The majority of people fed their dog on premium dry food, supermarket dry food or a mix of canned and dry food. 14.07% fed a mix of commercial food and scraps and 12.1% fed home prepared rations – real food. 75% of people feed bones at least occasionally. Only 5% of owners reported that their dog was overweight based on a condition score chart – I hope this is true!
In the 2011 survey I looked at diet and health correlations. I found that dogs fed a whole or raw food diet were significantly less likely to have any chronic health problems than dogs fed premium dry food or premium dry plus canned food from a pet store or vet surgery.
In the 2013 survey I found a significant correlation between the incidence of ear problems and diet. Again a diet of exclusively “premium” dog food didn’t compare well with a more varied diet.
Chronic disease in humans and dogs (The “western diseases” of obesity, arthritis, diabetes, alzheimers, allergies) are all increasing in both species. The debate continues on the causes of these but there is a consistent view that refined carbohydrate – sugar and starch – in human diets have a lot to answer for. In the simplest interpretation surplus glucose in the blood stimulates insulin production and insulin promotes “pro-inflammatory” processes in the body. Commercial dog food usually contains about 45% of calories from grain.
Based on these results and years of observation I now recommend that ultra processed “Premium Dry Dog Food” be treated as a “convenience food” – like Macca’s, KFC or a food substitute like “calorie controlled shakes and bars” – and that you should feed your dog real food wherever possible or alternatively use grain free commercial products including cans and rolls. Frozen “BARF” patties, made from whole food and without preservatives, are probably the best possible option for commercial rations.
Having said that, the other observation we made from the 2011 survey was that there was a significantly higher level of overweight dogs among those fed a mixed diet than dogs fed dry food alone. The numbers are small but are consistent with veterinary advice that feeding “dog food” according to instructions will help to control your dog’s weight. I advise people to monitor their dogs “body score” closely and aim for the ideal weight and avoid over feeding rather than feed them measured portions of the same food every day of their lives.