It is generally agreed raw meat is the ideal food for dogs of all types. Raw meat does not make a dog savage, nor does it give him distemper, worms, or dozens of other ailments that badly informed people claim.
The meat should be cut into fairly small chunks and may be supplemented with proprietary biscuits and foods, table scraps (excluding white bread, potatoes, and sweets), milk, spinach, and any other wholesome dog food.
Guidelines to feed your dog:
- One meal a day for an adult dog is adequate, though it may be preferred to give two, a light morning meal and a more substantial evening meal which will encourage him to settle down for the night. Small breeds of dogs are certainly better fed twice a day.
- A dog’s meals must be given at regular times so that a firm pattern is established right from the start.
- It is better not to feed your dog at the same time as the family: if he starts to associate human mealtimes with food for himself he will only be a nuisance. Never encourage him to beg at the table. Apart from getting in the way, he will only be fed all the wrong things.
- The important rules in dog feeding are cleanliness and regularity. It is bad to feed an animal after strenuous exercise when he is overheated and tired. Allow a half-hour rest so that he will be in a condition to digest his food properly.
- It is wise to let one person only be responsible for a dog, and this is the person who should give him all his meals.
Basic dog foods
Variety is important because that way you are more likely to ensure adequate supplies of vitamins and minerals.
It is even possible to provide an adequate diet with no meat at all: for example, today we can buy complete feeds based on vegetable protein, which look like a biscuit meal but need only water in addition. However, these are not recommended as a staple diet.
Fresh meat is better given raw. Besides, provide some sort of roughage, wholemeal rusks, biscuits, dog meal. Fiber is necessary to help the passage of waste products through the intestine.
Fish, milk, eggs, and vegetables are other useful basic dog foods, but remember that any new food should be introduced gradually. A meal should be of roughly equal parts of meat and of vegetables and cereals for an adult dog.
How much food your dog needs
The ideal amount of food is just enough to keep a dog in hard muscular condition. You should be able to feel his ribs beneath a thin layer of fat just under the skin.
Weigh your dog once a month after giving him roughly the same amount of food every day. If he starts gaining weight, although already fully grown, he is being fed too much. If he loses weight, despite good health, he is underfed. It is better to underfeed slightly than to give your pet too much.
A dog’s appetite should be kept keen. If a healthy and well-fed dog will not eat what you know is a good, palatable and varied diet, then do not tempt him with special titbits, let him go without until his next meal is due. He will eat when he is hungry and a healthy dog will not be hurt by going short now and then.
A dog will usually eat all the food he needs in 10 minutes (and often in two). If he is given too much it may remain uneaten after this period. It is always best to remove it and offer no more till the next meal is due when fresh food should be given.
Manufacturers of canned dog foods provide helpful tables of the amounts required by various breeds of dog. The general rule for calculating how much food your dog needs is to allow 15g of food per day for every 450g he weighs, with perhaps less for an older dog.
Most dogs are basically greedy and will overeat if given the chance. Pampered house pets often get too many little feeds between meals: filling them up with cakes and doggie chocolates only shortens their lives and causes them to suffer increasing discomfort.
The overweight dog
An overweight dog often means an incorrectly fed dog. Incorrect feeding can mean expensive feeding.
To show people just how expensively they may be feeding their pets, the veterinary surgeon has formulated a feeding plan by which a miniature dachshund, smaller cocker spaniel, or a fox terrier can be nutritiously fed for $0.5 a day.
For $0.75 a day a kelpie, bigger beagle, smaller boxer or smaller samoyed can be nutritiously fed, and for $1 a day a dog the size of a labrador or German shepherd.
If a dog is overweight it is almost certainly because he is being given too much carbohydrate or fat, for which a dog does not have an enormous requirement. If such foods are reduced, or even practically eliminated from the diet, then the body will convert stored fat into energy and so lose weight.
Exercise accelerates the process of breaking down fat reserves, providing the nice healthy appetite worked up is not satisfied by a further gluttonous intake of stodgy food.
In some cases, obesity in dogs is not the result of any great abuse of food but simply a matter of heredity or even illness.
When embarking on the thankless task of slimming your fat dog, first make sure that the source of the problem is not ill-health. Then gradually increase the protein content of the diet and start to supply energy giving foods only sparingly.
