You are what you eat, and so is your puppy

You’ve heard of the phrase ‘as fit as a butcher’s dog’, right? There’s a reason why these lucky pooches are perceived to be fit and healthy – it’s because of their diet. It’s important to watch what you eat yourself, but it’s equally as important to regulate your dog’s intake too.

You may take some time when grocery shopping to look at the nutritional content printed on your food packaging, but have you ever checked out your pet food? As is always the case, it’s advisable to know what the terminology means.

For example, the first ingredient should be meat. Not a by-product of meat, or mechanically recovered meat (MRM), just ‘meat’. By-products and MRM include skin, eyes, feathers and hooves – your rule of thumb should be that if you could stomach it, then you can give it to your pet.

An ingredient like chicken weighs around 80 per cent more raw than cooked. However, ‘chicken meal’ is weighed the water has been removed from it and it has been cooked, giving you a more accurate representation of the ingredients. What does this mean to you? Well, the ingredients are listed in their raw state, so if the first is ‘chicken’ and the second as ‘corn meal’ it could mean that there is more corn meal than chicken. A dog’s digestive system is not equipped to deal with corn efficiently – it will pass right through him, so he won’t see any nutritional benefit. Corn has also been linked to swelling joints and skin allergies in dogs, making it an ingredient to avoid wherever possible.

It’s important to get your pooch’s diet right from the start, ideally from when he’s a pup. As he grows, he’ll pass through a couple of awkward stages, such as teething and being fussy about his food, but a little patience and the right nutrition will see you both through. Due to his delicate stomach, his food must be chosen with care, and there must be variety in his diet. Getting your puppy food from Pets at Home takes the guesswork out of feeding your pet, and you won’t waste hours squinting at labels in your supermarket in an effort to decipher them.