The eating do’s and don’ts for pets

PUBLISHED: 09:23 14 June 2016 | UPDATED: 09:23 14 June 2016

Seriously, no. Make sure your pets always have a supply of fresh water, and we mean fresh, not just topped up, particularly with summer approaching. Milk is not a substitute for water.

Seriously, no. Make sure your pets always have a supply of fresh water, and we mean fresh, not just topped up, particularly with summer approaching. Milk is not a substitute for water.


With the launch of our great dining out guide it seemed a fine time for Jan Raycroft to look at the eating do’s and don’ts of our four-legged friends

Having had a cat that lived to 21 on such varied feasts as the odd tin of Whiskas, cheese and onion crisps, slowworms (she did the catching and eating outside) and spaghetti bolognaise, it’s always interesting to meet those whose pets only seem to thrive on limited diets.

My cat had a near hysterical fit if a portion of takeaway curry or Chinese didn’t come her way – even tomato and pineapple was relished. At the other end of the scale is Bungle, my sister’s huge German Shepherd, which develops hideous tummy troubles if not kept on a strict diet regulated by their vet. Even so, this bear-like dog seems happy with the same boring bowl of crunchy things at mealtimes and never begs for juicier titbits.

A bit of research reveals that my “I’ll try anything” cat was not that unusual – owners report felines in a frenzy over the likes of strawberries, olives, lemon pudding, and coleslaw. It seems that some cats love a bit of tang with their fang.

As for dogs, you find picky eaters like family pet George, a little Lhasa Apso who will skip offered meals all day when sulking for some inexplicable reason, or if the bowl contents do not meet his high spec requirements. Meanwhile, many Labradors will eat anything, it doesn’t have to be edible – which is why they end up at vets with stones and other objects in their stomachs. Oh for a picky Lab!

Feast of treats

And here’s another thing – the pet food aisles of our local supermarkets once offered perhaps a dozen choices of cat and dog food, a couple of dog chew bones and fishy biscuits, and the odd bag of seed-type stuff for birds, rabbits and the like of hamsters. And that followed on from the days when table scraps, what they caught and the odd treat from the butcher made up our pets’ dining choices.

These days every can or vacuum-sealed packet is awash with all the dietary info the buyers feel obliged to ‘digest’ to ensure they are providing the ultimate, healthy food experience for their pet – all the right vitamins and ingredients to keep joint supple, coats gleaming and teeth strong, plus you must pick the one for their age range.

The ‘recipes’ also have us dithering over the fine dining menu… salmon or lamb terrine for Tiddles, even if we are only going to knock up a homemade lasagne from leftovers for ourselves. Ah yes, and let’s not forget the organic ranges now appearing on the shelves. If a Lab could laugh at it you (actually they can) it would be grinning from ear to ear before swallowing the meal – and possibly the dinky packaging in one go.

Here’s an interesting fact – if you shop online at Waitrose there are 482 choices of pet food to choose from. Steamed, dried, shredded, flakes, ‘casserole recipe’, gourmet blends, delicate, ‘homestyle’, ‘wild campfire’… you could be there for hours, dithering.

Now really we know that the packaging and contents are intended to appeal to us. Dogs don’t care if fake bones are not cartoon bone-shaped as long as they can grind them into the lawn, and it’s the stinky smell cats love, not that little biccies look like fishies. 

The fancy taste

Having written all the above, it seemed only fair to have to eat some of my words when WONDERBOO, a health-focused premium pet food, recently arrived in the UK from Sweden.

I needed a volunteer diner and the obvious choice was Flick, the little dog from next door who has been staying with me while her family visits their relatives in … Sweden. Who better to nibble at the ‘natural Swedish ingredients that have been gently air-dried to preserve all the nutrients.’ We decided to ignore the fact that elderly Flick was once a rescued ‘street dog’ with, I’m told, a cast-iron stomach as a result of her earlier days of survival.

WONDERBOO, it must be admitted, has a lot going for it, although not cheap at around £2 a meal for small dogs. But the ingredients really are a cut above. Many dog foods are 80 per cent carbohydrate, while here we have the same proportion taken up by beef, cod and rumen (part of the stomach chamber of ruminant animals such as cattle and reindeer) together with fibre, minerals and vitamins. And you can join a WONDERBOO club offering special deals and discounts.

Each meal comes in a sealed pack within an environmentally-friendly cardboard container which can handily be used as a food bowl while out and about. The food itself is not crunchy – instead it’s produced in slightly crumbly bite-sized pieces which would tempt even the pickiest pooch. While the packaging might seem a bit ‘chi-chi’ (but then again looks nice in a handbag) the food is cut into natural shapes and dare we say it, smells rather nice.

One of the big advantages is that WONDERBOO do home delivery so you can buy in bulk (delivery within three to four working days). Big plusses are how easy and convenient all this is.

Flick spent a week living on their Swedish ox variety and didn’t make too much fuss when returning to her normal diet of dried food and scraps. But then she’s that kind of dog – we suspect that some of the more ‘luvvie’ types would demand this very special dish at every mealtime!

See for more.

Pigging out

Hard as it may be to believe, guinea pigs can actually become overweight even though the majority of their diet is hay. So cut down on pellet food if that’s happening and make sure to provide fresh greenery every day. The pellets provide vital Vitamin C and together with the greenery helps to keep their ever growing teeth the right length. Root vegetables or small pieces of apple should only be given as occasional treats as these are not natural foods for guinea pigs.


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