All about AllAboutDogFood
AllAboutDogFood.co.uk is intended to be a one-stop-shop for anyone interested in their dog's diet. It includes the world’s first interactive dog food and dog treat directories as well as the first dynamic dog food comparison page. Our comprehensive feeding guide, dog food FAQ and dedicated dog food forum also give dog owners access to a huge amount of impartial nutritional advice and best of all, it's all free!
My name is David Jackson and I am the creator, designer, developer and researcher of AllAboutDogFood.co.uk, not to mention the proud owner of Ned, my gorgeous border terrier.
I have been a canine nutritionist for just over a decade, working with a number of dog food producers and collaborating with some of our country's top dog experts including vets, behaviourists, trainers, groomers and breeders to help thousands of dog owners to make the right dietary choices for their four-legged friends.
What really opened my eyes though was working in a number of secondary roles within the pet food industry - from product formulation, manufacturing and quality control through to marketing, graphic design and sales. I have been able to see exactly how pet foods are designed and manufactured and, crucially, how those products are then sold to the public. Most importantly, I know how to see through the smoke and mirrors of the packaging to what is actually in a dog food and I know how those contents are likely to affect the dogs that eat them.
Work started on the site in 2011. From day one I was determined that the site would be 100% independent and transparent so I immediately severed all working ties with pet food manufacturers and ceased all forms of paid consultation. The first version, called WhichDogFood.co.uk, went live on March 10th 2012 and, it has to be said, went virtually unnoticed, at least for the first few months. With no advertising budget, it took what seemed like an age for word to start to spread but once it did, there was no looking back!
For the first couple of years, every spare hour went into expanding the database and developing the site and after a while, when it became clear that it was going to be much more than a simple product finder, the name WhichDogFood just didn't seem to cut it anymore. I have always been all about dog food so picking the new name wasn't difficult.
Now in 2015, AADF is the UK's number one pet feeding advice site. Over 70,000 people from over 130 countries worldwide visit the site every month and, with your support, that number is growing all of the time. Of course, with over 8 million dogs in the UK alone, we still have a very, very long way to go so please keep spreading the word and if you have any suggestions for the site or if you spot any inaccuracies at all, please be sure to let me know.
The big question - how are we funded? Briefcases of cash changing hands on park benches? Sadly not. Although the site's revenue is slowly increasing, it still doesn't make nearly enough to warrant the hours put in. Nevertheless, of the money that does come in, the lion's share comes from the 'buy online' links you can find on most of our food and treat review pages. As well as generating a little cash, these buttons help to smooth the user experience by taking customers directly to the relevant products on trusted web stores. We always try to give the manufacturers themselves first refusal as they should be the most reputable source for any food but when they are not interested, we then try to look for a dependable, ethical online retailer to direct customers to instead.
To ensure fairness, we charge the same flat (and very small) monthly fee for all buy-online buttons, no matter what rating the product is awarded or how many clicks the button gets. The adverts, like the one on the right of this page, also bring in a little money but we don't allow any direct advertising of any of the products or brands we review. In time we're also hoping to charge pet shops and other retailers for premium listings on our store finder but at the moment we are giving premium listings away for free. We don't charge for listing products and we never accept any other forms of payment, donations or gifts from vested interests.
Fortunately, by doing everything myself, and I do mean everything, the site's costs are very low but if it was just about the money, AADF would have been shut down a long time ago. I do, of course, have ambitions that the site will one day make a good living but in the mean time, as crazy as it may sound (even to myself), I am happy just to make a difference.
I want to change the world. I accept that this probably comes across as a bit delusional but, nevertheless, through little nudges, I believe we can all make a big difference. With this site, I hope to change the way people buy their dog food, which will change the industry and make our dogs' lives a whole lot better. Brace yourselves, it's about to get a bit philosophical...
For far too long, pet food manufacturers have been able to get away with producing, frankly, awful foods for our pets. Somebody once said "don't blame the player, blame the game" and never has that been more appropriate. The game here is corporate capitalism and there is only one rule - make as much money as possible. The companies best able to cut costs while maximising income reign supreme and while that might work in other industries, it is not good news for our pets. The combination of low grade ingredients and elevated prices has been such a recipe for success for the 'the big 3' pet food corporations that most consumers aren't even aware that alternatives exist. And what's worse, the health problems that are often linked to low grade foods are now so widespread that many pet owners just disregard them as a normal part of a dog's life. So many dogs are living short, problem-filled lives and nobody's blinking an eye.
But things can change.
As with any game, the key is understanding the rules. Making as much money as possible depends on selling products which makes the consumer, that's you and me, king! By unveiling the enormous variety of foods out there and by letting people know what makes one food different from another and what effects those differences might have on their dogs, dog owners will, for the first time, be able to choose what's right for their dog instead of what's right for corporate profits. And as more and more people change to better foods, the entire industry will have to move to catch up and before we know it, our dogs will be as healthy and as happy as they deserve to be!
I have always been an optimist.
If you have any questions, comments or criticisms, or if you would like to contribute to AllAboutDogFood.co.uk in any way, please get in touch here.