Food analysis/nutrients - confused

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.

Hello Reggie. I am going to refer your query to David so please could you keep a check on your thread? Hopefully it won’t be long before he replies.

I’ve had dogs for over forty years but in all that time I can’t remember having the cholesterol checked on any of them so this one is new to me. Raw food is usually higher in fat. Cooking does get rid of some of it so that might be an option worth considering. If you do go the home cooked route, have a look at our home cooking section because there are some links in there about how to go about obtaining suitable balanced recipes along with the correct supplementation.


Thanks for replying. It was not specifically for cholesterol, she was having a lump biopsy (came back benign, but due to position will be removed) and it was bloods done beforehand due to her age. There were some concerns re kidneys so they sent to lab and kidneys ok, but a few red stars including cholesterol and liver - although the vet thinks the latter is probably age related. She also had dilute urine samples, which the vet thought maybe a kidney issue but the specific blood analysis for this came back ok. Anyway, we are wanting to ensure her diet is friendly to her organs and age, hence my queries regarding raw.

Thank you for explaining. My personal view is that when a dog has health issues and/or elderly, a cooked diet is a good option, particularly if the immune system is compromised. There are fledgling signs that raw food companies are acknowledging this and I have recently come across another cookable raw food product from Poppy’s Picnic.

Unfortunately there are only two companies in the UK that sell fresh cooked, frozen food (AFAIK) so it’s a case of cooking at home if either of these are out of reach budget wise. They are based on 60% meat content which is mostly lower than raw completes but that creates potentially lower fat which would be suitable for many dogs. The 40% remaining is made up of fruit and veg so is a nice balance.

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I will look into the prepared cooked food. She will eat absolutely anything so fussiness is not an issue! Fat content being above average in most of the raw is a concern - so if cooked has less then I can always try it. Is this what you feed yours? Do you add anything in the way of supplements?

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.

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Thank you David - that is useful information for us pet owners.

Reggie - I am not in a position to cook for my dogs so I use a commercial cooked fresh food product. One of the dogs can’t tolerate lentils so I feed Different Dog. I choose the lower fat options because she had raised liver enzymes and skin problems. Thankfully both have responded to diet and the last few bloods have been normal. IIRC the fat is above average on two of my choices, average on one but the company has a fish option which is low in fat. I haven’t compared fat levels with raw products. The drawback is that it is expensive. The food contains turmeric which has anti inflammatory properties.

As David says, you could try ticking the raw box and setting the fat slider to your required parameter. If you want to home cook, I would suggest you do it in batches and freeze. Recipes can be obtained from nutritionists and they should be able to tailor make them for your dog’s issues. More information in the home cooking section of the forum.

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Thank you. Ruby also has raised liver enzymes, but the vet thinks this is down to old age. However, this with the raised cholesteral and the need to lose a bit of weight, has led us to looking more closely at fat content. Raw has been good for her in so many other ways, but it may be time to limit the meats to the lower fat range or switch to cooked. I will certainly have a look at the ready made cooked to begin with.

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The vet thought that my dog’s raised liver enzymes were age related. She had a short course of Denamarin and that seemed to turn it around because ever since they have been normal. However, there was the change in diet and her skin problem had resolved so no inflammatory processes were going on. Now I give Dorwest Herbs Milk Thistle.

On the subject of weight, I tried raw a few years ago and two of my dogs put weight on despite being at the bottom end of the RDA. One of them gained weight very quickly indeed. At the moment my two have no problems and are just right. I give a little less than the RDA for the older one.

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I’ll look into getting some milk thistle. Initially, the vet was concerned about her kidneys but the SDMA test came back ok (just). I am just thinking that a lower fat diet would benefit her, this seems to be more difficult on raw - even though she’s on low purine and lean meats at the moment, with Petplus pro/prebiotics. I will wait until this lump is sorted and then look to change her food. Again, thank you.

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Thank for share