Millions of dog owners have no idea what’s in their pet’s food, according to research. A poll of 2,000 dog owners found 48 percent could only name up to three ingredients when quizzed on what they feed their dog.
Almost a quarter (23 percent) struggle to understand the ingredients listed on dog food labels.
And 44 percent are confused by what they see as contradictory advice on what makes a healthy diet for dogs.
Perhaps as a result, 36 percent admit they’re worried their canine might not have a nutritious diet.
As such, 40 percent find planning their dog’s diet more stressful than figuring out their own – with 41 percent calling for clearer labelling on dog food packaging.
The study was commissioned by Butternut Box, which has unveiled an edible billboard in a South London park, to highlight the need for fresh and healthy nutrition for dogs.
The fresh dog food brand’s in-house vet, Dr Ciara Clarke, said: “Food is such an important factor when it comes to our dogs living long, healthy, and happy lives.
“A healthy diet can help to prevent many issues and illnesses, but getting the portion sizes and ingredients right is crucial.
“It’s clear from this research that dog parents are confused when it comes to what to feed their dog, and how much they should be feeding.
“We need greater transparency and information around dogs’ diets, to help owners to make better, more informed choices.
“Many people don’t know that dog foods are often packed with nasties, like rendered, hydrolysed, or pasteurised animal byproducts, along with artificial colours, flavours, and preservatives.
“A lot of manufacturers avoid stating that they use these sorts of ingredients – so it’s best to practice caution when it comes to vague references to ingredients.”
Price is the deciding factor for 45 percent of owners when choosing which dog food to buy, while 13 percent are swayed by the packaging alone.
The study also found 37 percent describe their pet as a “fussy eater”, with 17 percent saying their pups won’t think twice about turning their nose up at what they’re served if it’s not up to scratch – and 11 percent consistently refusing to eat their food.
It also emerged three in ten tend to show more interest in what their owners are having for dinner than their own.
As a result, 61 percent of dog parents feed their beloved pooch “human” food at least once a week – with a quarter of owners admitting they feel guilt-tripped into sharing their meals.
But the study, carried out through OnePoll, found 23 percent do so because they believe fresh, human-quality food is better for their dog.
Dr Ciara Clarke added: “We encourage dog owners to read the label when selecting their dog food, and I do the same with my clients when in vet practices.
“It’s not only the ingredients to look out for, but the way dog food is cooked, too.
“For example, dry dog food – or kibble – is made through a process called extrusion, which takes raw ingredients and cooks them at extremely high pressure and temperatures.
“This is likely to strip a proportion of the beneficial nutrients away – but dogs deserve the very best.
“It’s important that dog parents have a good understanding about what their dogs need from their diet and what to feed them, ensuring they have the correct portion sizes and the right balance of nutrients for all life stages, too.”