We know that as humans, our diet is very important to our overall health and wellbeing, but what about our canine companions? We sat down for a digital interview with our friend Cam, The Dog Nutritionist, to get his expert advice on how we can ensure we are feeding our dogs correctly. Cam is a certified dog nutritionist, retrained in Canine Nutrigenomics, how food affects dogs on a genetic level. About 2 years ago Wolfie was diagnosed with Kidney problems. It was discovered that his creatanine levels were high and he was leaking protein into his urine. The vet suggested a Hepatic Diet. Bee has always fed Wolfie on a very varied diet and avoided big brand dog foods, even the ones that are recommended by vets. There just seems to be so many additives in the food and both hepatic choices were mushy and grey. Wolf turned his nose up which really worried Bee so she turned to Cam for some advice. After a in-depth consultation, Cam developed 2 raw food recipes specially for Wolfie which has benefited him and, although his problem has not gone away, it has definitely improved. Wolfie loves his food so much - he gets so excited and his bowl is totally licked clean! So join us as Cam shares some of his top tips on how to get your dog's diet just right.
How important is my dog's diet to their overall health?
By far the most important job of a dog owner is to choose a healthy diet for their dog, why? Because it’s so easy to do wrong.
Dogs need a certain variety and balance of fresh foods to live according to how they have evolved. Choosing a lifestyle and particularly a diet for your dog that’s most in line with their physiology is how you keep them healthy. The scary thing for dog owners is the sheer amount of totally unnatural products, even in Vetinary clinics.
No wonder it’s so easy to do wrong.
How do I know if I am feeding my dog correctly?
There are some classic tell-tale signs of incorrect diet; unclean teeth, smelly breath, dry flaky skin, stiff joints and of course big nuclear smelling unformed poo.
However, sometimes effects can go unnoticed for a number of years and this a much worse situation. Incorrect diet for too long, that's what you want to avoid. “It’s not what you don’t that gets you into, it’s what you for sure that just ain’t so” – Mark Twain. However, food can also repair the damage, it's really an incredible tool.
Are there any ingredients that all dogs should avoid?
AVOID : Maize, corn, wheat, meat meal, meat derivatives, chocolate, grapes, currants etc.
NOT DAILY: Rice, potato, lentils (anything too carb based or legumes)
What signs should I look out for that my dog isn’t happy with their diet?
Generally most dogs like all foods. If you do have a fussy dog, this can be trained out of them and sometimes it’s not an issue.
The primary importance is whether or not it’s healthy for your dog. You can mix up meals and keep things exciting, that should be the easy part.
Can I switch my dog straight from one food to another?
No, you need to mix it into their old food, take around 4-7 days to totally switch. It’s a very simple process, just start small and increase the amount of new food daily.
Is 1 type of dog food better than others such as raw, homemade or shop bought?
Not all food is equal by any means. Especially in the dog world where there are a huge range of brands using differing qualities of ingredients. Some brands use completely the wrong balance of macronutrients in their recipes (incorrect protein, low fat and high in carbs).
I am biased because I quite literally sell homemade dog food recipes. But, you don’t need to be a nutritionist to know that homemade meals made from specific fresh food ingredients are the healthiest. Dog food companies are businesses, not a trusted nanny/chefs for your child. In a game where the margins are tight, a search for profits can conflict with the drive for quality, that's the nature of the business I guess!
Can you describe what a balanced diet is made up of for a dog?
Lots of meats (unfortunately for us low meat eaters, I’ve been exploring all avenues to go low meat and haven't yet found a suitable option), different fruits and vegetables.
Foods of the earth. Natural foods.
Does my dog's breed affect what they should be eating?
Yes. But you don’t need to think about it if you have me!
Ingredients can have functions and if you know their functions you can put together a diet that works to suppress breed predispositions to ill health. Diet affects us all on a genetic level, which means if our dog has genetic predisposition towards ill health (most breeds do, ie. joint issues, cancer, cataracts… the list is endless) we can reduce their chances of these genes expressing themselves through a specific quality diet. It’s called nutrigenomics.
Your dog’s diet can be a daily mitigation against illness. Imagine doing something everyday that helped keep your dog out of the vets and you didn't need to think about it. Simply genius.
What are your top 3 tips for finding the perfect food for your dog?
- Avoid asking people on Facebook groups for advice. "My dog loves it" and "never yet had a problem" is just so terribly moronic, that's not nutritional analysis.
- Ask me. Seriously, if you trust me, ask me.
- 75% fresh and natural foods.
Thank you Cam for taking the time to talk to us today! If you would like specialised, expert advice from Cam, feeding plans and free recipes you can visit his website, The Dog Nutritionist, here. You can also find lots of helpful information and food reviews on his YouTube channel here.