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A question that comes up quite a bit is whether you should cook your dogs dinner. I think this is often because people mostly eat cooked food, so cooking your dogs dinner makes sense too! There’s quite a bit of debate over the issue, with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) advising feeding a cooked diet, versus the millions of raw feeders worldwide doing exactly the opposite.

So, should you cook your dogs dinner?

My advice is invariably that a raw food diet is significantly better than a cooked one. Any benefits of cooking your dogs food are outweighed by the negative impact that it has on it’s nutritional content - if you follow a few simple rules.

But why you would want to cook your dogs dinner in the first place?

BENEFITS OF COOKING

There are two main reasons to cook your dogs dinner: reducing the risk of pathogens and making the food more digestible. The most common reason is reducing the pathogenic risk - indeed this is the very reason that the AVMA discourages feeding raw food.

Yes, all raw meat can be dangerous. But only if you don’t handle it properly. For this reason I don’t think that this argument is valid. If you are feeding human grade ingredients and use safe food handling practices raw meat is perfectly safe. It’s like saying that no one should have raw chicken in their fridge  - it just doesn’t make sense!

Also keep in mind that cooked kibble accounts for nearly all pet food recalls. This list of recalls in Australia from petfoodreviews.com.au does not contain a single raw food. Go figure.

The other reason to feed a cooked diet is to make the food more digestible. Some dogs have sensitive digestive systems which may find cooked food easier to break down. In these very specific and rare cases a cooked diet may indeed be beneficial. However it could be a symptom of an underlying health issue so it is absolutely worth seeing your vet and getting to the bottom of the issue.

In the vast majority of cases, go raw!

WHY RAW IS BETTER

Applying heat to raw food fundamentally changes it, and in most cases this makes it less nutritious for dogs. Cooking denatures protein, as well as destroys vital enzymes and vitamins in food. It is for this reason that cooked food nearly always needs to have synthetic nutrients added to it to make it meet the nutritional guidelines. 

That’s crazy!

Instead of adding additional processing steps and synthetic nutrients, why not just use quality ingredients and keep it in it’s original raw state? Whole food is always better than synthetic nutrition.

However there is no one size fits all way to best look after all dogs. Some dogs may be better off with a cooked diet. If you think this may be your dog, it’s important to realise that cooking their food will reduce the nutrition and you may need to consider supplementation to fill in the gaps. 

On the whole, a properly formulated raw food diet provides the best nutrition for your dog. If you have a normal healthy dog, then this is absolutely the best option!

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Fussy dogs who don’t want to eat their own food are surprisingly common, and a massive frustration for their well-meaning humans. In 9 out of 10 cases, being a picky eater is a habit. This behaviour is shaped by the environment that your dog lives in (which includes you!) so we need to make some adjustments to cure fussiness. 

If your dog is fussy then this guide is for you!

HOW HELP TO A PICKY EATER

The key is to come up with a feeding plan and to stick with it. Once you make a decision about what they are and aren’t allowed to eat make sure that you don’t change it. This consistency is how your dog know what behaviours are acceptable. It’s not hard but does require some willpower on your behalf!

When changing a fussy dogs eating habits it can be helpful to fast your dog for the first 24 hours (especially if your have a really picky pup). Dogs can go for several days without food so don’t worry. And when you do offer food only allow a 10 minute eating window. If they don’t eat their dinner in that time then you take the bowl away - you can try again an hour or two later. What you are doing is taking control of the situation and increasing their appetite for when their food is on offer.

Before we dive in, it’s worth noting that while fussiness is a common behavioural problem it can also be the sign of underlying health issues. If you have any doubts at all please consult your vet, and make sure your dog is in good health before attempting any “tough love” feeding regime.

FUSSY DOG CHECKLIST
  1. No human food or table scraps

  2. Increase exercise

  3. Delay feeding and make them work

  4. Add warm water or bone broth

  5. Change feeding spot

  6. Don’t make a fuss

  7. Feed amazing food!

NO TABLE SCRAPS OR HUMAN FOOD

The first thing to consider is what foods are being offered. If your dog is happy to eat your food but doesn’t want to eat their own dinner, then you know that this is the issue. Your dog’s fussiness is probably a habit - they prefer your food to their own. In order to change this habit you need to STOP offering human food.

It needs to be completely taken off the menu, no exceptions!

