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LucyGransnet (GNHQ) Thu 21-Jan-16 12:27:28

Is supermarket dog food harming our pets?

What do you feed your dog? Tins of supermarket dog food, usually mixed with a bag of supermarket kibble? Much like the rest of us, then... But what if you could make your own, healthy dog food at home for a fraction of the cost? Dog-lover Kate Bendix is arguing the health - not to mention financial - benefits of DIY dog food.

Kate Bendix

Is supermarket dog food harming our pets?

Posted on: Thu 21-Jan-16 12:27:28


Lead photo

Is supermarket meat really the best option for our canine friends?

You never see white dog poo any more.

When I was a kid, living in Battersea back in the sixties, I vividly recall seeing white dog poo all over the place. That's partly because we had bigger problems than poo (we were still clearing up WWII bomb sites for crying out loud), but mainly it's because we fed them completely differently to how we do today.

Back then it was a mix of green tripe and butchers' bones, combined with kitchen scraps and veg peelings. Dogs would snaffle berries off bushes and, if they could eat it, they'd nick it. Because they could run fast!

We were lean and healthy back then; humans and dogs. Yes, it could be pretty bleak; we had poverty, poor housing, and The Black & White Minstrels, but neither of us had hip replacements, type 2 diabetes, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease or heart disease either!

Nowadays, over 90% of the dog food we buy comes straight off the supermarket shelf and 80% of that is dry kibble, the same food, day after day. And our dogs are suffering for it.

Fifty years ago vets spent their days treating dogs for wound infections, broken bones and retrieving stolen goods from Fido's gut.

Today they regularly prescribe steroids, antibiotics, allergy tests, dental work, anti-inflammatories and, wait for it, prescription pet food.

So fifty years on you and your dog are now trapped in a money vortex; pet food producers, pharmaceutical companies and pet insurers. You did what was asked of you - fed your dog I Can't Believe It's Actually Dog Food and nothing else 'for optimum health' and as a result your dog got overweight and sick, developed itchy skin, dog breath, creaky old joints and smelly ears. You ended up hefting him onto the vet's table, the insurance paid out then hiked up your premium.

Fifty years ago vets spent their days treating dogs for wound infections, broken bones and retrieving stolen goods from Fido's gut. Today they regularly prescribe steroids, antibiotics, allergy tests, dental work, anti-inflammatories and, wait for it, prescription pet food.

So we now know that feeding the same dog food, over and over with little or no variation is making your dog sick. But there is a solution; we go back to feeding them a varied diet, based on unprocessed food.

After years of being marketed to I understand that can be a scary prospect. The two main fears I hear are; "I don't want to harm my dog" and "I don't have that kind of money". My answer to both objections is; you won't and you do.

My dog, Nikita gets a mixture of home cooked food, raw and good shop bought wet food. No kibble. Ever. Home cooked meals are meat or fish and veg, cooked then mixed together, portioned up and frozen.

I shop at Lidl and Morrison's for meat and veg then add vegetable peelings from my own cooking. It costs me 25% less to do it this way than to grab a bag of kibble off the shelf. I kid you not.

Variety comes from buying what's on offer and cooking in bulk (she has her own freezer shelf.) Long term, I know it's saving me money on vet bills too. She's a great weight, doesn't have any niggling health issues and, for a nine year old, flies like a rocket.

Try this for ease (I feed my dog for 50p a meal on this):

500g chicken
500g bag of frozen mixed veg
1 large sweet potato chopped small

Chop the chicken and sweet potato, put them in a large pan along with the bag of mixed vegetables. Just cover with water, bring to the boil then put a lid on the pan turn down to a simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the sweet potato is soft, approximately 15 minutes. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't dry out. Add more water if necessary.

Portion up and serve warm. Keep some in the fridge and freeze the rest. That's a couple of days' food for Nikita, and she's 9kg, so scale up or down as needed.

Go on, grab a chicken and get cooking - you've no idea what a difference home cooking will make to your dog over a couple of weeks until you give it a try. And I bet you never go back to kibble after that.

