in that they need good food, exercise and a routine to keep them happy and healthy. Remember to keep their water bowls topped up too – their hydration is just as important as yours.

How to feed the wild birds

How to feed the wild birds

It’s obvious to say, but winter and early spring are the most important times of the year to put food and water out for birds. At these times of year, natural food sources are in short supply and they need an extra helping hand.  As wild birds roost at sunset, the earlier you feed them the better. A bird can lose up to 10% of its body fat keeping warm on a cold winter’s night, so ensuring they have a good feed before bed can really make a difference. But what else can we do to help keep birds fed? 

 

Bird Tables 

Bird tables are really versatile. They suit many different species of wild birds and can be used for most types of food.

A straightforward tray will do the job suffice and you can opt for one with or without a roof (if you go without, then you must have a raised rim as this will help to keep the food on the table).

There should be small gaps at each corner of your bird table to help rainwater drain away (this also comes in handy for cleaning the table too as there may be droppings and unwanted, spoilt food).

There are a few bird tables on the market with quite elaborate designs, and whilst they look quite funky, you might want to stick to more of a traditional table as they are much (much!!) easier to clean.

Feeders 

There are many different types and sizes of feeders available, typically made from either plastic or metal. Feeders with cages around them will deter larger birds and squirrels, so keep that in mind when thinking about what wildlife creatures you want to see in your garden. When using a feeder for peanuts there are 2 things to keep in mind:

1) always use a rigid mesh style feeder (large pieces of nut will choke small birds, potentially killing them)

2) any peanuts you put out must be free from aflatoxin as this is poisonous to birds.

Choosing the Right Feeder 

1) Seed feeders – these are round, transparent and with lots of holes to help birds easily reach their food.  They’re designed for sunflower or mixed seeds and prove very popular with siskins, greenfinches and tits.

Niger on the other hand is a finer seed (popular with goldfinches and siskins) and needs to have a special type of seed feeder.

2) Peanut feeders – these are usually made of a steel mesh to prevent birds from biting off more than they can chew (literally!).

3) Hopper type feeders – these are trays or flat surfaces suited to cereal-type mixes of seeds (although any general seed mix can be used).  These feeders generally attract a similar range of birds as a bird table, but make sure it drains properly as you don’t want old food to build up.

4) Be creative and make your own – it’s easier than you think!  You could use half-coconuts (or something of a similar shape), hang it from a tree, bird table or bracket on the wall and sit back and relax as house sparrows, tits and greenfinches flock to your garden.

Peanuts and fat balls are often sold in mesh bags. It may be tempting to try and put out bird food in a mesh bag, however you should never do this as it could cause the bird’s feet to get trapped. Rather use appropriate feeders or simply place on a hard surface. Just make sure to change your fat balls in warmer months as the contents can go rancid if it gets too hot or is left out for too long.

What are the Alternatives?

If you don’t want to invest in a table or fancy hanging feeder, you can always scatter food on the ground. Birds such as thrushes and dunnocks prefer to feed from the floor.

You can scatter food directly on the lawn or use a ground feeding tray with its own hopper. Make sure you change the area where you scatter the food every few days and avoid putting out more food than needed as spoilt food can easily upset the stomach of a wild bird… or you could end up attracting rats!!

Wherever you feed and however you feed, do make sure that you consider predators. Bird tables or feeders too close to bushes could offer the perfect hiding place for a hunting cat for example. However, placing feeders near thorny or spikey plants – like Holly bushes could offer the perfect protection.

As always – if you need any help and advice, please feel free to pop in store. Not only do we have a fantastic selection of products at reasonable prices, we have a team of knowledgeable and friendly staff to boot! 

Everything you need to know about feeding wild birds

Feeding Wild Birds

Feeding wild birds is a good idea for a number of reasons; not least because the wild bird song in your garden is a lovely soundtrack! But, did you know, they eat a lot more than the nectar, suet and seeds you know. Wild birds also love to feast on spiders, snails, worms and other insects nesting in your garden, not to mention the natural food sources like weeds. That said, there are a few things to be aware of when feeding wild birds…

1. Things to avoid (types of foods) 
There are a lot of household foods stocked in our fridges and cupboards that birds love to nibble on, such as leftover (cooked) rice, boiled potatoes and soft fruits without any seeds eg bananas & berries. Other foods however such as milk, chocolate, fruit pits, seeds and avocado can be really dangerous to birds.