It’s like choosing chips instead of salad for lunch. It’s easy to eat the salad (especially if it’s a tasty one!) but you would probably prefer to have the chips. By taking the chips off the menu it’s no longer an option, and you enjoy the salad instead.

So the first step to helping a fussy dog is to stop feeding table scraps, leftovers, or human food. In fact, don’t offer anything apart from what you want them to be eating. Reduce their food options down to only the food you offer for dinner.

This has to be non-negotiable, and everyone in your house has to be on board. You dog may turn the screws on you, begging for your food, looking hungry and giving you the puppy dog eyes. Don’t give in! This is where you will win the battle and cure your dogs fussiness.

Over time this has the added benefit of stopping any begging during your dinner time too. Once they know that you won’t feed them human food they will quickly lose interest in your eating habits.

INCREASE EXERCISE

Is you dog getting enough exercise? Not only is getting a moderate to high intensity walk every day super important for their fitness, it also stimulates their digestive system. As anyone who goes to the gym knows, when you get home you are HUNGRY. It’s the same for dogs. Ensuring your dog is properly exercised increases their appetite and desire to eat.

DELAY FEEDING

Like people, dogs need a job. Having to earn their dinner, even just with a small action, can help improve the appreciation of it. One good way of doing this is to make them wait for their dinner. 

Get you dog to sit in a calm manner. You may need to be patient here! But it’s important that you are in control so they know they are working. Once they are sitting and calm, place their bowl a few meters away. Make sure they are sitting for at least 10 seconds, and then release them to eat their dinner. 

This holding period is work for them, and it changes the dynamic of dinner. Once you get this into a routine it helps to create the habit you need - dinner is now a reward for good behaviour!

ADD WARM WATER OR BONE BROTH

Warming up their dinner is a great way to make it more exciting. Try adding warm bone broth (no onion) or water over the top of the food. Let it sit for a few minutes and stir through. This will warm it up slightly which many dogs love.

CHANGE FEEDING SPOT

If you have a really picky dog, it can help to change the spot where you feed them. Pick a new place where they haven’t eaten before. Make sure it is free from distractions like TV and humans - it helps if it their “own” space. This is a good thing to do at the start when you are making changes as it helps to remove the current associations they have with food. 

DON’T MAKE A FUSS

It’s important that throughout this whole process you don’t get frustrated or make a big deal about it. When you make a fuss over your dog they love the extra attention which can be counterproductive. 

Stay cool, calm and in control.

Stick to your plan, you will make progress!

FEED AMAZING FOOD!

Make sure you feed a high quality raw dog food. Dogs digestive systems are designed to eat mostly meat, so generally they find it the tastiest option. If I was fed wheat based nutri-biscuits every day I would go off my food too! So make sure they are getting a delicious, nutritious meal every day.

All dogs are different, so find a brand that suits your dogs tastes. We have a very high success rate with our Whoa Nelly Dog Food - we get lots of messages saying “my fussy dog loves your food!”.

We put that down to using high quality ingredients, genuinely minimal processing and how fresh our food is. There is no silver bullet here, so you may need to try different foods until you get one your dog loves.

But whatever you are feeding, make sure it is good quality!


 

Jimi Wall,Canine Nutritionist (HATO)

Specialising in formulating nutritionally complete diets using whole foods.

Book A Consultation  
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Several people have emailed me in the last week with questions regarding the recent ABC article about raw meat pet food. It’s the latest “anti-raw” article in the news so I thought I’d comment on it for those interested.

The article discusses a new study which indicates that raw pet food can have high levels of bacteria which may be potentially harmful to people and pets. The study is behind a paywall so it is difficult to evaluate beyond how it is reported in the article.

The ABC piece is headlined "Raw meat pet food may not be good for you — or your dog”, which seems to be pretty unhelpful straight out of the gate. It’s either an overreach - the study only refers to “pet meat” but generalises to all raw dog food - or it’s a highly ambiguous statement that could apply to everything. Of course literally anything MAY not be good for you under certain conditions. We need better reporting rather than clickbait headlines to have a rational discussion.

The article is essentially saying that raw pet meats may contain bacteria and therefore should be handled with care OR are too dangerous to feed, depending on how you read it. I will look at each of these ideas in turn.

The first statement is that safe food handling practices are necessary when handling raw pet food.

From the study abstract:

“These results show that it is critical to maintain good hygiene when storing, handling and feeding RMBD, in order to limit the potential health risks to animals and humans, especially young and immunocompromised individuals.”

