September 21, 2017

Pet Food Pledge outlines ‘Dog Food Nasties’ Watch-List

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Today sees the launch of the world’s first Pet Food Pledge and a national awareness campaign urging pet owners to critically assess what’s in their dog’s diet. Just as parents carefully avoid ‘nasties’ in their children’s food, dog owners are being encouraged to do the same for their beloved four-legged friends.

The campaign is backed by research highlighting that 85% of UK dog owners are unsure of the ingredients in today’s dog food, with less than a fifth surveyed (19%), actually stopping to read the ingredients in their pet’s food*.

Forthglade, a Devon-based natural dog food company established in 1971, is behind the ‘Dump the Junk’ initiative, along with support from famous farmer, and renowned dog owner, Adam Henson.

Dump the Junk aims to educate dog owners about the nasties that can be a hidden part of pet’s diets and the potential effects these can have on pet health and behaviour. The campaign will see pet owners pledge to improve their own dog’s nutrition and help spread the word across the UK to ‘dump the junk’. By arming dog owners with the knowledge, they’ll be able to spot a nutritionally balanced dog food from a poor quality counterpart.

Adam Henson explains: “We all want what’s best for our dogs, but we lead such busy lives, we often don’t have the time to stop and decipher confusing dog food labels. We put too much trust in what we see on packs and tins; clever packaging and vague phrasing make it all too easy to assume you’re getting something you’re not.

“Dump the Junk is an important campaign set to lift the lid on the real contents of poor quality dog food and help pet owners make informed decisions about what they feed their canine companions. Good nutrition is at the heart of what makes a happy, healthy dog, which is why I am asking UK pet owners to make their pledge today for the benefit of dogs nationwide.”

The campaign has published a Dog Food Nasties Watch-List*, which identifies exactly what pet owners should be watching out for and why – as well as advice on what consumers should look out for when searching for a nourishing dog food. Potential health horrors include vague non-specific protein sources listed as ‘meat’, ‘meat by-products’, or ‘meat and animal derivatives’. ‘Corn or Wheat gluten’ are also listed as ingredients to avoid.

Pet foods containing artificial flavourings or sugars are also being named and shamed, as these can lead to problems ranging from a lack-lustre coat, bad breath and upset tummies through to hyperactivity or even lethargy.

Gerard Lovell, Joint Managing Director of Forthglade explains more: “In the 46 years that Forthglade has been creating natural dog food, the serious negative impacts of low quality and unsuitable food ingredients come up time and time again; common issues include digestive problems, hyperactivity and other behavioural issues.

“There are some great natural dog foods out there but sadly there are also many meals on offer that are best avoided.  Unfortunately, the law only requires pet food manufacturers to list contents by category, which is why you often see the words ‘meat’ or ‘animal’, but no indication of species. This allows a manufacturer to alter the recipe between batches depending on what meat is cheap at the time.”

Lovell continues: “There are also a host of ingredients to watch out for. ‘Corn and Wheat gluten’ are cheap waste products from the human food industry commonly added to pet food to make the protein content higher, but are actually an inferior source to animal protein and difficult for the dog to digest – not to mention common causes of allergies.”

Pet owners are encouraged to take the #DumpTheJunk Pet Food Pledge at for a chance to win 6 months’ worth of Forthglade natural pet food plus a 2-night stay at the luxury Deer Park Country House Hotel in Devon (prize worth over £1,200, T&Cs apply).

I pledge to support the Dump the Junk campaign, to feed my dog the healthy and natural food they deserve, and help to spread the word about the dangers of nasties in dog food. By signing my name, I am supporting the campaign and helping to ensure that our canine friends eat well, for their health and happiness.

*The Dog Food Nasties Watch-List:

Non-specific protein source

If the product states a non-specific protein source such as ‘meat’, ‘meat by-products’, ‘meat and animal derivatives’, don’t buy it.

Pet food labels can state that a meal contains ‘meat’ or ‘animal’, but if the label doesn’t specify the species of animal, be cautious, as it could contain any type of meat and parts of an animal that have very poor nutritional value –  even parts such as feathers?!

This allows manufacturers to alter the recipe between batches depending on what meat is cheap at the time.

‘Corn gluten or Wheat gluten’

These are examples of cheap waste products from the human food industry that add to the protein content of the product but provides an inferior source to animal protein. This allows manufacturers to make the protein content seem higher and is often used in poor quality foods.

‘Flour’, ‘Grits’, ‘Germ’, ‘Bran’, ‘Middlings’ or ‘Hulls’

These ingredients may sound healthy but they contain grain fragments or poor quality flours and although they may have the same calories as their whole grain counterpart they provide far less nutritional value. A proportion of grain within a dog’s diet provides a good source of fibre and vitamins. Our advice would always be to look for ‘wholegrain’ products, such as brown rice or chickpea flour.


