Step 1. Understand the macro situation
The domestic market for dog food is heavily protected by various taxes/embargoes, therefore the price of “regular” dog food is far higher in China than in North America or Europe.
The vast majority of domestically produced dog food is of EXTREMELY poor quality. There are NO laws or regulations regarding production. Additionally, there are many many fake products out there, so source food for your furbaby from a reputable source who you can communicate with (regardless of the type or price of food).
Chateau Canine has a range of suggested dog food listed here
Step 2. Understand generally what nutrition dogs as a species need
Dogs are omnivores (unlike cats who are carnivores) which means they eat a mix of food types. What are the food types traditionally eaten by dogs and the ratio to total consumption?
- Raw meat/bones (roughly 50%)
- Raw organs and guts of other animals (roughly 15-20%)
- Raw vegetables and fruits (roughly 15-20%)
- Grains/grasses and other things found in the stomachs of other animals (roughly 10%)
Our dogs are different to a Wolf nutritionally (million years of evolution will do that)
- Less of a hunter, more of a scavenger which means:
- More bones
- More vegetables
- and unfortunately, more coprophagic (which is why some dogs eat poop)
The grain vs no grain argument:
- Whether you know it or not, there is a raging debate globally about the value of grains in a dog’s diet. Dog food companies spend billions annually trying to convince you one way or another what the situation is with grains.
- Grains per se are not bad for a dog, dogs have been eating grains for hundreds of thousands of years. The critical point is how much grain should a dog be eating. When you think of it as the total amount of grains that a dog would be eating is really only the contents of the stomach of the animal it killed, vs the entirety of the carcass, then it’s obvious that grains historically have been an extremely small part of their total diet. Additionally, the grains in the stomach have already been fermented by the stomach acid of the animal, but now we are really getting into the science of it…
- In summary: Chateau Canine is of the opinion that for Canines, there is no value in grains.
Step 3. Understand generally the label and other nutritional information
Firstly, acknowledge that in developing countries there are no rules regarding dog food production, you may be putting your dog at risk by going with brands that are “very local”. There is no telling what the ingredients are and the horror stories in the industry truly are horrific. (Sand in the dog food, dog meat in the dog food, human faeces in the dog food, the list goes on)
- This is the same as humans, the ingredients start with the highest percent ingredient and get gradually less and less. You should be looking for an ingredient mix as close to what is explained in Step 2 and within your budget. If there are grains (wheat, rice etc) in the first 4 ingredients, this is a sign that the producer has taken a very low quality approach to the food and is using grains as a filler. Grains at this level are well beyond a dog’s capacity to digest effectively or efficiently (many developed countries vets now believe excessive grain consumption to be the source of many later life stage diseases and illnesses)
- You are looking for normal ingredients, meats, vegetables, bones etc. if there are too many words/additives in the list that you don’t understand, then we advise to steer clear.
- “Powder” or “meal” is crushed and dried animal bi-product that is a very high source of protein but not much else, obviously the more real meat/bones the better.
- Added gluten is a nono – this is what low quality dog food companies use as a cheap protein source that comes from grains, which (as mentioned above) dogs get very little nutritional value from.
- Added pet food aromas, if the dog food company needs to add this, then you should wonder what their hiding.
- Zeolite clay – this is literally the clay that holds the poo together. People often say to us “my dog does great on this dog food, his poop is really solid and consistent”. The question to ask is, does the poop look good because what he is eating is good, or is it good because the dog food company has found a way to make it look good, without actually having to put any quality food in the mix.
- Phosphorous vs Calcium ratio: This should be close to 1:1, if it’s not, this food eaten over the long term can create a dietary imbalance in the dogs health leading to other health issues.
