My god, who knew what a minefield the world of dog food is!?
I knew, from my last experience raising a puppy, that I wanted nothing to do with Bakers, and the scant research I did in the early conceptualising of getting Jasper bore this out. Tales of upset tummies, malnutrition and all manner of other maladies cemented my decision.
Andrew, on the other hand, knew even less. His family Labrador, Rocky, who is amazing but old, demands a very specialised, science-y food to allay his array of allergies and the like, so his side of things was of little use.
We knew, though, that we were sticking with dry food, and decided it would probably help to know from the breeder what she was currently feeding him, so we could better measure an improvement in quality, or price, or desirability, or whatever. Since we came to be thinking about this only on the day before we collected him, I was beating myself up no end for failing to prepare enough, but Andrew duly contacted her and was told he was eating ‘Gusto!’.
No… Me either.
High and low, o’er hill and vale, ‘Gusto!’ could scarce be found. Then it appeared, on an obscure website, only in a 12kg bag – much too much for our requirements, since we hoped to wean him off it in a week or two.
We were back to the drawing board, with the handover looming closer.
I already felt like a failure as a parent.
Andrew then came across a website, AllAboutDogFood, which – in the absence of all but anecdotal idealism – quickly became our crutch. Every damn brand we saw or could think of was shoved through this site and hasty judgements made based on its conclusion. That Pedigree Puppy – Growth & Development’ had lower than average fibre meant absolutely nothing to either of us but we wrote it off.
In the end – and much as I had hoped it might – it fell to the vet who administered his second vaccination to steer us in the right direction. She advised a better quality food, to start him off right, like IAMS, Royal Canin or Eukanuba. AllAboutDogFood rated each of these relatively well, and a visit to PetsAtHome (one of several in just a couple of days) showed us the true financial burden of this particular journey so we adjusted our boundaries.
Further proper research then led us to Wainwrights. Many, many positive reviews and enthusiastic anecdotes across experts and forums alike. AllAboutDogs also had it at 3.4 our of 5.0, so… It was a winner as far as we were concerned.
Andrew, though, had to go a step further. He messaged a pet shop, local to work, to see if they stocked it, only to be told, embarrassingly, that only PetsAtHome sell it because it’s their ‘own brand’. Awkward. They took the opportunity, though, to upsell – telling us all about a brand they do stock that’s very similar, Healthy Paws, and how healthy it is and etc etc etc. Ran it through our new Bible: 4.2/5.0. Sold.
So now we’re middle-class. We buy (what I consider) a boutique brand dog food, from an independent pet shop, in a well-to-do town, and can now look down on those people who buy Bakers from Asda because we pay £4.50 per kilo.