Health & Diet Advice
Itchy? Overweight? Difficulty digesting food? Suffering with colitis? If any of these sound familiar then read on to find out how switching to Naturediet can improve the health of your pet.
Our completely natural meals are an ideal diet for dogs suffering with:
- Allergies & skin irritations
- Digestive issues
- Food intolerances
- Poor appetite
The reported benefits of feeding Naturediet:
- Healthier weight
- Shiny coat
- Cleaner teeth and fresher breath
- Firmer stools
- Balanced energy levels
Dogs With Food Allergies
It is a well-known fact that people can be allergic to ingredients within their food and dogs can also be allergic to ingredients within their diet.
An allergic reaction to food occurs when the immune system has an exaggerated response to a normal food constituent. The immune system in dogs suffering from food allergies doesn’t view the food component as harmless, instead viewing it as a foreign invader and over reacts to it resulting in the release of chemicals which cause inflammation and upsets.
For advice on health related queries regarding our foods read our frequently asked health questions or get in touch with us directly.
Dogs with food allergies can have skin problems and may also show gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting or diarrhoea.
Typical signs are itchy skin (or pruritus) affecting the face, ears, feet, axillae (armpits), stomach, groin and the skin around the anus. There is redness of the skin and dogs will scratch and lick the affected areas. Some dogs may only have recurrent ear infections which affects either one or both ears. Secondary skin infections such as alopecia and thickening of the skin are also a sign.
The signs are non-seasonal and are present throughout the year. As the signs of dogs suffering from allergic reactions to environmental allergens (atopy) are very similar to those of food allergies it can be very difficult to distinguish between the two conditions.
Sometimes dogs may be allergic to both food and environmental allergens so if unsure then visit your vet for diagnostic tests.
There are several different food constituents that dogs can be allergic to. However, dogs tend to be allergic to the foods which are commonly found in their diet.
The most common causes are beef, chicken, pork, turkey, lamb, eggs, corn, wheat and soy and it is possible that some dogs are allergic to more than one food component.
Try your dog on a low allergen, single source protein diet to eliminate causes of an allergy. Naturediet foods are all low in allergens and we have single protein and grain free recipes.
Unfortunately, there are no definitive tests to diagnose a food allergy in dogs. Blood tests have not been found to be very accurate in the diagnosis of food allergies and a dietary trial is the preferred way to diagnose an allergy to food, although it is important that other possible skin diseases are ruled out by your vet and any bacterial or yeast skin infections treated.
A dietary trial consists of trialling a specific food for a certain period of time. The idea of a food trial is to remove all the food from the diet the dog has previously been fed and therefore any possible offending food components. Feeding a new novel diet and monitoring the dog for resolution of clinical symptoms is the best way to identify the source of any dietary allergies. We recommend doing this under the supervision of your vet.
A dietary trial will need to be fed long enough to enable the dog to respond. Usually the diet is fed for between 6-8 weeks. It is crucial that during this time no other food is fed. No dog treats or scraps from the table must be fed as this will influence the dietary trial.
Initially drugs such as antibiotics and antifungals may be prescribed for your dog to control secondary skin infections. It is important that the dietary trial continues after the treatment has ended so that any improvement can be attributed to the diet and not the drug treatment.
Hypoallergenic diet is a term used to describe a diet which is low in allergens. An allergen is a substance capable of causing an allergic reaction.
Diets that have a small number of ingredients, like Naturediet, will have a lower number of potential allergens. Naturediet has a range of natural complete moist and dry dog foods which are highly palatable. We use only a limited number of ingredients in our menus and all are wheat and gluten free therefore avoiding the possibility of gluten allergies.
Our Chicken and Lamb meals are single source meat proteins. The Feel Good Sensitive menu contains salmon and white fish as the protein source and is a wheat and gluten free recipe. This may be fed to dogs with allergies to meat based proteins. No other protein sources are used in the manufacture and even the oils will be sourced from salmon which are a natural source of omega 3 fatty acids that help promote a healthy skin and coat. Dogs with a sensitive digestion may also be fed this diet.
