Tag Archives: Dog food

30 Day Pet Nutrition Challenge with Pets at Home – Week 2-3 – One down, one still going

30 Day Pet Nutrition Challenge with Pets at Home – Week 2-3 – Lilly and Bunk

So we are now just over three weeks into the challenge and I only have one dog left in the running.

My big boy is out.

Just after I posted my last post, I began to notice a few hot spots returning on Bunks skin. I am not absolutely sure if this is the foods fault but I am not going to take any chances. He was eating a grain free food before the challenge and his skin problems were almost none existent… but then it was also summertime and therefore there was much less moisture in the air… so who knows… anyway he is out and I am getting him back onto his old food or to be specific on a senior version of it.

So this is leaving me with only Lilly who is still following the advised food regime.

Last Wednesday we went back into our local Pets at Home store for a check-up. To our huge surprise and confusion Lilly had put 2kg on yet she looks much slimmer. Both her visual and hand examinations showed a lot of improvement – she has one more rib “sticking out” just as she should have… yet she is heavier… The only answer we could come up with for this strange development with the lovely people from Pets at Home was the fact that muscle is heavier than fat… so maybe she has lost some fat and gained some more muscle…

30 Day Pet Nutrition Challenge with Pets at Home – Week 2-3 – Lilly at the Groomer

As it was just us girls out shopping, we stopped at the groomers and Lilly had her nails trimmed. Normally we do it at the vet… clip, clip… down on the floor… few minutes and all is done. At the groomers it was a totally different story. Lilly went onto a proper grooming table… for the first time… I think she was a bit scared but she kept a happy face 🙂 She was nicely secured and the trimming began. I was tempted to check her weight again afterwards but I guess that a nail trim wouldn’t make a lot of difference.

30 Day Pet Nutrition Challenge with Pets at Home – Week 2-3 – One down, one still going

Lilly runs a lot more these day; especially since Friday, as we have Barnie staying with us again. The extended exercises are doing her good and she looks much healthier. She likes her new food, but I am not sure if she isn’t a bit hungry…

So you see picking the right food isn’t so easy. Like I said before I do not necessarily blame the food for Bunks skin problems, after all he is prone to hot spots, though it is a little coincidental that the new hot spots started just after the new diet started and thus if the food is indeed aggravating it, it is time for a change… again…

Have you ever had or have a pet with any food related health problems?

Do you feed your pet grain or grain free food?

If you feed a grain free diet I would love to hear your recommendations.


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Hungry on the new diet?

Lilly and her stickLilly and stickLilly and the stickLilly with a stick

Normally Lilly would run and fetch the sticks, but lately she just lies down and chews them…

Do you think she is hungry on her new diet?


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30 Day Pet Nutrition Challenge with Pets at Home – Week 1-2 – Transition to the New Dog Food

30 Day Pet Nutrition Challenge with Pets at Home – Week 1-2 – Transition to the New Dog Food

It’s coming up for two weeks now since our initial nutrition visit at Pets at Home and we are almost entirely on the new food now. From now on I should be able to see if the new food makes any difference to how my dogs behave or look.

Why does it take so long, you might ask… well… changing dog food is a slow process. Dogs don’t take well to changes in food, so it can’t be done overnight. The balance of the bugs in their digestive tract need time to develop so that they can digest the new foods.

Most vets advise changing your dog food over a period of at least 7 days. You are starting with 75% of the meal in their old food and 25% in the new one and increase the new food as the days go by. To make things easier, Rachel (the lovely advisor from Pets at Home) suggested doing it over the 10 days period, increasing new food intake by 10% each day. We liked this plan and it seemed to us much easier, taking the complicated math calculation into consideration 😉

When changing your dog food it is very important to examine the maximum feeding guidelines very carefully. You have to know exactly how much your dog should be fed. And if you are feeding a mixed meal, such as adding fruit or veggies on a regular basic, this also has to be taken into account. Ideally you should put on paper everything your dog eats, count the total intake and reduce some of the main food to make space for all the additional bits and pieces.

