Cat and Dog Food, what is the difference?

There is no doubt that we are a nation of dog and cat lovers. Recent research by the PFMA has shown that in 2021, there are an estimated 12.5 million dogs in the UK, equating to 33 per cent of all households. With another 12.2 million cats constituting 27 per cent of households in the UK. These cats and dogs consume lots of different diets, but what are the main differences between cat food and dog food? The below article takes a look at some of the key differences.

The two foods compared

Surprisingly to some dog and cat owners, there is a big difference between a cat and a dog’s nutritional needs and, therefore, their foods. Dogs are omnivores that can survive on a varied diet comprising of components such as meat, fruits and vegetables. However, cats are obligatory carnivores, where meat is biologically necessary for their diets.

Taurine

Cat food is designed to provide the correct taurine levels that a cat must have to survive. This is an essential amino acid that is crucial for the health of a cats heart, eyes, digestion and immune function. Unfortunately, cats are among a few mammals that don’t have the ability to produce taurine themselves, so they must get this from their diets. Whereas a dogs body can naturally produce their own taurine so isn’t a requirement in their diet.

Protein and Calories

Cat food is much higher in meat-based protein than dog food because they are primarily reliant on protein for growth, body maintenance, and energy. Most other mammals, such as dogs, can utilise a number of dietary components such as carbohydrates for energy and so their bodies can adapt to lower protein diets. In addition, it is believed that a cat should have 2 times the amount of protein as a dog, and if they don’t reach these requirements, they can become malnourished quickly and cause several health problems. There is a real need for a higher calorie content in cat food than dog food because of the extra requirements of protein in a cat’s diet.

Taste and Size

Cats and dogs have different taste sensations; this is mainly due to them having different taste receptors. Cats have a total of 470 taste buds, while dogs have 1700. This means that cat food generally has a stronger aroma than dog food to entice them to eat their food. The size of cat food also tends to be smaller than dog food because cats have smaller mouths and smaller digestive systems.

Vitamins

Vitamins are essential for both cats and dogs, but they require these in different proportions. For example, a crucial vitamin for cats is vitamin A, which like taurine, they don’t have the ability to produce; however, dogs do. This key vitamin has important functions in maintaining a cat’s eyes, skin and coat health and, if not given adequate amounts, can lead to issues with a feline’s health.

Our Superfood 65® range contains seven recipes for dogs. Each recipe has a total of 65% animal protein sources, of which 35% is Freshly Prepared. In addition, a blend of five carefully selected superfoods, each with its own unique benefits. With added provenance of the raw materials, allows for claims such as Freshly Prepared Scottish Salmon and British Grass Fed Lamb.

Our Connoisseur Cat range contains four fantastic cat recipes. This range has been formulated to provide a selection of high protein and high total animal content recipes that are irresistible to cats. In addition, the range has been formulated to offer an assortment of the finest freshly prepared animal protein sources with added functional ingredients to help care for a cat’s health.

Food ‘Allergy’ Tests for Pets

However, what many pet owners and even veterinarians may not realise is that common commercial blood- and saliva-based allergy tests have not been validated – i.e. there is no evidence to say that a positive result obtained by these tests correspond to any actual clinical signs of food allergy/food intolerance in pets. Equally a negative result does not necessarily mean that an ingredient/food is fine for a pet.

A scientific study1 published in 2019 found that saliva and blood tests for food allergies do not reliably distinguish between healthy dogs and those with food allergies. Over half (53%) of the healthy dogs showed weak positive reactions on the saliva test while 20-30% of the healthy dogs showed a strong positive reaction to certain food ingredients. Overall, there was no difference in the number of positive reactions to the tests between food-allergic and healthy dogs.

Another study2 performed in 30 healthy dogs (with no evidence of food allergies) found that between 60-100% of the dogs tested positive for one or more of the foods/ingredients in saliva and blood tests. This highlights how easy it is for a test result to come back positive!