Dogs may be allergic to certain ingredients within their food resulting in skin irritations such as itchy skin (pruritus) affecting the face, ears, feet, axillae (armpits), groin and anal area. Dogs may lick, bite, scratch and chew the affected areas and the skin may become red and inflamed. Some dogs may have recurrent ear infections or display gastrointestinal signs of suffering.
Dogs with allergies to food may show an improvement in their symptoms when their diet is changed to Naturediet as part of a dietary trial. Our foods contain a limited number of ingredients and do not contain any artificial preservatives, colourings or flavourings.
If switching to our foods to aid with skin allergies then we recommend our fish based meals as a starting point. We have options within our wet, grain free and dry food ranges. Our Sensitive formula is specifically designed for dogs with allergies.
We also have single protein meat meals available for dogs on exclusion diets.
For dogs with gluten intolerances we have formulated grain free recipes containing all the meat and vegetable requirements for a balanced diet.
Our foods cater for dogs of all ages, sizes and breeds. We have a number of natural meals for dogs who require special diets for health issues.
Dogs that are prone to colitis may respond well to a diet which has a high fibre content and is easy to digest. Insoluble fibre in the diet can help slow down the speed that digested food passes through the large intestine, thereby providing more time for water and electrolytes to be absorbed resulting in better faecal consistency.
All Naturediet foods are highly digestible and include dietary fibre.
Dogs that have colitis caused by food allergies or intolerances may improve after changing their diet to our simple, easily digested meals which are wheat gluten free and do not contain any artificial preservatives, colourings or flavourings.
Feel Good Senior Lite contains a good source of natural dietary fibre, is low in fat and highly suitable for dogs suffering with colitis.
Fish is an excellent alternative to dogs who suffer from meat protein allergies. We have two fish based meals – Feel Good Sensitive is made with salmon and white fish and Feel Good Fish contains only ocean white fish.
We choose not to include beef or pork in any of our foods as they are harder proteins for dogs to digest.
Our chicken and fish meals are suitable for dogs requiring a low purine diet.
We produce a semi-moist natural meaty treat, with the same signature ingredients we use to make our complete meals.
They contain no hidden nasties and can be fed as a complementary food to our wet and dry foods. Totally natural, hypoallergenic and perfect to use as a reward based training aid.
Obesity in Dogs
Obesity in pets is becoming an increasingly common problem within the UK. In a report by veterinary surgeons up to 45% of the pets they treat are overweight. Worryingly, this report mentioned that only one in three owners know how to check if their pet is overweight. These findings are a cause for concern as overweight pets are more at risk from developing health problems such as diabetes mellitus, arthritis, cardiovascular and respiratory problems and some cancers. It will also decrease the life expectancy of the pet.
It is important not to let your dog become overweight. It is more difficult to get your dog to lose weight than prevent the weight gain in the first place.
Dogs, just like people, can easily put on weight. Some people will fail to realise their dog is overweight if the weight has been gained over a period of time. Also owners of dogs with thick or long coats may not recognise that their dog is overweight.
Body condition scoring is a convenient method of assessing your dog’s body condition and the amount of body fat. It can help you evaluate (in between having your dog weighed) whether your dog is over or underweight, or the correct weight.
- Run your hands along the length of your dog paying particular attention to your dog’s ribs, spine and hip bones. If your dog is an ideal weight you will be able to feel the ribs, hip bones and spine without them being visible.
- If your dog is overweight then you will have difficulty in feeling their ribs, spine or hip bones as they’ll have an excess layer of fat covering them.
- If your dog is underweight the ribs may be prominent or will be very easily felt with no fat covering them and the spine and hip bones might be visible.
- Take a look at your dog from above. Can you see a waist?
- If your dog is a normal weight you will notice a waistline. Dogs that are underweight have a very defined waistline. If your dog is overweight you will not be able to see a waist.
- Viewing the tummy from the side it should be nicely tucked up if your dog is the ideal weight, however if your dog is overweight the tummy will not have a defined tuck and will be sagging.