I don’t think anyone is disagreeing with this. Of course safe food practices need to be employed when handling any raw meat. This applies to raw human food as well as raw dog food.

It’s important information. But it’s not really news, is it.

The other argument is that raw dog food can contain bacteria so may not safe to feed.

From the article:

“Other bacteria found in some of the samples, such as Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens and Campylobacter, are considered potentially pathogenic, which means they can cause serious illness in both animals and humans.

Would you eat that?”

Well, exactly! I wouldn’t eat it and I wouldn’t feed it to Nelly either.

Keep in mind this study is referring to pet-grade meat, which is a by-product of the meat industry. It is essentially all the bits that humans won’t eat. Pet-grade meat is a substantially lower quality than human-grade meat, and it isn’t subjected to that same standards or testing.

This is one key reason why the quality of ingredients matters.

Beyond quality issues, there is also the idea that raw food is somehow less safe than dry food. If you take pet food recalls as a baseline for safety, they are overwhelmingly for dry and canned foods. There has only been one reported case of raw dog food potentially causing harm in people, and that is in the US not Australia.

Compare this with over 130 cases of dry dog food causing harm in people, alongside further mass-recalls due to elevated levels of Vitamin D and contamination with melamine. It seems to me that the reporting is heavily biased in favour of industrial pet foods. Based on the real life data (1 vs 130+ cases) you can make a pretty strong argument that raw food is significantly safer than kibble.

Where is the news article saying this?

In my opinion people should be able to eat their dogs dinner if they want to. Dogs are not waste disposal units, they are animals. We shouldn’t be using them to get rid of the waste products of the meat industry. Certainly the best nutrition for dogs does not come from these sources.

It’s important to note that while risks are significantly lower in human grade food they are still present.

The reality is that safety is an issue for all meat products. This means whether they are for humans or dogs, there is always some level of risk involved. It is clearly possible that raw dog food contains pathogens, as does dry dog food, as does supermarket meat. Choosing a dog food made with human-grade ingredients, processed in a human-grade facility is the best way to minimise these risks.

At Whoa Nelly! we produce our food in a human-grade facility (a commercial kitchen) with human-grade ingredients. We have the same accreditation a butcher or supermarket has with Safe Food Queensland. Most people are happy having a raw chicken or steak in their fridge. Our human-grade dog food presents the same low level of risk.

The ABC article is absolutely on point with it’s safety recommendations. All raw meat, whether it is for you or your pup should be handled with care. Store raw dog food at the bottom of the fridge (away from veggies), and only defrost what you need. Wash your hands after touching any raw meat, and avoid doggie kisses after meal time. It’s really that simple, and that common sense!

No wonder there are zero cases of humans getting sick from raw dog food in Australia.

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In the raw feeding community there is intense debate about whether dogs should be eating fruit, vegetables and other plant foods. On one side there are the “Prey Model” feeders who only feed meat, and on the other the “BARF” feeders who add plants to their dogs diet.

There is so much mis-information (and dogma!) out there that I wanted to give my perspective as a canine nutritionist.

CAN A MEAT-ONLY DIET BE NUTRITIONALLY COMPLETE?

To answer this question I formulated several diets using only animal proteins. I used my comprehensive formulation spreadsheet, which utilises USDA and vendor nutritional data. This calculates all the relevant nutrient values to 1000 kcal, as well as giving Ca:P and fat balances.

For this exercise I tried beef, lamb, chicken (with bone), kangaroo, organs and fish in numerous combinations. The most nutritionally complete recipe I could create contained beef and chicken, organs and fish.

And the results…?

The best meat-only diet is deficient in: 

  • Vitamin E

  • Thiamine

  • Pantothenic Acid

  • Magnesium

  • Zinc

  • Manganese

  • Iodine

  • Unbalanced fats

I can only conclude that a meat-only diet does not meet the nutritional standard and therefore may be harmful. This is far from the optimal diet we strive to feed our dogs, and certainly something I do not recommend.

So what happens when you add some plants?

By adding fruits & vegetables, grasses and seeds in the correct amounts the nutritional gaps in the diet are completely filled up. The addition of a plant source of Omega-3 helps to push the fats into balance.

This same recipe (with plants) now meets AAFCO and NRC nutritional guidelines!

