Why Should You Be Thinking about What You're Feeding Your Dog?
Deciding what to feed your dog can be a difficult task when you really start to think about what you are putting into their bodies. Dogs cannot decide for themselves what to eat. My greyhound, Tipps, has very poor judgement; left unattended he decided a pack of tealight candles seemed like a good meal, aluminium and all. It is us owners that need to take on that responsibility but where do we start?
Good nutrition and a well-balanced diet are essential to your pet’s health and will support a happy and long life - something I know we all want for our dogs. A poor diet can result in both physical and mental health issues. Providing a good source of food, which meets their needs, and combining this with an exercise regime suitable for their age and ability is important.
Like with humans, dogs are what they eat. It is difficult to know the quality of commercially produced dog food but, in most cases, we can think of them as the “fast food” options of the dog world. If we were to fill our bellies with processed foods that are high in carbohydrates, saturated fats and added sugars every day, we would almost certainly run into health issues.
The resulting health issues are not only physical, such as gaining weight. It is now well known that poor diet can have a significant negative impact on our emotional well-being too. This is the same for your dog.
With this being said, it starts to become clear that a lot of nutrient-rich “people” foods can also offer serious nutritional benefits for dogs. There are some ingredients that are not good for our canine companions (like avocado, grapes, raisins, spices..) but most can be eaten and enjoyed by them. These foods provide delicious flavours and textures which mean that they are not only excellent for a nutritious diet but also give some variety at meal times.
A Well-Balanced Diet
Our dogs are usually always so eager to get to the food we put in front of them that it is understandable that many owners, myself included, believe that are loving each and every time that same dish is served up. However, in reality, most simply have an inbuilt sense to eat anything, anytime, anywhere.
Unfortunately, the truth is that most commercial dog food manufacturers sacrifice quality and nutrition in an effort to mass produce food. Unavoidably, even the most impressive fresh ingredients going into a dried food product will lose many of the nutrients during the cooking and freezing process.
Canned foods are fresher in some ways but are still packed with chemicals and preservatives to make them smell enticing to your dog and last longer on the shelf.
It is certainly convenient for us to pick up a supply of food from the supermarket and owners are reassured with phrases such as “complete and balanced” when this is most likely not the case. It is very hard to believe that one single dog food can meet all the nutritional requirements for your dog all the time.
Think about it; is there one meal you could eat every day that would supply you with all of your nutrients for a well-balanced diet? Across your entire lifespan and taking into account varying levels of activity? Probably not, right?
How to decide what to feed your dog
Food variety offers different vitamins, antioxidants, fibre, proteins, omega acids and much more to make up a balanced diet of essential nutrients. Switching up dog food can often lead to stomach complaints from our dogs. We know as we stand there, bags in hand, contemplating how best to scoop this particular pulpy poop.
However, this could actually be a sign that your dog is lacking in nutrients and need a wider range of foods in their diet. Most owners want to provide their dogs with the best possible food option their budget allows, as they do with all members of the family.
We all want the best for our dogs and I think there are great choices on the market if we take a little time to look into them. Or let me do it and you can read my blog!
Feeding your dog a well-balanced, highly nutritious diet is one of the best ways that you, as an owner, can help your dog live a long and happy life. But how do you decide on the best diet? Do you go by what has worked in the past? Are you new to dog ownership and looking at what your friends and family do? Have you had a recommendation from the breeder or your vet? It can quite confusing, right?
One thing is for sure, a good food source will strengthen your dog's immune system and keep them in good health so it is worth putting some thought into. Some dogs, like us, have dietary requirements. Many are lactose intolerant, have diabetes or suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. Some are just plain fussy and finding the right combination of taste, nutrients and calories to suit their individual needs isn’t easy.
However, I believe that Butternut Box and the chaps behind it could really provide you and your much-loved pooch with the perfect canine diet.
Who are Butternut Box
I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Butternut Box via a webinar recently and was extremely excited to hear of their venture. David Nolan, one of the co-founders, presented to us the Butternut Box story and how his new rescue dog (or more to-the-point the chronic flatulence of his new rescue dog) started him on a path that would change his life, and that of many dogs.