- Examine and assess your dog on a regular basis but also weigh your dog regularly. Smaller dogs can easily be weighed on bathroom scales by placing them in a basket and subtracting the weight of the basket or by holding them and subtracting your weight. Larger dogs can be weighed at your veterinary surgery.
One of the main reasons why dogs pile on weight is due to overfeeding, with many owners being unaware that they are feeding their dogs too much.
Manufacturers feeding guides are a guide only and the amount fed needs to be adjusted according to whether your dog is gaining or losing weight.
It is very easy to give in to your dog and feed him extra treats – dogs can be very persistent especially where food and treats are concerned!
It is very easy to discount the number of treats fed each day – however, the treats soon mount up!
If you do feed any treats these will need to be taken into account and the amount fed at mealtimes adjusted accordingly. Ideally limit the number of treats and don’t feed human food from the table as this could be higher in calories than dog treats. Ideally keep a diary of everything you feed your dog each day.
Dogs require daily exercise to prevent obesity. Your dog should go out for a walk at least once a day, but ideally twice a day and free running off the lead (if safe to do so) will increase the energy your dog uses. Senior dogs will need less exercise.
It’s a simple fact that if your dog is fed too much and limited amounts of exercise that they will put on weight.
If your dog is overweight it is advisable to get him checked by a vet prior to increasing his exercise.
Other factors such as neutering can affect your dog’s weight as can medications such as steroids. Diseases such as hypothyroidism can affect your dog’s metabolism and lead to weight gain. Age is another reason why dogs put on weight as dogs are less active and need fewer calories as they get older. Some breeds are more prone to weight gain such as Labrador Retrievers and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels whereas others such as Greyhounds are less likely to gain weight. Also female dogs are more likely to be overweight than males.
Obese dogs are at risk of developing health problems.
Overweight dogs can benefit from a diet which is lower in calories and fat and higher in fibre. Feel Good Senior Lite has been developed for senior dogs or dogs needing to control their weight. It contains a good source of natural fibre which helps keep pets feeling fuller for longer and can be fed to overweight pets. Feel Good Senior Lite is a complete nutritionally balanced food and doesn’t need to be fed with any other food as it contains all the nutrients your dog needs.
- Weigh and examine your dog on a regular basis to make sure that you can feel the ribs easily and you can see your dog’s waistline and the tummy tucked up and not sagging.
- Use manufacturers feeding guides as a guide, adjusting the amount you feed according to whether your dog is losing or gaining weight.
- Feed your dog twice daily or more so that your dog doesn’t become too hungry between meals. Weigh the food so you know you’re feeding the correct amount.
- Stop giving treats and don’t feed any food from the table.
- Document everything you give your dog on a daily basis. This allows you to see just how much food your dog is consuming.
- Increasing the amount of exercise will help overweight dogs lose weight and also increase their fitness levels. Dogs that rarely go out for a walk and get very little exercise are more likely to gain weight.
- You will find that the slimmer your dog becomes the more energetic he will become.
- Find fun ways to play with him in your garden to help increase his exercise as well as regular walks.
- Get your dog examined by a veterinary surgeon prior to increasing their exercise.
- Do not starve your dog to get him to lose weight and do not decrease the amount of food by too much without first consulting a veterinary surgeon.
Dogs can suffer from a range of gastrointestinal diseases. These are diseases which affect the stomach and intestine of dogs and include conditions such as gastritis, gastroenteritis, inflammatory bowel disease, diarrhoea and constipation among others. Signs may range from mild to severe.
If you read our FAQs, and are still worried, see your vet ASAP.
Gastritis or inflammation of the lining of the stomach is quite common in dogs and can occur suddenly or may be of longer duration as in chronic disease.
It can be the result of your dog eating inappropriate food which can occur if they scavenge for food while out for a walk.
Signs to look for in acute gastritis are vomiting and a decrease in appetite. Your dog may also be lethargic and dehydrated and there might be blood in the vomit.
Severe gastritis may require hospital treatment. Dogs with chronic disease will vomit intermittently over a longer period of time and may lose weight.
