At least 30 per cent of my clients who have behavioural problems with their dogs find that a change of food alters the unwanted behaviour. If your dog has been fed incorrectly and you wish to switch to a dry food remember that dogs are influenced by smell, not taste. So, instead of simply offering the dry food, mix powdered liver treats or a meat extract gravy in it for a few days until the dog accepts the change.
I recommend a dog is fed on meal from one of the leading dog food manufacturers who,s name you know certainly not tinned meat, which has a high percentage of water, or specially cooked chicken, vegetables or anything else. A good dog meal will provide all the proteins and vitamins a dog needs.
A plentiful supply of water should always be available and remember that, although the recommended portion of food may look small, it can swell up to three or four times in the dog,s stomach.
So first let us look at the quantity to feed.
All pet food manufacturers are required to print feeding quantities and contents on the label. Regulations suggest that the amount to feed in cups or weight for a given weight of dog are put on every bag. Unfortunately these feeding directions can be very misleading and should only be used as a guideline.
Dogs generally eat enough food to meet their energy needs. If the food is high in nutrients, providing a large number of kilocalories per cup, the dog needs to eat less of the food to meet its energy requirement.
The main problem is that most dogs feeding directions are based on an average size dog or puppy. The formula used to calculate the energy requirement of this theoretical dog depend on the number of kilocalories of metabolised energy per kilogram of body weight with allowances for growth.
Since these are average figures, and since no two dogs are the same, these feeding directions can be misleading for many dogs are unlikely to fit the average.
Another unfortunate fact is that some marketing departments use feeding directions as a sales tool stating that less food is required because of the alleged high quality of the product.
Determine the correct amount for your dog by starting with the recommended level on the bag. Increase or decrease the amount by the way the dog should look. As an example if you have a 20lb dog, eating one-and-a-half cups per day of a food and he starts gaining weight, decrease to one cup or, if the dog begins to lose weight increase the daily intake to two cups. Remember to split the amount up into two or three portions depending on how often a day the dog is fed.
All puppies and young dogs up to the age of 12 months should be feed three meals a day. Adult dogs feed regular food not sport from 12 months to eight years should be fed two meals a day.
When the dog gets older, after around eight years, it should be fed three meals a day. The food should be gradually changed to a Senior Food.
Care should be taken not to over feed any dog, either puppies, adults or older dogs. Overweight animals almost always have more health problems than those at their proper weight. If you do not know what your dog’s ideal weight should be, ask your vet.
Now to the problem of quality.
Dog foods vary in quality. So does the quality and competence of some of the companies that make the food.
Please do not listen to people who are trainers or own kennels that import food and give you a story that the food is made for them etc. This is nonesense they simply ask for their own label. Only use a name that you see in your vets surgery.
Ultimately, the quality of a dog food is best measured by your dog. How it performs, how it looks, feels and acts are the best measures of the quality of any food. No matter what a food company claims unless your dog has bright eyes, silky hair and supple skin and is not overweight, then the food is not right for it.
Not all dogs do well on a particular brand of food, some dogs simply do better than others. Most foods are classified as Economy, Regular, Premium, Super Premium and Performance with different formulas.
Don,t go the cheapest they can well lack all the necessary ingredients for a balanced diet. I know of one Labrador whose owners bought a cheap meal and the dog,s coat became dull. As soon as they switched to a better, well-known manufacturer, the dog,s coat became shiny again.
Dogs have simple stomachs and short digestive tracts for digesting meat. They also lack the saliva enzyme amylase, which is necessary for pre-digesting starch. Pet dogs have adapted to foods with high vegetable protein levels, however they perform better when fed foods high in meat protein and animal fats.
Checking the label of a Super Premium or Performance food, an animal protein will be listed as the first or second major ingredient. These should include either chicken, or turkey meat, or poultry by-products, pork or other animal by-products. Fat or oil should be included for adequate energy and essential fatty acids.
Fat in food is the dog’s source of energy. Animal fat contains essential and non-essential fatty acids as well as providing a highly digestible and easily metabolised energy source. Generally, poultry, turkey or chicken fat are higher in quality because they have more unsaturated fatty acids and are more digestible than animal tallow.
Vegetable oils, such as soybean oil, lecithin corn oil, wheat germ oil, sesame seed oil or linseed oil all contain high levels of linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid for dogs. These should be combined with animal fats for the best long-term results by producing a glossy hair coat and soft pliable skin.
Carbohydrates are the third most important nutrient and ingredient class in modern Super Premium and Performance foods. Simple carbohydrates in dog food come from quality cereal sources like rice, oatmeal, corn or wheat. These are easily digested when properly cooked.
Fibre, a complex carbohydrate is essential for proper digestion and stool formation. Sources of fibre include rice, soy hulls, oat hulls, wheat bran and peanut hulls. All these come from the external portion of the seed coat. These sources except peanut hulls have microscopic sharp edges, which can cause small cuts in the intestine. This reduces the intestine’s effectiveness in nutrient digestion.
Peanut hulls on the other hand, have the potential of being contaminated with aflatoxins and should never be used in a quality dog or cat food.
Vitamin and mineral fortification is an absolute necessity in nutritionally balancing any food for dogs. While the vitamins and minerals generally, make up less than 2% of the total food by weight, they provide some of the most crucial nutrients. Often the list of these micro nutrients is much longer than the list of major ingredients. Expect this list on the label of all dog foods. Super Premium usually feature more than one source for each vitamin and mineral. Don’t add anything by way of food supplement, or vitamin, to Super Premium Foods.
Some meal is made to look more attractive to humans by including red, yellow and green dyes. The implication is the colours represent meat, cereal and vegetables The result may look attractive to a human (not to a dog who will only see the coliurs as faint pastel shades) but there is evidence which shows that these dyes can produce hyperactivity and cause destructive behaviour. Too much salt and sugar can also be detrimental.
Never give your dog any snacks and certainly no sugar, sweets or chocolates. Neither should they have raw fruit or vegetables, raw cereals, nuts (not processed or roasted), avocado, olive, carrot, apple etc., or milk.
After eating wipe under the chin where the dog cannot lick the area.. If the chin retains food insects or mosquitoes can be attracted including the so-called sandfly which can carry the incurable lieshmaniasis in hot climates