Let’s take our Bunk as an example.

He eats dry kibbles mixed with:

+ He gets about 10 treats a day (doggie milky bones, quite small in size but he really likes them).

He weights 62kg and according to Arden Grange Senior feeding guide he supposed to get 670g of dry kibbles a day. This would be perfect if he didn’t eat anything else. Now, because he gets all these additional foods, his daily allowance of kibbles had to be reduced. Taking into consideration all the additional things he eats his daily amount of dry kibbles eaten has dropped to 420g. Quite a big difference, isn’t it?

I think this is the main reason why there are so many overweight dogs.

Normally we just look at the back of the food bag, make our calculations and then just stick to them. Most of us have never even considered reducing the amount to make “space” for all the extras we feed our pets.

To be honest I didn’t know that a carrot or some apples would have to be taken into consideration too, but they have to… they contain sugars and are not calorie free (I wish they were).

What do you feed your pets?

Do you feed just one brand of food or like to mix it up?


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How to minimise or maybe prevent joint problems in dogs

How to minimise or maybe prevent joint problems in dogs

Joint problems aren’t limited to humans only; animals suffer from them as well. They can cause your pet to feel uncomfortable and even pain. As responsible pet owners we are supposed to do all we can to prevent this from happening; it is however, and most importantly, much easier than dealing with the consequences later on if we don’t.

So, what can cause joint problems in dogs?

Age – The older your dog, the more chances there are he or she will suffer from this condition.

Breed – large and giant breeds have to support more weight and are much more prone to joint problems than smaller dogs. This is why it is very important to think about the future and start protecting your dog as soon as possible.

Weight – Overweight dogs, a growing (no pun intended) and serious problem here in the UK, have a much greater chance of developing joint problems than their slim cover-girl friends. Remember, you can really hurt your dog with love. That extra sausage given as a treat just for being sooo cute will go straight to their hips.

Accidents – Unavoidable usually, but is your house safe from slippery floors or heavy things knocked over with an excited tail?

Infections – Significant reductions in the chance of this occurring can come from a good diet and exercise.

Genetic predispositions – Check out the parents if you can especially if you dog is a “mutt”. If it’s a pure breed then the breeder should be able to give you some history and advise you on the likelihood of problems in the future.

These are some of the main factors that play a big role in our beloved pets potentially developing joint problems.

Can we prevent this from happening?

Of this I am not sure. I am tempted to say no, but I believe that we can greatly reduce the chances of it occurring just by following some basic steps.

Knowing what can cause joint problems and knowing what to do in order to minimise the chances of it happening will help give your pet a better life and potentially save you and your pet a lot of problems in the future.

When we got Bunk, we knew what sort of breed we were getting, we were aware of the increased chance of problems it might hold for us in the future and yet we still got him. We started then and still do try our best to give both him and Lilly the best chance of a pain free life in the years to come.

So what can we do to prevent or minimise joint problems in dogs?

Correct diet

Just as with humans it can be argued that diet is very important, if not the single most important factor in determining what if any health problems we will incur in the future. A lot of people don’t really pay too much attention to what they are feeding their pet, often subconsciously driven by a marketing campaign created to make profits not the best for your pooch, which is a really scary thought. We have to pick the right food for our dog. It is extremely important that they eat what’s right for them and that the food contains all the necessary ingredients. When picking the food, do your research. Do not just pick a random pack from the shelf in the store because it is on offer! Make sure that the food is balanced and that it contains glucosamine and chondroitin, both of which help protect the joints. If you have the time, skills and willingness you can always cook something special for them, like jellied pigs trotters 🙂

How to prevent joint problems in dogs - fish oil

Whilst we are on the subject of diet I would also recommend adding some fish oil. Research shows that it can reduce joint discomfort as well as promote healthy development. Fish oil contains omega-3 & 6 fatty acids that have greater benefits; it benefits their skin and coat, it improves the immune system, decreased inflammations, helps with energy levels, reduce risk of heart problems etc etc… Fish oil is not expensive, it will not break your bank and it will give real benefits to your dog.

