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This may be in the wrong place (please move it if it is) but as the subject seems to attract a lot of "nutritionalist" mumbo jumbo, I reaconed this is where it should be.

I have owned dogs all of my life and for the past 25 years have shared my life with an assortment of border collies. I have never had a problem feeding my dogs before, my mantra being "hunger's guid kitchen" (translated as: you'll eat it if you are hungry). My dogs have been fed plain old dry dog feed (VAT free) with kitchen scraps and on cold mornings, porridge. I never had the need to look into the dog food world.
However, one of my current dogs has a problem keeping weight on and is very, very thin. There is nothing physically wrong with him, he's just a nervy, energetic dog.
In an effort to try to get a little more weight on him, I have been looking at various brands of dog food and talking to dog food salespeople (at dog and agricultural shows) and I am now thouroughly confused. It seems you can now get food for fat dogs, thin dogs, sensitive dogs and they even have produced breed specific dog food (I kid you not. Royal Canin seem to be rolling on this one). There is even a specific dog food for neutered dogs!
I have also doscovered the existance of
The Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, formerly known as the Animal Studies Centre, also mentioned in TV advertisements for dog food, is based on Freeby Lane at Waltham-on-the-Wolds near Melton Mowbray. There are 250 dogs, and 600 cats who get fed there every day. It is publicised as conducting the most advanced research on dog and cat food in Europe, if not the world. Around 200 researchers work for the company at Waltham and Melton. Work is also done with UK universities.
(source)


Is this all necessary? Seems to me that they are praying on dog owners efforts to do their best for their dogs.

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September 2nd, 2010, 10:23 pm
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Is it necessary? To the extent that it garnered millions of dollars for the pet food supply industry,no. I agree that a lot of these companies are capitalizing on the emotional tie that many people have with their pets. The pet food industry has a different viewpoint I'm sure. One which probably goes along the lines of: if people are willing to spend their money on these vast choices of food, then it behooves us to keep making it.

As for your collie, has there been any determination as to what the issue might be other than nervous and wiry? Have biological issues been ruled out?
Pepper, our Shih Tzu, can only have one type of food available at great expense only from the vets. Talk about a captive audience. After months and months of vomiting bile, diarhea and sluggishness, we found out via blood test that he has an elevated liver enzyme which means the liver isn't functioning quite right. The only solution is a special diet. After all that time, I was sick of cleaning up so I took a chance. He's doing fine now. Some days he still has an issue but mostly it's fixed. So that's just a long way of saying for him, it's necessary.

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September 2nd, 2010, 11:29 pm
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I had a similar problem with a cat. Turned out she was hyperthyroid. Have you checked for this? It's usually easy to treat.


September 2nd, 2010, 11:37 pm
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Quote:
getreal
Is this all necessary? Seems to me that they are praying on dog owners efforts to do their best for their dogs.
Can I be pedantic first off? :wink:

I have had dogs for 50 years, I rarely give them processed dog food with all the additives, colourants, and preservatives that go with it.
I cook the dogs food with the same consideration I give to our own food (a lot of the time they eat exactly the same as us) Organic vegies from the garden.

There's a good book available getreal, "Canine cuisine" by Elaine Everest, that gives balanced diets, protein, fibre, and carbohydrates, get it from amazon for around 6 quid.

Don't feed your dogs something you wouldn't feed your bairns,
My dogs live happy active lives till aged 15,16, or even 17years.

Was going to post this but there have been two new posts while I cack handedly did this.

For anyone with a dog, this is a recipe produced for me by a veterinary dietitian at the vet training place in Edinburgh (you know the one)
1 cup (before boiling) long grain rice.
4oz minced beef
1 hard boiled egg (chopped)
2 slices wholemeal bread (put through the blender)
Mix and serve.
My dogs have thrived (and still do) on this for 30 years or more

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September 3rd, 2010, 12:08 am
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I can't claim Alan's experience, but does your dog eat all that's given him? If he's on one meal a day, how about an extra one?

My springer spaniel, sadly long gone, absolutely adored tripe. She would sit quivering with excitement, dribbling from both sides of her mouth at once, waiting for her bowl to be put on the floor....

Anyway, stroke your dog for me, would you?


September 3rd, 2010, 12:59 am
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Dog duly stroked (took me ages to get him in a quiet moment, though).

