A few dog owners pay sufficient attention to the feeding of their dogs, believing that a dog can digest any kind of food, which is far from being the case.
The main object in feeding is to develop a dog from a puppy into a good specimen of his breed, well-grown and healthy. Subsequently, feeding aims at keeping the adult dog in good condition and fit for any work he may be called upon to perform.
Pet dogs suffer most from errors of diet and many get so fat that their lives are a misery to them. Many suffer from gastritis, constipation, asthma, piles, and skin diseases, which are either caused directly by or aggravated by bad feeding.
These dogs frequently become bad-tempered, and when they have an occasional seizure, due to sudden overloading of the stomach, they are often thought to be mad.
Biologically, dogs are grouped with the Carnivora, and the wild dog lives almost entirely on a meat diet. But the domesticated dog is omnivorous and lives and eats the same foods as a human. Their diet depends to a great extent on the environment.
For example, the wonderful dogs used by the Eskimos in the Arctic regions for transport, drawing heavy loads over long distances, subsist mainly on fish and the meat of game animals, because it is more available.
In warmer climates, dogs are frequently maintained on practically meatless diets.
Many dogs do not get meat because their owners think meat causes worms or makes dogs vicious. Again, some persons think that dogs cannot digest starchy foods. Both theories are false.
Dogs can subsist on either meat or cereals if properly prepared. Most people think that, from the standpoint of health, a mixed diet of meat, vegetables, and cereals is the best.
One Feed a Day
Whatever food is given, it is certain that a proper system of feeding should be carried out.
In most houses, dogs are fed several times a day with scraps. This is definitely wrong. Frequent feeding causes the food to be forced through the digestive tract at too rapid a rate to permit complete digestion.
From this cause alone, many dogs suffer from chronic indigestion. One large feed a day is much better than a number of small feedings frequently given.
The large feed is more economical, is more fully digested, and more in accordance with the habits of the dog in its wild state.
It is the habit of most dogs to lie down and rest or sleep following a large meal. Those dogs that are inclined to be noisy at night should receive their meal in the late afternoon.
On the other hand, watchdogs, which are expected to be alert at night, should be fed in the morning.
When dogs are confined in kennels such as packs of hounds used for hunting, it is found necessary to reduce digestive troubles to a minimum, to fast them one day a week.
This practice is recommended for all dogs, with the exception of dogs used for hard work like sheep and cattle dogs, etc.
Puppies should be fed at first three times a day, and, as they grow older, twice a day.
Meat Ideal Diet
Anatomically, the dog’s digestive system is well suited for the use of concentrated food.
He has a relatively large stomach and a short intestinal tract. Meat is the ideal concentrated food and can be recommended as the principal item of the dog’s diet with confidence.
The only point for consideration is the quantity of meat to be fed, and what class of meat.
All agree that beef is the best, and the most inexpensive cuts with selected portions of the viscera, such as the heart and liver, are most adapted for feeding dogs.
The liver and pork are undesirable for the regular feeding of dogs.
Pet dogs should receive very little meat while working dogs and bitches with pups should get ample allowance.
On the question of feeding meat raw or cooked there is a great diversity of opinion.
Raw Meat Best
The general opinion, however, is that raw meat is more suitable for dogs than cooked meat. In the case of racing dogs, there can be no doubt whatever as to the suitability of raw meat.
There can be no doubt also that the feeding of raw meat, in addition, to its stimulant action, has a good effect on both preventing and curing disease.
There are many cases on record where puppies especially have got into a very bad state from rickets and malnutrition when fed on a diet that contained no meat whatever, becoming so lame that they could hardly stand.
Put on a raw meat diet entirely, the effect was magical, and recovery was well advanced after a few days. In the many skin diseases of the dog, of a non-parasitic nature especially, the feeding of raw meat often has a wonderful effect.
Even in the parasitic skin diseases, there appears to be a definite advantage in the use of raw meat, but drug treatment of the skin is necessary in addition to destroy the parasite.
Raw meat is absolutely necessary for the prevention of osteoporosis or bone trouble.
The great advantage of feeding meat raw is that all the vitamins are retained, whereas cooking destroys them.
Knowledge of how to feed sporting dogs properly is of supreme importance.
Many sporting dogs suffer from bone disease and become useless, especially from affections of the feet. A proper system of feeding would prevent this to a great extent.
Provided the dog’s food contains the necessary mineral and vitamin content, it is not necessary for the dog to chew bones to develop the jaws and teeth.
Dog Bolts His Food
Probably every dog owner knows that dogs bolt their food with little or no chewing.
Many people take no end of trouble to cut up the dog’s food with the idea of preventing what they regard as a bad habit.
It may be a shock to some people to be told that the dog knows best what is good for him.
Experimental work in the U.S. has shown definitely that food swallowed in lumps is much more fully digested by dogs.
Starchy foods like potatoes are notoriously difficult for a dog to digest when fed in lumps.
When fed in a mashed form they pass through as a starch product.
Although great stress has rightly been laid on the necessity of including raw meat in the diet, it must not be understood that an entire meat diet is advocated.
In certain conditions of disease an entire meat diet is advocated, but for perfectly healthy dogs this is not necessary.
Bitches with puppies, working dogs, and dogs putting on too much fat require a large proportion of their diet to be of meat.
On the other hand, dogs in poor flesh should receive such food as oatmeal, rice (the most easily digested of all foods) and wholemeal bread, etc.