Category Archives: Nutrition

Naturediet Complete Dog Food

Our search for good quality complete dog food that we can feed George (without feeling guilty about it) when we’re camping away continues. This time, we tested the Naturediet range of products, which promise to provide all dogs with “the finest food – naturally!”. The key company statement – displayed on every pack and all over their website – is “We care what goes into our food, because you care what goes into your pet”. Since I completely agree with the second half of this statement, I was very keen to check out if the first half is supported by the product itself, or is just another empty promise.

We found 4 different Naturediet products – all bearing the Certified Holistic Product stamp – available on our shelves: Lamb with Vegetables & Rice, Rabbit & Turkey with Vegetables & Rice, Chicken with Vegetables & Rice and Fish with  Potato & Rice. A puppy/junior, a senior/lite and a sensitive version are also available, but these are of no interest to us. Because George’s previous experience with minced chicken hasn’t been that great and because he gets plenty of fish every week, we only purchased the first two products, the lamb and rabbit & turkey-based ones. Then we asked George to test them and tell us what he thinks.

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Well, there were no problems with the fussy whippet. He showed a significant amount of interest and emptied his bowl within minutes. He even licked his lips and asked for more, which is always a good sign. In case you can’t read the small print in the photo above, here is what the label says about the ingredients used in this food:

“Turkey min 40%, Rabbit min 20%, Brown rice min 5%, Vegetables min 5%, Natural Ground Bone, Kelp, Herbs (Rosemary & Rubbed Sage), Omega 3 & 6 (provided by Flax, Fish Oil & Meat) min 0.25% & 0.75%, Vitamins and Minerals, Vit A 1250 iu/kg, Vit D3 150 iu/kg, Vit E 20 mg/kg.”

The lamb-based food incorporates exactly the same ingredients, with lamb meat representing at least 60% of the total composition. The meat content is lower than the one found in the tripe and rice food we reviewed last month, but the addition of ground bone is more than welcome and, in my view, compensates for the 5-10% less meat this food contains.

It might also be worth adding that this is a product manufactured in the UK by a British company, which matches our preference for local produce. However, I was unable to identify – on the product label or the company website – whether the meat, especially the lamb, comes from animals raised in the UK, which to me would make a world of difference.

Overall, a good product that we will most likely buy again, when planning our trips away from home.

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Guide to My Little Dog’s Barf Diet: Others

 My last post in the Barf series is dedicated to the bits and bobs that come to supplement George’s diet. Although these little extras only account for a small percentage of his weekly food intake, they do play an important role in keeping him healthy and happy. So here are the last secrets of my little boy’s diet:

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1) Mixer. One of the best wholemeal natural biscuits I found on the market is the Laughing Dog Traditional Mixer Meal Puppy & Small Dog Kibble. I purchase it off the Internet in 15 kg bags and store it in the garage. The puppy and small dog kibble pictured above is just the right size for George, but a bigger version – ideal for large dogs – is also available. I add one handful of this mixer to each of his meat meals. The irony is that we live only 3 miles down the road from where the Laughing Dog factory was, but never bought George’s mixer from their shop because it was a lot more expensive there than online. The company closed down about a year ago, but this product was taken over by another company who are still selling it under its original label. If you want to check them out, click on the name of the product above.

2) Dietary herbal supplements. I am always happy to recommend the wonderful supplements produced by the small and enthusiastic Dorwest team. My favourite product is Keepers Mix, a “herbal conditioning supplement for dogs and cats” (from the label). It is ethically produced and contains kelp for coat growth and pigmentation, celery seeds for free movement and suppleness, alfalfa for vitamins A, C, E and K, nettle for vitamin C, rosemary for digestion, flatulence and a healthy heart, Psyllium husks for the bowel and digestion, Clivers for the skin, kidneys and bladder function, and Wild Yam root for a healthy intestine. A complete product, which can prove particularly helpful for dogs who do not eat vegetables. If you’d like to read more about this product, click on its name.

3) Eggs. This is a tricky and slightly controversial subject. I know people who give their dogs raw egg, shell including. They literally take their dog out in the garden and give them a whole egg to play with and, eventually, eat. Some people cringe at the thought of this practice, mainly because of the risk of salmonella that we’ve been educated to expect to find in raw eggs. Although I personally don’t think the risk is that great – as long as you make sure your eggs come from high-quality, healthy chickens – I don’t feed raw egg because George hates it. The only part he’d eat is the shell, which he likes so much that he’ll try to fish it out of the compost bin. But, since eggs are a great source of protein, riboflavin, selenium and calcium, I was keen to find a way to feed it to George, and I found it in the form of scrambled egg. Although George won’t eat scrambled egg on its own, he’s happy to give it a go when it is mixed with his normal food. I feed George scrambled egg once a week, as I think it is enough for him, especially since he also gets bones on a regular basis. If you don’t like scraping pans, hard-boiled eggs are a good alternative to scrambled egg.