DOGS NEED PLANTS

According to my analysis, dogs are better off if they have some plants in their diet. That certainly doesn’t mean feeding them a huge amount of vegetables - or a vegan diet for that matter (please don’t do that). Feeding too much plant matter is almost certainly worse than not feeding any at all.

Like most things in nutrition, it’s all about balance. Having a healthy mix of the right ingredients provides the best diet, and the ideal conditions for a healthy dog.

Plants provide a good source for many nutrients, as well as other elements in a healthy diet. Because of this there are many other reasons to feed plants beyond basic nutritional needs. 

Benefits of feeding vegetables:

  • Source of vitamins and minerals

  • Source of fat

  • Phytonutrients

  • Enzymes

  • Functional foods have additional health benefits

HOW TO FEED

While clearly beneficial, dogs can’t easily break down plant matter without some help. Ancestrally they would be getting most of their plant food as the contents of their preys stomach, which is already partially digested. We need to imitate this to help them get the benefits into their diet.

The solution is simple: Blitz it!

You need to break down the cellular wall in order for it to be easily digested. The easiest way to do this is to mince it or put it through a food processor/blender. Another option is to lightly cook, although this can reduce the nutritional content for some fruit & veg.

  

Jimi Wall,Canine Nutritionist (HATO)

Specialising in formulating nutritionally complete diets using whole foods.

Book A Consultation  
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A great diet provides the building blocks for a healthy, happy dog. That means less trips to the vet, a longer life and a better quality of life. This is how important the the role of diet is for our dogs!

While every dog is unique and has different needs, there are five key elements that they all need to thrive. 

Five Keys to a Healthy Dog’s Diet:

  1. Meet The Nutritional Requirements

  2. Use Quality Ingredients

  3. Balance The Fats

  4. Balance The Minerals

  5. Add Functional Foods

1. Meet The Nutritional Requirements

Humans and dogs need to eat food to gain the nutrition which fuels their bodies. What you feed your dog directly impacts on their overall health and wellbeing, so we want to get it right!

Dogs primarily need large amounts of high quality protein, a moderate amount of fat and low levels of carbohydrates (if any). And just like people, dogs need certain amounts of vitamins and minerals each day to thrive. 

If your dog’s food meets the minimum nutrition standard then it is “complete and balanced”. This is the Association of American Feed Controls (AAFCO) standard that most vets recommend. However, the AAFCO guideline has a wide range of allowable levels, so it’s really just the minimum acceptable levels. 

The best dog food meets the more precise National Research Council (NRC) standard for “optimal” nutrition.

2. Use Quality Ingredients

Around 70% of the diet should be meat and bones, with fruit & vegetables (and possibly some functional foods) making up the remainder. 

A healthy dog’s diet consists of:

  • meat

  • organ

  • bone

  • fish

  • fruit & vegetables

  • eggs (optional)

  • seeds & nuts (optional)

Quality really does matter - you are what you eat! Good quality food is more easily absorbed and contains better nutrition than poor quality food. The way in which produce is grown has a big impact on this. Studies show that organic produce is more nutrient dense than conventionally farmed food.

Feeding organic means there are no pesticides, no hormones, and no chemicals in your dogs diet. These can all impact negatively on your dog’s health, so are absolutely worth avoiding.

If you can, please feed your dog organic produce.

But if you can’t afford organic, don’t stress! Source ingredients from local producers (try the farmers markets) and stick to produce that is in season. The only rule here is to feed food that would would eat yourself.

3. Balance The Fats

Ensuring that your dogs diet has complete and balanced fats is really important. Fats provide a source of energy, help to absorb vitamins, and regulate the immune system and metabolism. The fats your dog eats become part of the cell membranes throughout their body, so again quality is key!

There are several types of fats, including essential fatty acids (EFA) which must be provided in the diet. EFA’s include the Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids which are much more widely understood these days. The type of fat varies depending on the source. For example, DHA is found in oily fish. It’s a good idea to have fat from animal, plant and marine sources (if possible) to make sure that all the fats are present in the diet. 

The balance of the fats is important too. There needs to be enough Omega-3 to balance the Omega-6 for the body to work effectively and to reduce inflammation. Between 1:3 and 1:6 is best. That means not too much chicken! Chicken is great, but it contains a large amount of Omega-6, which makes getting the balance right very difficult indeed.

