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Changing food - which one?

(15 Posts)
NoNamesLeft86 Sat 20-May-17 13:40:47

We have a large, high energy dog. We are currently feeding Hills Science plan as that was recommended to me when we were adopting him a few months ago. However I have now heard lots of people say it's actually pretty crap for the price?

My issue is that I have bought it in bulk, stupidly which saved me some money. So we still have tonnes of the stuff and as it's expensive, I really don't want to not use it.

Anyway, My question is, should I be changing him over? And if so, what to? Would it be OK to feed half and half for a few weeks/months while we use this up? Or shall we just use it up first.

Sorry I am useless !

FairfaxAikman Sat 20-May-17 13:48:08

It's not the worst food but you can get far better for the same price or less. Vets recommend it because they sell it, but in reality their training in canine nutrition is limited (I have no problem with this, as far as I am concerned their focus should be veterinary medicine) and has been known to be done by the pet food companies.
You should change over gradually anyway to prevent tummy trouble.

The problem with asking for recommendations is that you will likely get a whole lot of responses from people telling you what THEY feed - but that may not suit you or your dog.

Take a look at

As general guidelines:
1) Go for nothing less than a 3 out of 5.
2) Look for one with a named meat source as one of the first three ingredients and avoid anything with maize or wheat as many dogs are intolerant.
3) Be aware of tricks used in the ingredients list to make it appear like there is more meat. For example James Wellbeloved has the same total rice percentage as Skinners Field and Trial - but because JWB splits it into "brown" (20%) and "white" (19.7%) varieties, lamb actually appears as the first ingredient. Rice appears first on Skinners' ingredient list as they only use brown (40%).
4) Avoid anything that says "meat derivatives" as this is just whatever is cheapest.
5) Take a good look at the ingredients list - the fewer highlighted in red, the better but try to avoid them completely. If you do pick a food with reds, the lower down the ingredient list, the better.
6) Ignore the reviews - this is about finding what's right for you and your dog, not what didn't work for someone else.
7) Get the best you can afford but be aware that price is not an indication of quality - there are plenty of poor foods with a top price tag (for example Hills and Royal Canin, which people are led to believe is good because vets sell it - it's not the worst food out there but you can get better for the same price, or less).

As a rule of thumb, almost everything you buy in a supermarket (Own brands, Wagg, Harringtons, Pedigree and Bakers) is nutritionally poor - filled out with wheat or maize which dogs do not need nutritionally and many are intolerant of - though some supermarkets have started to stock better quality stuff like Lily's Kitchen. Look at the ingredients, not the brand name.

If you absolutely MUST go the supermarket route, Harringtons is probably the best of the bunch but under all circumstances AVOID BAKERS - it's little better than poison IMO (see the additives list below).

If budget is a concern, then in my view one of the best price to quality ratios is Skinners Field and Trial (the hypoallergenic range only) as it's about the same price as Bakers/Pedigree/Wagg/Harringtons but far superior quality (as an added bonus it's a proper working dog food, so is VAT free).
Your dog can eat it even if they are not "proper" working dogs, however it is only really suitable if your dog is expending the energy - for example I know a lot of flyballers feed it.

I'll freely admit there are even better foods, but I fully acknowledge that not everyone can afford that, and Skinners F&T and CSJ No Grainer are good compromises on the price/quality front.

RAW - Is a good option, but it does not suit everyone. Personally I don't have enough freezer space and the oldest is fussy enough that she won't touch it anyway.
There are some knowledgeable raw feeders here who can advise fantastically on the subject if it's a route you want to take. It's not as expensive or fiddly as you might think. I'm not going to say more on that subject, as there are others who are better informed than me.
Unfortunately the web does have a few evangelical raw feeders - don't let them make you feel you are not doing the best for your dog if you do not feed it raw.

BREED SPECIFIC FOODS - These are a gimmick. Compare the ingredients between the Labrador food and the Westie food and you will find the only difference is a few additives right at the bottom of the list - ie in such small quantities as to be irrelevant. The ingredients to worry about are at the top - ie the ones making up the bulk of the food.

