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  • Writer's pictureAislinn Evans-Wilday

Going Tribal: Why I Feed My Dogs Tribal.

Updated: Jun 3

Choosing the right food for your dog can be something of a minefield. In between the jargon on the packaging and the extreme price ranges, it can be hard to know what's best for your dog. I'm lucky enough to have covered nutrition whilst I was at university so I know what I'm looking at and what I'm looking for, but for the average dog owner, choosing food can be incredibly challenging.

an overflowing bowl of dog food

It's been five years since I spent an entire day researching foods and choosing which brand to switch my boys onto but fortunately for me and you, I wrote a blog post on the topic way back then. If you're interested, the original post is still up over on my personal blog site here, but for continuity's sake, I have edited that post and reformed it for you here.

So like I said, five years ago I spent an entire day researching dog food. I knew I wanted to change the boys' food, but didn't know what to go for. Up until that point, cost had been the second biggest factor in my decision making right after palatability because back then, Barney was an exceptionally fussy eater.

How fussy? Well, he wouldn't eat biscuits that were too hard so he had Bakers Meaty Meals for his breakfast (the "small dog" version, he wouldn't eat the larger ones). To keep costs down I would soak him a portion of cheap Wagg biscuits every morning ready for his tea that night. Then I would mix the softened biscuits with a sachet of Pedigree or Winalot wet food to make it more palatable and even then he wouldn't eat an entire portion, or at least not in one go. He preferred to graze throughout the day (not ideal in a 2-dog household) and all the while Archie would merrily munch his way through a bowl of absolutely anything. Trying to get Barney to eat like a "normal" dog had been a 6 year long challenge.

Faced with clients in similar position I have definitely been a hypocrite and told them not to pander to their dogs quirks but this has always been when the dog in question had a few pounds to spare. Barney did not. As an entire male up until the age of four, he had a very fast metabolism and wasn't food motivated (although he was extremely treat motivated in training and on walks). With all the exercise he was getting from his regular daily walks and agility training on top, he was constantly underweight so leaving him to be fussy really wasn't an option.

a puppy sniffing a pile of dog biscuits

When I was finally able to increase my dog food budget, I began looking around for something that would hopefully tick all my boxes. I was looking for:

  • Soft kibble

  • Delicious

  • Joint support

I knew I wanted a senior food, because at the time Archie was nine years old (he's now 14 and more spritely than ever) and with Barney doing a lot of agility back then, he could also benefit from additional joint support. From my uni days, I knew that joints are supported by Glucosamine and Chondroitin in the diet so based my search on foods with the highest levels of these ingredients. I used the Pets Corner website because it is very user friendly and you can easily compare the composition of each food. I filtered by ‘dry food’ and ‘senior’ and had 15 options to choose from. If you run that same search now you'll only get 11 results but I wasn’t kidding when I said I spent a whole day on this.

It quickly became apparent that the levels of Glucosamine and Chondroitin sulphate were either around 740mg/kg and 520mg/kg respectively for some foods or much higher for others, around 1700 mg/kg and 1200mg/kg respectively. I ruled out the foods with lower levels and ended up with a short list of: Canagan, Symply, Piccolo and Tribal. At this stage I factored in cost. Now, as I said at the start of this post, this was five years ago and the prices of all these foods has increased significantly since then but the comparison it still a valid point.

Back then the post per kilo of these foods was:

Wagg: 70p/kg kilo

Canagan: £5.49/kg

Symply: £4.67/kg

Piccolo: £8.66

Tribal: £5.49

Five years on (2024) and those prices are now:

Wagg: £1.04/kg

Canagan: £6.83/kg

Symply: £5.75/kg

Piccolo: £11.66/kg

Tribal: £6.91/kg

Price per kilo wasn’t the only factor to consider here. I also wanted to know how long a bag would last us and so what size portions would I be feeding? When choosing food for your dog price per portion is more useful to your budget than price per kilo. It's all very well and good if one food is half the price of another, but that's a moot point if the cheaper food requires you to feed portions that are twice as big as the more expensive option.

a smiling man entering a pet shop carrying a dog

This is where Tribal started to take the lead. Because it is a cold-pressed food, it’s more nutritionally dense, meaning you can feed less of it. For a while between Wagg and Tribal I started feeding the boys Fish4Dogs. Archie had 100g a day and Barney had 120g. On Tribal, Archie started at just 70g a day (now he's older and exercising less he's down to 60g a day) and Barney has 100g.

Compared to the others, Tribal has the highest levels of Glucosamine (2000mg/kg) and Chondroitin sulphate (1250mg/kg), but I was concerned that the biscuits would be too big for Barney. It seems that plenty of brands make senior food and food for small dogs, but only Piccolo combine the two. The next step on my mission was to go into PetsCorner in person and feel the biscuits through the bags. If you're reading this and thinking "That's great, but I don't have a PetsCorner locally" then fear not. I actually did this so you can take me at my word.

I felt the Canagan and Symply first and from what I could gather through the packaging, they would be too big and too hard for Barney to manage. I knew Piccolo would be fine as it’s designed for small breeds but I was pleasantly surprised by the Tribal. Although the biscuits are large, I was able to snap them in half through the packaging. This is again, due to them being cold-pressed - it makes them softer than your usual kibble.

I decided to risk it for a biscuit (sorry, I couldn’t resist) and bought a 12kg bag for £65.99. Not too much of a risk because Tribal offer a no questions asked, money back guarantee if you’re not happy with it. However, as it turns out, I was (and still am) extremely happy with it. Today a 12kg bag sets me back £82.99 but the boys love it so much and I'm so pleased with their condition at 11 and 14 years old that I don't mind the price increase. Much.

a bowl of dog treats

Firstly, Barney and Archie were extremely interested in the bag when I brought it home - always a good sign. Secondly, it smells great. Dog food doesn’t typically smell very appealing, but this stuff smells really meaty. And despite the size of the pellet-like kibble, it’s soft enough that even Barney can munch his way through a bowl full in one go – something he has never done. The day after his first portion he actually woke me up by barking so that he could have his breakfast which is unheard of for him.

And so concludes my tale of how I researched and ultimately choose my dogs food. At 160g a day between Barney and Archie, a 12kg bag lasts us 75 days which works out at £1.11 a day. As I said, we switched five years ago now and I am so happy with the results that I won't be changing their food again. Barney now eats his food all in one go and at 11 and 14 years old, both boys are incredibly fit and healthy. If you want to try Tribal for yourself you can find it here.

Forever paws,

Aislinn 🐾

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