Monday, May 29, 2006

What to feed the Dog

For thousands of years dogs survived as human companions with only left over food. Till a few decades back dogs were eating only table scraps. With the explosion in the growth of pet food industry, today pet dog owners face a puzzling array of colorful bags of dry premium foods, convenient semi-moist packets, and gourmet diets for puppies, adult dogs, hunting dogs, show dogs, lactating dogs, old dogs, skinny dogs and fat dogs. Compounding the confusion is the barrage of advertising touting the benefits of this or that food: It’s all natural, it’s real meat, it’s non-allergenic, it’s high protein, it’s low protein, it’s low-fat, it doesn’t have by-products, your dog will love it . . . Add to these claims the crying of the nay-sayers: It’s cooked, it contains chemicals, it causes allergies, they use meat wastes and animals not fit for human consumption, soybeans cause bloat . . . and it’s not a wonder that when two pet owners meet they invariably discuss what they feed their dogs.
Like all living creatures, dogs need a combination of fats, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water in a balanced diet that provides sufficient calories to meet their daily needs for growth, activity, and repair.
As people have become more conscious of the amount of meat in their own diets, they have also begun to wonder about meat in the dog’s dinner. Some folks have switched from beef and are looking for a dog food with little or no beef, so companies have responded with chicken, lamb, turkey, or venison-based foods. Some owners want a vegetarian diet for their dogs, and companies provide such a diet. The fat and proteins in the dry dog foods mostly come from by-products of poultry and meat. By-products fall into several categories: parts of the animal that people prefer not to eat, such as intestines, feathers, feet, beaks, lungs; tongue, or tail meat.
The average house pet will do well on any of several dry dog foods or home made food, depending on his level of activity, his metabolism, and his individual body chemistry. If jasper is doing well on the food you are feeding and it falls within your budget and is easily obtainable, don’t switch. If Jasper has skin problems that cannot be traced to an obvious cause such as fleas, consider a switch of food
Feeding the family pet, like feeding the family, involves psychological as well as practical decisions. Somehow, the choice of food gets wrapped up in how much dog owners care about their pets. Commercial companies bombard owners with advertising in every media. The over-riding message is that if pet owners don’t choose this or that brand, they don’t care about their dog’s health and well-being. Companies have made it look like home made food for dogs has become out of date and pet unfriendly.
If a dog has a healthy skin and coat, is energetic, and gets good marks from the veterinarian on the annual checkup, pet owners can continue to feed the same diet no matter which they have chosen. If the dog is having problems, they can find out if the food might be a contributing factor and take steps to fix things by adding a supplement, switching to another food, or asking the vet to run some diagnostic tests.

What I feed my dog:

My dog Scooby is a medium sized Himalayan terrier with a long coat. After experimenting with dry dog foods of several companies and also feeding it with complete home made food, I find not much of a nutritional difference between the two. Home made food has not made Scooby’ lazy or his coat dull. Nor the company’s dry food made it hyper active and the coat shiny. Dry food has a tremendous convenience, when you don’t have anyone at home to prepare the food exclusively for the dog. But mind you, dry food of some companies is prohibitively expensive, especially if you have a large breed dog. The only caution to home made food users is to not limit the food to leftovers alone. This will cause nutritional deficiencies.
Home made food: Allocate an old pressure cooker in good condition exclusively for preparing dog food . Keep stock of broken rice( cheaper than rice but same nutritional value ). Shop on Sunday for a week’s supply of boneless meat / chicken / beef. Wash well and pressure cook it for 10 minutes ( two whistles of the cooker ). After it cools, divide the same equally in seven plastic boxes and store in the freezer compartment. Thirty minutes before the dinner time for the dog, cook the broken rice in the cooker. Transfer the steaming rice to a bowl and mix it with the meat. The heat of the rice will defrost the meat. After it cools, add a tea spoon of sun flower cooking oil, a cup of milk / butter milk and feed. For a medium sized dog, 150 gms of meat and 100 – 150 gms of rice a day will do.
If you want your dog to be vegetarian, then the left-over vegetables of the day can be added to the rice and cooked.
10- 20 ml of Ostocalcium mixed with Vimral can be given twice a week. Pregnant and lactating bitches need more food enriched with Calcium and Vitamins. So accordingly the quantity and quality needs to be increased.

What I feed Now: To avoid wasting the leftover rice of the previous night, I add whatever rice is left to the boneless chicken ( cooked and frozen) and depending on the quantity of rice I reduce or increase the dry food. A glass of Butter milk is added.
Scooby is hale and hearty and jumping with joy for the last 3 years.


Krishna Koneru said...

Your post is a relief to me struggling to find alternative to the expensive Pedigree food we currently use to feed our Rotwheeler (sorry if misspelt it--I am illiterate in 'petology'). Another issue with our Rotwheeler is its obsession with gnawing/chewing up everything it finds--our house is laden with dog-eaten furniture, chewed-up cables, remotes,... inspite of calcium-mixing its food. Of late, it started becoming violent incurring wrath of our neighbours too. Am I missing anything. Is there any remedy for this syndrome? You can save us a fortune!

Ramana said...

You should not be worried much with your Rottweiler gnawing at the furniture. Dogs need to regularly gnaw their teeth against something and if you do not provide them with the means, they will choose alternatives like furnitures and remotes. Giving calcium enriched food is not the answer. Provide it with edible bones ( not animal bones but bone shaped hard edible material available in pet shops)periodically. To begin with once every 2 days and after a week depending on its urge to gnaw, once or twice a week. Since the dog is > 1 year choose the big sized bones.

However, what you must be highly concerned with is its agressiveness. An aggressive dog is dangerous to children and to the household, visitors and neighbours. Rottweilers by nature are aggressive and very powerful in physique. They need to be obedience trained from puppy hood using positive reinforcement method. Do not delay in getting the dog trained in basic obedience. Commando kennels in deveramjyal area, Medchal Road gives obedience training to dogs. They also have boarding facility for dogs. A 4 -week residential training would rid your dog of the aggression and solve most of the problems. You can refer my name to Philps Butt or to the older Butt of Commando Kennels. Insist before you leave the dog for training with them that they should spend a couple of days ( 2 hours every day )at your home explaining to the entire house hold the commands and how to execute them. This is the standard practice for handing over the dog post training.

The quicker you act the better for your family and for the dog.

Mohan Eddy said...

Rottweiler's are known to be very very aggressive dogs. Knowing you Krishna, I would never have guessed that you will choose one as your pet.
I would think a Labrador is a better bet or should I say a better pet!

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Megha said...

We've just added a St bernard puppy to our family and are still in the process of structuring her meals (she now ears 5 times a day). Your post was super helpful and well detailed.