4. Balance The Minerals

Minerals have a wide variety of functions in the body, from activating enzymatic reactions to the formation of bones, to controlling nerve impulses. The most abundant minerals are calcium and phosphorous, which are mostly found in meat and bone. It’s one of the main reasons that feeding fresh meat is so important!

The wild prey your dog’s ancestors ate had a much higher mineral content that in modern farmed animals, which means dogs have a relatively high requirement for minerals. And unlike some vitamins dogs can’t make any minerals themselves, so they need to be in the diet in the right amounts. 

The balance between minerals is as important as their individual levels. In fact, too many minerals is as harmful as to little, so getting the ratios right is key. The most important ratio is calcium and phosphorous, with dogs needing slightly more calcium. Between 1.2:1 and 1.4:1 is ideal.

5. Add Functional Foods

Food is medicine, so it should come as no surprise that many ingredients have scientifically proven health benefits. These foods are known as functional foods, and can improve brain function, modify gut function and can reduce the risk of illness. So while they are not necessarily essential for survival, functional foods can significantly improve your dog’s health and wellbeing. 

Functional foods include (more info in the links): 

IMPORTANT: Use A Reputable Recipe!

While the fundamental elements of canine nutrition are quite simple, formulating a diet to meet the nutritional standards can be tricky. Be very wary of advice you find on the internet (yes, irony noted!). I have seen an unbelievable amount of unbalanced, incomplete recipes and wildly incorrect advice online.

Please find a reputable source of information!

The best book on the subject is Steve Brown’s “Unlocking The Canine Ancestral Diet”, which looks at the ancestral nutritional requirements for dogs and how to formulate a balanced raw diet. It contains several great recipes that are easy to make at home. What I love about this book, apart from the in depth information, is that Steve doesn’t follow a “near enough is good enough” approach. He is all about formulating a high quality optimal diet for dogs. 

Consult A Canine Nutritionist

Your other option is to consult with a qualified Canine Nutritionist to create a balanced diet specifically for your dogs needs. This is a professional service I am now happy to be offering!

My consultations start with an in-depth questionnaire, which takes about 10 minutes to complete. This covers all the basic information about your dog as well as quite specific questions about their health. We then book a 20 minute phone or Skype consultation, where we discuss your dog and you have an opportunity to ask questions. 

From here I formulate a diet specifically for your dog, and using ingredients which you have access to. If you are currently raw feeding I provide a nutritional analysis of your current diet, and make appropriate changes to make it balanced according to the optimal NRC standards. I teach you how to make a complete and balanced diet at home, which is easy when you know how! 

If you are interested, you can make a booking here.

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Meet Moringa, the highly nutritious and sustainable food that’s amazing for dogs! It’s native to the area surrounding the Himalayas, so it’s no surprise that it’s been used in Aryuvedic medicine for centuries. And lucky for us there has been significant research into it’s health benefits.

3 REASONS TO FEED MORINGA

1 Protects joints and prevents arthritis

2 Powerful antioxidant

3 Helps fight cancer

While internet claims that it is the “most nutritious food on the planet” are not entirely true, Moringa is an extremely potent food containing large amounts of protein, iron, Vitamins B2, B6, C and magnesium. It’s fast growing and nearly the entire tree is used in traditional herbal medicine, so it is considered to be an eco-friendly plant.

Here’s a brief overview of the health benefits of feeding Moringa.

JOINT PAIN & ARTHRITIS

If you follow any of our work you know that reducing inflammation is the single biggest thing we can do to improve the health of our dogs. That’s because inflammation is linked with most chronic issues that dogs suffer from, and is why we put so much effort into providing anti-inflammatory foods in Nelly’s diet.

And you guessed it - Moringa is an amazing anti-inflammatory food!

One benefit of this is in protecting joints and reducing related pain. Research shows that Moringa has a considerable effect in preventing development of arthritis, and can also reduce its severity. This makes Moringa particularly useful for active and older dogs, but as always prevention is better than a cure.

It can also been shown to reduce the effects of inflammatory bowel disease (colitis). One study shows Moringa to be an effective treatment, even in low doses. More research is needed but Moringa’s anti-inflammatory and anti-ulcerative properties make it a very promising treatment for IBD conditions.

ANTIOXIDANTS

One of the key ways to prevent infections and degenerative disease is through antioxidants. These scavenge for free radicals, or unbalanced molecules which roam the body and cause damage. The antioxidants lend a spare electron to the unbalanced free radical, which effectively neutralises it.

