Your dog will maintain normal growth when fed a commercial dog food or a combination of commercial dog food and meat or wholesome leftovers. However, if you read the pamphlets put out by the dog food companies, you will be told that there is nothing like prepared dog foods for your dog. There are some high-quality commercial dog foods, fortified to provide your dog with all the essential nutrients. Most of these dog foods are palatable and dogs like them. But the manufacturers, in recommending their products via large-scale advertising, overlook the basic principle of dog feeding; to wit, the dog is an individual and must be fed according to his needs.
Considerable research and manufacturing know-how have gone into the production of dry and canned dog foods. They are an economical and easy-to-use source of essential nutrients. When used as a part of the dog's ration, in combination with approved meats and leftovers, the prepared dog foods help to produce healthy dogs. You can approximate the natural diet of the dog by feeding him a ration composed of 25% meat and 75% dry meal or kibble biscuit with added fat.
There are any number of high-quality dry and canned dog foods on the market. (Some 3,000 manufacturers make one or more brands of dry and canned dog foods.) It must be remembered that dry dog foods deteriorate with storage, especially in their fat and vitamin content. Nutritional tests have shown that animals fed on old or stale dry foods have a tendency to develop rough coats, baldness and general unthriftiness. If you are feeding just one dog, don't overstock on dry dog food. Buy the smaller packages or boxes.
Prepared dog foods
There are three types of prepared dog foods sold today:
Canned dog foods are a mixture of meat or meat by-products (or both) and cereals (corn, oats, soybeans, wheat, barley, etc.), vitamins, minerals and fat. They are generally high in moisture, about 72% (moisture is in the meat products and is also added), and low in solids, about 28%. Canned dog foods are low in fat (but not as low as the fat content of dry foods). You can feed the food directly from the can, with added fat, or mix it with gravy and leftovers, preferably beef, cooked pork or lamb.
Dog biscuits are a mixture of unbleached wheat flour and other cereals, dehydrated meat by-products, vitamins, minerals, fats, and water or skim milk. Dog biscuits are baked. They are low in moisture (about 10%) and high in solids (90%). The fat content is low.
Biscuits are available in three sizes: whole biscuits, "bits," and "kibbles." Bits are biscuit meal baked in small cubes. Kibbles are broken biscuits available in assorted sizes. Bits and kibbles make a good ration when mixed with meat, gravy or leftovers. When fed as a basic ration, add fat. Whole biscuits can be fed as tidbits or snacks.
Dog meal is available in three forms: "old-fashioned meal," containing cereals and meat by-products (usually tankage or blood meal); homogenized meal, containing cereals, meat products, vitamins, minerals and fat (these are blended, cooked and dehydrated); and the newer meal-and-gravy foods which are homogenized meals with a dehydrated gravy added for palatability. All three forms are low in moisture, high in solids and low in fat. The vitamin content of the dog meals is subject to deterioration.
Meats, vegetables and wholesome leftovers
While your dog is basically a carnivorous animal, feeding him solely on meat is neither economical nor nutritionally sound. Meat is expensive today and a balanced diet consisting of meat alone is not feasible.
Then how do the wild dogs manage to get a balanced diet? Simply by eating various parts of their victims. When the wild coyote or wolf kills a rabbit or bird, he eats the muscle meat for proteins; the heart, lungs and other organs for vitamins; the contents of the stomach and intestines for carbohydrates (present as vegetable matter eaten by the bird or animal) and bones for minerals. Despite his selective eating, however, the wild dog is not as well fed as the domestic dog. The wild dog eats only when he is able to bring down game; his existence is one of either a feast or a famine.
Beef, lamb and pork livers, kidneys, hearts and muscle meat are all excellent sources of proteins and vitamins. The glandular organs of cattle, sheep and swine, such as brains, tripe, spleen, are also nutritious. Pork should be cooked because of the danger of trichinosis, an infestation of worms in the muscles and intestines. Fish and chicken are also good meats. Fish should be boned and cooked, especially trout and salmon. (For symptoms and treatment of salmon or fish poisoning, see Chapter 14, under flukes.)
Vegetables, especially the green and yellow varieties, may be fed for bulk and vitamin value. Vegetables are more easily digested by the dog when cooked. Avoid feeding cabbage, lima beans, peas or other legumes.
Stewed, dry or raw fruits (peaches, apples, pears, prunes or apricots) may be added to the ration or fed alone. Not all dogs will eat fruit. Citrus fruits are not necessary, and are rarely relished by the dog.
There's no doubt about eggs being a nutritious food for human beings. But they are not necessary in the dog's diet. In fact, eggs can be a source of digestive trouble. Dogs don't easily digest raw eggs, especially the egg whites. Raw egg white contains a substance that interferes with the work of trypsin, an enzyme present in the pancreas. Egg whites also contain a substance called avidin, which hinders biotin, a vitamin.
