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.

Choosing the best dry dog food to feed your dog

Dried Dog Food

Dry dog food, or kibble as it can otherwise be known, is often misunderstood, with many high-quality foods having plenty of nutritional quality to them. However, there are equally some examples of sub-standard kibble that don’t offer the kind of healthy and balanced diet your dog needs.

Here, we’re going to look at what you need to know about dry dog food and how to make sure you’re making the best possible choice for them.

The good bits

One of the biggest advantages of dry dog food and kibble is that it is very convenient, easy to store, easy to feed, and can be found just about anywhere.

You can store it in bulk as it keeps for some time; making it ideal if you don’t have easy access to shops, work unsociable hours or travel a lot.

Commonly known as kibble – there’s a fair bit to know about dry dog food and the various types available to you.

Dog nutritional science has come on leaps and bounds over the years. In addition to foods being available in a range of formulas for dogs at different stages of life, different breeds, and different health requirements, there are even options available for dogs with extreme sensitivities, allergies and medically driven dietary needs. For instance, Royal Canin offers a variety of different foods for different breed types as well as foods for small adult dogs, puppies and those with food allergies.

High-quality kibble can offer all the nutrition a dog needs. As an added bonus, it also doubles up well as training treats. It is easy to keep in a bag or pocket and, if your dog is on a diet while trying to shed a few pounds, you can use some of his or her food allowance for training – therefore not adding any additional calories.

When looking at dry dog foods, it is important to look at the ingredients and the nutritional make up to ensure it is going to cater for all of your dog’s needs. Avoid getting confused with mixer kibble which is often fed as an accompaniment to another food source as opposed to offering a ‘complete’ diet.

Things to be aware of…

While brands like James Wellbeloved or Fish 4 Dogs can help to ensure your dog has the best possible diet, there’s no denying that there are a lot of cheaper, low-quality dry dog foods on the market as well.

Many of them will use deceptive packaging to make their ingredients sound high-quality, so it’s important to read the label fully to make sure that you’re getting a decent meal for your dogs. Be aware of foods that are heavy on ‘fillers’. Lots of grains or oats are often used to ‘bulk out’ cheaper dry dog foods leaving the meat and vegetable content to a bare minimum.

While relatively uncommon, dry dog food is sometimes subject to product recalls too. Sometimes this is due to manufacturing errors, storage issues or problems with contamination. However, modern production and packaging methods mean that this is rare these days.

If you’re in doubt and need some advice though, please speak with a member of the team in store and they will be able to find the ideal food for your pet and your pocket.

Things to consider..

Dogs, like humans, have food allergies. Grain in particular – especially when used in high quantities as a filler – can cause gut and skin irritations. Grain free complete foods like Seven offer a fantastic alternative, often using vegetables like sweet potato as the carbohydrate source as opposed to wheat.

Increasingly popular, cold pressed dry foods – like Tribal – are also a great option. Cold pressing uses lower temperatures to produce the food resulting in a very nutritious and digestible kibble. It’s a bit like steaming vegetables rather than boiling them. The kibble slowly breaks down in your dog’s stomach – rather than swelling – making it much gentler and better for digestion.

Some owners find that their dogs aren’t as keen on dried food; preferring a wetter, more aromatic food choice. They also worry about feeding older and younger dogs a harder kibble because of their teeth. In both instances, adding a little warm water to the bowl can help to soften the kibble and release all the wonderful aromas; tempting even the fussiest of eaters.

Average costs of feeding your dog the best kibble

Kibble, in general, can be much more affordable than a raw or wet food diet. However, the costs can still vary widely. We all want the best for our pets and so, for the sake of their health, we recommend investing in the best kibble, for your budget, that meets all of their nutritional requirements. A properly fed dog is a healthy dog.

Dry dog food comes at a range of different price points. Brands such as Royal Canin tend to cost in the region of £40 – £50 for 10 – 12kg bags. A good mid-range food, such as Autarky, costs in the region of £30 – £40 for the same size.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing an all-dry dog food or kibble diet for your pooch, regardless of what age they are. What matters is that you’re taking care to select a food that has the nutritional quality they need and is specifically designed to meet their needs, given their age, breed, and health demands.

If you have any doubt about choosing the right food for your dog, why not pop in store to see us. We’re on hand and always happy to help!

Choosing the best type of food for your dog

Choosing the best  type of food for your dogIf you’re not sure what to feed your dog, we highly recommend that you read to the end. We have some fantastic advice for all dog owners, who want to know what the best food options are for their four-legged friends. From complete kibble to raw and bone fed (BARF), we’ll cover some basic details, pros, cons and considerations whether you’re feeding puppies, adult dogs, senior dogs, dogs with allergies or those who need a ‘lite’ option.

Kibble/Dry 

Convenient and very common, dry food, also known as ‘kibble’ is a great food type for most dogs. Kibble comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, flavours and make ups depending on your dog’s age, breed and physical needs; as well as your budget. Below we answer the common Pros and Cons questions.

Why should I feed my dog a kibble diet?

  1. It’s very easy to store. You can feed your dog dry food at any time in the year. It’s also easy to pack for travelling and give to instruct friends, family or dog sitters how and what to feed your dog without any hiccups.
  2. It’s affordable. While there is a broad price range for complete dry dog foods depending on the ingredients, dietary modifications and brand name, most can be bought in bulk for a reasonable price.
  3. You also use it for training purposes as it’s light enough to pack in a pouch or pocket.
  4. It’s usually very easy to clean leaving limited residue or smell in the bowls.