Weight control

As stated above the more overweight the dog, the greater the chance of developing joint problems. Keeping your dog slim is extremely important, simply because their weight affects so much more than just joints. I featured a post about Pet Obesity some time ago, so please read it if you want to know more on the topic.


Regular exercising of your dog is a must. Walk your dog as it will encourage movement and the flexibility of the joins and help them stay in better condition for longer. It also stimulates their minds and is their natural state which helps in a holistic way, It will also help with weight control. But like with everything in life moderation, exercising has to be done in moderation; too much or too little isn’t going to benefit your dog in fact it will be most unbeneficial.

How to minimise or maybe prevent joint problems in dogs - swimming

Swimming is highly beneficial for dogs as it doesn’t put any pressure on their joints and helps them relax. I am not suggesting that you have to take your dog to hydro therapy but if you have the sea, a lake or even a stream nearby and your dog likes to get wet, let them. Yes, I know it might not be ideal at times, your dog is all wet, your house stinks like a wet dog, your dog needs a bath… very time consuming but highly beneficial.

Sleeping conditions

Imagine how you would feel after an 8 hour long night on the cold hard floor, this is how your dog feels every morning, afternoon and evening. Dog beds are not just an aesthetics exercise, they are necessity! Every dog needs to have a good dog bed. Something warm and comfortable, large enough so he or she can stretch and roll over if desired but most important it has to offer a good lever of support for their joints, back and body, something like this Scruffs Hilton Orthopaedic Bed.

Bunk thinks it is a giant pillow

Bunk thinks it is a giant pillow

but Lilly knows better...

but Lilly knows better…

Sleeping on the cold hard floors of modern households is not natural, they are designed to sleep on the soil or grass which has some give and retains the bodies heat; something our tiles and wood veneered floors cannot offer, as such they are not ideal and not recommended. I know that sometimes it is hard to get your pet to sleep in the bed, but this is one of the reasons why people started dog training. Buy a good dog bed for your pet and make them sleep in it. Or if you own a dog like our Lilly you can take the easy quick option and sacrifice your own bed through the day and evening for he own personal use…

I am done. This is my list.

I would love to know if there is anything else you would add to it.

*Lilly and Bunk received 1 bottle of Salmon Oil and a new bed from Pet Shop Bowl.


Filed under Pets world, What's new

30 Day Pet Nutrition Challenge with Pets at Home

Lilly and Bunk 30 Day Pet Nutrition Challenge with Pets at Home

Yesterday Lilly and Bunk were invited to our local Pets at Home for a nutrition consultation. To be honest I was expecting a few minutes chat and some general advice on what and how to feed my dogs, instead we spent there almost 2 hours. Yea… long time but it was actually really worth it.

We were met by the lovely Rachel and she had a lot of questions for us, mostly food related but not limited to it. In addition to taking a long and detailed feeding history Rachel checked the general health state of both dogs… it felt kind of like a dog MOT 😉 – ears, eyes, joints, skin, fur, nails etc…

30 Day Pet Nutrition Challenge with Pets at Home - dog check up

Bunk scored a perfect 4 whilst Lilly only got 6-7 which means that she is overweight. It was hard for Rachel to determine her perfect weight because Lilly is a cross breed but in a bulk perspective she needs to drop a kg or two.

After all the “interrogations” were done we wandered into the food section to find a perfect match for both Lilly and Bunk. Currently they eat:

This wasn’t a bad diet in Rachel’s’ eyes but she had a few suggestions. First of all change lamb to a lower fatty meat based food, secondly put them both onto a senior food and third, make it a large breed food in order to get all the nutrition they need.

