New, and frustrated

Hi all.

We have a 5 month old rescue pup whose mum (saved from a puppy farm, gave birth while in foster care) is a show Cocker, sire unknown, but showing coat traits of a Cockapoo. He has a Tuxedo marking plus little white dabs on chin, paws and tail that look like he’s walked across a fresh-painted floor with his nose and tail dragging! He’s called Bertie (as in Bassett for his liqorice-allsort marking, or as in Wooster who often sported a Tux) and he’s a proper Cockerdile at the moment with teething. Roll on fully grown adult gnashers! His training is romping on, but he’s getting us very well trained, too.

We fell for Bertie after 4 months of desperately missing Charlie, our beautiful Doodle boy who was snatched from us aged 2 1/2 (see below). It broke us, and while we would never be able to (or want to) replace him, we could no longer bear the absence of a wagging tail or face at the window to greet us home. Bertie distracts us enough everyday to be able to get on with life, and of course we do love him, but in a different way that will grow as time passes.

I’m here for dog food selection (obvs!) and like most of you, all I want is to know that I’ve chosen a healthy food for my dog. Bertie’s digestion doesn’t appear to get on with ‘More’ dried food and we would like to change, but we’re waivering between raw (fresh, frozen or freeze-dried) and a good kibble such as Canagan, due to poor/biased information as questioned below. Please help us jump one way or the other.

However, from searching both here and elsewhere, some questions have arisen that I’m having great difficulty finding straight answers to, particularly regarding standards, terminology and definitions for UK products. Perhaps I’m looking in the wrong place or I just haven’t found the right one yet…
Moderators, please feel free to relocate this post as required.

  1. As far as I understand, dog foods labelled as ‘Complete’ in the UK are supposed to fully satisfy all nutritional requirements for a dog, but who determined those requirements, and who was the research funded by? The pet food industry’s tentacles have a long reach and they seem to be capable of steering findings in an advantageous direction…
  2. Ditto ‘Biologically Appropriate’ for raw foods
  3. Has any properly independent research been conducted to validate or dispel either the above, or the counter-claims of the BARF vs dried debate (eg: heating during dry food production can produce carcinogenic substances, or bacterial risk to humans and dogs from raw)?
  4. Who sets the standards that UK manufacturers are supposed to adhere to?
  5. Who verifies the claimed compliance to those standards, and those statements made on packaging regarding ingredients?
  6. How much influence do manufacturers have over the legislative bodies? In the States, it seems that the pet food companies ‘regulate’ themselves…
  7. There doesn’t appear to be a standard format for composition/ingredients and why aren’t manufacturers made to list them in descending percentage order like human food products are supposed to be? That would make it much easier to compare like for like (or is that an example of successful lobbying from makers of less desirable products?)
  8. How do specific breeds measure up to those requirements? Wouldn’t some require a skewed variation? How could a Dachsund have the same requirements as a Cane Corso for instance?
  9. Additives for things like joint, skin or gut health seem to be easily incorporated into dried food, but seem uncommon in BARF, so what supplements can you recommend if they are lacking in the basic food? I’d like some sort of prevention for those issues if possible.

We lost our little man to poisoning in June, but some of his symptoms (enlarged heart, specifically) were similar enough to canine DCM to introduce a doubt and make us worry that we might have inadvertantly hastened his demise by feeding the wrong food (Canagan grain-free dried, chosen after reference to this site, but before the DCM thing blew up, and we were at the time very happy with Charlie’s health on it). Amongst all the DCM hype, disinformation and hysteria, we were initially made wary of foods with legumes or pulses, but after reading David’s DCM summary elsewhere on this site, we are open to those foods now.

Most importantly, we want to thank you also for putting our minds at rest from thinking that we may have contributed to his condition.

I look forward to hearing from an expert who will hopefully be along shortly…


I’d like to add a picture of each of my boys here, but the files I have for Bertie are too large and I don’t know how to compress them, sorry.

Hello and welcome to the forum. Dogs are adaptable and there is no one size fits all - it is whatever suits the dog, it’s activity level and the owner’s pocket. You have a lot of queries about food and I am hoping that other members will come in to reply to some of them. The Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association website is a useful source of information.

CDM/grain free foods - seems to me that pet owners are led to believe it is better than other types. This is not always the case. Some contain a lot of white potato and pea derivatives which may not have as much nutritional benefit compared to grains such as brown rice and oatmeal. It’s therefore advisable to read the ingredient list.

Raw food - AFAIK there is no evidence that it is preferable to other types of food. It has disadvantages, eg freezer space/thaw time and the need for scrupulous hygiene. The commercial complete products are better for busy people who don’t have the time or knowledge to create a well balanced raw diet.

Of the dry foods, cold pressed is worth looking at because they are not subjected to the high temperatures of extruded kibbles and are digested more easily. As I see it, the problem with dry food is that the dog is having the same thing day in, day out. I take the view that variety is good so when I fed cold pressed food I used to give toppers to provide this.

You might be interested in fresh cooked products which are fairly new to the market. Butternut Box and Different Dog are two companies who sell this. There is a thread on these here. We Cook for Dogs is included in the Home cooking for dogs section because the business model is different - the company sells the supplements that are needed for the pet owner to cook their own well balanced dog food and they include recipes.

Hello and welcome to the forum, I can’t add much more to what Dottie has said. I am no expert but have a feeling that the answers to many of your questions are somewhat subjective anyway. I think most pet owners who are concerned with good nutrition have been left very frustrated at times.

Personally I mostly feed raw and am happy to do so. You do need lots of freezer space and have a good knowledge of food hygiene. My dog also eats it straight away so I don’t worry about it being in a warm environment for too long. I choose a raw balance food but am not convinced it provides everything my dog needs. I add brown rice, Cooked oats, quinoa, sweet potato or whatever grain we are having and various veg, again according to what we are having that she can eat. I just try to feed a variety of foods and hope for the best. I keep dry food in for if I forget to get food out or it isn’t quite defrosted. I tend to favour cold pressed as it doesn’t upset her digestion as other dry foods have.

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