Key messages:

  • Saliva and blood tests for food allergies in dogs do not reliably distinguish between healthy and allergic dogs and should not be used for diagnosis of food allergy.
  • Blood and saliva allergy tests could result in the false identification of lots of common pet food ingredients as allergens.
  • This may push owners to avoid certain diets that include these ingredients when actually there is likely no need to avoid them.
  • Where a pet has shown a genuine adverse reaction to food it has eaten, details of ingredients to be avoided need to be taken seriously and the owner should be advised to consult a veterinarian.

References

1. Udraite Vovk L, Watson A, Dodds WJ, et al. (2019) Testing for food-specific antibodies in saliva and blood of food allergic and healthy dogs. Veterinary Journal; 245: 1-6.
2. Lam ATH, Johnson LN & Heinze CR. (2019) Assessment of the clinical accuracy of serum and saliva assays for identification of adverse food reaction in dogs without clinical signs of disease. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association; 255: 812-816

Food Allergies and Intolerances: Is there any difference?

Pet Food Allergies

A pet food allergy involves the immune system. This can be triggered by a dog’s response to a certain ingredient such as protein source. For example, cells may release histamine which causes itching.  Generally, food allergies cause skin-related issues in dogs such as inflammation, itching, hair loss and hot spots. There is also the possibility they can develop ear infections that can become a reoccurring theme once treatment has ended.

A dog that has a food allergy will most likely always suffer from this. However, the severity of this can change over time.

A common theme for owners is to assume that itchy skin is caused by a food allergy. However, true food allergies in cats and dogs are very rare, making up for only 1% of all skin diseases in dogs.

Pet Food Intolerances

A pet food intolerance does not involve the immune system and is caused when a food doesn’t agree with a dog’s body. This is simply a functional or mechanical issue with digesting a particular food. An example of this is a dog may be sensitive to wheat. Intolerances often mimic food allergies because the body can only demonstrate a problem in so many ways.

It can be challenging to identify what causes food intolerance. Owners can use an elimination diet to take away ingredients that they believe may be the cause of the problem. This works by removing a suspect ingredient for a minimum of 4 weeks from a dogs diet and then reintroducing the ingredient and wait for a return of any physical changes.

Common ingredients that may cause intolerance’s include grains (i.e wheat and maize), eggs, soya or dairy.

What can pet owners do?

If an owner believes that their pet is suffering from a food allergy or intolerance, there is a number of things they can do.

  • Feed their pet hypoallergenic food as this helps to avoid common allergens and intolerances
  • Choose a diet with a single protein source such as meat or fish
  • Select a diet with novel ingredients
  • Follow an elimination diet

Here at Working Dog Food Co. , your Superfood 65® and Grain Free recipes are all hypoallergenic. Each of the recipes has been formulated to be free from common allergens which may lead to intolerances and sensitivities in pets. The Superfood 65® range is rich in amino acids, vitamins and minerals to support everyday health and well-being. Whilst the Grain Free range has been formulated with sweet potato and potato to be suitable for those with grain intolerance/sensitivity.

An Overview of the Dog Food Pyramid

Many of us will have come across the food pyramid in school. However, we don’t often think about what the dog food pyramid looks like. A common phrase that you may hear is ‘complete and balanced’ dog food. But what does this mean?

Complete and Balanced Dog Food

This means the dog food provides the pet with the correct amounts of every single nutrient that they need with every meal. This type of food is designed to be fed as a dog’s sole diet.

Each dog has a different balanced diet unique to them, this can be due to changing life stages or a difference in the type of breed. For example, a senior dog has different needs to puppies and a Great Dane will have differing nutritional requirements to a Pug.

To ensure a dog has a healthy diet, there are six important nutrients that a dog should consume:

Vitamins

Vitamins are responsible for a vast range of functions within the dog’s body such as bone development, eye function, maintenance of cell structure and releasing energy from nutrients. Each of our Superfood 65 recipes contain a blend of nutritiously beneficial superfoods that provide great sources of vitamins to help a dog’s general health and wellbeing.

Palatants

Palatants play an essential role in a dog’s diet. This is slightly different from everything else in the pyramid as it predominantly helps to make the food taste great for the dog. Our Superfood 65 recipes are made with the finest freshly prepared ingredients to ensure that a dog is provided with fantastic nutritional benefits but also make sure they love the taste of their food.