I actually didn’t know that lamb based food is considered a fatty one so this was something new for me. I also didn’t know that giant breeds should be changed onto a senior food much earlier than other dogs. Bunk is only 4.5 years old. Rachel suggested that he should eat senior from year 5 but doing it earlier isn’t going to hurt him, in fact the opposite, it can only help.

So we had our main components for the food all set, so it was a time to find the perfect dinner match for them.

Bunk picking up a new dinner...

Bunk picking up a new dinner…

Lilly searching for a perfect treat :-)

when Lilly was searching for a perfect treat 🙂

Pets at Home stock a lot of different brands. We looked at Wainwright’s and Burns, and Hills… At some point I asked “Shouldn’t you be recommending your own food?” I think Rachel wasn’t ready for this question but she answered me “If I thought that it will be good for your dogs I would. Every dog has a different dietary needs and not every food will be right for them. My job is not to push sales of our food, my job it to find the right food to match the needs of your dogs”. I loved the answer. Really at this point I could have given her a kiss!

Our perfect match!

Our perfect match!

Anyway… after a long discussion and detailed checking of the food contents we decided on Arden Grange Senior and NatureDiet Senior Lite. This is what Lilly and Bunk will be fed from now on… oh ok, I have to get them used to their new food, so I will be slowly adding some new food and mixing it with their current one.

I will update you on how they are doing on the new food shortly but for now I will leave you with this… if you have never had a nutritional consultation for your pet, you should book one. I think I am fairly well educated when it comes to dog food and pet care in general but during these 2 hours I did learn quite a lot of new and interesting facts.

Thank you Rachel, it was a pleasure. And we are all looking forward to meeting you again on the 26th of this month.

* Lilly and Bunk received a free consultation as well as advised dry food to last them for the duration of the challenge.


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What to feed a giant / large breed dog to minimise joint problems?

Jellied Pigs Feet / Trotters

Jellied Pigs Feet / Trotters

Like many large breed owners we worry about the health of the animal, especially about their bones as they are prone to problems in older age. We all want that warm fuzzy feeling from knowing deep down inside that we have looked after them well and they are happy and healthy, so we take care of things. Now one of the biggest things in any dogs’ life is food, if you don’t believe me cook a sausage sandwich and notice just how attentive, loyal and totally loving your hound is…

However when it comes to buying their food we tend to fall into one of two camps; kibble or tin. Some go buy a sack of dried food and some go buy a stack of tinned dog food. Depending on the size of your hound (as you know Bunk and Lilly aren’t the smallest of breeds) will tend to determine how far towards kibbles you lean, unless you have won the lottery recently. But kibbles are boring aren’t they; would you like to eat them every day?

So food procured now we start the next worry, what exactly is in their food and is it good for you. We know the food industry will mess around with human food to enhance colour, flavour or shelf life with all sorts of weird and wonderful laboratory products so what on earth would they do to dog food.

This has led us to think about a home cooked solution to ensure no worries. Ok, we are still going to give kibbles, even though we are of the opinion that they must be boring so what can we add to make it more tasty and maybe even have a health benefit, we have come up with an option.

Jellied pigs trotters are rich in collagen and gelatine, which will help to maintain healthy bones and joints for longer. They are fairly cheap to buy and for sure easy to prepare.

First thing is to pop down to your local family butchers and acquire some pig’s feet (trotters). Then off to your veggie shop to get some carrots, parsnip, leeks, celery… whichever veggie your dogs like, it will all work, so buy it.

Jellied Pigs Trotters Ingredients

I was cooking a giant batch… a whole weeks’ worth of food to feed Bunk, Lilly and maybe the cats as a treat… so I got:

  • 4 pig trotters
  • 6 carrots
  • 1 parsnip (simply because they do not like it as much as carrot)
  • 1 celery stalk
  • I would normally like to give them a large leek as well but my veggie man didn’t have any on the day

Jellied Pigs Trotters cooking stage 1Jellied Pigs Trotters cooking stage 2

Wash them well, peel, cut into chunks and pop them all into the largest pot you have and cover with water.

