I know how important pet food is: the right choice can make the difference between great health and a mediocre existence for your pet. For me, the creation of the Petfix Club brand of pet food is one of the most exciting aspects of this online project. At last, I can now share with pet owners the practical results of my own hands-on learning about pet nutrition, as a pet owner, as well as a vet.
We have launched our dog food range, and our cat food range will be coming soon.
What is the background to Petfix Club food?
I’ve been feeding dogs and cats for over forty years now. When I was a teenager, most dogs were fed on tinned meat combined with mixer biscuits. Then, around thirty years ago, dry kibble became popular: this essentially combined the tinned meat with the biscuits, creating a new type of biscuit into one product, commonly known as “kibble”. This had many advantages: all of the nutrients needed by the animal could be included in one ration, the dried formulation could be stored easily and safely for weeks or months, and it could be transported easily and economically (dry food is lighter than wet food), so it also offered a more cost-effective way of feeding high quality nutrients to pets.
Not all kibbles are the same: it’s all about the ingredients that go into it, and the way that it’s prepared. I have observed what suits my own dogs and cats well over the years, and this has formed the basis for the formulations that are at the heart of the Petfix Brand.
What are the ingredients of Petfix Club food?
I have made sure that the Petfix Club brand of food has high quality ingredients because I know that this is what’s best for pets.
The specific listed ingredients that go into pet food are important. Higher quality ingredients tend to make food tastier, and it tends to be more easy to digest. Pets fed on diets with high quality ingredients tend to enjoy the food, and they tend to visibly enjoy better health. Poorer quality ingredients are more likely to lead to gastrointestinal upsets, more voluminous poops (because the food is less digestible) and longer term, pets that visibly do not thrive as well as animals fed on higher quality diets.
It’s well worth owners reading the label on the pet food that they choose. It’s better to try to avoid pet foods where the first listed ingredient is labelled as ‘animal derivative’, because these products tend to be lower in quality. The broad term “derivative”, rather than a specific named meat like “chicken”, allows the use of general off-cuts from variable sources (using whatever is cheapest and most available at the time of production) instead of using the same, specific meat type in successive batches of the same product. This makes the final product cheaper, but the quality is more variable. For consistency, it’s better to use a food with listed, specific ingredients.
I’ve also chosen ingredients that are as natural as possible: if you read the Petfix Club label, you will recognise everything as a real life substance, rather than a theoretical item of some kind.
Is petfix club food grain-free?
The answer is is “no” and I need to explain why this is: everything Petfix Club does is science-based, and I cannot find any scientific rationale behind the grain-free trend. I know these products are very popular at the moment, but their popularity seems to be based on misunderstandings and false beliefs, combined with strong marketing by manufacturers and sales teams.
The grain-free trend seems to stem from a false belief that dogs can’t digest carbohydrates. We know from genetic studies that five thousand years ago, as dogs began to live as companions to humans, they evolved to produce amylase, the enzyme that digests starch and grains. Domestic dogs have always eaten scraps from the human table, including bread and rice. There is no scientific reason for them not to eat grains, and indeed, there have been some reports from the USA that some grain-free foods may even contribute to health issues, such as heart failure, either because of missing nutrients or because of extra ingredients in cereal-alternatives that may in some way interfere with cardiac health. Research is still underway on this topic. I know as a vet that the only time I have seen grains cause problems to dogs has been when they have been fed as a sole source of nutrition: I have seen farm collies fed on nothing but porridge, and it was no surprise that their health suffered as a result. But when grain is used as part of a balanced diet, it is exceptionally rare to see health issues. The Petfix Club foods contain rice, oats, barley and some maize (depending on which formulation you are using), and these all contribute to the products being palatable and highly nutritious.
I know this goes against a popular trend, but I don’t believe there is any indication to feed pets on grain-free food.
Is Petfix Club food hypoallergenic?
Yes. It’s important to understand what this means. It is true that allergies are more common in dogs than in the past (just as they are in humans). And yes, a pet can be allergic to something in their diet. So the general idea is that hypoallergenic diets should contain fewer ingredients likely to cause allergies – less allergens – than standard diets. Petfix Club food ticks that box. It has been formulated without the most common food allergens for dogs – there is no beef, pork, wheat gluten, dairy and soya.
