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Messages - David

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My 11 year old retriever has recently had some pre-op bloods which have thrown up a few concerning figures, leading me to assess what she is eating - cholesterol is too high for one. She is fed commercially prepared raw and I try to favour the lower fat meats - however, when I look at the Food directory and the composition and analysis, I don't fully understand the dials (dry food analysis). In most cases regardless of fat % on packet, it is showing in the dry food analysis as above average in fat. Which should I be taking notice of? I will happily switch her to different type of food - cooked or cold pressed - if that would be better for her.

Hi Reggie and thanks for your question. The dials indicate how each foods' macronutrient levels stack up against the industry average. Most dog owners will never have to consider this information but for owners like yourself that are specifically looking for a certain nutriment profile, they can be quite useful.

They deal with the dry matter nutrient levels (as opposed to the as-fed ones displayed on the pack) since they are the best way to compare foods with differing moisture levels. You can find more information on how dry matter nutrient levels are calculated and why they are useful here.

You can also use the 'nutrient level' filters on the directory to remove foods with too high fat from your search results.

I hope that helps.

Dog foods / As-Fed compositions
« on: Mar 05, 2021, 08:01 »
As many of you will know, the ingredient percentages declared on a dog food's packaging refer to the ingredient proportions before processing and very often don't line up with those in the finished product.

But calculating the final, all important 'as-fed' ingredient percentages from those given on the pack can be a real challenge even for dog food veterans.

So to help shed a little more light on the true nature of our pet foods, I've been working on a brand new pie chart feature which is now live on every food and treat page and also on the instant review generator.

It is still in beta phase so if you spot any errors, do let me know. And, as always, any feedback gratefully received!

For more info on as-fed vs mixing-bowl compositions, check out our brief guide here.

General discussion / Re: Is this safe to feed
« on: Jan 04, 2021, 08:45 »
Hi Lagottolove and many thanks for raising this very interesting topic and thank you to Dottie and Seaweed for the insights you have been able to uncover. I had honestly never given much thought to lead contamination of meats but you are quite right that it is worrying.

As you have found, there have not been many studies into the implications of lead shot in meats even for human consumption, let alone out pets so drawing any concrete conclusions is difficult. However, according to this study from 2016 "a daily dose of around 1 mg lead as lead acetate/kg body weight for ten days may be considered as a Lowest Observed Effect Level in dogs" and they conclude that "feeding dogs trimmings of lead-shot game may represent a risk of lead intoxication", although they do go on to say that more studies are needed to assess the exact consequences.

With this in mind, it would certainly seem wise to keep game meats as a fairly small and occasional part of the overall diet, at least until we know more or until lead shot is outlawed for game hunting. I'll have to include some kind of footnote on any applicable products we feature on the site. Thanks again for bringing this to my attention.

Dog foods / Re: The big question: What do you feed?
« on: Jan 04, 2021, 06:37 »
I did not see Purina and Science Diet on the list. Are they not available in the UK? I used to order them from PetCareRX when I was in the United States. They are my favorite brands of dog food along with Royal Canin.

Thanks for posting Charlie Scott. I have added those two options to the poll so please cast your vote when you get the chance.

General discussion / Thank you and merry Christmas!
« on: Dec 22, 2020, 07:14 »
I just wanted to write a quick post to thank all of our amazing members for helping to keep this forum such a welcoming and informative place for dog owners all over the world!

In this modern age of tweets, trolls and sponsored content, refuges like this that offer friendly, honest, nuanced advice are becoming increasingly important but also increasingly rare.

And an extra special thanks to our two volunteer site moderators, Dottie and Tinyplanets, both of whom have been working tirelessly on the forum right from the start. I honestly don't know what I would do without you two!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and the very best for the year ahead!


Dog foods / Re: Beet Pulp allergy
« on: Dec 18, 2020, 12:46 »
Hi SueG and many thanks for bringing that error to my attention. I think I have fixed it now but do let me know if you spot any other foods appearing in the search results that shouldn't be.

Hi Steve,

That's a great question. Basically there aren't any set rules for calculating feeding guidelines so different companies do it in different ways.

Many pet food companies simply calculate their figures from FEDIAF's 'estimated daily maintenance energy requirements' (110kcal metabolisable energy per kg body weight for adult dogs for example) while others use more advanced equations or may carry out feeding trials. To find out which model your pet food manufacturer uses, you will need to ask them directly.

It is worth noting that manufacturers are heavily incentivised to choose models that provide low daily feeding amounts, even if those amounts aren't quite accurate. This is because lower daily feeding recommendations mean a lower estimated price per day which is becoming an increasingly important consideration for a lot of pet owners.

Our calorie calculator works out the suggested amounts based on studies carried out by the Hummel & Trueman Hospital for Companion Animals in the US which is one of the more specific, evidence based models available.

I hope that helps.

I finally managed to finish off the Feeding Itchy Dogs and Elimination Diets articles. Hope they are of some help:

Feeding Itchy Dogs
Elimination Diets

Thanks Dottie! Always good to have an excuse to talk pet food and hopefully it will be of some value to pet owners out there.

FYI, the first episode on the human-canine relationship is also very interesting and well worth a listen if you have the time.

