A few weeks ago, Mumsnet gave me the opportunity to put my name forward on a list of hopefuls to learn more about nutrition for dogs with Pedigree at their Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition. I’ve also been offered the chance for my Collie to endure a 6 week feeding trial. And if you’ve never met Hans on my YouTube channel, he’s my best chum. He almost never leaves my side. We’re inseparable and he’s now the reason why we’ve only wanted to go on UK dog friendly holidays for the last 3 and a half years. But when it comes to knowing the facts on what’s best for him since he can’t speak for himself, I can feel rather confused. And the reason? I’ve now discovered there’s so many conflicting theories like old wives’ tales that we can’t shake off easily.
When I got to the Waltham Centre (which is situated amidst undisturbed and peaceful countryside in Leicestershire), I was naive to think there wouldn’t be any dogs there, who are of course, the heart of their business.
We meeted and greeted many waggly-tailed pooches (and chilled out cats) who had all been trained using positive reinforcement to help determine a vast range of results, which may be as simple as whether a dog likes or dislikes a flavour, smell or shape, or even taking saliva swabs to find what bacteria is harmful in your pets’ mouths. And the next step would be creating products that offer prevention which average home cooked food can’t always offer and that all the ingredients added to Pedigree’s dog food has a purpose.
We were also educated by the on-site vets and scientists about what they do in their labs, how often they give weekly health checks, how we see them playing in very large courts and why they’re not in rows of kennels and more importantly what their dietary needs are and the repercussions. What might be right for us, might not be right for our pets and they still have many questions they want to answer to ensure each dog is living optimally.
Did you know a dog can live on a vegetarian diet but a cat can’t? Did you know that feeding your pet a raw diet isn’t always nutritious and could lead to Salmonella poisoning? I also never knew that cats can’t taste sugar, yet dogs can. It was all extremely fascinating and informative stuff and it was evident that Pedigree was led by passionate people who also love animals themselves. They even get to take their own furry friends with them to work or after a dog retires at the centre, many of them put their name on a waiting list to take their favourite dog home for good. And what about a place that grants you two weeks “Pet-ernity” leave if you take home a new puppy? It really feels like a dog lover’s dream job!
But what I really wanted to ask them was, “Is a 41% protein dog food too much for a Collie that isn’t a working one compared to a 7% one with more moisture?” (This was something I’d previously been told) and according to the Pedigree scientists, it’s one of the many word of mouth myths. As long as I stick to the feeding plan recommended on their free Pedigree Tracks app, depending on his age, size, breed and current weight, he should be fine. Apparently 85% of your pets’ food should be absorbed, leaving only 15% to be turned in to waste. This I exactly what I needed to hear, because as abnormal as this may sound, I can’t leave the house with less than three poo bags each morning for my petite collie, so I’m going to be on poo-watch during the whole feeding trial.
As for Hans’ teeth, like many others, he is not a fan of the toothbrush and I often find his dental chews lying around the house. (Side note: Another fact is that the enamel on dog’s teeth are actually a third thinner than ours, so rawhide chews and bones can be too hard for them). And with that in mind, I turned to people on Facebook for tips to encourage Hans to eat his chews. However, one person’s comment (and there were so many), really hit home as to why I felt confused and frustrated before my visit to Waltham and that was, “My vet told me it’s full of additives.” We assume “additives” is a negative thing, but it’s what makes Pedigree stand out from most brands; they are the vitamins and minerals added to ensure our furry friends are getting the best complete and balanced diet we can give them.
We are definitely going to see the feeding trial through to the end and if you ever get the chance of visiting the Waltham Centre, I highly recommend you taking up their offer to see for yourself but a lot of information is also available on their Pedigree website.
I have filmed some of my visit and will be filming Hans’ trial progress for my YouTube channel and can now confirm that Hans will eat his Dentastix when rubbed with mature cheddar, so you may want to go and subscribe to wait for the update to see how we got on. Hopefully in 5-6 weeks, we will see some new benefits to his temperament, bowel movements and possibly an even softer coat!
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I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity. [I have received a voucher in return for writing this post].