My dog's perfectly healthy (had bloods done when he was young as he was so thin) he just never stops. He also lives outside and only comes into the garage (where his bed is) at about 11pm. Thanks for the recipe, Alan. I think I'll give it a try. I've never had this problem before and all my dogs have lived to a ripe old age being fed proprietery dog food.
I got a sample pack of Arden Grange sensitive recently and I liked the fact that they don't test their foods on animals, but it's wickedly expensive.

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September 3rd, 2010, 7:07 pm
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Quote:
getreal
I got a sample pack of Arden Grange sensitive recently and I liked the fact that they don't test their foods on animals, but it's wickedly expensive.
After our dogs second major operation in two weeks (he was making stones in his bladder that were blocking his pee tube) our vet sold us tins of food that he said would help, it cost £1 a tin (30 years ago) that's why he very kindly got me the recipe from a colleague, he told me everything in the expensive food would be found in the mix.
Quote:
they don't test their foods on animals,
That sounds really silly but did you know that the pet food makers actually have human tasters to test their products?

Here's a good recipe for biscuits I have been using for years.
9oz plain flour
4oz wholemeal flour
2oz dried milk powder
4oz polenta (cornmeal)
1 sachet dried yeast
Beef stock (I use Oxo)

Mix all the dry ingredients, add enough tepid stock to make a firm dough, roll out to about 1/8" thick put on baking trays and score into squares with a knife, cover with a T-towel and leave for a half hour.
Bake in a slow oven for 20 mins then turn them over and bake for another 15/20 mins, when done turn off the oven and leave the biscuits in overnight to harden.

As a variation I sometimes grate in some parmesan or mix in a little peanut butter. The dogs love em!

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September 3rd, 2010, 7:50 pm
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getreal wrote:
I am now thouroughly confused. It seems you can now get food for fat dogs, thin dogs, sensitive dogs and they even have produced breed specific dog food (I kid you not. Royal Canin seem to be rolling on this one). There is even a specific dog food for neutered dogs!
I have also doscovered the existance of
The Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, formerly known as the Animal Studies Centre, also mentioned in TV advertisements for dog food,

Is this all necessary? Seems to me that they are praying on dog owners efforts to do their best for their dogs.



Marian wrote:
Is it necessary? To the extent that it garnered millions of dollars for the pet food supply industry,no. I agree that a lot of these companies are capitalizing on the emotional tie that many people have with their pets. The pet food industry has a different viewpoint I'm sure. One which probably goes along the lines of: if people are willing to spend their money on these vast choices of food, then it behooves us to keep making it.


It seems like the pet food industry is behaving like any other industry trying to make a profit in a competitive market.


September 3rd, 2010, 7:52 pm
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Never forget, the final aim of any industry, and that includes the charity industry, is to make money. Some may enjoy the process of making and supplying the goods, but your money is still the final target.

I suppose it may be that some start with an ethical intention - wishing to provide a service and charge an ethical price for it, but for how long before financial reality or a tinge of greed enter into the equation?

In politics the value is not (always) measured in pounds or dollars or whatever but power, in any form, is also a form of currency; it can be given as a gift, used as a tool, people can be bought with it.

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September 3rd, 2010, 8:15 pm
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I don't keep dogs, but I do keep cats, and there are similar issues with cat foods, which contain all manner of ingredients that appeal to humans but have absolutely no nutritional value to cats. If you pump cat food full of grain to bulk it out and fill your cat's stomach up, your cat will feel contentedly full for a short while and then pass the grains through their system undigested and very quickly feel hungry again. It's easy to see how owners think the food must be great when their cats keep asking for more! Food with a high meat content is a lot more expensive, up to twice the price of brands like Felix or Whiskas. What many pet owners don't realise is that your cat will need a whole lot less of it because it is more nutrient-rich.

As for putting pictures of vegetables on the packet . . . what wild cat do you know that eats steamed carrots?


September 3rd, 2010, 8:33 pm
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Firstly, I'd like to say that of course we all want the best possible for the animals we share our lives with. (just so you don't call me a heartless bitch by the time you've read this post :redface: )

But I think there's an ethical argument against resources and money being ploughed into pet food research, if one balances that with the millions of human beings who tonight will sleep hungry.

Pet food is like sanitary protection (do i get a prize for the oddest analogy tonight? :laughter: ) My generations grandmothers improvised. My Grandma would have been astounded at the stuff we can buy and consider essential. Such are the wonders of rich society.

