Are you feeding your dog junk food?

I have always been interested in what I feed Figo and a recent visit to my local pet shop (Pets Corner) led me to try a couple of new foods and write a quick post about them.

Although I have experimented with a raw food diet and do agree with the principles, it doesn’t work for me for several reasons so I feed Figo a dry kibble. These are the main things I look for in a dry dog food:

1. Good quality source of named meats in the ingredients – at least the top 5 ingredients should be named meat or fish and the words ‘meal’ or ‘derivatives’ should not be part of them

2. No wheat, corn, maize or other grains.

3. Minimal quantities of other vegetable fillers such as potato and pea starch/fibre.

4. Produced at low temperatures. The majority of dry kibble is produced by a process called ‘extrusion’ which involves baking the ingredients into a pellet at very high temperatures. There has been a lot of publicity about the negative effect of high temperatures on fats plus the fact that most of the vitamins will have been destroyed at these temperatures.

5. Contains other organs e.g. heart, tripe, liver etc

I feed Figo Orijen Kibble which pretty much ticks all my boxes but it is also known for being one of the most expensive dry foods on the market.

Orijen Dog Food

However after my recent trip to Pets Corner I bought a small sack of Ziwi Peak. This is air dried fresh natural whole meat and goodness me, Figo does love it!

Ziwi Peak Dog Food

However if you thought Orijen was expensive then it is a bargain compared to Ziwi Peak!

I thought it would be interesting to work out how much it actually cost per day to feed Figo on each of these foods. Prices quoted for the food are regular RRP in the UK in March 2014, not special deals… so here goes:-

Orijen costs around £68 for a 13kg bag and the recommended amount of food per day for Figo (weight 25kg, moderately active) is 250g, which I split into 2 meals. Orijen is a very nutritionally dense food which means that you need to feed your dog less than many other poorer quality foods.

So each 13kg bag provides 52 days of meals at a cost of £1.30 per day

Ziwi Peak costs an eye watering £90 for a 5kg bag and the recommended amount of food per day for Figo is also 250g per day.

So each 5kg bag provides 20 days of meals at a cost of £4.50 per day.

It did make me wonder how Orijen compared with one of the cheap and popular brands of dog food – Bakers.

Bakers costs £28 for a 14kg bag and the recommended amount of food per day for Figo is 380g.

So each 14kg bag provides 37 days of meals at a cost of 76p per day.

Ok… so Figo probably wont be getting Ziwi Peak on a regular basis… but I was quite surprised, when I worked out the daily cost of Orijen. It was a lot less than I was expecting and I do feel that £1.30 per day is a fair price for a really top quality dog food. Although Bakers is quite a bit cheaper, I personally wouldn’t feed it to Figo if it was the last food on earth! If you want to know why then just read these articles:

All About Dog Food

Dog Listener – Stan Rawlinson

The dog food debate is really hotting up now in the UK and there have been a couple of new introductions to the market recently – they are ‘English Orijen’ equivalents (Orijen is made in Canada). They are Eden and Canagen. They both look pretty good alternatives and get good reviews. Eden has a lot more potato than Orijen and Canagen has a lower percentage of animal meat protein (65% vs Orijen’s 80%) but they still look be to excellent quality alternatives and a bit cheaper (Eden works out at  90p per day for Figo and Canagan at £1.21 per day)

I would love to hear what you all think.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier Print

The popular Staffy is much misunderstood, frequently feared and often unfairly maligned by the media. They are (according to Kennel Club statistics at the time of writing) Britain’s 5th most popular dog, yet they also top the list of breeds in rescue centres and shelters in the UK. The truth is that while the Staffy might look like a tough dog, they are actually big softies – a loving, reliable and affectionate family dog, devoted to their human companions.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier Pen and Ink Drawing by Debbie Kendall

So where do they get their bad rap from? Stan Rawlinson, the Dog Listener has written an excellent article on why this breed (the only one to be described by the Kennel Club as being ‘totally reliable’) has such a fearful reputation. Part of the reason is that the Staffie resembles many other of the so called ‘bully’ breeds that can be aggressive towards humans. In addition, staffies are often crossed with such breeds and this can alter or dilute the reliable Staffy anti-aggressive human bond.

Their tough looks and similarity to other more human-aggressive bully breeds, combined with easy availability from unscrupulous breeders, has sadly resulted in the Staffy becoming a status symbol dog amongst street gangs – a kind of ‘pseudo pit bull’.  These owners sometimes beat, torment and neglect  their dogs to try and make them into the ultimate aggressive accessory, to boost their street image and terrorise other gangs. They may also breed from their dog to generate income by selling the puppies. These puppies do not generally have the best start in life and are rarely properly socialised or appropriately trained. Indeed any breed of dog that is treated badly is likely to show aggression towards humans.

This is the key to why rescue shelters have a disproportionate number of Staffies. Many of the irresponsible owners who have acquired a Staffy to enhance their street credibility find that they are too much bother to look after, or having mistreated them are unable to control them. Neglect, inappropriate training and a poor understanding of a dog’s needs leads to many Staffies being abandoned or rescued by charitable organisations.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier Print by Debbie Kendall

Created in England in the late 18th and early 19th century, Staffies were a cross between Bulldogs and Terriers, bred for the ‘sport’ of dogfighting by working class men. Staffies were expected to live harmoniously with their families, often in small spaces with lots of children. No aggression towards humans was tolerated and it is said that any dogs showing even the slightest signs of ill will towards their family members were ruthlessly weeded out.

As with all dogs, but particularly so for Staffies, they do have to be well socialised from an early age with other dogs and  animals in order that they do not develop aggression towards other dogs.

Hand lettering by Debbie Kendall

The Kennel Club recommends the Staffordshire Bull Terrier as being particularly suitable for families with children – one of only 2 breeds to deserve such a high accolade – and they describe the Staffy as:

“Extremely reliable, highly intelligent and affectionate, especially with children.”

Their reliable, loving nature and affinity for children is the reason that Staffords have earned the nickname “The Children’s Nursemaid” or “Nanny Dog”

My latest print celebrates all that is good about the Stafford. Hand lettered and illustrated, each print is hand printed on my press in a deep inky green – and individually signed.

Framed hand printed Staffy dog art by Debbie Kendall

Available from The Enlightened Hound’s online shop from just £40, unframed.

Creative Manifesto

Inspired by a recent challenge in Uppercase magazine I decided to hand letter a Creative Manifesto.

hand lettered creative manifesto by debbie kendall

I added a couple of vintage illustrations and set it against a nice sheet of ageing ledger paper.

I do love the sentiment… as behind the polished and perfect world of self promotion via social media, which can make success look so effortless, is a lot of unseen creative angst!

I might get a plate made and hand print a few on my press… I think it would be a good reminder to have on the studio wall!

Find out more about me and my work at The Enlightened Hound