I split my ingredients in half and cooked it in 2 separate pots adding 4 litres of water to each pot. I cook it with the lid fully on as I do not want my liquid to reduce too much.

Jellied Pigs Trotters cooking stage 3

Boil them on a low heat for three to four hours or until you see the feet falling apart.

Jellied Pigs Trotters cointainers

When the food is cooking, prepare your containers – I use 900ml ice cream tubs. They really work well for us and make for a perfect daily portion to share between Lilly and Bunk.

Jellied Pigs Trotters Feet

Once the cooking time is up allow them to cool a little, and then remove everything from your pot, leaving just the liquid. Do not throw away the liquid as this is what makes the jelly!



You will need to peel the feet now. Put meat and skin on one side and remove ALL the bones. Be very careful not to skip some, check and them re-check again if there is no bones left. Don’t be tempted to give bones to the dog no matter how much he / she begs and pleads! Bones go to the bin.

Cut your veggies into smaller chunks and start building the food cubes. I put veggies first; meat later and then fill the entire box with liquid…. just like this…

Jellied Pigs Trotters building your cubes

When you are finish with your creation, put them aside until totally cold. Few hours later pop them all into the fridge, don’t worry if your tubs seem very liquid like… they will set, just give them time.

My ingredients as stated above made 8 tubs, each around 80% full.

Next day you have a fridge full of homemade awesome dog food! Take it out, allow it to warm for half an hour and then cut into desired chunks. Add to kibbles and I bet your dogs will love it, as ours do!

Jellied Pigs Trotters in a dog meal

I tried to cook the same way with some chicken feet as well. The principle is the same but… chicken feet are much smaller and removing all the bones (which are really tiny) is a horrendous task, so after spending over 2 hours getting all the bones from my chicken feet out I decided to stick with trotters 😉

Do you know of any other homemade recipes / remedies which will help to maintain healthy joints for dogs?


Filed under Pets world, What's cooking, What's new

Pets and raw meet

Last night at dinner time Mark was making some homemade chicken kievs (that where delicious I must add), anyway we had a little bit of raw chicken breast left, what to do with it? My thinking was “What a great treat, let’s give it to the dogs”. Mark agreed as dogs are supposed to eat raw meat, as they would in the wild. To my surprise Bunk wasn’t very interested. He sniffed it and licked it but that was it, he just looked at me as if to say “Any chance you could roast that for me, maybe a bit of garlic or just some herbs…”. As for Lilly she didn’t even come close to it, looking like we were trying to poison her!

I really thought it was weird. It was fresh, good quality chicken breast. Ok, it was raw but I never heard about Cordon Bleu dog restaurants and master chefs or even fussy pooches Lilly is a Labrador they would eat their back leg if they go more than a couple of hours without something to eat… I thought they will enjoy it, how wrong was I?

Nothing lost; we gave it to the cats and they “hoovered” it in no time

Nothing lost; we gave it to the cats and they “hoovered” it in no time

Do your pets eat raw meat?

I don’t think we have ever tried to give them anything raw before; I just want to know, was it chicken they did not like or the fact it was raw? Or are they just a pair of spoiled brats….


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Ode to Bunk

Our Bunk

we have a huge dog, we call him Bunk 
61kg of furry, drooling hunk
proudly proclaiming himself a guard dog 
days of running & he sleeps like a log

twice a day with an evil eye
big yawn, stretches and a sigh
he takes up his station by his bowl
a mountain of food the wishful goal

everything eaten from chillies to beef
feeding him is easy without any grief
but should the food ever run out
we fear, we will no longer be about

Maybe Eaten By A Newfoundland, 2013

This poem won us 6 months supply of Vet’s Kitchen dog food from Zooplus Facebook competition.


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