Is your dog’s food really Complete?

Let’s face it, we all buy our dogs’ food based on a belief that because the bag says Complete (and balanced) it must contain everything our dogs need. Right?

Well, we at Phoenix Bark have news to share. That is not always the case. In fact some studies have shown that 94% of processed dog foods tested*, canned and dry foods (usually nicknamed kibble or nuts) are absolutely not. Some were up to 50% deficient in certain vital nutrients like Zinc**, and B Vitamins***! Very sad news for our beloved canine friends.

The studies have highlighted that despite our belief that these foods are tested or controlled in some way, many factors mean they simply do not have the full spectrum of nutrition for our dogs when they leave manufacturing plants – let alone when they eventually reach your dog’s bowl!

Just as famed TV chef Jamie Oliver highlighted in his School Dinners’ campaign, processed foods do not provide the nutrition our children need.  What makes us think it will be any different for our dogs?

Fresh, whole foods will always win when it comes to nutrition. This is why, although we secretly love those junk foods, we feel we really ought to eat more salads and fresh meat, fruit and vegetables. 

Let’s consider why these foods are not always Complete?

A few facts

  1. There is absolutely no policy for testing or checking pet foods to ensure that they comply with ‘Complete’ guidelines
  2. Even grain-free processed food can be packed with fillers, often with little meaningful nutrition to support a dog’s needs. Vitamins and minerals are lost in the cooking process and so are added back in as powdered supplements. These are almost always hard for dogs to digest and absorb. The powders do not cover all the nutrition found in fresh foods – omega fats, antioxidants and compounds such as glucosamine are not required for the label ‘Complete’.
  3. There is currently no absorbable version of calcium permitted in processed pet foods. Most use chalk.  And a simple change to labelling laws meant this didn’t need to be openly displayed on the ingredients.
  4. Storage, transportation, air in the bag – these factors can all further compromise nutrient integrity.
  5. Shelf-stable foods labelled as ‘gently cooked’ are legally bound to cook for 121c for 8 hours for sterilisation. The cooking jets are not strong as they would damage the can or packet. That’s where the ‘gentle’ bit comes in.
    Phoenix Bark food cooks at only 90c and for just 10 minutes, a truly fresh way to feed your dog.

A food is absolutely NOT fresh if you buy it from a shelf – clever marketing may very well be putting your dog at risk of nutrient deficiencies. We feed fresh, balanced food to Barbara (Phoenix Bark of course!), because we made a decision to eat this way ourselves, as a family – the whole family.

Admittedly there are considerable parts of the week we could fall into the #mydogeatsbetterthanIdo category!But we adore her, our vets bills are super low, and we know she will live longer and more happily and healthily with us too, simply by eating fresh foods.

Over the coming months we will be highlighting lots of fun nutrition facts, as we welcome our new consultant nutritionist, Caroline to the team.

If you would like us to double check the likely nutrient levels of your dog’s current food we are more than happy to do. Studies have shown that simply by adding some fresh to the bowl you actually increase your dog’s lifespan considerably****.

We have got lots of fresh ideas to share with you!
So keep an eye on our blog, newsletters and if there’s anything you’d like out input or advice on, just let us know!

  1. Mineral analysis of Complete dog and cat foods in the UK and compliance with European guidelines. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-17159-7 (2017) “Analysis of all feline or canine foods revealed broad non-compliance with all EU (FEDIAF) Guidelines; 94% (91/97) and 61% (46/80) of wet and dry foods, respectively failed to comply with all guidelines”
  2. Nutritional evaluation of commercial dry dog foods by near infrared reflectance spectroscopy (Zinc) https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1439-0396.2005.00585.x (2006)
  3. Effects of extrusion processing on nutrients in dry pet food ( B vitamins) https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jsfa.3247 (2008)
  4. Evaluation of the effect of dietary vegetable consumption on reducing risk of transitional cell carcinoma of the urinary bladder in Scottish Terriers https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16013542/ (2005)
  5. Thank you to handsome Luciano for his lovely photo. 🐾
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