Does What You Feed Your Dog Really Matter?

Feeding a dog can be expensive, and it can be easy to feel tempted into buying the bags or cans of food that are on offer in the supermarket, without even glancing at the ingredients.

However, some cheap dog food has the equivalent nutritional value of a cheeseburger and chips from McDonalds. It might taste good, and your dog might wolf it down, but that doesn’t mean it’s doing him or his wellbeing any favours.

At Tug-E-Nuff Dog Gear, we know that just like athletes, dogs need a healthy, balanced, high quality diet to succeed and thrive.

Why does it matter so much?

Good food will help keep your dog in the best possible health so you can enjoy a long and active life together. It will also ensure his coat stays sleek and shiny, he has plenty of energy for training sessions or playtime with his favourite dog training toy, and keep his immune and digestive systems working properly.

What to look for when buying dog food…

A good dog food will contain meat, vegetables and grains in perfectly balanced proportions to provide your dog with all the vitamins, minerals and fibre they need to stay healthy and active.

It’s important that high-quality versions of these ingredients are used so that your dog gets the best possible nutrition and doesn’t have any problems digesting his meals.

There are lots of different doggy diets – which one is the best?

The simple answer is there is no answer! Different dogs thrive on different kinds of diets. Lots of owners swear by the results they have gotten since switching to a raw food diet, whereas others say that approach is risky.

Some dogs do best on a high quality dried food diet, while others have a mix of wet and dry food. And some dogs follow particular diets to keep conditions like diabetes in check. 

They key is to do your own research with your dog’s breed, age and lifestyle and any health conditions in mind. We recommend having a chat with your vet to see what might suit your dog best.

Are snacks and treats a bad idea?

When used carefully, small treats can form an essential part of any dog training regime, particularly if food is a big motivator for your dog. We’ve even designed toys like The Clam and our Bungee Food Bag for this very purpose.

Of course, it’s important to bear in mind the overall calorie intake of your dog. Lots of snacks and treats in addition to their regular meals can result in your dog becoming overweight.

And don’t forget, always offer plenty of fresh water throughout the day and avoid allowing your dog to eat food like chocolate and onions, that can be poisonous.

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Georgina - January 26, 2018

Totally agree with Janna. A varied and balanced raw diet is the best things to feed a dog. However, messier and more time-consuming than dog food. One needs to be more creative when using raw dog food in training. But the health benefits are immense. There are not many studies on raw. Most of the studies carried out on raw so far have been “scaremongering” and funded by the major dry food companies, who have their own agenda to push.

Recent studies on raw have shown that raw fed dogs have healthier microbiomes vs rawfed dogs. A study in Helsinki showed that kibblfe fed dogs had dramatically higher levels of inflammation and metabolic stress markers.

Certainly, a growing number of conventional vets are advocating a balanced raw diet. There’s even an increasing number of dog trainers recommending a raw diet to help with behavioural issues. If you are thinking about a raw diet, please research very carefully. Raw feeding is far more complex than dumping chicken thighs and green beans. There are “raw feeders” who dit very wrong, in turn cause their pets to become ill…which inevitably puts many vets off raw feeding. Of course, the good raw feeders rarely visit the vet. The vets only see when things go wrong.

If you do feed dry, do pick one that isn’t made of “meat and bone meal” or “animal deriatives”. And agricultural by-products like beet pulp and corn gluten meal. So many owners don’t think twice about what they feed their dog, and think the cheapest or own brand supermarket kibble is perfectly fine to feed. Health starts with nutrition.

Jaana - June 19, 2017

While I have been feeding good quality kibble to my dogs most of the time, the times I have completely switched them on raw has made a HUGE difference for the better every single time. And even when feeding dry food, my dogs usually got some raw as an occasional treat and I rarely had a health problem.

The last litter of Dachshunds I bred were nourished with high quality kibble from the moment they were created by two cells meeting and due to moving countries and cutting off my sources, the two I kept rarely got anything other than their main food (perhaps some hot dog or cheese as treats that has been consistent through all my dogs). I lost the girl last year at barely 2 years old from liver and kidney problems, the boy has problems with what our conventional vet diagnosed as “allergies” that keep on moving on to one protein source after another after another (sounds more like a leaky gut now that I have started looking into integrative vet medicine) and has been on a cycle of antibiotics and steroids for over a year now… It may be a coincidence that the seventh litter I bred from the same lines has the two that just randomly have serious health issues while there is nothing like it seen in their siblings or anyone I have been able to find in their extended pedigree (I have always encouraged the feeding of raw to as high degree as possible and mostly started puppies on mince rather than kibble) and these are the ones that have been almost exclusively on kibble all their lives.

I don’t think commercial dog food is evil and the source of all that ails our dogs. But combined with early spay and neuter, overly frequent vaccinations, harsh and frequent worming and flea treatments and the over prescribing of antibiotics and steroids, I believe it has its part in why our dogs are getting more and more diseased. My 9 dogs all eat raw now and while they were looking shiny and healthy before, the difference is visible even to me who I see them every day. Even some natural whole foods are better than none and the more science uncovers about the importance of gut microflora, the more obvious it becomes that eating highly processed foods with little support to our (both people and dogs) microbiome has far reaching effects to not only the body but also the mind (this is why many dog trainers and behavior specialists encourage a raw diet- my favorite is Sarah Stremming from the Cognitive Canine/Cog-Dog Radio).

Raw feeding is more messy and resource consuming than feeding biscuits (not more expensive though unless the brand of kibble is made out of sawdust and chicken beaks in which case RUN FROM IT!) but just as people thrive on species appropriate natural whole foods, so do dogs. Some can live on a steady diet of McDonalds, Marlboro and Hennessy and lead a long life but this is by far not the case for everyone. Whatever you can do to nourish your dog better with whole foods, is better than nothing. I spend 30 minutes instead of 10 on preparing food for my dogs and squeezed a freezer in my shed. It may not mean they will never have health problems and will all live to be 15 but I truly believe it gives them a better chance.

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