Minerals

Minerals are also key for a dog’s health as it contributes to maintaining healthy bones, as well as muscle, cell and nerve function. Similar to vitamins our Superfood 65 recipes contain a blend of nutritiously beneficial superfoods to help support a dog’s general health and wellbeing.

Fat

Fat is a fantastic source of energy and enhances the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids such as Omega 3 and Omega 6. These essential nutrients help dog’s to maintain healthy skin and coat, promote the immune system, whilst also aiding in the development of healthy joints, brain and vision. Our Superfood 65 and Grain Free recipes are formulated with Omega 3 Supplement to help support healthy skin and coat.

Protein

Protein and amino acids are the building blocks to a dog’s body that are responsible for forming new skin cells, growing hair, building muscle tissue and much more. Protein also functions as enzymes, hormones and antibodies. Our Superfood 65 recipe contains Freshly Prepared meats that are gently cooked at a circa 82 degrees celsius. This gentle cooking process protects the nutrients and therefore allows the pet to have optimal nutrient bio-availability.

Carbohydrates

This is an efficient source of glucose for energy, a source of heat for the body and can be stored as glycogen. This is also essential for a dog as it helps to control the weight of a dog. Our Superfood 65 and Grain Free Range recipes have been formulated to contain sweet potato as the main carbohydrate source. Sweet potato is an excellent alternative carbohydrate that provides dietary fibre to help support a healthy digestive system and good stool formation.

Do dogs have a strong sense of taste?

Do dogs have a sense of taste? The answer to that is Yes! But why do some dogs seem to prefer some flavours of food in comparison to others? In this article, we will look at how dogs experience food flavours and why some dogs are picky eaters.

Taste in dogs

Humans have on average 9000 taste buds on their tongues, while the average dog only has about 1700. However, this doesn’t mean that dogs have a lack of taste, they can in fact taste sweet, sour, salty, spicy and bitter foods.In addition to these five tastes, a dog’s taste buds can also taste water. This is because they have special taste buds on the tip of their tongue that react to water as they drink, which become more sensitive as they become thirsty. When a dog’s water buds become more sensitive it encourages them to drink more.

 Smell

A dog’s ability to taste is only a fraction of what humans are, however, their sense of smell is far superior to ours and plays a crucial role in how a dog experiences the flavour of their food. There are 125 million sensory glands in a dog’s nose compared with 5-10 million glands in humans.

Picky Eaters

From time to time, some dog’s may become “picky eaters”, this could be down to a number of reasons such as being fed table scraps and treats more frequently. Over time this can become a problem for pet owners. There are a few tips to help to stop picky eating such as:

  • Training the dog to eat at specific times of the day
  • Limiting the number of treats and table scraps they are given
  • Keep the food fresh by ensuring the packaging is sealed or closed properly

Working Dog Food Co. range contains a huge selection of recipes with different animal protein sources for even the fussiest of eaters. Using our Freshtrusion™ technology ensures all of our fresh meat is gently cooked at a circa 82°c (180°F) for maximum digestibility and nutritional value. The slow cooking process also enhances the flavour and aroma to ensure maximum enjoyment for the pet.

Keeping your dog safe at Christmas

Christmas is a time to spend time with family to celebrate and indulge in festive treats. Many of your customers may consider their pet’s part of the family and are keen to involve them in their Christmas celebrations too. 

It’s important to remember that the festive period can present hidden dangers to our furry friends in the form of toxic foods. Below are some foods to inform your customers to avoid sharing to keep their pets safe this Christmas:

Chocolate
Chocolate should be avoided at all costs as the chemical theobromine is toxic to dogs, even in small amounts. The darker the chocolate, the more potent the levels of theobromine. Symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, restlessness, excessive urination, and a racing heart. In severe cases, muscle tremors, seizures, and heart failure can be seen.