Dealing with free radicals is a critical function, so we need to make sure that there are enough antioxidants to keep everything in balance. Dietary sources are important as there is evidence that suggests that antioxidants are more effective when obtained from food rather than supplementation.

Moringa is naturally loaded with antioxidants, particularly polyphenols but also vitamin C, beta-catorene, quercetin and chorogenic acid. It also contains quercetin, a powerful antioxidant that is linked to lowering blood pressure. These compounds also mean that Moringa increases the life of foods containing fats, which is all types of dog food!

FIGHTING CANCER

There is also evidence that Moringa has anti-cancer properties. One study shows that Moringa has suppressive effects in colon cancer in mice and works as a chemopreventative agent. Another study demonstrated Moringa’s ability to delay tumour growth and increase the life span of cancer patients. As with everything cancer related more research is needed, but these studies are promising indeed.

DOSAGE

So as you can see Moringa has earnt it’s classification as a superfood! It’s quite powerful so only a small amount should be included in the diet. Dosage amount can vary, but some sources recommend between 1/4 teaspoon for a small dog and 1 tablespoon for a large dog. Please remember that all dogs are different, so always consult your holistic vet or canine herbalist to determine the correct dosage for your dog.

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One of our excellent customers emailed me an article today discussing a link between taurine deficiency and heart disease. The article was suggesting that “boutique” dog food could also be contributing heart disease and she wanted to know how this relates to Whoa Nelly. It’s a really great question so I thought I would share my answer for anyone else interested.

Here’s a link to the article.

This article seems to be making two arguments:

1. Taurine deficiency is linked to heart disease in dogs.

2. You shouldn’t feed “Boutique” dog food - whatever that is!

Lets look at these one at a time.

Firstly, research shows that taurine deficiency is linked to dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and can be significantly improved with taurine supplementation. While dogs can produce their own taurine (it’s not an essential amino acid), feeding a diet with sufficient taurine is important. Luckily for raw feeders, taurine is found in animal products like meat, organ and eggs. Whoa Nelly certainly meets these minimum requirements.

One can only assume that the grain-free “kangaroo & chickpea” food the article refers to was incorrectly formulated. I think the real issue is that dry food often contains large amounts of carbs (including the grain-free ones) and insufficient meat, which would certainly increase the chances of a taurine deficiency.

The second issue strikes me as odd. The thrust of the article is to not feed “boutique” dog food because of a potential taurine deficiency. I can only assume “boutique” refers to small raw food producers like us! So let me break down their argument a little.

Here’s a couple of quotes from the article:

“Marketing is a powerful tool for selling pet foods and has initiated and expanded fads, that are unsupported by nutritional science, including grain-free and exotic ingredient diets.”

“Making high quality, nutritious pet food is not easy! It’s more than using a bunch of tasty-sounding ingredients. The right nutrients in the right proportions have to be in the diet, the effects of processing (or not processing) the food need to be considered, and the effects of all the other ingredients in the food need to be addressed, in addition to ensuring rigorous quality control and extensive testing. Not every manufacturer can do this.”

I completely agree with the sentiments here! Formulating properly balanced recipes is far more nuanced than most people think, especially if you are only using foods instead of using synthetic supplementation.

The article kind of goes off the rails for me though with it’s conclusion:

“And do yourself a favor (sic) – stop reading the ingredient list!”

This is extremely problematic! The author is advocating for feeding from a “reputable company” (presumably Mars or Nestle, I’m not sure how you determine that) and containing “standard ingredients (e.g., chicken, beef, rice, corn, wheat)”. I strongly disagree. Not only is this biologically inappropriate, large amounts of unnecessary ingredients like corn and wheat are only present for the manufacturing process.

Yes, proper formulation is critical, but so is using quality ingredients.

I completely agree that feeding a properly formulated, nutritionally complete diet is essential. I disagree however, that all “boutique” or small producer dog food is inappropriate for dogs. While I suspect there are many pet food manufacturers in Australia who make foods which could fit into this “problem” category, and there is certainly a majority who have disproportionately large marketing budgets, this certainly does not apply to all small dog food producers. There are many who make complete & balanced food, of which we are one.

Our food is nutritionally formulated to meet both AACFO and NRC nutrition guidelines, and both Tory and I are qualified nutritionists. We take great care, not only in formulating high quality food but only using fantastic ingredients - the same ones we eat at home. And as you know we pride ourselves on the amazing quality of our food, because that’s what we want to feed Nelly.