It all began with Rudie, a staffy adopted from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, came into the Nolan household with a host of health issues. She had problems with her skin, coat, and eyes, and showed signs of separation anxiety. By far the worst issue, or at least the most offensive, was her farting. It was, in fact, the reason she was aptly-named Rudie.
With seemingly none of the medicines or suggested remedies helping Rudie’s condition, Dave decided to try cooking homemade meals for her, carefully choosing ingredients to help with her tummy. The results were astonishing! In a surprisingly short amount of time, Rudie’s general health and well-being had improved immensely and she was a much happier hound.
The benefits to home-cooked meals for Rudie were obvious. But it was time-consuming to prepare, cook and dish up every day. Dave was discussing this, and the lack of convenient services that could deliver nourishing, tailored dog food to his door, with this workmate Kevin when light bulbs illuminated above their heads.
The initial ideas of Butternut Box started to stir and they set about understanding if they could fill this void in the market.
How It All Began...
The lads decided to reach out to friends and families, and anyone close to them, to see if there were owners who wanted to try home cooked dog meals and provide feedback on how their dogs reacted to the change in diet. Owners signed up with a real curiosity to know if the homecooked food was a better option to commercial brands. Some signed up because they had genuine concerns over their dog's health and needed help. There were also owners that had trouble getting their dogs to eat much and were running out of options.
The two investment bankers set about gathering vital information about each dog. Based on the answers they got, they researched, prepared, cooked and delivered the required nutritious meals, pre-portioned and fresh to each customer.
The response from all owners on the trial was that their dogs thoroughly enjoyed the meals and they found that their general well-being had improved. Even those fussy eaters were devouring each and every meal. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and word started to spread. Demand for Dave and Kev’s home cooked, delicious and nourishing dog food came in thick and fast.
The pair spent the best part of a year trying to supply their customers whilst holding down their jobs. Eventually, the growing numbers of customers and the encouragement from their loved ones saw them give up their roles at Goldman Sachs and become full-time doggy dieticians.
Why choose Butternut Box
David and Kevin's ethos is that they want to feed dogs nutritious food made with good quality ingredients that won't cause them harm. Before supplying any owners with a meal plan, they ask a host of questions; age, weight, breed, gender, size, neutered or not, activity levels.
With information they have a better understanding of the dog's well being and which ingredients and portion sizes are suitable.
The Butternut Box team have opened a kitchen in London and source their meat locally from Smithfield Market. All of their meals are produced using only natural ingredients and no chemical preservatives, colours or flavour enhancers are used.
They do not claim to use prime cuts of fillet steak but to instead to sourcing human grade ingredients, tested and tried by the team first. They list their recipes on their website for anyone to find and know exactly what goes into their meals. All meals are cooked to order and produced each week to ensure the freshest possible food is delivered.
You may be wondering how two finance heads became canine nutritionists in their spare time. Well, they didn’t. They work with leading animal nutritionists who have helped to formalise the recipes and ensure they meet the nutritional canine requirements.
They place a heavy focus on research and are driven by the data they gather from the experts in the industry.
Your Dog's Health is Most Important
After only a few brief communications with Dave, and listening to his talk during the webinar, I can wholeheartedly say that both he and the whole Butternut Box team have each and every dog's well-being at the forefront of their minds.
They are keen to help educate the public on the importance of a balanced diet and how it can seriously impact the health and behaviour of your dog. I want to spread that word too and hope that this article has you considering what the next meal you put down for your dog will consist of.
To find out more about Butternut Box, how it works and whether this fantastic service could be suitable for you and your pet, take a look at their website www.butternutbox.com. You will be invited to fill out a series of questions and be provided with a plan suited to your dog's individual needs. They have a handy FAQs for anything I may not have covered or you can pop any questions directly to me.
If anyone reading this is already a Butternut Box customer or has trialled their products I would love to hear from you. Tipps will soon be trialling their Butternut Box Diet so look out for my update blog on how we got on.