TAILS - Not a terrible food but its really another gimmick. It's not nearly as tailored as they'd have you believe.
It's a bit like those "Which boy band member should you marry?" flowcharts in the pop magazines - your answers will take you to a "match" out of how ever many varieties they provide. You could easily do the same with Skinners or CSJ foods (or others but these are the ones I am familiar with), due to the variety they stock.

FairfaxAikman Sat 20-May-17 13:49:12

Whoops. Forgot the additives list

tabulahrasa Sat 20-May-17 13:51:54

It's not that it's terrible food btw, it's just that it's overpriced for an average if you're having no issues with it, there's no need to change particularly, definitely no need to change before you're onthe last week of what you have bought already.

BiteyShark Sat 20-May-17 13:56:36

If your dog is eating it and happy I would stick with it until you have nearly run out. As a PP said look at to gauge quality versus price if you want to move to a different brand.

Amiable Sat 20-May-17 14:09:02

Hi there, I actually work for Lily's Kitchen - we get asked this a lot at work!

we always say to customers look at the list of ingredients, if you recognise the ingredients you're generally getting a better food. Ideally you want a good high % of meat, with some carbs and veg/ fruit is always good too. Dogs are omnivorous so benefit from variety in their diet.

Avoid soya, wheat and maize/corn - no real nutritional benefit and lots of dogs have sensitivities to them. Avoid derivatives, and meat meal, also called dehydrated meat or dried meat. Common fillers are cereal or beer pulp so avoid those, they have little/no nutritional value for your dog, but companies use them to bulk out food cheaply, particularly dry food.

Another point also which confuses a lot of people is "ash" content. This does NOT mean ash has been added, it's a technical term used: to find out the calorific content you need to burn the food, and ash is what is left over. A high ash content isn't good, as it generally shows a lot of filler has been used.

Hope that helps give you an idea of what to look for!

Amiable Sat 20-May-17 14:11:11

BTW, whatever food you do decide to move to, do it gradually. So replace 10%of existing food with new food on first day, 20% the next day etc. Doesn't need to be exact, but aim to take at least a week to move over a fully grown dog and around 2 weeks to transition a puppy.

Amiable Sat 20-May-17 14:14:29

Oops also just realised I wrote beer pulp! Should be beet pulp!

NoNamesLeft86 Sat 20-May-17 15:13:17

Thank you both. Looking at that link im wondering about Acana?
Aby advice on that? Seems to have 4.8 star rating and high meat content...

BiteyShark Sat 20-May-17 15:15:52

No idea I am afraid but do they do sample/small bags for your dog to try?

AlwaysLookOnBrightsideOfLife Sun 21-May-17 09:21:15

I was wanting to go with Acana previously, but where I was living made it difficult to source. I couldn't buy it locally and I can't remember what my online findings were, but I think I couldn't get it shipped to me. In the end I went with Aatu instead.

StaplesCorner Sun 21-May-17 18:26:54

NoName do you mind if I hi jack for a minute; my dog is 7 months and stopped eating his Royal Canin about 3 weeks ago, he's been existing on a few mouthfuls if I mix it with chicken but he has already lost weight. We also bought in bulk but are down to the last half bag - most of it just goes from his bowl to the bin. I tried him on a couple of wet food trays, no luck.

This happened with our last dog, who ended up only liking a poor quality tray food (you know those ones in small foil trays from supermarket) and it affected his health, so I want to get it right this time.

I don't want a high energy food, he's a cockerpoo, I don't think the Skinners F&T would work although I know its highly recommended, should I buy loads of stuff to try out or is that never going to work?

StaplesCorner Sun 21-May-17 18:41:11

BTW that dog food directory upthread is amazing what a find! I've been looking at BARF foods (?) and there's one called Basils you can get a mixed sample pack for £7.80 - so basically its pre-prepared raw food. Hmm.

Paddingtonthebear Sun 21-May-17 22:45:52

Our new rescue dog is doing very well so far on Wainwrights which is the Pets at Home own brand kibble food. Very similar to James Wellbeloved food but apparently as good if not better and it's also cheaper.

LimeJellyHead Mon 29-May-17 13:52:00

Try this site. It really helped me decide on a food for my dogs

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