Milk, for example, can result in serious health problems when fed to birds. It’s also not uncommon for people to try feeding chocolate to birds as they assume they’ll find it just as delicious as we do, but chocolate can cause the birds to experience seizures, diarrhoea and, in some cases, it can be fatal.

Any seed mixtures that contain beans, split peas, dried rice or lentils are only deemed suitable to larger species of wild birds.

Do not use salted or dry roasted peanuts as they contain a natural toxin called aflatoxin (peanuts that are unsalted, fresh and sold for either human consumption or by a feed shop are fine, but they must be put in a wire mesh feeder to avoid choking.)

2. What you should feed wild birds
In addition to leftover foods from our kitchen cupboards (uncooked & unsalted bacon rind, porridge oats, cheese and sultanas), there are other foods stocked in pet stores, like Rooke’s, specifically for wild birds that they just love.

Fat balls & suet balls, mealworms & waxworms and grains & seeds (millet, sunflower & nyjer) are all favourites among wild birds and can be a great way to attract lots of visitors to your garden every day.

3. When you should feed wild birds
Not only do you need to consider what to feed wild birds, but it’s also worthwhile thinking about when to feed them. Food shortages can happen at any time of the year which is why all-year-round feeding is best. That said, winter feeding does tend to be the most beneficial as this is when most food shortages tend to occur.

Wild birds tend to roost at sunset so the earlier you put food out for them, the better.

By feeding birds all-year-round, you will give them the best possible chance of surviving food shortages, whenever they may happen. We have a range of wild bird food at Rooke’s which you can find out more about here.

4. How to feed them
Hanging up a seed or peanut feeder is the best way to attract a large number of birds to your garden. There are a lot of different sizes and types of feeders to choose from, commonly made from either plastic or metal. Some feeders have a cage around them to discourage larger birds and squirrels taking all the goods in one go.

You can get hopper-type feeders with flat surfaces (or trays) which are well suited to standard mixes, although any type of seed mix can be used.

Be sure that the feeder you choose drains well and remember to check for a build-up of unwanted, spoilt food as this can be a health risk to birds – which is the last thing you want!

5. Things to be aware of
It’s a good idea to feed birds little and often; it’s better to top up your bird feeder gradually rather than leaving lots of food out all of the time (it will stop the food from spoiling).

If possible, create a few different feeding sites in your garden as this will stop overcrowding and hot competition amongst the birds. When cleaning your feeder or bird table, be sure to use a mild disinfectant – nothing too strong.

If you want to learn more about what & when to feed wild birds, why not pop in store for a chat with one of our helpful members of staff? We have our very own range of Rooke’s branded bird food in store for you to browse.

When should you feed wild birds?

Feeding Wild Birds

We shouldn’t only think about what to feed wild birds, but when to feed them too. Is there an ideal time of year to feed wild birds? Should we avoid feeding them during any specific months, or is there a set time of day when its best to feed?

If you can, it’s definitely a good idea to put food and water out for the birds year-round. There is no denying that winter feeding is the most beneficial as this is when food shortages are most likely to occur. Nevertheless, if you feed birds throughout the entire year, you are going to give them a much better chance of surviving the tough times in the colder months.

Autumn and Winter

Rooke’s recommends putting out both water and food on a regular basis. As the weather gets darker and a lot colder, put food out twice a day if you can i.e. during the morning and in the early afternoon (as birds tend to roost at sunset).

You also need to consider the type of food you are going to put out during the winter. Birds demand foods that are high in energy at this time of year to maintain their fat reserves and to help them survive the frosty nights.

The quantity of food provided should be adjusted to suit the demand. Once a feeding routine is established, try not to alter it, as the wild birds in your location will become used to the schedule. Do not allow uneaten foods to gather around the feeder as this can cause health issues to the birds that do eat it.

Spring and Summer

When feeding birds during the summer months, they are going to need sources that are high in protein, especially while they are moulting.

Some of the foods that are good to feed on at this time of year include waxworms, mealworms, mild grated cheese, currants, raisins, soaked sultanas, pinhead oatmeal and black sunflower seeds.

Some people use soaked cat or dog food which is perfectly fine, but you do risk attracting cats, crows and magpies.

Avoid bread, fat and peanuts as these can be harmful if the adult birds feed them to their nestlings. You should also try to avoid homemade fat balls as they can go rancid and soft during the warmer weather.