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Rosehip is fast becoming known as an effective way to support joint health for both dogs and people. It’s also a great way to boost the immune system, making it a great way to support active dogs. And the best bit is it’s delicious!

Rosehip is actually the fruit of a wild rose called “Rosa Canina” which are grown in South America, South Africa and some parts of Europe. We are very lucky that there is a significant amount of research into feeding Rosehip, so we can be confident in it’s medicinal properties. 

3 Reasons To Feed Your Dog Rosehip
  1. Reduce Inflammation

  2. Protect Joints

  3. Improve Performance & Recovery

REDUCE INFLAMMATION

Rosehip is a great natural option for disorders which involve chronic inflammation or oxidative stress.  Research shows that rosehip reduces the inflammatory response making it an useful anti-inflammatory agent. The anti-inflammatory activity of rosehip is largely attributed to high levels of galactolipids. It has also been shown to be effective in reducing tumour growth making it useful in the treatment of cancer. 

In addition to anti-inflammatory properties, rosehip is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants reduce oxidative stress in the body, which is linked to a large number of illnesses, and is an important function in healthy dogs. Oxidative stress is like rust in the body, which impedes normal function. Antioxidants remove the rust and let the body perform normally. Rosehip is useful because it contains phytochemicals and phenolic compounds which have an antioxidant effect and help to remove this rust. 

PROTECTS JOINTS

By and large the most common use of Rosehip is as a joint supplement. Again there are lots of studies showing the efficacy of this, especially in the protection of cartilage. Research shows that supplementation with Rosehip greatly reduces symptoms of oseoarthritis, or chronic arthritis. This is caused by the deterioration of cartilage in the joints and is quite common in dogs. Rosehip both provides relief and helps to maintain the cartilage reducing further injury. It’s actually quite a powerful analgesic, with one study shows a 64% reduction in pain when consuming Rosehip in their diet. And there are no known side effects!

PERFORMANCE & RECOVERY

Two important supports for an active dog is looking after their joints and helping their body to recover after exertion. Active dogs are more likely to put stress on their joints, which can develop into oseoarthritis over time. The research on preventing this is clear, supplementation with Rosehip helps to repair the damage and promote normal joint function. 

The other issue is getting your dog to bounce back after exercise. Immune function is critical in this, which rosehip can play a part in. Rosehip also contains large amounts of vitamin C. While dogs are able to synthesise their own Vitamin C, having higher does in the diet is thought to improve immune function. Vitamin C is also essential in the production of collagen, which helps maintain bones and connective tissues. 

So there you have it, Rosehip reduces inflammation and supports the joints. It’s a great addition to most dog’s diets - especially active and senior dogs!

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If your dog has smelly breath, you are not alone. Studies show that up to 80% of dogs over 2 years old have periodontal disease, the leading cause of bad breath. Not only is it gross, it often leads to serious and expensive medical problems.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Dog’s shouldn’t naturally have bad breath, and if they do it’s a good idea to fix the problem at source.

So what is the cause?

Bad breath is a symptom of periodontal disease, most commonly related to diet and oral hygiene. Unlike people, dogs can’t brush their teeth without your help so the foods you feed have a major impact on their oral health.

THE PROBLEM WITH DRY FOOD

The only way to keep the mouth clean is to get rid of the food and bacteria that stick to the teeth after feeding. Dry kibble doesn’t offer an abrasive surface to help this process. Instead it’s broken up into small pieces, some of which remain in the mouth. And because of the high carbohydrate content of ALL dry foods - yes, even grain-free - it’s not easily broken down.

Dog’s don’t have the enzyme amylase in their saliva, so any remnants of dinner stay in the mouth where they become a breeding ground for bacteria. And over time this can create problems unless you physically remove it. In my opinion this is the most likely reason so many dogs have periodontal disease, as a function of the majority of dogs being fed dry food diets.

It’s like trying to clean your teeth with biscuits - it just doesn’t work.

IS BAD BREATH REALLY BAD?

Bad breath and the associated periodontal disease is widely known to be harmful to dogs. Poor oral health creates what is known as “periodontal disease burden” which extends all the way to organs and can cause serious problems.