Grapes, Currants, Sultanas & Raisins
Grapes and their dried forms are also toxic, as even small quantities can cause severe kidney failure. Other symptoms can be loss of appetite, lethargy, dehydration, vomiting and diarrhoea. Foods such as mince pies and Christmas puddings will include these ingredients.

Onions, Garlic, Leeks, Shallots & Chives (Allium species)
Even when cooked, foods such as onions (and other allium species) can cause toxicity. These plants contain organosulphur compounds, which are what gives these plants their distinctive flavours and smells. Unfortunately these compounds can lead to damaging effects of the red blood cells in dogs, resulting in anaemia. The onset is typically delayed by several days, however symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea and digestive upset may be visible beforehand.

Artificial Sweeteners
The sweetener xylitol is often found in sweet treats consumed around Christmas and is thought to be even more dangerous than chocolate for dogs. Only a very small amount is needed to stimulate the release of insulin, leading to dangerously low blood sugar levels. Toxicity can lead to seizures, comas and fatal liver failure. Xylitol is becoming popular in things such as peanut butter, which many people use as an occasional sweet treat for their pet.

Turkey or Chicken Bones
Turkey and chicken bones can easily splinter, especially when cooked, which can cause obstructions, gut irritation or may penetrate the stomach or intestinal wall. As long as the meat is pulled from the bone, turkey and chicken can be great tasty Christmas treats.

Your Grain Free Turkey with Sweet Potato & Cranberry is the perfect Christmas meal for dogs to join in the celebrations.

Why Turkey?Turkey is a rich source of protein and amino acids. It is a lean white meat which is low in fat and helps with muscle development. It is also a good source of phosphorous and vitamin B12, niacin & vitamin B6.

Why Sweet Potato?
Great for digestion as sweet potatoes are high in fibre which helps to promote a healthy digestive system and good stool formation. They are also soothing on the stomach so are great for more sensitive animals.

Why Cranberry?
Cranberry is a very good source of vitamin C, E & K as well as a good source of dietary fibre. Cranberries have a high content of antimicrobial properties. In medicine, cranberries can be applied to treat bladder and kidney infections.

All of your Grain Free Turkey recipes include a selection of the finest prepared nutritious and highly digestible animal protein sources. They are also natural, complete and balanced with no added colours and preservatives.

To order your Grain Free Turkey recipes, simply click the button below or contact your account manager for more information.

The vegetables making their way into pet food

The Humanisation trend is continuing to grow in the pet food industry, with a large amount of pet food owners being more aware than ever before of their pet’s health and wellness. A recent ingredient that is making its way into pet food formulas is Cruciferous vegetables.

What are the Cruciferous Vegetables?

These are members of the Brassicaceae family, which include cauliflower, cabbage, kale, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts to name a few. These vegetables have risen to popularity in human foods due to their nutritional properties such as being low in calories, rich in folate and vitamins B, C and E, as well as fibre.

Why are they becoming popular in pet food?

They are increasingly being classed as “superfoods”, in which they provide extra nutritional benefits to dogs and can help to promote health and longevity if they are regularly part of a diet.

Our Superfood 65 Beef recipe has been formulated with Cauliflower which is part of the cruciferous vegetable family. Cauliflower is a great source of Vitamin B9 which is important for amino acid and nucleotide metabolism. It has been suggested that this may reduce inflammation and support digestive health in dogs.

www.workingdogfoodcompany.co.uk/superfood-65-20-c.asp

Pets and Anxiety

Dogs are very much susceptible to some of the emotional struggles that humans can have. Anxiety is very much one of these struggles.

There are a few types of anxieties that a dog can suffer from. Separation anxiety is the most common form and can occur with examples such as when the dog owner leaves the house, leading to the dog feeling stressed. Other common anxieties consist of noise phobia, which triggers dogs to be stressed by loud noises, as well as social anxiety which causes a dog to feel uncomfortable in social situations.

Food for thought

Pets suffering from separation anxiety may tend to display unwanted behaviours which can include: 

  • Excessive vocalisation
  • Excessive panting
  • Destructive behaviour such as chewing and tearing objects in their surroundings
  • Urination/defecating in the home

There may be a number of reasons why some dogs feel this way but not all of these behaviours are a direct result of separation anxiety, so owners need to determine if these behaviours only occur when the pet is left alone.