Natural food shortages

Should a food shortage happen when birds have their young in their nest (breeding season is February – August), they could be tempted by the leftover food on the bird table. If so, this food will be fed to adult birds initially, but if the situation gets grave enough, they will also take the food to their nest for their young chicks.

This is why you need to make sure you are very careful about the food you provide. If the food available is not suitable for the young chicks, it can end up causing a lot more harm than good.

We have a range of wild bird food at Rooke’s which you can find out more about here.

Of course, give us a call or pop in store to see us if you need any advice on how to keep birds well-fed and safe.

What to feed wild birds

What to feed wild birdsFeeding birds can be as rewarding for you as it is for them. By using feeding tables or hanging bird feeders you can bring flocks of birds to your garden, helping them get all the nutrients they need.

When the weather gets colder and the nights get darker (and longer!) we spend our time thinking about when we can exercise the dog, or when we can run the food out to the rabbit hutch. Or has the cat come back yet?  But quite often we forget about the wild birds – and they really need our help at this time of year.  Did you know they can lose up to 10% of their body weight in just one night trying to keep warm?

What should you feed wild birds?

If you want to attract birds to your garden then you will need to put down a mixture of different foods and, by regularly topping up your bird feeding, stations you can be sure to get lots of visitors every day.

Here are some ideas of tasty treats that wild birds can’t get enough of:

1. Fat balls or suet balls.

2. Mealworms or waxworms.

3. Grains & seeds (millet, oats, sunflower & niger)

4. Peanuts (make sure they’re unsalted, fresh and sold for human consumption or by a feed shop. To stop younger birds from choking you should put the peanuts in a wire mesh feeder.)

5. Cooked rice or pasta, boiled potatoes, uncooked & unsalted bacon rind, cheese, sultanas & raisins, pears, apples & other soft fruits (yes, really!)

Remember if you’re feeding wild birds, put out bowls of clean water too (they’re just as thirsty as they are hungry).

What do different breeds like to eat?

There are many different breeds of wild birds and you may find that your garden attracts lots of them at any one time, but the type of food you put out really can affect who comes to visit and who doesn’t.

Small seeds such as millet will attract dunnocks, finches, house sparrows and collared doves. Feeding niger seeds on the other hand will likely attract goldfinches, blue tits, siskins and great spotted woodpeckers.

Crushed peanuts are great for attracting robins, coal tits, and nuthatches (coal tits and nuthatches tend to hoard their nuts).

Believe it or not, but cooked rice can be a tasty treat to a range of wild birds, particularly during the winter months. Larger birds such as pheasants, doves, and pigeons will all eat uncooked rice, however this is not likely to attract any other types of bird.

Birds such as wrens, dunnocks and robins can eat fermented dairy products such as cheese, so putting out grated mild cheese is a good way of getting their attention.

Mealworms will attract blue tits, robins, and may even bring in pied wagtails.

What should you avoid feeding them?

Just like us, there are a few foods that birds either cannot or shouldn’t consume.  Any seed mixtures that contain beans, split peas, dried rice or lentils are only deemed suitable to larger species of wild birds.

Do not use salted or dry roasted peanuts as they contain a natural toxin called aflatoxin. And you should never give milk to birds either. They cannot digest it, giving them a serious stomach upset (it may even kill them).

How much does it cost? 

Birdseed and other foods such as suet balls are relatively inexpensive. Mealworms are a little more expensive so you may only want to use these as a treat.

At Rooke’s we’re proud to offer our very own range of wild bird food for various budgets:

  • Premium Grain Free Wild Bird Mix 2kg – £2.69
  • Sunflower Hearts 2kg - £3.49
  • Wild Bird Peanuts 2kg – £4.99
  • Premium Wild Bird Fat Balls (Tub of 50) – £5.99
  • Suet Block Value Pack 10pk – Mealworm & Insect – £7.99
  • Dried Mealworms 1.5kg – £24.99

Why not pop in to see us in store for advice on keeping the wild birds fed and watered?

5 reasons why more people are feeding their dogs a raw food diet

Husky with a bone

There’s no denying, our knowledge of canine nutrition is improving. Generally speaking, owners are aware of the value of good nutrition for their dogs and are changing or adapting feeding habits accordingly. One such adaptation – and an increasingly popular choice among dog owners is a raw food diet, aka the BARF diet (Bones and Raw Food or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food)

But what is all the fuss about? Is it just a fad? Is it safe and what can it actually do for them?