Step 4. Think about your time, knowledge and budget
With the right time, knowledge and budget preparing your own raw fresh diet is a great option to feed your dog, however it is also the most time consuming (eg: all meats should be frozen for 20 days before feeding to eliminate the risk of bacteria infections, you need to remember to defrost it/prepare it every day – chopping and changing doesn’t work as it messes with the dog’s stomach PH levels, what do you do when you travel? etc etc) and requires a higher level of animal nutrition knowledge than you probably have. If you just “wing it” there is a legitimate risk of feeding an unbalanced diet that may cause more harm than good in the long run. If your goal is wanting the very best possible dog food for your furbaby, then our suggestion is K9 Natural from New Zealand. Lets be honest, New Zealand’s environment, animal protection standards, nutrition standards are the best in the world (the author of this article is Australian) all beef for example in NZ is grass fed and grass finished, thats why their beef and dairy is so widely regarded. This comes across in K9 Natural’s dog food too.
Have a look at your dog and your budget, if you have a small breed of dog, then even the most top shelf dog food won’t make that big a dent in your budget, but if you have a larger breed of dog, then be prepared for the food bill to escalate (don’t forget though, your dog wont need to eat as much food if it is higher quality). Buy the best dog food you can afford, then if you need to you can purchase some nutritional “toppers” or add in some raw food to their diet on top of the dog food to give the nutrition a bit of an added boost.
Step 5. Choose the type of food you want to feed:
Low quality wet food:
- Cesar cans
- Vacuum sealed sausages
- Pedigree sachets
High quality wet food:
- Fish4dogs cans
- K9 Natural cans
Low quality dry dog food
- Extremely low cost junk kibble (Taobao, Baopal sold)
- Lilang, Oats & Chicken, Crazy Dog
- Grain based low quality mainstream kibble (Supermarket/vet)
- Nature Bridge, Pedigree, Royal Canin, Eukanuba (Don’t think that just because the vet is selling it, it’s good)
Reasonable quality dry dog food
- Extruded balanced value kibble
- NOW, Pure & Natural, Nutri-Fresh
- Extruded quality balanced grain free kibble
- Instinct, Fish4dogs, Go!
Good quality dry dog food
- Extruded premium quality protein grain free kibble
- Orijen, Acana, Canidae
- Baked kibble
- Stella & Chewy’s
The really good stuff:
- Dehydrated chunks
- Isle of Dog, Ziwi Peak
- Freeze dried (this form of food prep has the highest nutritional value of any dog food by far)
- K9 Natural, Orijen, Stella & Chewy’s
- Super premium pre-packed dog food available online in some cities
Step 6. Understand allergies and intolerances
Like humans, some dogs don’t process some things well, and the outcome is generally the same: Diarrhoea, rashes, itchiness, sneazing, excessive licking (less so in humans) etc etc. If you start feeding a new food to your dog and this happens, then maybe it’s not the right choice – with this in mind, always start new food for your dog in a small batch/order just in case.
Single protein sources of dog food can be good for those dogs with known intolerances, however grains are the most common form of food intolerance known to dogs. See our suggested single source protein dog foods here. None of the dog food we suggest has grains.
If you have ongoing allergy issues, please feel free to contact us and we can provide you with allergy testing options.
Step 7. Buy a small amount and do a test feed
When introducing a new food source, always remember do it in small steps. If its dry dog food of some sort, the idea is to introduce 20% a days for five days. As in, day 1 80% old food/20% new food, day 2 60% old food/40% new food and so on until its 100% new food. This reduces the impact on the dogs stomach and gives you a better idea of how well the dog handles it.
For the test feed, get enough for about 2 weeks, which should give you enough time to start to see any early signs. Things to look out for that it’s not a good match:
- Excessive eye gunk
- Excessive ear gunk
- Fur lacking oils or drying up
- Feet getting licked more or looking irritated
- General skin irritation or excessive scratching
- Diarrhoea for more than the first few days during the change
Thanks for reading, we hope it helps your pup’s overall condition! Please feel free to get in touch with PJ @ Chateau Canine at anytime to talk more about your food options!