Feeding dogs with health problems / Re: Wet Food Additives
« on: Sep 10, 2020, 07:19 »
One thing puzzles me, with the W&D menus they only give the meat or fish percentage of the ingredients so how can the calculator work it out accurately?  I notice Alflora give more information regarding percentages of ingredients.

Great question Vivann. The rating algorithm essentially takes whatever percentage information is available and uses it to fill in any blanks by calculating the possible range of percentages for each ingredient in the food.

Wherever information is not provided, it always assumes the worst. So when the percentage of a desirable ingredient like meat is missing, the algorithm will assume it it the lowest percent possible and for undesirable ingredients like fillers etc, it will assume it is the highest possible percentage.

In this way, even when few or even no percentages are provided, we are still able to get a fairly good estimate of how much of each ingredient a food is likely to contain.

Of course, this could result in a score that is lower than it would be if all of the percentages were provided but as a general rule, companies only withhold information if they believe it is in their interest to do so, so by assuming the worst you usually get quite close to the truth.

We're also huge advocates of clear labelling so are keen to reward those companies that have open, transparent ingredients lists and downgrade those that do not.

I hope that all makes sense.

Feeding dogs with health problems / Re: Wet Food Additives
« on: Sep 09, 2020, 06:56 »
I can see that the instant review generator is causing a bit of confusion, for which I apologise. I'm afraid it's still a bit temperamental and if everything isn't entered exactly as it expects, it can give incorrect readings.

First, you should only enter the ingredients list (sometimes called composition) so not the nutritional additives or anything else. And then all the ingredients need to be separated by a comma.

So for Walter & Drake Ocean Fish, the ingredients list should read:
Dried Ocean Fish 42%, Sweet Potato, Beet Pulp, Chicken Oil, Peas, Fish Oil, FOS Inulin, Yeast Bio-Mos, Psyllium Husk Powder, Apple, Carrot, Tomato, Seaweed, Cranberry, Flavour Bioflavex, Glucosamine, Fenugreek, Green Tea Extract, Fennel Seed, Blueberry, Yucca Schidigera, Chondroitin, Marigold Powder, Devils Claw Root.
Which provides a nutritional rating of 86%

And for Aflora Beef and Whitefish:
Dried Ground Beef 32%, Sweet Potato 30%, Dried Ground White Fish 10%, Peas 5%, Tapioca 6.5%, Beet Pulp 5%, Rapeseed Oil 3.5%, Linseed Oil 3.5%, Vitamins & Minerals 1.25%, Dried Vegetables (Carrot, Celery Root), Dried Apple, Dried Herbs (Sage, Thyme, Oregano), Seaweed, Yucca, Fennel, Nettle, Chondroitin, Glucosamine, Turmeric, Dandelion Root.
Which provides a nutritional rating of 87%

I hope that helps.

General discussion / Has your vet been brainwashed?
« on: Sep 08, 2020, 14:32 »
This article has been a very long time coming but I think I've managed to do the subject justice.

As always, would love to hear everyone's thoughts.

Feeding dogs with health problems / Re: Wet Food Additives
« on: Aug 28, 2020, 07:50 »
Sorry I'm so late to the conversation. Really sorry to hear about your little girl's poor health. It sounds like a very complex issue so it's hard for me to give too much in the way of feeding advice but Dottie's suggestion of home preparing food is a great one as it gives you total control of what goes in. By providing a basic but nutritious home prepared exclusion diet, you should be able to fairly quickly find out which ingredients are fine and which are not.

On the subject of wet food additives, I've been attempting to get my head around the various thickeners and gelling agents that are used for some time but, as you have found, information is pretty thin on the ground and most manufacturers simply will not answer questions. I have, however, been able to speak with one very reputable wet food producer and they have shared the following information:

  • Thickening and gelling agents are typically only needed in 'paté' or 'loaf' type wet foods (so not slurry type foods or chunks in jelly/gravy type foods)
  • Thickening and gelling agents are not the same. Thickening agents include Cassia Gum, Locust bean gum, and Guar gum. Gelling agents (Agar-Agar, Konjac, Carrageenan, Alginate) will be used alongside these ingredients to then set the product.
  • Quote: "Thickeners will not form a gel alone and so one of the above gelling agents would need to be included"
  • Cassia gum always needs to be declared on the label since it has a legal maximum percentage
  • Quote: "Cassia is used to enhance the gelling strength of Carrageenan. Cassia serves absolutely no purpose in a system unless Carrageenan is also present and there is zero merit to using it unless also using carrageenan."

Again, this is a highly reputable, well established wet food producer so I have total faith in their information.

So, essentially, if a food contains cassia gum then it must be declared on the label and it stands to reason that the food also contains carrageenan. Carrageenan can also be used in conjunction with other thickeners that do not need to be declared on the ingredients list so if you are determined to avoid it, your best option would be to steer clear of pate and loaf type foods altogether.

Actually, one big exception here is grains which will always be added as a dried ingredient in both wet and dry foods.

Usually, when an ingredient is not specified as being fresh, dry, dehydrated, powdered etc, it will have been added in the same format as the finished product - i.e. dry in dry foods, 'fresh' (that is including its natural water content) in wet foods.

I say usually because different companies label in different ways so nothing is for certain. If in doubt, check with the manufacturer.

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