Dogs with acute gastritis may recover without any need for treatment, whereas other dogs with severe or chronic symptoms will need to be examined and treated by a veterinary surgeon.
Gastroenteritis is not uncommon in dogs. Dietary indiscretion and viruses (for example parvovirus) are some of the causes.
Dogs with gastroenteritis vomit and pass diarrhoea. Their appetite may also be reduced and they may refuse to eat. They may also become dehydrated. Your dog may require veterinary treatment depending on the severity of the disease.
Inflammatory bowel disease is characterised by inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Inflammatory cells infiltrate the wall of the stomach and intestines affecting the ability to absorb nutrients.
Causes of this condition can be a food intolerance, parasites, and infections or in many cases the cause is unknown. Some breeds are genetically prone to this condition.
Vomiting and diarrhoea which can be chronic or intermittent are signs seen in this condition. Weight loss and a change in appetite may also be seen. Blood may also be found in the faeces.
Diagnosis of this condition involves blood samples, radiographs and ultrasound scans to rule out other conditions. A biopsy of the gastrointestinal tract is necessary to diagnose IBD.
Dogs with inflammatory bowel disease may respond well to a dietary trial with a hypoallergenic diet. However, other dogs may need medication such as steroids, antibiotics and immune suppressants as well as a change of diet.
Constipated dogs have difficulty in passing motions. They will strain to pass faeces and pass small hard faeces infrequently or may not be able to pass any at all. It is a cause of discomfort to dogs.
There are many reasons why your dog might be constipated. Diet, orthopaedic and arthritic conditions, medications, dehydration and neurological conditions are some of the causes.
Dogs may also be reluctant to pass motions if their anal glands are infected. Some dogs may become constipated if they eat cooked bones or other foreign objects.
Older dogs may be more prone to constipation as they are less active. It is advisable to have your dog checked by a veterinary surgeon if he/she is constipated to diagnose the underlying cause and treat accordingly.
Diet is important in the management of this problem. Many dogs will respond to a diet which is high in fibre. All Naturediet products are highly digestible and contain an inclusion of dietary fibre to improve the environment for bowel bacteria, improving digestion and therefore faecal consistency.
Feel Good Senior Lite contains a good source of natural fibre. However, Senior Lite must not be given to puppies or adolescent dogs as it is lower in calories and will not meet their energy requirements.
Always ensure a bowl of water is always available and try to increase the exercise of your dog.
Diarrhoea is very common in dogs and can occur suddenly as in acute disease or may be longer in duration and intermittent as in chronic disease.
Dogs with diarrhoea pass loose or watery faeces more frequently than normal. Signs can range from mild to severe. Causes of diarrhoea in dogs include dietary indiscretions (such as scavenging something inappropriate), infections such as viruses and bacteria, parasites, food allergy or intolerance, a sudden change in diet, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, and secondary to other non-intestinal diseases such as kidney failure.
Treatment depends on the cause and severity of the diarrhoea. Dogs with mild cases of diarrhoea may resolve without need for treatment whereas other dogs would require veterinary treatment.
It is very important that dogs with diarrhoea drink enough water so that they don’t become dehydrated.
Diet can help in the management and treatment of dogs with diarrhoea. Dogs with mild cases of diarrhoea may benefit from being fed a highly digestible diet which is low in fat. Naturediet Fish contains ocean white fish and is highly digestible and is naturally low in fat.
Dogs with diarrhoea which may be caused by a dietary intolerance may benefit from a change of diet to a diet with a protein source the dog hasn’t eaten previously. Dogs with a dietary intolerance to meat based proteins such as beef or pork may be fed diets with fish as the protein source. Naturediet Sensitive contains salmon as the only source of protein and oils. It is easy to digest and as with all Naturediet foods it is a complete meal and provides all the nutrients a dog needs.
Feed several small meals to dogs recovering from a bout of diarrhoea or vomiting as large volumes of food may be more difficult to digest.
Introduce any new food to your dog over a period of 7 – 10 days so that your dog can become accustomed to the change of food. Sudden changes in food can cause digestive upsets. Extra care should be taken when changing from a wet to a dry food or vice versa.