It is wrong suddenly to enforce a crash diet; reduction must be gradual and accompanied by an improvement in quality. It is important to ensure that the animal is otherwise in good health before you start depriving him of food. Over a period of several weeks, a change should be noticeable.
If the revised diet is maintained, this change ought to be permanent. Because the dog’s digestive system is different from ours, working more slowly he does not need as many meals as we do.
With scraps, there is no planned diet and you don’t know what nutritional value you are feeding your dog.
Scraps in many cases are made up mostly of cooked bone and dogs do not digest cooked bones well. This is not widely known. Besides the obvious fault of feeding chop or steak bones, they can do damage to the esophagus (throat) or gastrointestinal tract.
It is common to get dogs, particularly older dogs, with severe constipation brought on by cooked bone not properly digested. This is expensive to relieve. Ordinary laxatives are completely ineffectual and the bony mass has to be broken down bit by bit inside the rectum. There can also be damage to the lower bowel caused by chips of bone.
It is critical of scrap feeding to large and quick-growing dogs. When young, German shepherd types, labrador types, and crossbreeds of this type have high calcium requirements. Scraps do not provide this.
Canned dog food
The problem with canned foods is the expensive packaging and the fact that you’re buying a certain amount of water in the cans. There’s a lot of water, in fact. One reliable reference gives canned foods as 28 percent dry matter, as against dry foods (the kibble type of biscuits) at 91 percent dry matter.
Some dog foods have a higher level of water than others. Still, you must understand that you are buying a fair degree of water which means that you are not getting the best value for money, especially if you have a big dog. A dog that has smaller food requirements doesn’t build-up to the higher intake and the expense.
We’ve also noticed that low incomes don’t necessarily mean little dogs. It quite often happens the other way around and feeding a big dog on canned food at $1.5 for a 15oz can or $2 for a 24oz one can become a problem. The two advantages of canned food are that it’s palatable and it’s easy.
To maintain a large dog satisfactorily on canned food and enable it to grow satisfactorily in its growth period would be quite expensive.
Canned foods are high in protein, but this in fact can tend to be wasteful. Dogs only require a certain amount of protein and convert the rest to carbohydrate which can be fed to them in the cheaper form at any rate. So with canned foods, you’re paying for a higher level of protein that may not be necessary.
A meat-only diet
Meat has a high level of fat and dogs can handle this quite well – if you have a deep freeze which you are prepared to devote almost entirely to your dog.
For the growing larger breed of dog, meat has a bad imbalance or bad deficiency of calcium in relation to phosphorus.
It is necessary for the growing dog (being fed a 50 percent or all meat diet) to have a diet supplemented with calcium carbonate or gluconate.
These are calcium supplements, and carbonate is the cheaper of the two.
Additionally, in the growing dog, dicalcium phosphate or alternatively sterilized bone meal is needed to provide a sufficient total of calcium and phosphorus to calcify their fast-growing bones properly.
A lot of people incorrectly feed their dogs a straight meat diet. Dogs fed on such a diet without calcium supplements will have more brittle bones than dogs fed with a properly balanced diet. They will be more obviously susceptible to bone changes and to fractures.
Dry dog food
Dry dog food is the most nutritionally correct and economical form of feeding. It must be regarded as the best form of feeding for both owner and dog. Its one drawback is palatability or lack of it. Some dog owners say their dogs will not eat it. But if you become hungry enough, even you will eat it.
So persevere! You can overcome the palatability problem by adding a small quantity of canned food, beef or chicken cube, or anything else that may help to give flavor.
The storage of the dry food (meaning any of the kibble-type biscuit foods) is easy. It can be bought in 10-pound bags and easily kept in clean firmly lidded plastic garbage bins. It takes up no refrigerator space and it does not smell. There are no cans to be rid of or to open.
At $1 a day, the cost of feeding the dog for a week works out at $7. There is still nothing wrong with throwing in the baked dinner leftovers (veggies, gravy, meat scraps, or the tail of a lamb chop) to add to the diet.
In growing dogs, food requirements are higher per pound of bodyweight because food must be provided for growth and maintenance. (By maintenance we mean exercise and warmth). So that 1600 calories, $1 worth of dry food, will also be needed to feed a growing dog weighing 25 pounds.
