All About Dog Food FAQ

Dog Feeding FAQ

arrowWhat do the profile symbols mean?

arrowHow are the expert ratings calculated?

arrowHow are the daily feeding amounts calculated?

arrowHow are the daily feeding costs calculated?

arrowWhat do the nutrient levels mean for my dog?

arrowWhy is the All About Dog Food business registered in Finland?



What do the profile symbols mean?

Our unique profile symbols are intended to quickly and easily let you know if a food might be suitable for your dog or not. We have given each food five symbols to represent 5 of the most commonly discussed dog food characteristics - additives, hypoallergenic ingredients, meat content, cereal content and the clarity of the labelling.

natural

You will only see our natural logo on foods that are free from all artificial preservatives, antioxidants, colourings and flavourings. The logo is also not awarded to foods containing other controversial synthetic ingredients like sodium HMP and STPP.

high meat

The high meat logo means that the food contains at least 30% meat on a dry matter basis (once all of the food's water has been removed). Obviously, if the percentage of meat is not stated the high meat logo cannot be awarded.

hypoallergenic

For a food to be called hypoallergenic it must have a low chance of causing allergies. We therefore only give our hypoallergenic logo to foods that are free from ingredients like wheat, maize, dairy products, soya products and artificial additives, all of which are regularly linked by veterinarians to food allergies and intolerance in dogs.

grain free

As you might expect, our grain free logo is given to foods that are free from all cereals including wheat, rice, maize, barley and oats.

clear ingredients

In order to receive the clear logo, foods must state each ingredient clearly and individually and must give a good indication of their percentage meat content. Any unspecified or vague ingredients will mean that the clear logo is not given.



How are the expert ratings calculated?

AllAboutDogFood.co.uk is all about helping dog owners to make the very best decisions for their dogs. To make that process easier, we give every dog food and treat a special 'Expert Rating' out of five stars.

ratings stars

The expert rating shows how beneficial we expect a food or treat to be for the majority of dogs based on its stated ingredients.

What makes our ratings unique though is the way in which they are calculated: we have spent the last two years developing and fine tuning our very own computer program to generate the most accurate, most precise nutritional ratings on the internet.

When an ingredient list is fed into the program, it reads through the list, identifying the quality and quantity of every single ingredient. Of course, as long as the ingredients' percentages are stated, the program's job is fairly simple but where it really comes into its own is in calculating the likely percentages of ingredients who's percentages are not provided. Through some pretty complex maths, the program is able to identify the likely quantity of each and every ingredient in the food, whether the manufacturer wants us to know or not.

Using a program in this way ensures that our ratings remain as fair and impartial as possible.

To give you a better idea of how the rating program works, each ingredient is scored according to how beneficial we think it is based on our own thorough research and canine nutritionist experience. Nutritious and health promoting ingredients are rewarded with additional points while points are deducted for fillers and controversial ingredients. Naturally, too much or too little of anything would have an adverse effect on the score.

Whenever the full information is not provided - for example, where percentages are not stated or if ambiguous 'umbrella' terms like 'cereals' or 'meat and animal derivatives' are used, we always assume the worst. For example, where the percentage of a low-grade ingredient is not given, the rating is calculated based on the maximum percentage of the ingredient that could be present in the food. Conversely, when a food has an unspecified amount of a high-grade ingredient, the rating is generated using the minimum amount that could be in the food. This may seem a bit harsh but from our experience, if anything in a dog food is worth bragging about, chances are they are already doing so and when information is hidden, it is usually for a good reason.

Here are a few of the overriding principles of our rating program:

Meat: Meat should always be the cornerstone of a dog's diet and our rating system has been designed accordingly. Up to a point, the more meat a food contains, the better it will score.

Carbohydrates: Carbs are scored according to their nutritional value (including how easily they can be digested by the dog) and their quantity. Highly nutritious carbs like brown rice and sweet potato tend to score positively while more problematic carbs like maize and wheat always lose points. Too much of any carb is regarded as a filler and is downgraded.

Vegetables, fruits and herbs: We have always found many vegetables, fruits and herbs to be enormously beneficial for dogs and award points accordingly.

Ingredient quality: The quality of the ingredients is, of course, paramount, with high end, nutritionally dense ingredients scoring much better that highly processed forms, derivatives or by-products.

