When you buy commercial dog food for your pet what do you look out for? Special deals? High protein content? Or do you tend to stick to well known brands? Do you know what goes into tinned and dry dog food or are you not really bothered, preferring to leave it to the experts? One person who knows exactly what goes into dog food is leading dog trainer and behaviourist, Louise Glazebrook. Louise founded her London dog training school, the Darling Dog Company and has such celebrity clients as Radio 1 DJ and TV presenter Nick Grimshaw and Pixie Geldof.
Louise is behind the Channel 5 programme ‘The Truth About Your Dog Food’, where she explores the grim reality about the ingredients that go into commercial dog food. She states that because of the poor nutritional value in these types of dog food, our pets are suffering from ill health as a result. The problem lies with the addition of ‘meat’ derivatives, in that this term can encompass a wild range of body parts, including cancerous tissue, eyeballs, infected sores and even beaks. And it is unsurprising to learn that when fed products that contain these parts, dogs suffer from a wide range of complaints including skin and fur irritations, tooth decay, diabetes and diarrhoea and pancreatitis.
Louise spoke to the MailOnline, and said: “When popular commercial brands have labels that read “meat derivatives”, you have no idea what this is. The companies are trying to make as much food as possible for as little as possible, so they use the cheapest bits: cancerous tissue, pus-filled sores, beak, eyeball. Would you feed that to your dog?” And she is now on a campaign to enlighten dog owners about the benefits of feeding naturally based foods to their pets.
She first noticed a correlation between what she fed her dog and his health after she noticing her pet dog Cookie had developed a serious rash, she then discovered that he was allergic to chicken and wheat, two products that are common in commercial dog food. Once she had eliminated these items from her dogs diet the rash cleared up. Louise believes that with the high quantity of processed ingredients and chemicals present in commercial dog food, it is the equivalent of a human eating a McDonalds everyday.
So what should you feed your dog, and are there any commercial dog foods that you can buy, that do not contain harmful preservatives or chemicals? Louise recommends that you should give your dog a natural and unprocessed diet; consisting of raw food and meals you have prepared yourself.
Louise says: “There are but a few people out there doing great things with dog food, Lily’s Kitchen and Nutriment are two of them. Many of them which are sold in your vet’s waiting room, are expensively packaged and full of sweepings off of the factory floor which are about as useful to your dog as a packet of jelly babies.When you feed your dog look at what it needs. Honestly, it is very simple. What you put in has a big impact on what you get out, both from a health and behaviour point of view.
‘I am amazed at how few people I see and work with realise the impact that food can have on the work we are doing with their dog. How can I expect a dog to concentrate if he is just looking for his next sugar hit?’
‘If you feed a dog a food made from sugar, salt, meat derivatives and ash, it’s similar to you eating a highly processed ready meal. Not great.”
And she doesn’t think that dogs need a complicated or special diet, she recommends the fewer stages in preparation the better; in other words, keep it simple: “Instead of feeding a Dentastix which is full of who knows what, use some of nature’s toothbrushes they are cheaper and better for your dog. When you think of dog food, the easiest thing to think of is this; the simpler the better. If you don’t know what the ingredients are or where they came from throw the food in the bin. It shouldn’t stink, it shouldn’t make your dog stink, and it certainly shouldn’t be heavily processed.”
To make pet owners understand what their dogs need, Louise says to try and think of what they would have eaten in the wild. They would chew on raw bones, rip flesh off carcasses and supplement their diet with natural vegetables and fruit. She said: ‘If left to its own devices, a dog will catch or scavenge its food from the prey of others, and will eat virtually everything – the flesh (a great source of essential protein), fat (a source of energy), bone (a source of calcium and other minerals), muscle, organ meats and stomach (an excellent source of enzymes, minerals and pre-digested plant material. Dogs, both domesticated and wild, are members of the carnivore family, and are anatomically built for eating meat. Their teeth are designed for tearing and chewing, their short intestines avoid the putrefaction of flesh foods, and the powerful digestive juices can even dissolve lumps of bone.”
And commercial dog foods actually contain foods that dogs would never eat in the wild such as cereals, grains, and soya, which can cause your pet to develop rashes and yeast infections.
Louise has some top tips for feeding dogs, they include feeding your dog raw foods such as uncooked bones and vegetables, making cheap casseroles using leftover veg and cheap cuts of meat from your butcher, adding coconut oil to food and sourcing independent manufacturers such as Lily’s Kitchen tins, Nutriment, Venison for Pets, Angell Petco.
The Truth About Your Dog’s Food airs on Thursday 30 January on Channel 5 at 9pm