Raw or cooked eggs may cause flatulence in some dogs. Boxers, Boston Terriers and Bulldogs seem to have more flatulence than other breeds. The condition is aggravated by feeding eggs. As for eggs being "good for the dog's coat,"
1 here's no truth to this belief. Your best coat and hair conditioner is fat of animal origin.
The subject of feeding dogs bones is another argument-provoker. Some dog experts say bones have no nutritional value, others claim bones wear down a dog's teeth and may pierce his stomach and intestines. We say it all depends on what kind of bones you give your dog.
A dog needs a bone now and then simply for his well-being. Watch a dog gnaw on a big knucklebone; he's got an ecstatic look as he worries the bone, rolling it this way and that. It's a pacifier, a soothing source of pleasure and, incidentally, tasty marrow.
Admittedly, some bones may cause damage to the teeth, mouth, stomach or intestines. Steak, chop, fish and fowl bones have sharp ends, are splintery and can pierce the mucous membrane or viscera. Don't deny your dog a bone, but use common sense. Toss the steak, chop, fish and fowl bones into the garbage pail, and keep the shinbones or knucklebones for the dog. Take the bone away from him when he's got it gnawed down to the point where it may cause damage. Refrain from giving very young puppies or old dogs large bones, because of possible wear or breakage of their teeth.
Hardly anyone thinks of water as anything but a thirst-quencher. Actually, water has another use. It helps to transport the proteins and other nutrients throughout the dog's body. Also, the dog's body weight is made up of 70% water, and he must drink water every day to maintain this percentage.
Provide the dog with water every day and several times a day, if the weather is hot. Crockery-ware retains the coolness of the water much longer than metal or ceramic pans. Place the water pan where the dog can easily find it. If he lives outdoors, put his pan in a cool, shady place. It is advisable to withhold water for a short period after vigorously exercising the dog. Also, young puppies will often drink too much water. This can cause diarrhea or soft bowel movement.
It's important to set regular feeding hours and stay with them. As mentioned before, puppies under three months of age can be fed four or five times a day, with each feeding about four hours apart. You'll have to work this out according to your situation, but whatever system you set, avoid changing it.
Puppies three to six months old need three meals a day-morning, noon and evening. When the dog is six months old, you can eliminate the noon feeding. Once-a-day feeding is best for the dog over one year. You can, if you wish, take the amount that you would feed him once a day and divide it into two parts, feeding one in the morning and the other at night. Special feeding instructions for the overweight and aged dog will be found in Chapter 20.
The self or dry feeding system consists of keeping dry dog food in a pan where your dog can go to it when he's hungry. It is a system that works well for poultry and livestock. The chief advantage of the dry feeding is that you can fix a supply of food for the dog if you plan on being absent from home all day. If you are out for two or three of the pup's meals, he can get his own from the pan without having to eat sour or congealed meal that would result if you left a large portion of mixed meal. The dry system has some disadvantages, though. Young pups are apt to gorge themselves the first time and there is no way to include the proper amount of fat. Also, dry feeding increases his need for water, so you will have to allow for it.
Some "old wives' tales " about dog feeding
Dog care, like child care, has its "old wives' tales," especially when it comes to feeding dogs. But modern dog feeding is based on scientific experiments and not on superstitions or rumors. You, as an intelligent dog owner, will prefer the modern way.
Garlic and worms: Legend has it that garlic is a prevention and cure for worms. That's all this is—a legend, and a tall one at that. So far, there is no evidence that garlic has any vermicidal value. It might be objectionable to worms, but until there is more conclusive proof, you'll find the worm medicines effective in ridding your dog of worms.
Raw meat: Raw meat does not make a dog vicious. More dogs are made vicious by a poor environment than by feeding them raw meat. Your dog will enjoy an occasional chunk of raw meat. Don't feed him raw pork. Beef is good and it will not change his disposition when fed raw.
Milk and worms: Does milk cause worms in dogs? No, worms are not caused by milk or any other food. They are hatched from eggs. There is a remote possibility that worm eggs may accidentally get into milk or other food. If this should happen, the eggs could be transmitted to the dog. But, as we've just stated, the chance of this is very remote. The usual carriers of worms and worm eggs are insects, soil, offal and other unsanitary matter.
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Choosing the right kind of dog food you provide is probably the most critical decision you'll ever make for your dog- puppy or senior. Dog food nutrition without delay impacts every facet of your dog's life. Aspects such as how pups grow, their behavior practices, health, overall well-being and physical appearance are all tightly linked to the nutrition dog owners provide. Needless to say, this is an enormous responsibility.