Food = Fun

Mental stimulation is a very useful and effective method of helping to manage pets suffering from anxiety.

Interactive feeding is an excellent way to keep their mind at rest and their mouths occupied when pets find themselves on their own.

Puzzle feeders and treat balls are a great way to help keep pets stimulated. These toys should only be given when the owner is not present, this way the pet can learn to associate the experience of receiving this ‘special toy’ and being alone, much more positively.

Here at Working Dog Food Co., our Grain Free, Superfood and Treat recipes can all be used in conjunction with puzzle feeders and treat balls. You have even a ‘Calming Treat’ in our Functional Treat range.

Always make sure to advise owners that they take into account any additional treats from the portion of their normal daily ration to prevent overfeeding.

Exercise and Training

There is strong evidence that clinical signs of anxiety can often be a result of failure to provide a pet with sufficient regular daily exercise. Exercising your pet before you are due to leave them alone provides them with the opportunity to go to the toilet and tire them out so they’re much more inclined to relax.

Last year RSPCA launched a campaign called #DogKind to help owners better understand their dog’s behaviour and teach them to feel happier when left alone.

Visit: www.rspca.org,uk/dogkind for more information.

Tips for underweight dogs

In recent times there has been a focus on dogs that are overweight in the UK, but what can be done for those dogs that are underweight?

There are number of possible reasons as to why a dog could be underweight

such as, being a fussy eater or not being provided with the correct nutritional requirements. Underweight dogs generally have less  energy, gastrointestinal distress and may develop illnesses as a result of nutritional deficiency.

How to tell if a dog is underweight?

The most obvious way to tell if a dog is underweight is to look at their body. If there is no layer of tissue over their ribs and their pelvis is sticking out, they are most likely underweight. Whilst other signs are they will try and avoid exercise and physical activity.

Nutritional needs

Feeding an underweight dog isn’t as simple as increasing food servings. The diet that is fed to a dog needs to be looked at. Owners need to choose a dog food that contains a good level of protein and amino acids to build muscle and gain a healthy amount of weight.

Our Grain Free and Superfood 65 recipes both contain Freshly Prepared animal proteins, that are responsibly sourced and highly digestible protein source that help to support every day, health and well-being. Whilst also containing no added artificial colours and preservatives in order to aid digestion and avoid triggering allergies. Each of your recipes include a variety of vitamins and minerals such as Omega 3 to help combat nutritional deficiencies. This makes our Grain Free and Superfood 65 recipes great for aiding dogs that are underweight.

Collagen in pet food?

In recent years, we have seen the increase in popularity for products containing collagen, specifically in human products such as shampoos, body lotions and other cosmetics.

As with many human trends this is now becoming more popular for the pet food industry. But what is Collagen?

What is collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies. For human and dogs, you can find collagen in the muscles, bones, tendons, skin, blood vessels and digestive system. This is essentially the “glue” that helps to hold the body together, with this being essential to joint and tendon health. It also provides the skin with strength, this is why it is popular in human skincare products, whilst being used for dogs to help enhance their pets skin and coat.

The impact of collagen on dogs

Collagen can really help to boost the health of dogs, with there being a number of benefits for dogs.

It can help to maintain general bone and joint health, due to the help that it provides to build up a pet’s bones, joints, cartilage, connective tissues and blood vessels. Another reason into how collagen impacts dogs is it promotes a healthy coat and skin, this is because the layer of a dog’s skin called the dermis is made up mainly of collagen.

Dogs can also benefit from collagen’s ability to boost digestive health. If a dog has poor gut health it can put them at risk of health problems such as disease, allergies and behaviour issues. Collagen can help to soothe and repair the gut lining and other problems with a dogs digestive system.

Our three Superfood 65 recipes each contain fantastic ingredients such as Freshly Prepared meat (35% in total) and amino acids that have naturally occurring collagen to help maintain healthy joints and skin in dogs.