No matter if your dog is destined for the flyball lanes, the agility circuit or walking to heel as your loyal companion on walks for years to come or for years gone by, a quality diet is critical in supporting their growth from a small puppy, through adolescence and onto adulthood. Autarky recipes have been formulated with this in mind, with careful forethought on how best to provide quality ingredients. This blog will explain these inclusions so that as an owner you are confident in feeding our diets to your dog and know what is included and why. The six basic nutrients are water, protein, fat, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins- this blog is going to consider each one and explain how Autarky diets provide these. You may notice that some of these nutrients differ in quantity across our various diets, this is because Autarky caters for 3 main life stages: puppy, adult and mature; with the addition of two grain-free alternatives for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
An ingredient that is a source of quality, digestible protein is often listed high up the ingredients list, and with good reason; dogs have evolved to consume relatively high proportions of meat and fish and they can easily utilize the nutrients that meat contains. Proteins are molecules made up of amino acids which can be likened to building blocks for cell growth, repair and thus development. There are several different amino acids, some of which the body can source itself and others which must be obtained from the diet. Protein requirement is highest after weaning and steadily decreases from there. The body is constantly repairing cells throughout the animal’s life, but especially so during the first year of life when continual growth is occurring. Notably a high quality, rather than a high percentage protein diet is crucial because this will provide the variety of amino acids required. Quality and digestibility go hand-in-hand, as protein supports growth and repair, it is easy to see the importance of quality protein in a puppy or young dog’s diet. Autarky Puppy/Junior contains 28% protein, our labels contain the words ‘meal’ after the named protein, meal refers to a highly concentrated source of protein and fats, with low water content meaning nutritional requirements are met in lower quantities than freshly prepared meat sources which are included in our Tasty White Fish & Potato and Tantalising Turkey & Potato formulations.
Fats are essential in providing a source of energy as well as a healthy coat and skin. Fish oils are excellent sources of ‘healthy fat’, with minimal processing involved. Certain fats, namely essential fatty acids, commonly known as Omega 3 and 6 must be obtained by diet and are formulated in to all Autarky diets. These have an important function of controlling inflammation, blood clotting and brain development; a diet deficient in these can lead to various health problems. The right balance and source of Omega 3 in particular be supportive to dogs who suffer from degenerative joint conditions such as osteoarthritis- we have paid special attention to this inclusion in our mature diets. The addition of a small amount of animal fat can also make the diet more palatable as well as calorie-dense, ideal for weight gain and maintenance in young dogs. A working example of dietary change: your dog is currently fed Adult: Delicious Chicken but have been gaining weight recently- instead of reducing the amount significantly you could feed Mature Lite: Delicious Chicken - a diet designed to maintain satiety in dogs who are prone to gaining weight as it has a lower fat inclusion and digestible energy which both contribute to excess weight gain.
Carbohydrates are included in dog foods mainly as a source of energy, they often include wheat, rice or grains; Autarky diets are all wheat-gluten free and our Tantalising Turkey & Potato and Tasty White Fish & Potato diets are completely grain free, replaced with potato. Energy content of a diet is a hotly debated topic, protein and fats are a dog’s primary energy sources, however domesticated dogs have evolved to also process carbohydrates as energy to. The dog produces enzymes that digest carbohydrates, however sources such as grains are more digestible when cooked such as in dry pet foods. No specific amount of digestible carbohydrates has been identified as supporting optimal growth, however Autarky Puppy/Junior has a carbohydrate inclusion of 36% and our adult diets around 38%. An important note on energy requirements is the classification of activity levels, a dog completing 1-3 hours of on-lead low impact exercise is only considered to have moderate energy requirements and thus should be fed accordingly.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients, included in small quantities compared to macronutrients such as protein but nonetheless very important in supporting healthy bodily function. Autarky diets have been supplemented with Vitamin E, fatty acids and taurine which both work to support brain development, this aids the dog’s ability to learn and develop neural pathways that they will use throughout their lives. Additional supplementation of glucosamine in our mature diets as well as green lipped mussel in both of our Tasty White Fish & Potato and Tantalising Turkey & Potato diets work to support the joint integrity of active and working dogs. Prebiotics such as MOS (mannan-oligo-saccharides) and natural antioxidants are a welcome addition as they provide support to the immune and digestive function and gastrointestinal health which can be challenged as your dog encounters lifestyle changes, new experiences and challenges as they mature.
At Autarky we believe in being completely transparent when it comes to ‘what’s in the bag’ and as a result are committed to an ‘open declaration’ policy which means every ingredient in our foods are listed on the label no matter how small an inclusion rate, if you would like to read our datasheets on any of our products in more detail, they can be found on each of our product pages, click here.
Written by Georgie White, MSci, MNAVP, MAHPR, EEBW