 What are the downsides of feeding a dry dog food diet?

  1. Some people believe it’s not always safe for puppies. Dry food can require good jaw muscles and strong teeth, which puppies may not have either yet. However, a little warm water added to the ‘kibble’ and left to soak can soften the food enough to make it easier to eat, while also releasing the flavours; making it even more appealing for your dog at the same time.
  2. Some dry foods are poorly made, with poor nutritional value and consistency. It can also be too hard and stiff, which can be a sign of high-fat or high-carb content. We recommend feeding a good quality kibble, such as Seven, Fish for Dogs or Autarky.

Tinned/Wet

Wet food is often deemed as a more tasty option for dogs with low jaw strength and weak gut systems. But as ever, there are always pros and cons to balance each other out.

 Reasons why wet dog food is a good choice.

  1. Wet food is more stimulating to your dog’s senses. It’s, therefore, a good choice for puppies, senior dogs and fussy eaters.
  2. Wet food can be a great dog food choice for certain breeds that may have weak gut systems
  3. Wet food is also high in water content, which can help to reduce dehydration in more active breeds.

The downsides to feeding your dog wet or tinned food.

  1. Wet food can be expensive, depending on what you buy. Some cheaper products aren’t always as nutritional either.
  2. It is generally sold in smaller portions which can make it an expensive and bulky solution for larger breeds.
  3. You need to store it properly and keep it out of direct sunlight. Any opened tins or trays should be kept refrigerated too.

Raw/BARF

Increasing in popularity, raw dog food is considered to be a more natural and healthy choice for your dog. People used to think it was only suitable for certain breeds, such as German Shepherds, Huskies and Great Danes, but it is equally as suitable for a Russian Toy as it is a St Bernard. Complete raw food contains the right balance of meat, bone, vegetables, fruits and herbs to offer dogs a diet as close to that which their ancestors would have consumed.

 The benefits of feeding your dog a raw diet

  1. Raw dog food is high in protein. This is great for muscle mass, brain function, not to mention slower digestion.
  2. Raw food is also great for the gut, as strong bacteria is required to break down the meat and bones.
  3. For active, working dogs that are used for hunting, agility, flyball, canicross or fieldwork, raw food offers a great nutritionally balanced diet.
  4. Raw fed dogs tend to have smaller, odourless poos.

The downsides of feeding a raw/BARF diet

  1. Feeding a raw diet requires stringent hygiene. Bowls, surfaces and utensils need to be thoroughly cleaned to avoid illnesses in both dogs and humans.
  2. Raw dog food can be expensive. As with all dog food options, there is a range of options to suit a range of budgets, but as with cheaper dried food, cheaper raw food can have a higher bone content which can cause constipation.
  3. Some raw foods contain a lot of blood, which can be off putting for some owners. However, some foods, like Country Hunter, freeze their raw food into ‘blocks’ making it easy to measure out and remove some of the mess.
  4. As raw food is generally frozen, it is difficult to travel with and does require quite a lot of freezer space if you like to ‘stock up’.

Home-cooked

Some people prefer to take a home-cooked approach to dog feeding. This means either feeding them from their own plate, or cooking meals specifically for your dog.

As with all feeding options, there are upsides and there are downsides. Let’s take a closer look.

Positives of a home-cooked diet for your dog

  1. Home-cooked dog food is oftentimes more reassuring, as you know exactly what you have put into it.
  2. Home-cooked food allows you to manage serious food allergies carefully as you are only giving your dog what they can consume safely.
  3. With home-cooked meals, you can add grain-free alternatives such as oats and sweet potato.

 Negatives of a home-cooked diet for your dog

  1. Dogs can’t eat everything humans can; in fact, a lot of foods we eat are toxic to dogs. If you don’t know exactly what they should and shouldn’t be eating, you could end up with a poorly dog.
  2. Dogs, like humans required a balanced diet of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. But their needs are very different to ours. Unless you know exactly what to feed and how, you could end up with a dog lacking in vital nutrients.
  3. Home-cooked meals are expensive and time consuming to make.
  4. They also don’t last that long, maybe 1-2 days in the fridge.

We’re fortunate enough in the modern world to be spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing the right food for our pooches. Ultimately, the right choice for you needs to be weight up between what’s right and healthy for the dog, what you are happy to feed and your daily budget.

Of course, we’re always on hand and happy to support. So why not pop in store and have a chat with one of our members of staff?

Rooke’s Talking Pet Competition Ts & Cs

  1. The competition will run from Wednesday 8th April 2020 until 4pm on Sunday 26th April 2020.
  2. To qualify for entry, forms must be completed online, no later than 4pm on Sunday 26th April 2020. Any entries received after this time will not be counted.
  3. A shortlist of 4 scripts will be turned into videos and will be posted onto our Facebook page for voting by 5pm on Monday 27th April. The video with the most likes on the original Facebook post at 11am on Wednesday 29th April 2020 will be the winner.
  4. In the event that any winner cannot be contacted or is otherwise unable to take up the prize, Rooke’s reserves the right to award the prize to a reserve runner up selected at the same time as the original and using the same criteria from the remaining qualifying entries.
  5. There is one winner. The prize is a £100 Rooke’s voucher to spend in store.

For General Terms and Conditions for Rooke’s competitions/prizes CLICK HERE