Feeding Your Dog
By Charles Hopkins
Published 10/23/2007 | Pets and Animals
Your dog needs a balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates and fats to
maintain good general health, a healthy skin and coat, and plenty of
energy. Broad guidelines are: 20-25% protein, 20-35% fat and 40-60%
carbohydrate. Like humans, they need vitamins and minerals, though
unlike us their need for vitamin C is satisfied by their ability to
synthesize it for themselves. Essential vitamin B1, however, is not
stored by dogs, and can be lost in food processing. It may need to be
supplied as a supplement.
Just feeding your dog lean meat does not satisfy these guidelines.
In nature, dogs will eat all of their prey, including fat and the
contents of the gut, which as a whole provides close to this ideal
balanced diet. In fact, dogs in the wild have been observed to prefer
to eat the gut of their prey first. Studies have confirmed this
preference in domestic dogs, by showing they generally prefer their
food cooked, warm, wet and ground up rather than in raw meaty chunks.
Dogs are not delicate eaters, however. As natural scavengers, they will
eat almost anything when they are hungry, and will naturally gulp down
large meals quickly when food is available. Their ancestors never knew
when next they might get an opportunity to eat.
Commercially processed and balanced dog food is commonly fed to
dogs to help meet their ideal requirements, incorporating the necessary
vitamin and mineral supplements. Often these foods come in dry form for
ease of storage, or in cans or sausages, and offer a simple and
convenient solution that is popular with a high proportion of dog
owners. The commercial pet food business is today a huge industry.
Store bought commercial dog foods are not always cheap, however.
An alternative for dog owners is to mix their own balanced dog food
diet. It's tricky to get the right combination of the right foods.
Human diet guidelines are not necessarily appropriate. You will have to
read up on the subject to know what you are doing. To give one example
of the unique dietary issues to consider, including too much dried skim
milk powder could cause scouring because of its high lactose content
that dogs find difficult to digest. Recipes that offer guidance are
readily available should you choose to take this approach.
Dogs like to chew on large bones, but small bones and cooked bones
that may splinter should be avoided. They are a common cause of death
for dogs when ingested. Cooked chicken, lamb chop and fish bones are
especially dangerous. Scraps from the table are always popular with
dogs, and feeding your dog after you have eaten is one of the
strategies you should adopt to assert your "alpha" position in the
"pack". But do watch out not just for small bones, but also for other
dangers food scraps may contain, like toothpicks.
An aspect of dog behavior is that they will learn to associate a
particular food with a bad experience, such as a digestive upset, and,
as a natural survival instinct, may never eat it again. This may
explain the frustrating and mysterious aversions to some foods that dog
owners occasionally observe.
Feeding your seemingly ravenous dog is a little more complicated
than it appears to be at first glance, but rarely presents any
difficulty once you are aware of the unique food requirements of dogs.