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Messages - David

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Great thread and a complex subject so apologies if this turns into a lengthy post.

Personally I have no problem with grains per se and like many of you, I have always found certain forms (especially whole brown rice) to be very beneficial for a lot of dogs.

Other grains like wheat and, to a lesser extent, maize do cause problems for some dogs but from my experience, for dogs without intolerance to these specific grains, they can be fine and (particularly in their whole form) might actually be beneficial.

Regarding the rating algorithm, being grain free does not increase a food's score. The fact that most of the 'best' foods out there are grain free is more to do with manufacturers driving and responding to consumer trends than any proven nutritional benefit. I'll go more into this below but for now back to the algorithm:

Brown rice scores well; Oats, barley etc are more or less neutral; Maize is downgraded slightly; Wheat is downgraded more. This is because the scores are intended to indicate how healthy a food will be for the majority of dogs.

Scores for all ingredients (not just grains) also depend on the percentages present and high levels of any ingredient that could be regarded as a 'filler' reduces a food's score. For example, 5% white rice will score a lot better than 50% white rice and despite brown rice being a 'good' ingredient, a very high percentage will cost points.

So why are all of the top rated foods grain free? Well, in order to be successful a manufacturer has to give its customers what they want and right now most of the people buying the very top end foods are looking specifically for grain free foods. Grain has developed such a bad reputation over the last few years that putting it into a food immediately eliminates a huge section of the market. Even if a high-end producer found that adding grain to their foods would be beneficial to dogs, they just couldn't do it as it would mean virtual commercial suicide.

It is a positive feed back loop that probably started with some clever marketing by the early grain free manufacturers and has now resulted in grain being the bogey man of pet food.

I completely acknowledge that I too play my part in the loop. As you'll all know, one of the five 'at a glance' symbols on the site is whether a food is grain free or not. This wasn't originally the plan but with so many people specifically looking for grain free foods, I added the symbol to make their searches easier. This obviously creates the false impression that grain-free is an important characteristic to look for in a food on a par with natural or clearly labelled but this is not the case at all. Sadly, the balance between giving visitors what they want and what I think they should want is a difficult one.

Site help and suggestions / Re: Country of Origin filter
« on: Mar 17, 2017, 06:23 »
I thought it would be nice in the "type of food" to add a "single protein" option. Users can already (sort-of) do it by leaving only 1 meat source unticked in the "avoid ingredients" filter, but I thought this would be a nice add-on anyway... if it's not too complicated, of course!
This would actually help people who have dogs with food intolerance (even though I wouldn't trust a single protein food for a food allergy... but that's a separate issue).
Excellent idea Red_Akita. It will need a certain amount of programming and/or data collection to identify the single protein foods so it may take a little while but I will add it to the updates list.

Introductions / Re: Hello everyone!
« on: Mar 13, 2017, 09:08 »
I'm very happy to say that Red_Akita is going to be our newest moderator here on the forum as well as helping out with other elements on the site.

As he has mentioned, he has plenty of experience with dealing with doggy dietary problems and has actually decided to make a career change into pet nutrition! I for one can't wait to hear how the journey progresses!

Welcome on board Red_Akita. I'm sure you'll be a huge asset to our amazing community!

Site help and suggestions / Re: Country of Origin filter
« on: Mar 13, 2017, 08:58 »
No problem at all! More updates and features are coming soon but if there's anything else you would like to see added or changed on the site, do let me know.

Site help and suggestions / Re: Country of Origin filter
« on: Mar 10, 2017, 16:08 »
I should say, it's not yet rolled out to the mobile site

Site help and suggestions / Re: Country of Origin filter
« on: Mar 10, 2017, 15:35 »
Hi Meg,

Great ideas as always. The expanded food types filter has actually been on the cards for a while so with your post I decided to knuckle down and get it done. Let me know what you think.

The packaging filter will come later.

Thanks for being so on-the-ball Meg! I'll get the listings updated asap.

Thanks Meg

General discussion / Re: 'All life stages' - High Calcium
« on: Feb 14, 2017, 14:51 »
Hi Poppy and thanks for posting. Right now all of our ratings are based purely on the stated ingredients and the feeding recommendations that we publish are identical to those of the manufacturer. However, we are in the middle of overhauling our rating algorithm and I can tell you that nutrient levels will soon form an important part of each product's overall score and will also affect what dogs we recommend the food for.

Hi 4max and thanks for posting. There's actually no difference between the two statements. The brackets are optional.

You can now change your votes. Great poll by the way!

Sorry everyone! The error should be fixed now.

Site help and suggestions / Site bugs
« on: Jan 25, 2017, 08:35 »
Apologies for all of the bugs that have been appearing over the last 24 hours. I have been moving the entire site on to a secure server but in doing so it has thrown up a lot of unexpected errors, especially with the forum. I’m hoping everything is fixed now but if you spot anything at all not working as it should, do let me know.

Many thanks,


Yes indeed, as Dottie says, both of those ideas are in the pipeline - a series of articles for owners of dogs with specific health conditions and a 'targeted condition' filter for the directory. I've been collecting data for the latter for a while now so it won't be long before I'm ready to begin the programming. Watch this space!

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