4) Natural, probiotic yoghurt. This is natural source of calcium and bacteria like Lactobacillus acidophilus, which is beneficial for the digestive tract and inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria. Yogurt helps with conditions like diarrhea, constipation, irritable bowel movement, skin rashes and scratching, hair loss and constipation. It also produces folic acid and niacin which are important vitamins in pregnancy, enhances the immune system, reduces cholesterol levels and changes the microflora in the gut. A very beneficial addition to a dog’s diet, which is not required in large quantities. I simply add one spoonful of plain yoghurt to George’s dish (or let him lick it from a saucer) a few times a week.

5) Cottage cheese. It’s benefits are very similar to yoghurt, with a plus for texture. George is not a big fan of cottage cheese, but will eat it once in a while. Many people feed it as an add-on to scrambled egg.

6) Garlic. We give George garlic tablets from Dorwest as a food supplement. Although it appears that some people are not big fans of giving garlic to dogs, I couldn’t find any convincing arguments against it, but I did find a lot of reasons to give it to my dog. Garlic is a good anti-infectious agent, creating an environment hostile to parasites. This is a great advantage for us, since George is a very keen sniffer and ‘taster’, being therefore exposed to the risk of picking up nasty germs during his walks. Garlic also aids blood circulation, helps keep a healthy heart, can be used to treat coughs and helps maintain general health. Garlic powder is also available, from various suppliers, if you find it difficult to give tablets to your dog. George likes to chew on his, although I sometimes crush and sprinkle them on his food.

This brings the current series of posts about dog nutrition to its conclusion. I will be touching upon this subject again in the future as my knowledge on the subject increases. There is still so much to learn, and I will make sure to share any new ‘discovery’ with all of you who are interested. In the meantime, I leave you with the hope that my personal interpretation of the Barf diet and its principles has managed to provide some help and inspiration.

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Guide to My Little Dog’s Barf Diet: Fish

It’s Friday again and, as promised, I return with the penultimate instalment of our guide to the Barf diet. After previously concentrating on meat, offal, bones, fruit and vegetables as the main components of raw feeding, it is time to discuss an ingredient that could be included in the meat category, but I prefer to deal with separately: fish.

Fish is a healthy, vital ingredient to a healthy human or canine diet alike. It is low in saturated fat and high in protein but, more importantly, it contains omega-3 fatty acids.  These are essential ingredients for leading a healthy life and have proved extremely beneficial in reducing heart disease and the risk of developing cardiovascular problems, preserving brain health and fighting depression and cancer. However, the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids (or fish oil) are so many that volumes can be written on this subject alone. If you’d like to read more about why you should feed yourselves, your family and your dogs fish, here’s a website I found extremely helpful in my research on the subject.

The fish we feed George includes: mackerel, tuna, sardines, salmon and any other type of fish we choose for our own dinner. Mackerel is by far our favourite choice, as it is very oily (i.e. rich in omega-3 acids), has smooth flesh and a sweet taste, does not have too many bones, lives in the sea (i.e. is not farmed), is locally sourced and hardly costs anything. If you reduce it all down to only one type of fish to feed your dog, I’d go for mackerel.

Salmon is George’s other big favourite, but is too expensive to feed on a regular basis, as least in the form of fillets. However, my friend at littledogsonlongleashes has come up with the great idea of buying salmon bones, cooking them and scraping off the meat. A great and much cheaper option if you insist on making salmon part of your dog’s diet.  

George’s tuna and sardines come from a tin and are not always a big success. For some reason, sometimes he can’t have enough of them, whilst at other times they end up in the bin. For this reason, they don’t always find their place in our shopping trolley and we choose to rely on the fresh fish we regularly buy. If you’re asking which type of tinned sardines are best, all I can tell you is that there are dogs who prefer them in spring water (like George), dogs who like theirs in olive oil and dogs who will only eat them in a tomato sauce. It’s just a matter of asking your fur babies what they prefer.

There is one last type of fish I’d like to mention: sprats. They’re small, they’re oily, they’re super tasty, they’re very cheap and they’re very often overlooked. Sprats find their way on our table and in George’s food bowl in the summer, as there’s a holiday feel about them roasting away on the barbecue. George gets them whole, as little finger treats to munch on in the garden. If your dog is a fan of ice-cream and you’re feeling experimental, you could offer him a little sprat icicle fresh from the freezer to cool him down. I’ve heard of a few people who use this rather successfully, and I’ve got it on my list to try it with George this summer.

The good news is that fish comes in a great variety of species, textures and sizes which gives you choice. There’s bound to be one type of fish to suit every dog’s taste.  The even better news is that, whichever you go for, it will be packed with goodness that will work wonders for your pets, regardless of whether you are ‘risky’ enough to feed it raw or would rather cook it first. There’s no excuse for denying our dogs the benefits of fine dining!

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