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What Affect Does Your Dog's Diet Have on its Health?

17 June 2016

UK - A recent study has suggested a 900 per cent increase in pet diabetes, with an 850 per cent increase specific to dogs. This is no surprise to me. Your dogs’ health, much like your own, often suffers due to convenience thanks to our fast paced, frenetic society, writes Lisa Clarke, Guru Pet Food.

It’s no coincidence the increase in dog diabetes and obesity corresponds with a widely reported increase in human obesity. We’re often time poor, with restricted budgets, which means good quality foods are generally a luxury rather than a viable daily option thanks to both cost and preparation time.

In order for your dog to thrive it’s essential that they have a healthy, balanced diet. A poor diet affects behaviour, skin and fur condition, stool quality, freshness of breath, and the immune system, as well as being the main cause of diabetes and obesity.

If we take a human analogy as an example, you could eat a takeaway every day, but common sense tells us it’s nutritionally unbalanced and clearly unhealthy. It’s fine as a treat now and again, but the long term effects of a fast food diet are obvious. You wouldn’t do it to yourself, so why would you do it to your dog?

Just think about how much you know about your dog’s food. Many dog owners simply look at what is stocked in their local pet store and choose between the usual suspects of well-advertised, branded foods and pick the one most appealing to them. While a particular brand might be well marketed, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s nutritionally rich.

Take dry kibble as an example. It’s by far the most common food currently on the market, mainly because it’s cheap and also because some of the brands that produce it are household names. However, despite its popularity, there are concerns about this method of production.

Kibble is made by a process called extrusion. This involves the raw materials being passed down what is essentially a giant steam cooker and heated to temperatures of 150 degrees and above. The mixture is dried then cooled before entering a coating machine that sprays fats and oils to enhance its flavour. The concerns focus on the high temperatures involved, which destroy some of the nutrients contained in the food, including vitamins, some amino-acids and enzymes. You could also argue that the fats and oils contribute to dog obesity. Yet, even so, it’s the current market leader.

Raw diets and home cooked food are a natural alternative. Indeed, I was a home feeder for more than 20 years. But with the pace of life today, shopping and preparing meals for ourselves can be time consuming let alone for our dogs as well. Whilst raw feeding is much healthier than dry kibble, it involves a level of preparation and commitment more than simply putting food into a bowl, which is one of the key attractions of extruded dry kibble.

Cold pressed is a little known method of dog food production that uses much lower temperatures, about 45 degrees, thereby retaining much more of the food’s natural nutrients. The All About Dog Food website, which independently reviews and scores current foods on the market, describes cold pressed as ‘the best of both worlds’, thanks to it being both convenient and natural.

Indeed, many owners confuse it with dry kibble thanks to its convenience, but it’s much more nutrient rich and includes cold pressed oils that contain numerous anti toxins and are great for your dog’s coat and skin. If a further endorsement is required, cold pressed is used by many raw feeders.

You can also consider baked foods, however this process relies on a certain amount of wheat gluten that acts as a binder, to which many dogs are intolerant. Air dried and freeze dried foods are further options and although more nutritionally balanced than kibble come at a high cost thanks to the expense of production.

It’s also important to take into account the actual ingredients of the food and not just the alleged content. It is important to choose a brand which is open and honest about its food content. Choose wisely, and you’ll see them develop a new lease of life, with increased energy, improved skin and coat, fresher breath, and a stronger immune system, all whilst being better behaved.

Dogs are family members too, so do what’s best for them.

Lisa Clarke, alongside husband Andrew, is the owner and founder of Guru pet food. Founded due to a love of dogs and a desire for dog longevity, the brand provides high quality nutrient rich food that puts dogs’ health first. To hear more about what Guru has to offer, visit the website or call 01257 786068.

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