In the same way that you wouldn’t let a child eat a few packets of Haribos for dinner, you need to monitor your dogs diet. A pet is always part of the family, which is why they deserve the best dog food available. Plus, as your dog grows up, their dietary needs may change in accordance with their age and activity level.
Whether you’re the proud new owner of a lockdown puppy, or you’re simply overwhelmed by the sheer number of dog food options out there, this is your complete guide to choosing the perfect food for your pooch.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of just picking the cheaper option, or the one with the most adorable packaging, but there are important factors to consider.
Firstly, there’s the type of dog food: dry, wet and raw. Dry dog food may come in the form of kibbles, biscuits or pellets. Wet food may come in a gravy sauce or contain chunks of jelly (sounds disgusting but dogs love it). Raw dog food is often frozen and has a high meat content.
When buying dog food, check whether it is ‘complete’ or ‘complementary’. A ‘complete’ meal is one that will adequately satisfy your pet on its own. ‘Complementary’ food, on the other hand, needs to be supplemented with another food. In other words: it’s the Haribos of the dog world.
What is the healthiest food for your dog?
The best dog food has a high meat content. “Generally, protein of animal origin will have a higher biological value than protein from a plant source,” explains British Veterinary Association Junior Vice President Daniella Dos Santos. Dogs still need a balanced diet, however, so Dos Santos recommends a mixture of animal and plant-derived proteins in commercially-prepared dog food.
She does not advise a vegan diet for pets. “Owners would need to take expert advice to avoid dietary deficiencies and associated disease, as it is much easier to get the balance of nutrients wrong than to get it right.” In other words: don’t remove meat from your dog’s diet.
Meat in dog food often comes from “animal derivatives” – by-products of the human food industry which may not be traditionally eaten by people in this country. It may sound ominous but this food is safe for your dog because all pet food in the UK must be fit for human consumption.
How do you deal with a picky dog eater?
If your dog is a fussy eater, try to change their diet gradually. “We recommend buying smaller packets of dog food when trialling something new and introducing it to their diet gradually,” Dos Santos advises.
No matter how desperate the situation gets, don’t cave in and give them packets of dog biscuits or a plate of bangers and mash. Instead, you should contact a vet for advice – especially if the dog starts losing weight.
1. Barking Heads Beef Waggington Wet Dog Food
Suitable for all dog types, this wet food consists of 85% fresh beef, so it is high in protein. There is also a mixture of chickpeas, parsnips, spinach, apples, oranges and a variety of minerals to give your dog a balanced diet.
For a bigger variety of meats, we recommend the Chappie Loaf Wet Adult 1+ dog food. This combines 4% chicken with 14% white fish, so your pet can benefit from the high protein as well as the Omega 3 and 6. Applaws also won us over with both its adorable brand name and the variety of the Meaty Tins, which include 28% chicken breast and 17% salmon, as well as vegetables.
2. Pedigree Tasty Bites – Cheesy Nibbles
For a cheeky dog treat, we recommend these cheesy nibbles. Ideal for both small and large dogs, these chewy treats combine beef and cheese into a tasty snack. They also include vitamins and calcium to maintain a healthy immune system and strong bones.
For an even healthier alternative, give your dog Burns Carrot Treats, a low-fat snack that’s made from 100% carrot. Or if you want a treat that will soothe your dog, try Lily’s Kitchen Organic Bedtime dog biscuits. This hypoallergenic snack contains probiotic yoghurt to ease digestion and honey and chamomile to soothe your pet, making it the perfect bedtime treat.
3. Pooch & Mutt Grain-free Chicken and Superfood Blend for Senior Dogs
This protein-packed dry food is our top pick for dogs entering a well-earned retirement. It’s grain free, so it’s suitable for sensitive stomachs, and it’s made with a high concentration of real dried chicken (minimum 32%) and sweet potato (23%) to give your dog plenty of energy and boost their protein intake. What sets it apart, though, is it’s ‘superfood’ content – a blend of kale, spinach, beetroot and linseed, among others.
We were also impressed by James Wellbeloved Senior dry dog food, which has added Vitamin E to help support a senior dog’s immune system, and by Tribal Senior dog food, which is cold-pressed (ie. cooked at low temperatures) to retain as much goodness and as many nutrients as possible.