If the type of cereal isn’t specified it is impossible to know what grain source is used. This is particularly important if your dog is prone to dietary intolerance. Identifying and eliminating problem ingredients is impossible unless you know exactly what you are feeding your dog.

‘Animal Fat’ or ‘Rendered Fat’

If the origin of the contributing animal is not known this may impact quality or contamination.  Many toxins are stored in animal fat so this type of non-specified fat could be laden with potentially harmful toxins.

‘Animal digest’

This is cooked-down broth made from unspecified parts of unspecified animals which is often sprayed on low quality foods to provide a ‘meat flavour’ and encourage the dog to eat it.  ‘Animal digest’ is best avoided.

‘Sugar’, ‘Caramel’, ‘Syrup’, ‘Sucrose’ etc

Sugar carries no nutritional value to a dog’s diet. Continuous intake can promote obesity, nervousness, hyperactivity, cataracts, tooth decay, hypoglycemia, arthritis and allergies. Your dog can also become addicted to foods that contains sugars in much the same way humans do, which can make it very challenging to switch food.

Colouring – ‘Sunset yellow, E110’, ‘ Tartrazine, E102’, ‘ Patent Blue, E131’

Dog’s don’t care what their food looks like, only what it tastes like. Colourings have no nutritional value and are often derived from petroleum products.  Food dyes have been banned in human foods because of links to behavioural issues including attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity in children as well as other health problems. These effects are unlikely to differ for our dogs. The UK Food Standards Agency recommends UK manufacturers of human foods remove these additives from foods. If human food does contain any, the label must carry a warning.

‘EC additives’, ‘Preservatives’, BHA(E320)’ and ‘BHT (E321)’

These artificial preservatives and antioxidants are used to preserve fats in pet foods. In humans, debate already surrounds the link between these ingredients and an increased risk of cancer, asthma, and behavioural issues in children. Because of the uncertainty over their side effects, these ingredients are best avoided.

‘Table Salt’ or ‘Sodium Chloride’

Although salt is a necessary mineral it is generally found in sufficient quantities in dog food without adding it directly. Since dogs, like humans, enjoy the taste of salt, extra is often added to dog food as a flavour enhancer. High levels of table salt can have the same health implications for dogs as it does for us including high blood pressure, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.

Lovell concludes, “This campaign isn’t about scaring anyone. While we are talking about the large number of bad pet food options out there, equally there are also great food choices available to owners. We simply want to do all we can to ensure owners have all the information they need to make the very best dietary decisions for their beloved dog. So not to just be the bearer of ‘bad news’ we have also created a handy Dog Food Goodies List.”

The Dog Food Goodies List


Quality protein is the most important part of your dog’s diet. Proteins are made up of amino acids, which are used for energy, the production of enzymes, hormones and antibodies and building muscle and other structural tissue. Eggs, fish and specified meat sources are considered the best foods for providing nutritionally rich and high quality protein.


Your dog can convert protein and fat into energy and therefore does not have a specific requirement for carbohydrates. However, carbohydrates spare valuable proteins from being used for energy, so it can be used for tissue repair and growth. As a result, your dog’s body functions much better with some carbohydrates in its diet. Carbohydrates also provide dietary fibre, which promotes gastrointestinal health and helps your dog feel full.

The healthiest sources are unprocessed or minimally processed, such as brown rice, sweet potatoes and butternut squash.

Vitamins and minerals

Dogs need vitamins and minerals to grow, develop, and stay healthy, but balance is key. Key ones include: Glucosamine & Chondroitin helps to prevent the breakdown of joint cartilage, Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant, Zinc is an essential mineral used by all the body’s cells, and Taurine can regulate the heartbeat.


For thousands of years humans have added botanicals and herbs to their foods for both flavour and to treat ailments. Many of them have similar benefits for our furry friends. Linseed Oil is beneficial to a pet’s skin, coat and aids bone development; Prebiotics encourage the growth of ‘friendly bacteria’; Parsley helps prevent bad breath; and Nettle is known to help allergies and skin irritations.

Forthglade was one the UK pioneers of natural wet dog food and recently launched its first ever natural dry dog food. The new Cold Pressed recipes are 100% natural and contain high quality nutritionally balanced ingredients, gently pressed for just a few seconds at very low temperatures – preserving the natural goodness.

Unlike many dry foods on the market, Cold Pressed is easy for dogs to digest as it gently breaks down in a dog’s stomach without absorbing water – making it the most natural way to feed a dog a complete dry meal.

For more information on how you can Dump The Junk and sign the pledge, please visit:

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