1)  Creating a healthier coat

The omega fatty acids and amino acids present in raw dog foods, like Benyfit or Natures Menu, are much higher in quantity since the cooking and processing of foods tends to reduce them.  These acids have a huge range of health benefits, but most noticeably they can improve the shininess of a dog’s coat, as well as the health and softness of their skin.

2)  Improving your dog’s dental hygiene

Raw meat has proven to be great for a dog’s dental health. This is largely because it has more enzymes that tend to fight the bacteria that is the cause of a host of issues such as bad dog breath, plaque building, tartar buildup, gum disease, and more. Of course, you still need to brush your dog’s teeth but, in general, this can help maintain their good dental health better than wet dog foods and perhaps even better than the abrasion that kibble provides.

3)  Adding muscle tone

Dogs process and synthesize the animal proteins in raw meats much better than they do from processed foods. As such, this can improve their metabolism, helping them burn fatty deposits all the better while increasing their ability to build and maintain their muscle mass. This means your dog is not only stronger, but will have more stamina and higher energy levels, even if they’re overweight, senior, or suffering from mobility-issues.

4)  It may improve behaviour

The mental and emotional health of your dog is tied to their physical health. When they have poor metabolism and less energy, they’re more likely to be restless and more difficult to train. Many dog behaviour specialists have posited that raw food diets can give them more stamina for play and work, improving their behaviour, while also making them more relaxed after dinner thanks to the fact they’re getting a more satisfying meal. It may result in a much better-behaved dog.

5)  Increased bioavailability

Bioavailability is one of the features often touted in high-quality raw dog foods from brands like Country Hunter. What this effectively means is that it’s much easier for dogs to get the nutrients they need from raw foods. Processed foods tend to take longer to digest, and more of the nutrition quality gets wasted in the effort of digesting them. Raw food, as it is slower to digest should allow for greater absorption of minerals and nutrients.

Are there any drawbacks?

As with all diets, there are potential drawbacks worth noting. If your dog’s diet is unbalanced, it may lead to issues, such as poor bone health – due to a lack of calcium -  or too much Vitamin A, which can cause rather nasty and very dangerous Vitamin A toxicity. It’s also wise to choose foods that don’t have whole bones, as they can be a choking hazard. And remember, raw dog food should always be stored carefully to prevent bacteria from spreading throughout the food.

How to feed a raw food diet

First, it’s important to make sure that the raw food you choose has all of the nutritional quality to meet the needs of your dog. As with wet foods and kibble, there are different puppy food types, foods for adult dogs, senior dogs, lite ranges for overweight dogs, and more. It’s important to choose a variety of raw foods to make sure they get the whole range of nutrition over the week. Furthermore, you should switch gradually if you’re feeding them kibble or wet food previously. Switching too quickly can lead to digestion issues.

Raw food comes in a variety of forms, from frozen blocks to free flow mince, portioned ‘nuggets’ and ‘chubs’.

Some raw foods are nothing more than raw meat and bone combined. A complete raw food will also contain some vegetables, herbs and fruits. Whichever you choose, it is recommended that 60% of their meal comes from the raw meat source, 20% comes from a mix if fruit, vegetables and herbs and 20% comes from easily digestible carbohydrate such as cooked brown rice, oats or sweet potato.

A dog should be fed 2 – 3% of its bodyweight each day. So, your average sized medium dog at 12kg for example will need about 300g per meal.

What about the price?

There’s no denying that, on average, a raw dog food diet tends to cost more than the average dry kibble or wet tinned food alternative. However, the costs can vary widely depending on the quality (and of course the quantity needed). And if you want to buy a raw dog food that caters to specific needs, such as for dogs with sensitive tummies, you will probably pay a bit more.

However, for example, if you were to feed Natures Menu Complete Lamb dinner, it would cost you in the region of £1.10 per day for a 12kg dog.

Food for thought?

There’s no denying that the evidence is mounting for the benefits of a more natural diet for your dogs.  And hopefully, the points above indicate just how healthy a raw dog food diet can really be.

As with all pet related issues, it’s important to do your research and ensure you’re getting the best foods for your individual dog. If you’re in doubt or would like some advice, then pop in store and have a chat with one of our helpful members of staff!