Kate's new book, The Dog Diet is published by Short Books and is available from Amazon.

By Kate Bendix

Twitter: @MyItchyDog

Nonnie Thu 21-Jan-16 13:00:24

I have always wondered whose idea the kibbles were? Why would anyone think that was what animals wanted to eat? I most certainly wouldn't want to eat the same dry thing day in day out.

merlotgran Thu 21-Jan-16 13:14:19

50p per meal?

That would work out at £7 per week for our two JRs which is way above what I spend on Pedigree Complete Adult (small dog)

They are healthy, their weight is stable and their teeth are fine so I won't be changing anything.

merlotgran Thu 21-Jan-16 13:17:01

I also give them the occasional raw bone (vet's advice) for their teeth to work on but if there is too much meat attached to the bone it gives them diarrhoea.

Gives them white poo as well grin

nonnasusie Thu 21-Jan-16 13:35:13

The smallest of our 5 dogs is about 20kg. the largest about 40kg, they all get pasta to supplement their diet . It's normal here in Italy and you can buy "complete " dried pasta that you just add warm water to although we wouldn't use just that and quite often they get left over fresh cooked pasta! We also buy fresh chicken carcass which we cook for them. They also get kibble and a tiny bit of tinned food to make it appetising! In other words thoroughly spoilt!!

Anya Thu 21-Jan-16 14:07:06

My 'old' fellow at almost 14 is fit and well too. He managed to lose his virginity last year to DD's hussy bitch (which has since been sterilised) and still enjoys a good romp in the mud park, runs up steep flights of stairs, chases any cats that dare to venture into his garden and jumps onto beds sofas if not watched. He still has most some of his teeth.

I feed them good quality 'kibble' (not from supermarket) and good quality wet food with occasional leftovers.

Our last dog, a good sized mongrel lived to be 17.

seacliff Thu 21-Jan-16 14:35:29

I have cats, not dogs, but have read a lot on forums etc about the usual supermarket cat foods not being made of great quality products. Actually the food doesn't look very appetising.

I now buy some food on the internet from Zooplus - it is much more solid meat and apparently better quality. They are made in Germany and shipped here, they initially seem a bit more expensive, but the actual meat contect as opposed to jelly/gravy, is far higher.

Indinana Thu 21-Jan-16 15:13:58

Scaling that recipe up to feed my DD's dog would equate to 2kg of chicken, 2kg of veg and 4 large sweet potatoes, for 2 days. Cheaper than kibble? I don't think so hmm

Hildie Thu 21-Jan-16 16:45:13

I never buy supermarket stuff any more - it's just not a good indication when it smells the same going in as it does coming out confused he seems much sprightlier for the change

NanaandGrampy Thu 21-Jan-16 17:50:11

Hmmmm interesting article.

I've bred and shown dogs all my life and fed them all on a complete dry food, raw tripe and the odd bone without one scrap of trouble.

No overweight smelly arthritic dogs .

I now have a small dog for the first time ever instead of a giant breed. He gets good quality wet food, and a little cooked chicken or liver and a handful of biscuits for crunch.

He too is fit and fabulous so whilst your ideas work for your dogs, mine have worked for 30+ years so I'm sticking with mine.

Tegan Thu 21-Jan-16 17:56:53

My dog has a mix of James Wellbeloved dried food, a bit of Butchers Tripe [which she loves], a daily dentastix for her teeth. Sometimes a carrot or bit of broccoli. She loves cooked rice.Wouldn't be able to cope with cooking everything for her when we go on holiday. Don't understand people who feed their dogs biscuits and ice cream as a treat confused. Worry about this fashionable BARF diet because, no matter how many people swear by it I can't believe that chicken bones aren't dangerous.

barbaralynne Sat 23-Jan-16 09:59:12

We have a breed of dog which cannot eat beef, lamb or most fish. But by buying his food in bulk we feed him for about £4 a week, plus pilchard treats which we make costinv another £1. The main reazon dogs are now presenting with diabetes and obesity is the same as for people, namely comparatively we are all better off, eating too much of the wrong foods ie sugar, and sitting infront of our televisions which we didn't have when I was a child. And there was cancer as my mother died from it in 1950! And there was heart disease and arthritis but no good treatments available.