Our aim is simply to give an unbiased reflection on how healthy and nutritious the food is likely to be for your dog. We have not tested the foods and we do not take into account the typical analyses, price, carbon emissions, ingredient sourcing, ethical implications, processing methods or anybody's personal opinions.



How are the daily feeding amounts calculated?

For each featured product we have collected the manufacturer's feeding guidelines, either from the food's packaging or from the manufacturer's own website. When you select your dog's weight on All About Dog Food, the site goes about calculating the feeding amounts based on the manufacturers' suggestions for an average dog in the selected weight bracket. For example, if you select 20-30kg as your dog's weight, the feeding amounts are calculated for a 25kg dog.

Unfortunately, it's rarely that easy. Many manufacturers have very different ways of providing feeding guidelines. For example, where food X tells you how much to feed if your dog weighs 5kg, 10kg, 15kg and so on, food Y may only provide a figure for 'small dogs', 'medium dogs' etc. Others might say something like "dog's weight: 0-20kg, daily amount: 100-400g" which leaves a awful lot of guesswork. In all cases, where exact amounts are not given, we extrapolate the figures that are provided to make a best estimate.

For puppies things get even more complicated: Many foods provide different feeding guidelines depending on the puppy's age and while some feeding amounts are based on the puppy's current weight, others use the expected adult weight. To allow for a more accurate comparison, we have re-calculated the feeding amounts so that you only have to enter the puppy's current weight. Where several figures are given for different ages of puppies, we have used the one for 6 months of age.

Where dog food producers provide alternative feeding amounts for any other reasons (for example, for very active dogs, breeding bitches etc.) we only ever use the 'normal' value.


For these reasons, we strongly recommend consulting the manufacturer's full guidelines before feeding any dog food.

The daily feeding amounts provided by All About Dog Food are provided only to allow dog owners to make like-for-like comparisons and to get a reflection of the relative cost of feeding a food. The figures provided on All About Dog Food are approximate and should not be used as an alternative to the manufacturer's own guidelines which can be found on the product's packaging.



How are the daily feeding costs calculated?

The feeding costs are calculated based on feeding the suggested daily amount (see above) from the largest pack size bought at full recommended retail price. Since prices are changing all the time, some costs may be inaccurate. If you notice any inaccuracies at all, please contact us.



What do the nutrient levels mean for my dog?

On the packaging of every dog food in the land you will find the levels of four macro-nutrients - protein, fat, fibre and ash. For some dog owners (see below), these levels can be very important so with each product listing, we have provided nutrient dials to help see how different foods compare. The dials show the percentages of the nutrients after the water has been removed allowing you to directly compare the nutrient makeup of dry foods against wet foods.

nutrient dials

Do I need to worry about nutrient levels? Probably not. As long as your dog is fit and well and doesn't have any history of health problems, then chances are the macro-nutrient levels of your dog food won't even need to cross your mind. If, on the other hand, your dog belongs to one of the below groups, the nutrient levels may need to be considered.

Overweight dogs: If your dog needs to lose weight, try to look for a food with below average fat levels.

Hungry dogs: For very food-orientated dogs, a high fibre diet can really help by slowing down digestion and making him feel fuller for longer.

Highly exercised dogs: The best sources of energy for a dog are fat and protein so if your dog is engaged in rigorous activity on a daily basis, he may benefit from a food with above average fat and protein levels.

Puppies: To maintain healthy growth, puppies need plenty of protein and fat - any puppy formula should fit the bill.

Health problems: Many health problems can be eased or even cured with dietary changes so if your dog is suffering from anything from itchy skin to cancer, please ask your vet what macro-nutrient levels would be best.

Once you have an idea of the best nutrient profile for your dog, please visit our Advanced Dog Food Search page - you can specify the levels of protein, fat, fibre and ash you're looking for under "Search by nutrient levels..." before clicking "Search and compare" for a full list of suitable foods..



Why is the All About Dog Food business registered in Finland?

finnish flagAll About Dog Food is registered in Finland because that's where I (the site's creator, David) live.

My wife (who is from Finland) and I moved from the UK in 2011, just after starting to put the site together, to allow her to better pursue her career.

Despite not living in good old Blighty, I do get back very regularly and am lucky enough to have a dedicated group of UK dog owners, pet food retailers and pet care professionals who help me to stay up to date with all of the industry goings on.



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