This has been extensively researched. One study showed an association between periodontal disease and histopathologic changes in the kidney and liver. Another study of nearly 60 000 dogs shows a link between gum disease and heart disease. Further research suggests that the prevention of periodontal disease has an important impact on the general health of dogs.

So yes, bad breath is serious and absolutely worth doing something about.

HOW TO GET RID OF BAD BREATH
  1. Feed a biologically appropriate balanced diet.

  2. Feed raw meaty bones.

The most important decision you make for your dogs health is deciding what to feed. Choosing to feed a high quality biologically appropriate diet is the best step you can make towards having a healthy and happy dog. A good raw diet contains minimal carbohydrates, which reduces the potential for bacteria growth in the mouth. It also improves immune function and gut health, which reduces the symptom of bad breath.

There are also numerous functional foods that are likely to help. Beneficial foods to have in the diet include coconut oil, apple cider vinegar and cinnamon. Probiotics are also a way of balancing the gut bacteria and can help with bad breath. These are all found in Whoa Nelly! so if you are feeding our food we have you covered.

In addition to their diet, feeding bones is the best way to keep your dogs mouth clean. That’s why they call them nature’s toothbrush! Studies show that feeding regular bones efficiently reduces dental calculus. In fact, even the President of the Australian Veterinary Dentists Society Dr Stephen Coles states that dogs should chew bones twice a week to prevent dental disease. Dogs and their ancestors have been munching on bones for millions of years, so it’s nothing new!

Feeding bones does present a risk for choking or cracking teeth, so choosing the right bone and feeding under supervision is essential. Learn how to choose the right bone for your dog here.

WHAT ABOUT “DENTAL CHEWS”?

There are several dental chew products available. These are marketed as a “safe” alternative to bones. They are also not biologically appropriate food, often full of ingredients like wheat flour and chemical names and numbers. They are often expensive and contain carbohydrates which contribute to the problem. And ironically some are actually shaped like a bone!

Our philosophy is to feed dogs foods they are biologically adapted to eating. Bones have quite clearly been a part of their diet for millennia, and the creation of processed food and dental products is not the answer. Feeding a regular bone under supervision is the best way to get rid of bad breath and look after the long term health of your dog.

So give your dog a bone!

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As dog lovers we all want to be feeding genuinely quality food to our pups. So the question is, what is actually in the dog food you’re buying?

For the longest time, pet food manufacturers would just ask for our trust. However, as people are becoming increasingly educated on nutrition and manufacturing processes this is no longer enough. And there are the horror stories, like American brand Blue Buffalo misleading it’s customers about their ingredients and Chinese manufactured dog treats being linked to over 1000 dog deaths.

With increased scrutiny from documentaries such as Pet Fooled, companies are coming under pressure to be transparent about their products. People want to know that their dog food is genuinely high quality, and not just marketing hype. 

TRANSPARENCY IS SIMPLE

Our view of transparency is simple: a company should be 100% genuine about it’s product. That means not misrepresenting the quality of ingredients that go into it, and being open to questions and the public. It’s all about honesty and accountability. 

For example, dog food is often packaged with glossy images of juicy steaks and whole chickens. Is that really what is going into the food? The reality is that the majority off the pet food industry is using protein “meal”, a rendered product that is not fit for human consumption. One can only imagine what it must smell like. And if these companies are being honest, a photo of a steak is not the same as the rendered meal contained in the product.

That is not to say that all pet food manufacturers are dishonest, and of course there are some good ones out there. As always, it pays to ask questions. If you are considering a brand of dog food it’s worth emailing or calling them. If you aren’t happy with their response, you have your answer.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • Are your ingredients human grade?

  • Where are they sourced from?

  • Is your meat from ethically raised animals?

  • Is your food balanced to AAFCO and NRC standards?

  • Why does your food have synthetic supplements in it?

  • What proportion of meat is in your food?

OUR COMMITMENT TO TRANPARENCY

We consider Whoa Nelly! to be a truly transparent dog food company. We’re proud of our food, so being genuinely transparent is easy!

For instance, we offer a free pick up option from our kitchen while we are producing our food. We receive customers throughout our kitchen session, whatever step we are up to. We are always happy to show people the actual ingredients that make up our food, and answer any questions you might have. We regularly post photos of our ingredients too, so you can see what is actually going into the food. 

Whatever you are choosing to feed your pup, please do your best to ensure that it is good quality. Ask questions, and make sure you are happy with the answers!

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