Elegran Sat 23-Jan-16 10:29:57

What breed of dog is that, barbaralynne ?

barbaralynne Sat 23-Jan-16 16:56:54

He's a tibetan terrier. We took bim on as a rescue and the tibetan terrier rescue said no beef or lamb and no sea fish, no potatoes either.

Elegran Sat 23-Jan-16 17:29:53

That isn't one that I know in person, but they look delightful.

nainie Sat 23-Jan-16 20:02:29

I feed my two dogs butchers tripe and a few biscuits, Two days a week they have raw chicken wings, I would never give them cooked chicken as it splinters, just think about it animals in the wild eat raw meat and the bones. My dogs would live on chicken wings if they could they love them. Also I buy whole ox liver from the butchers slice it and bake it in the oven at 180 degrees C. It cooks very hard and the dogs adore it and being natural very healthy and much much cheaper than shop bought treats. They also love fruit so any fruit that has gone over the dogs get it they are 9yrs.old and as fit as crazy fiddles.

mumofmadboys Sun 24-Jan-16 06:54:15

Talking to a vet friend yesterday she said the main problem with dogs bowels was chicken bones getting stuck in them and having to clear out the pieces of bone.

rosesarered Sun 24-Jan-16 09:28:48

We had a dog years ago, and he had a mixture of food,some tinned dog food,dog biscuits, also leftovers from dinner, bits of raw fruit and veg when they were being prepared, a scrap of toast, the odd chip or two, and bones from the butcher (the dog went mad with delight) but never chicken bones.
this dog had a very long and healthy and happy life.I feel sorry for either dogs or cats raised on dry food only.

LuckyDucky Sun 24-Jan-16 19:59:50

Why not buy dog food from a pet shop? Is supermarket dog food

LuckyDucky Sun 24-Jan-16 20:06:02

Why not buy balanced dog food from a pet shop? Is supermarket dog food balanced?

Don't have a dog now. Good luck grin

LuckyDucky Mon 25-Jan-16 02:38:35

Er . . . sorry about the repeat.

rosesarered Mon 25-Jan-16 13:46:21

Dog food does tend to repeat on you!?

Iam64 Mon 25-Jan-16 19:48:56

The move towards raw feeding alongside criticism of kibble and tendency to blame it for all ills is a bit tedious. It's good to see so many comments about the benefits of kibble and a mixed diet.

Do raw feeders use free range organic chicken? Mass produced chickens live awful lives, are pumped full of antibiotics and chemicals. The point made earlier about vets finding chicken bones as a cause of bowel problems shouldn't be ignored either.

Good quality kibble (as opposed to cheap rubbish) won't harm your dog. My old rescue dog arrived with awful gastric problems and allergies. The gastric problems cleared within a couple of months after a limited diet of chicken/white fish etc and introduction to kibble. The allergies remained until I found a website which lists a hierarchy of kibble. I switched to an expensive kibble (wild fish/free range chicken/bison/vegetables etc and no grain) and within a couple of months the allergies were gone and never returned.

My current 3 dogs are fed a grain free kibble that costs £37 a large sack. they also have dog mince our butcher makes, I cook it. They have a kong in the evening, the sign it's settle down for the evening time. In their kongs they get a mixture of vegetables, sardines/bio yoghurt/cottage cheese. They also have a small marrow bone or lamb rib raw once or twice a week. Helps their teeth and anal glands. They are very fit, carry no extra weight and have no health problems.

Tegan Mon 25-Jan-16 19:57:10

I know they say that eating raw meat/bones is 'natural' but we surely don't know how many wild animals die because of getting bones stuck in their digestive system?

Elegran Mon 25-Jan-16 20:04:55

Cooked bones splinter more than raw ones.