As time goes on, however, I think the balance will have to tip. Our addiction to the NEW! product lifestyle is ultimately unsustainable. Not only can it not serve all our planets citizens even now, the number of us with basic needs (shelter, food, safe water) will certainly not be fulfilled given the exponential growth of our species.

Pets, and children to a certain extent, are luxuries. They are not needs, but wants. My mother ate her pet goat, and this was considered usual. (sorry veggies :) ) We don't need an animal for company (although i agree it feels good, so does interacting with a Grandmother). Most domestic pets could eat well with no bought pet food. I suggest that once we've found a way to feed all our fellow human beings, then I might feel happy about resources going to pet food manufacture. Currently it leaves a rather bad taste in my mouth, and I'm not a pet food tester :laughter:


September 3rd, 2010, 9:12 pm
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I xposted with caterpillar...

I agree re cat food. If our pets could be marketed to direct their food would be very different :smile: Despite the disapproval of bird lovers (where's the rat and mice lovers then?) the cats who share my life have always found good protein for themselves...


September 3rd, 2010, 9:17 pm
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Quote:
an ethical argument against resources and money being ploughed into pet food research, if one balances that with the millions of human beings who tonight will sleep hungry.


That's a good point, Fia. Not unlike a similar discussion some tome ago regarding the ethics of expensive vet treatment when most of the world don't even have basic immunisations for their children, let alone access to MRI scanners and the like.

I've been giving this some thought, and though I like Alan's suggestion of home prepared food, I simply don't have the time just now.

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September 3rd, 2010, 9:41 pm
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Quote:
getreal
I've been giving this some thought, and though I like Alan's suggestion of home prepared food, I simply don't have the time just now.
Ah the joys of [semi] retirement :)

A lot of the time (as I said earlier) the dogs get exactly what we eat, it takes no time at all to make a little bit extra.
Just avoid, Avacado, grapes and raisins, macadamia nuts, chocolate (of course you already know the danger of chocolate)
Sweeteners, and yeasted dough.

If time is tight getreal, I sometimes just cook some pasta or rice and chuck in a tin of pilchards, goes down very well.

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September 3rd, 2010, 11:21 pm
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The pet food industry, and the veterinary industry, and all the associated industries related to companion-animal ownership, and the pets themselves, do use a lot of resources and produce a lot of waste and greenhouse gases (see Leo Hickman’s article in the Guardian, 13 November 2009, which refers to the provocatively titled book Time to Eat the Dog? The Real Guide to Sustainable Living, by Robert and Brenda Vale). But like other industries that use a lot of resources and produce a lot of waste and greenhouse gases, those industries also employ a lot of people and contribute to the economy. There are plenty of criticisms that can be made about them, and plenty of examples of ridiculous excess, but I'm not convinced that they should be singled out as being especially unnecessary or especially greedy or in other ways especially blameworthy. Much if not most of the world's resources are used to produce goods or provide services that are wants, not needs. The speed at which we are using finite resources, and producing pollutants and greenhouse gases, is worrying. But our economies, and hence our pensions and free schooling and other benefits, currently seem to depend on producing goods and providing services beyond those that are essential, and we don’t seem to be doing anything to find an alternative way of living. Those societies where the most people have access to "luxuries" also seem to be those societies where the fewest people go hungry, or don’t have access to healthcare or education. Industries that produce unnecessary goods and provide unnecessary services employ a large proportion (perhaps even the bulk) of the population. I work in an industry that produces unnecessary goods (books, not educational ones). I have a house full of unnecessary goods. I spend my life doing unnecessary things, eating unnecessary food, wearing unnecessary clothes, listening to unnecessary music, going on unnecessary trips, watching unnecessary television, typing unnecessary messages on unnecessary computers ... and walking the unnecessary dog. Of all the unnecessary things I have and do, the dog is, I believe, the most valuable to me. When I spend time with the dog, I laugh a hell of a lot (is laughter a need?), I get more exercise than I've ever got (definitely a need), I get good doses of sunlight (another need, especially for a vegan), I interact with a wide range of people in my community (yet another need, not so easily met in a London suburb if you don't have a dog or children), and I enjoy being in pleasant green spaces (something close to a need, surely). Perhaps I should cut down on the unnecessary things I have and buy. Well, there’s no perhaps about it; I should. But no one, surely, is advocating getting rid of all unnecessary things. So … I'm keeping the dog. Maybe if that Leo Hickman article had appeared a few weeks earlier, we wouldn't have her today, but it didn't, so here she is. And if I'm keeping the dog, I want her to live as long as possible in as good a state of health as possible.
Alan C. wrote:
There's a good book available getreal, "Canine cuisine" by Elaine Everest, that gives balanced diets, protein, fibre, and carbohydrates, get it from amazon for around 6 quid.
From what I can make out, Elaine Everest is a journalist, not a vet or an animal dietician. How do you know, Alan, that she's not the equivalent of one of those self-declared nutritionists who get called quacks in this forum? I'm not saying she is; I just wondered why you feel that her book is reliable. Incidentally, there is another book, Home-prepared Dog and Cat Diets: The Healthful Alternative, by Donald R. Strombeck, DVM, PhD, who does seem to be well qualified. Unfortunately it was published in 1999, so probably isn't as up-to-date as it could be, especially in its criticism of commercial dog foods.

