Dr Jacqueline Boyd, BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD, PGCHE, FHEA, CHES, MRSB

Nutritional Consultant, Skinner’s Pet Foods

[email protected]

“Never discuss religion, politics or canine nutrition…….”

Dog food.  The one subject guaranteed to spawn a lively debate, either in person or online.  It is also a subject area where “expertise” is commonplace and the use of the (non-protected) term “nutritionist” is routine.  But, does this mean that our dogs are being well fed and nourished?  Does it mean that a strong evidence-base is standard practice?  Does it mean our dogs are fitter, leaner, healthier and longer-lived than ever before?  If you are the proud owner of a new puppy, who DO you go to for advice?  What is better – raw, kibble, homecooked or other……?

I’m not going to be able to answer all these questions, but I will give you an overview of what animal scientists/animal nutritionists/nutrition scientists/veterinary nutritionists view as important for “good nutrition”. My aim is to whet your critical thinking centres and reflect on your own practice, knowledge and dare I say, beliefs. It’s also worth reinforcing the fact that, as a dog owner, unless you are actively abusing your dog physically/mentally/emotionally, the dietary choices you make have no bearing at all on your level of emotional attachment for your pet. Indeed, it is entirely inappropriate for anyone else to make a judgement call based on that either! Because you choose one form of feeding over another is a matter for you (and to an extent, your dog). This, more than many topics relating to dog ownership is an area in desperate need of enhanced empathy, respect, compassion, emotional intelligence and the occasional deep checking of privilege also.