A dog that is spending a lot of time running around with kids, would have a higher food requirement than a dog that simply lies around the backyard. You would have to increase the total dietary intake by 25 percent.
Owners should keep tabs on the growing dog’s weight.
They should see that the dog grows nicely and is not overfat, remembering that once a dog is fully grown its calorie requirements per pound of bodyweight drop, as they are not needing food for growth but only for maintenance, and in certain cases for exercise.
Once a dog is fully grown and has achieved a nice shape (meaning that it still has a waist) you should weigh that dog.
This is best achieved by first weighing yourself and then scooping up the dog and weighing the pair of you. The difference is the weight of the dog. Repeat this as a weekly exercise, and if the weight goes up it means you are feeding the dog too much.
This simple exercise saves money and alleviates a weight problem that so many people wrongly attribute to dogs being desexed.
The Best Food to Feed Your Dog
Here are the 12 best dog foods you can add to your dog’s diet:
1. Cereal Foods
A basic feed for an adult dog should consist of approximately equal quantities of meat and one of any of the whole grain cereal foods listed. If cooked meat is used, which does not provide much of a chew, it is advisable to use a crunchy cereal food with it, such as the first three on this list.
Dog pellets, dog biscuits, wholemeal rusks; stale wholemeal bread, dog meal, cooked brown rice, flaked maize, barley kernels, cooked oatmeal porridge (good and warming in winter) or any other cooked whole-grain cereal food.
Wholemeal flour is used in some of the recipes below (when the cooking time is short it should be previously baked).
A tablespoon of one or more of the following may be added to a meal two or three times a week: green outer leaves from cabbage, spinach or boiled leeks, carrots, parsley, runner beans, celery, lettuce. Avoid potatoes and turnips. If used raw, vegetables should be very finely chopped or liquidized.
Stocks may be used on their own, they are useful for a dog recovering from an illness, and they are also suitable for moistening dog meal and other dry cereals. Salt and other spices and flavorings should not be used.
4. Basic meat stock
Any unwanted raw or cooked bones are suitable for this, as well as cooked or raw skin, gristle, and trimmings of meat, offal, or poultry. Never feed small or brittle bones to your dog, as they are liable to lodge in his throat.
It does not matter if the meat is fatty as excess fat may be skimmed off afterward. Simmer in unsalted water, just over 1-liter water to 450g bones for as long as possible on low heat with the lid on.
Most of the flavor will be extracted from the meat in the first two to three hours of simmering, though more gelatin and calcium will be drawn out of the bones and meat if they are boiled longer.
After cooking, carefully remove all bones and bone chips, best done by straining.
5. Fish Stock
Any discarded fish bones, heads, and skins may be used for this: your fishmongers may be only too happy to get rid of them. Proceed as for the meat stock.
6. Beef and Egg
Any oddments of raw or cooked beef are suitable. Simmer in 1.5cm of stock or broth for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and stir in an egg (which need not be beaten first). Mix well and return to the heat for 3 minutes.
Take about 450g of scrag end of lamb and a calf’s foot, both cut in pieces. Place in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover, bring to the boil and simmer for two hours. When almost cool, carefully remove all bones.
8. Liver and Egg
Cut 115g of liver into strips and dip in beaten egg. At the bottom of a greased oven-proof dish, place a slice of stale wholemeal bread. On this lay the strips of the liver and a sliced hard-boiled egg.
Cover with a second slice of bread. Pour over a cup and a half of water or stock mixed with a dessertspoonful of wholemeal flour. Cover and bake in a moderate oven for an hour. This may be served as it is or with just a small amount of extra cereal food.
Chop the brains up fairly small and mix with a beaten raw egg and enough wholemeal flour to cause them to adhere together. Mix well.
10. Fish Heads
Boil the fish heads in enough water to cover them until the liquor forms a jelly when cooled. Allow to cool to blood heat and remove all bones.
11. Cottage Cheese and Meat
Cottage cheese, which is low in fat, is a good protein food. If your dog likes it. Try mixing 1 or 2 tablespoons with his meat ration, especially if it is a meat or canned food he is not particularly fond of, the cheese may add some interest for him.
12. Canned Dog Foods
Mix a can of dog food (one with a high meat content) with an equal quantity of dog meal. Suitable leftovers may be added, and (especially for young dogs or small breeds) the meal may be moistened with stock or broth.