So what is the story about food allergies in dogs? Food allergy is very rare in pets. When it does happen, the allergy is caused by a protein ingredient in the food. To stop the allergy, you need to stop feeding that specific protein.
So feeding a so-called hypoallergenic diet may, in theory, expose your dog to fewer allergens than standard diets
Is Petfix Club food suitable for all pets?
I believe that pets will thrive on the Petfix Club range of foods. I have always believed that pet food is an individual choice: it’s about matching the right food to the right animal. I have put the Petfix Club food range together based on what I believe is likely to be best for dogs and cats. My own pets have done well on this type of food for decades. I have chosen the range based on both science and experience, which is how I have always made judgements and decisions.
Is kibble a good choice for all dogs and cats?
For most pets and most owners, good quality kibble is ideal: pets thrive, and owners enjoy the convenience and economies of good quality nutrition for their pets at a reasonable price.
It is true that 100% dry kibble does not suit every pet. I always encourage cats to learn to enjoy wet and dry food when they are young, because some develop urinary issues when fed dry only diets, so it helps if they are used to eating wet food if these problems develop. But cats that do not suffer from these problems can continue on kibble only diets, with no problems. And some individual dogs, for various reasons, may do better on a diet that includes moist elements, whether tins, sachets or fresh meat. But these are the exceptions to the general rule that most pets thrive on the right kibble.
I have always fed my own pets on good quality kibble. My dogs have regularly lived into their mid-teens, and my two elderly cats are both sixteen, and still going strong. And in general, they have enjoyed good health: as a vet, I watch them carefully, and I know this for a fact. They have never suffered from gastrointestinal issues, itchy skin, allergic disease or other conditions of this type. Major studies of large populations of pets have never identified links between kibble and these issues, nor with other serious problems like cancers or premature aging.
There is a myth that dry kibble is in some way similar to human ultra-processed foods like crisps, frozen pizzas, or fast food takeaways. This may seem superficially true to some, but in fact, when you look into it carefully, the truth is far different. Those human foods are imbalanced, with high levels of fats, sugars, and chemicals. They are not designed as complete nutrition for humans: they are treats, not a staple diet.
In contrast, commercial pet kibble is nutritionally balanced, utterly unlike human snacks. The products have been designed to provide complete, balanced nutrition. They have been created to allow pets to thrive on them as a sole source of nutrition. This is a completely different concept to human fast foods.
A well-chosen dry kibble, with transparent, named individual ingredients, is an excellent way to feed pets. As well as my own pets, as a vet, I have known many, many animals that have thrived into remarkably healthy old age after being fed on good quality complete kibble for their entire life.
As a vet, I know about pet nutrition
Vet students are taught the details of the proteins, fats, carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins and minerals that are needed for a balanced diet. We are taught about this over five years by academic nutritionists who have long known what animals need to eat to remain healthy.
Pet food manufacturers base their recipes on science too. Recognised national and international scientific advisors have compiled guidelines that are made available to pet food manufacturing companies. These guidelines advise on the amounts of essential nutrients in commercial products that are required to ensure adequate and safe nutrition in healthy pets when consumed over a long period of time. It’s then up to the manufacturers to base the composition of their products on the recommendations: if a pet food complies with these, it can be labelled as “complete”, and that’s what pet owners should be looking for on the bag when they choose pet food. Products that do not fulfil these guidelines must be labelled as “complementary” rather than “complete”: an example would be the types of mixer biscuits that are sold to be served to dogs with tinned pet food added to them. As an example, the Petfix Club brand of food is a complete food, fulfilling all of your pet’s nutritional needs.
Is the Petfix Club range of food right for your pet?
Owners should choose a food that suits the animals under their care. You should ask yourself some simple questions about the food you choose for your pets.
Do your pets enjoy eating it? Is their digestive system healthy? Are they in good health? If the answers are yes, then you have chosen their pet food well. If not, then you should consider changing to a different diet.
If you’re considering changing to a Petfix Club food, which product in the range should you choose? We have different versions which aim to suit all types of dog: puppies, large breed puppies, adults, and senior dogs. We have chicken, lamb, salmon and turkey as the protein source, depending on precisely which product you choose. We have cat food on its way too, and I will let you know when this becomes available.
Try the Petfix Club range of food, and do let me know how you get on. My own pets love it, and I’d love as many other pets as possible to join that club!