Why tinned or wet food is still a popular choice for dog owners

Why wet or tinned dog food is still a popular choice for dog owners While consumers are getting a lot more conscious about making sure their dogs’ diets meet all of their nutritional needs, the popularity of wet and tinned dog food hasn’t declined. In fact, more pet owners are buying wet dog food than before.

So why do people love wet dog food so much? What different options are available and what does it typically cost to feed a wet food diet?

Let’s find out! 

Why wet dog food is popular

There is a wide range of good-quality wet dog foods, such as Symply, Forthglade, Natures Menu, Lily’s Kitchen and Butchers, that ensure your dogs can meet all of their nutritional requirements.

Available in tins, cartons and trays, it’s an easy to feed, tasty and versatile option.

Historically, it was believed that feeding a wet food diet led to a higher risk of tooth decay. However, that hasn’t really stood up to any scrutiny and is thought to be little more than a myth.

However, what is provable is that quality wet dog food has a higher moisture content than both raw food and dry kibble, meaning that keeping your dog hydrated is much easier.

There is a wide range of different wet food formulas to suit the needs of different dogs with different nutritional needs. However, in general, wet food typically has as much protein as quality dry kibble, but with fewer carbs, which can make it a better choice for small dogs, fussy dogs, those with gluten sensitivities, and overweight dogs.

Another benefit of wet dog food is that, compared to raw food, it’s much easier to store and keeps for a longer time, as well as being easier to transport.

Important things to consider

Wet food is much softer than a dried kibble, so it can be a much better option for dogs with missing teeth, poorly aligned jaws or smaller mouths.

But, aside from the practical benefits, the nutritional benefits of a wet food diet will largely depend on what type of food you’re choosing and for what dog. There are many different kinds of formulas, which can include organic foods, grain-free goods, lite ranges, foods with specific animal proteins, foods for dogs with sensitive stomachs and so on.

Forthglade alone, there are ranges that include grain-free puppy foods, foods with turkey and vegetables, foods for adult dogs, foods for senior dogs, a small dog range, wheat-free foods, and much more.

Wet food contains less protein by volume, which does mean that the portion sizes will be much larger than when compared to a kibble for example. The increase in food volume can therefore have in impact on the stool size. It is not uncommon for wet fed dogs to either poo more often or do bigger poos when they do go.

If you are considering a wet diet for a puppy or a large breed dog, it is important to consider the following. Puppies generally require a much larger percentage of their overall bodyweight in food each day, while larger dogs have a proportionally stomach to smaller or standard sized dogs. In order to meet their nutritional requirements, you do need fairly substantial portion sizes of wet food and, as a result, sometimes, these dogs will feel full before their nutritional needs are met.  If you have any concerns as to whether this may be the case, we recommend that you speak with your vet.

Price ranges

Having a healthy and happy pet is of course your number one priority. However, there’s no denying that price matters as well.

So, how much can you expect to spend on wet dog food?

The answer, naturally, depends largely on what you’re looking for and how much you’re willing to invest in quality. It also depends on the size and age of your dog.

  • From Butchers, a Traditional Recipe 12 pack (150g servings) costs £7.49
  • From Forthglade, their average pack costs £1.30 for 395g
  • Symply’s standard 395g tray costs approximately £1.75
  • While a 400g tin of Lily’s Kitchen costs £2.65

As with everything, there are cheaper and more expensive alternatives. However, when you compare the kinds of ingredients and the nutritional quality, the difference in price is easily explained. So while we all want to make sure we get a cost-effective meal for our dogs, consideration also needs to be given to the nutrition they need to grow strong and healthy.

If you need a specific food for a particular dietary need; such as renal care for example, you may also pay a little more. Foods for senior dogs, for puppies, and for those with sensitive stomachs are also likely to carry a premium as they have to go the extra mile to make sure the meals meet any additional dietary needs.

Should you put your dog on a wet dog food diet?

Tinned or wet dog food remains a good option for a wide variety of dogs at different life stages and with different health considerations. There are number of great benefits to choosing a wet dog food diet for your pet; it’s not surprising that it is one of the more popular choices in the UK.

If you’d like to discuss your dog’s diet and what foods may be suitable, why not pop in store and have a chat with one of our helpful members of staff. Or find out more here. We’re always on hand and happy to help.