Whatever you might think of the ethics of continuing to plough resources and money into research on pet food, much work has already been done in the field of small-animal nutrition, and advances have been made in recent years. There do seem to be commercial dog foods available now that are pretty good — certainly better than what was fed to my family's dogs when I was a child. Dogs can survive perfectly well on the older and cheaper varieties; they can survive on table scraps, for that matter. But it does seem that some diets are better than others, less likely to cause problems, more likely to lead to a longer, healthier life. Perhaps home-cooked dog food is best, if care is taken to ensure the right balance of nutrients. Perhaps a very careful version of the BARF diet is best. I don't know. But my personal choice, at the moment at least, is a commercial "complete" dry food, made from things that I most definitely wouldn't eat myself let alone give to my bairns (though not containing artificial colourings or preservatives).

(Incidentally, even before I got a dog I also had the ethical dilemma of whether to give it animal products or attempt to feed it a vegetarian diet. I've blotted my vegan copybook by deciding on the former. Although I accept that it's possible for a dog to live a long and healthy life without eating meat or fish, I think it's much, much more difficult to provide a vegetarian or vegan diet that's both nutritionally sound and palatable to dogs. And even if Nellie is not a full-blooded carnivore, she's an omnivore with decidedly carnivorous leanings. But I'm imposing a mainly piscivorous diet on her, and she doesn't seem to mind that too much.)

Emma

P.S. Getreal, have you tried Chudley's Working Crunch?


September 4th, 2010, 6:58 pm
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Alan C. wrote:
Just avoid, Avacado, grapes and raisins, macadamia nuts, chocolate (of course you already know the danger of chocolate)
Sweeteners, and yeasted dough.
And onions.

Emma


September 4th, 2010, 6:58 pm
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Quote:
Emma
How do you know, Alan, that she's not the equivalent of one of those self-declared nutritionists who get called quacks in this forum? I'm not saying she is; I just wondered why you feel that her book is reliable.
That's a bit OTT Emma, it's only a recipe book she doesnt make any claims about her recipes.
I've always fed my dogs meals that we could (and do eat) ourselves, and I'm not not a vet or an animal dietitian either, her book just gives me some new recipes that I hadn't tried before, the recipes look to me to be well balanced re carbs, fibre, protein etc; that's all that matters.
In writing the book she didn't claim to be anything other than a dog lover.

Quote:
And onions.
Both onions and garlic are fine in moderation, my 14 year old has eaten both all her life. :)

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September 4th, 2010, 7:46 pm
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Alan C. wrote:
Quote:
Quote:
And onions.
Both onions and garlic are fine in moderation, my 14 year old has eaten both all her life. :)
It also widens her circle of human friends... so to speak. :D


September 4th, 2010, 8:48 pm
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Emma, Chudleys working crunch is one of my dog's regular foods (and it's VAT free, so a big bonus there!) but he is just soooooooooooooo thin.

I have contacted my regular feed merchant to ask if they can stock Burgess Sensitive, as it seems to be reasonably priced and Burgess are not part of a big multi national (as far as I can ascertain they seem to be a fairly small outfit based in Yorkshire).

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September 4th, 2010, 9:54 pm
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Daniel P wrote:
It seems like the pet food industry is behaving like any other industry trying to make a profit in a competitive market.


Yes, that's true. My issue is that in this particular case, they are preying on people's emotions regarding what most people considered a loved one: their pet. Some people are willing to spend thousands on pet food and pet care.

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September 5th, 2010, 12:29 pm
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