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Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Making complete more complete

I’ve recently gone from a raw diet back to a dry complete because I'm in rented accommodation and only have a small fridge and no freezer. A friend has recommended I add supplements to their diet make sure he (dog, not friend) still gets all the right nutrients in his diet. I’ve had a look around and there’s quite a few on sale and I was wondering if anyone is currently supplementing a complete diet and if they can recommend a supplement that has worked well for them?
Kate Thomas, Carlise

If a dried food is complete then it is just that – complete, formulated to be fed exactly as it is. There are, however, different types of food supplemement. Whether you should be adding a supplement will depend on what is in the supplement and for what purpose you would be adding it.
Feeding a vitamin/mineral supplement with a complete food will, inevitably, unbalance the food. You could even, theoretically, do more harm than good because a complete food has been formulated to meet the nutritional needs of a dog at a particular stage in its life. There are levels of sophistication when it comes to the formulation of a food, so that you may have the choice of just puppy or adult at one extreme, or puppy, junior, adult, adult neutered, senior and even a selection of breed type or actual breed at the other end of the spectrum. The quality of the formulation is what you are purchasing – you pay for what you get.
If, however, you are looking for more particular attributes such as joint care, skin and coat condition, for example, then a specialised food supplement from a company like Lintbells is certainly worth considering if your requirements are not met by the dried food you have chosen.
Alison Logan, vet


  1. Hi

    We have 6 dogs - 5 samoyeds & 1 spitz. We feed Burns lamb & rice to 3, Burns High Oats to 1 and Arden Grange fish & potato to 2. While we think the food is fine on it's own, we make it a bit more interesting by adding either Butcher's tripe, boiled white fish, boiled chicken, tinned mackerel or tuna. Also boiled vegetables. Really it's just to make it a bit more interesting and add variety. But we've never had a dog that doesn't want to eat!

  2. Fiona (Nutritionist, Burns Pet Nutrition)3 February 2012 at 07:09

    In theory you shouldn't need to add anything to a complete food - complete means it has all the nutrients your dog should need. In fact adding the wrong type of supplements may actually do more harm than good (for example adding calcium to a complete puppy food can result in skeletal problems). However, there is usually nothing wrong with adding a few vegetables or occasional table scraps to a healthy dogs diet. For a dog with any health issues it is best to keep the diet as simple as possible.

    1. Christine Bailey3 February 2012 at 07:57

      I imagine most of the manufacturers would say that everything needed was in the feeds. Many people seem to add in some canned just to make the dry feed interesting. If you are a fan of natural feeding, there are some products out there that are closer to this than others; look at products like Ziwipeak or K9 Natural, or high meat, low carb dry completes like Orijen and Acana.

  3. I never understand why people feel the need to add any more ingredients to a 'complete' and balanced diet. If necessary, a little bit of warm water can be added to make the food more appealing but that is all.
    And the beauty about feeding a complete diet is that it that it is so convenient.

  4. I like to feed my dog natural food. I don't believe in feeding him added ingredients. Last night I gave him steak whilst I had a pot noodle!