With our own busy in-house veterinary practice, Vet’s Klinic, we see hundreds of pets and their owners every month and understand the link between food and its effect on health and behaviour. The simple truth is that good health starts with the right diet; food provides building blocks for all the body’s processes so it’s only natural that it impacts on a pet’s overall health. We so often see first-hand in a consulting room how poor diets can cause issues so we were inspired to make high quality, hypoallergenic food that is affordable and accessible so more pet owners can afford to feed better. What’s more using the knowledge and experience of our veterinary team we wanted to create foods that were not only tasty but those which were functional and could be used to prevent or manage health problems. We started with Chicken & Brown Rice as these ingredients are highly digestible sources of protein and complex carbohydrates that most dogs can tolerate well.
Knowledge and expertise
Chicken was the obvious choice to start with as this is a highly digestible meat source and one which does not come in the top three ingredients that dogs are allergic to (beef, wheat and dairy).
Although a quick glance may suggest there are plenty of perfectly adequate chicken and rice diets for dogs already they don’t all stand up to scrutiny. Unlike cats, dogs are omnivores and don’t require such high levels of protein in their diet, however this does not mean they will thrive on cereal rich, low meat diets. We wanted to create a food with the ideal balance of ingredients, including higher levels of meat for optimum nutrition. For added health benefits we researched different functional ingredients and only added the ones proven to work for dogs.
Before we look at producing a food we look at the latest research and data to ensure we have the very latest information on the best ingredients to use.
Although, the natural ingredients in this food are packed full of essential nutrients we wanted this diet to be much more than a run of the mill food. We’ve included functional ingredients such as glucosamine, chondroitin and Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) for joint health. You can read more about different types of joint supplements in our blog here.
In addition to being a hypoallergenic diet we have added Beta glucans to support those sensitive dogs. Beta Glucans are naturally occurring carbohydrate molecules found in the wall of brewer’s yeast; which is also an excellent source of B vitamins and additional prebiotics. Beta-1,3/1,6- glucans have been shown to reduce chemical messages that stimulate inflammation and increase the anti-inflammatory messages to white bloods cells. These types of chemical changes are thought to be beneficial to the control of allergic skin disease in some dogs.
It’s not just skin problems that we see on a daily basis at our in-house veterinary practice, it’s also digestive upset and as well as using ingredients that are easy to digest, we’ve included prebiotics MOS and FOS to support the digestive system. Our Salmon & Potato recipe also contains prebiotics and our next article will explain more about these important ingredients.
With our Chicken and Brown Rice we decided that making it a single protein diet (one that has only once source of meat in it) would be useful as this means it can also be fed to dogs with allergies to other meat/fish ingredients. This food, does include salmon oil but allergies are triggered by a reaction by the immune system to a protein not an oil/fat so most dogs – even with an allergy to salmon (which is rare) would be fine to eat this diet. As you will read further on, salmon oil is a great source of omega 3 essential fatty acids.
The level of meat in some dog foods can be quite low and the European Pet Food Industry recommends 18% minimum protein for adult dogs but rather than have just enough to meet this figure we included higher levels of meat to ensure dogs could get more essential amino acids from their diet (these are the building blocks of protein).
Chicken is a highly digestible meat source and one which does not come in the top three ingredients that dogs are allergic to.
A good source of meat or fish in the diet is also necessary for providing essential fatty acids such as Omega 3 and 6. Omega 6 is required for many functions including healthy growth, skin and coat and Omega 3’s have several functions including being required for normal brain function and the nervous system. The best sources of Omega 3’s are marine sources so we’ve included salmon oil and seaweed oil extract in this diet to supply these important nutrients.
As dogs can easily digest rice and can utilise energy from high quality carbohydrates we have included brown rice in this variety of food. This helps to balance the recipe and keep the fat level from becoming too high. Unlike other grains such as wheat, rice does not contain gluten and rice allergies are still rare. We’ve avoided using ingredients known to trigger allergies e.g. wheat, dairy, soya and beef and therefore this diet (and all of our foods) are hypoallergenic. We also only use natural preservatives (going to expand this bit in the Salmon & Potato diet and link back) and avoid the use of colourings.
Getting the right balance of fibre is important for digestive health. Too little fibre may cause constipation and too much may lead to very loose or bulky stools. A balance of insoluble and soluble fibre is also necessary. One of the reasons we use brown rice rather than white rice is because brown rice is less processed and retains more of its nutrients and fibre than white rice. Brown Rice also has a lower glycaemic index than white rice, meaning that it is digested and absorbed more slowly and causes less fluctuation in blood sugar levels. Another slowly digested grain is oats and we include these as an excellent fibre source as well as a supply of minerals such as zinc, calcium and magnesium. Oats also contain naturally occurring plant chemicals called avenanthramides which have been shown to have anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-itch properties to benefit skin health.
Before launching any food we need to get paws-up approval from a panel of experts. We want to make sure the food is as delicious as possible as well as being healthy. However, we only use willing volunteers to test our food. You can read all about palatability trials here.
The Chicken & Brown Rice recipe is our most popular, but don’t just take our word for it, read more about why dogs love our food here.
We are proud to use real pets on the front of our packaging. We call these our brand ambassadors because not only do they eat the food, it has made a difference to their long term health too. The beautiful rough collie you see on the front of our Chicken & Brown Rice dry dog food is called Foxy… here’s Foxy’s story:
Hand, Thatcher, Remillard, Roudebush & Novotny (2010) Small Animal Clinical Nutrition, 5th edn., Mark Morris Institute. Page 68
Case, Daristotle, Hayek & Raasch (2011) Canine and Feline Nutrition, 3rd edn., Missouri: Mosby Elsevier. Page 467-470
Fascetti, A.J and Delaney, S.J (2012) Applied Veterinary Clinical Nutrition, Chichester: Wiley Blackwell. P102
Swansen et al, Effects of supplemental fructooligosaccharides plus mannanoligosaccharides on immune function and ileal and fecal microbial populations in adult dogs. Arch Tierernahr. 2002 Aug;56(4):309-18.
Benyacoub et al, Supplementation of food with Enterococcus faecium (SF68) stimulates immune functions in young dogs. J Nutr. 2003 Apr;133(4):1158-62.
Hand, Thatcher, Remillard, Roudebush & Novotny (2010) Small Animal Clinical Nutrition, 5th edn., Mark Morris Institute. Page 704-706
Fascetti, A.J and Delaney S.J (2012) Applied Veterinary Clinical Nutrition, Wiley Blackwell. P150
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