The basic principle to be understood in order to feed the dog is that, with only minor variations, they have the same nutritive requirements as man. A dog apparently has less need for starches, and its digestive juices do not handle fatty foods well. Thus, the dog's meat should always be quite lean, otherwise it will commonly cause a stomach upset with symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea.
The best dog feeding products are milk, meat, and vegetables. Most dogs will enjoy milk and digest it readily. Some breeds, however, such as the Boston Terrier, often do not seem to be able to handle milk and will vomit it. Where this occurs, milk should naturally be avoided. But with most breeds this difficulty will not be encountered. With a little experience the individual dog owner can determine what the situation is with his particular animal.
In regard to meat best dog feeding supplies are: beef, lamb, or horsemeat are generally considered best, while pork is usually not recommended. Lamb or horsemeat are best served cooked, while beef may be fed either cooked or raw. Whether meat is fed cooked or raw depends both on convenience to the owner and on the preference of the animal. It will make no difference, however, to the health of the dog which way the food is fed.
As far as vegetables are concerned, most dogs generally handle them quite well. However, as with milk, the owner will have to determine on the basis of actual experience which vegetables the animal prefers or which it can properly digest.
In most cases, diced lettuce and tomatoes will be found to be the most readily accepted.
Dog owners often raise the question of the egg requirements for their dogs, mentioning that they have heard somewhere that eggs as products to feed the dog, will serve as a glossy coat. This belief is incorrect. Vigorous dogs that are properly cleaned and groomed will have glossy coats whether or not they have ever been fed eggs. Unhealthy dogs, or those that are improperly cleaned or groomed, will not have a good, shiny coat no matter how often eggs are fed. Eggs, however, are a perfectly wholesome food for dogs and are an excellent source of protein. But, since meat and milk are equally rich in this nutrient and are generally cheaper, eggs are usually considered to be a good, though uneconomical, supplementary food for dogs.
As for the tremendous variety of dry or canned commercial dog feeding supplies, most animals will get along perfectly well on them, though it is often suggested by the most competent authorities that the best results will be obtained if dog foods are fed only in combination with fresh foods. Great strides have been made in the improvement of commercial dog feeding products in recent years. Their formulae are specially prepared by trained scientists to meet all of the dog's needs, and all nationally known brands are guaranteed by the federal government, on the basis of careful experiment, to furnish normal maintenance diets. This means that the dog can live its entire life without eating anything but dog food. For those owners within the low income brackets, or those with the very large breeds, the feeding of dog food exclusively would certainly be the most economical method and, as far as the dog is concerned, such a diet is quite adequate.
Something should also be said of the great variety of commercial dog biscuits. While some companies will claim that their biscuits are a complete food, and are often justified in their claim, most experts agree that the large majority of the biscuits that are manufactured serve best only as a supplementary food. They may be fed dry, but usually are preferred by dogs when mixed with meat and broth. If biscuits are fed, then using of vegetables as dog feeding supplies is usually unnecessary, because the essential elements contained in vegetables are present in most biscuits.
Bones are not essential to the health of the dog. The food elements contained in bones are already present in other foods that are routinely fed. True, the dog loves bones. He particularly enjoys the bone marrow and relishes it with the same enthusiasm that a child does candy. However, bone chips may lodge in the throat, scratch the delicate membranes that line the digestive system, or otherwise be the source of considerable annoyance. So to maintain the health of the pet it is best to deprive it of this pleasure. If the owner feels badly about depriving the dog of a bone, then the least harm can be done by letting the animal play with a small section of one of the large leg bones of an ox. Usually these bones are so thick that the ordinary dog can only toy with them and not chew them to bits. But the teeth and jaws of many dogs are so strong that they can mutilate almost any bone. In such cases, the bones in dog feeding can do nothing but harm.
The trait of burying bones is an instinct acquired in ancient times when a dog was compelled to do so to make sure of a future meal. It is not true, as has sometimes been suggested, that the dog did this because he preferred his meat "ripe." The fact is that the dog prefers his food fresh and will resort to stale food only when fresh food is not available. The dog of long ago buried food simply as a security measure so that he could have something to come back to when fresh food was lacking. The modern dog still buries bones, but he does so by force of ancestral habit. He will dig them up only when insufficient fresh food is forthcoming. If he is well fed he will ignore his buried treasure.
Most people have peculiar ideas about the feeding of candy or any other form of sweets. It is a common belief that sweets will cause worms in dogs. This is not true. (Something more will be said about this in the section where worms are discussed. ) It is another common notion that sweets, in any form or quantity, are bad for dogs. The fact is that when sweets are fed in moderate quantity they will do no more harm to the dog than they will to the human. The question logically follows: how much is a moderate quantity? The best answer is simply that the dog should be permitted to have an occasional nibble of candy, let us say, as a reward for especially good behavior. If the dog is restricted to this occasional nibble, no harm can result. Of course, if the dog never has candy, it never will be missed. However, sweets comprise one of the good things of life. To have a wee bit once in a while is a simple and modest pleasure. There is no point in depriving the animal of it.
In addition to the regular food, dogs, during the first year of life, should be fed some vitamin supplement to assist in the proper development of the bones and the eyes. This can be done by giving about half a teaspoon of cod-liver oil a day to animals weighing less than twenty pounds, and a full teaspoon to animals over twenty pounds. The very large breeds may be fed as much as two teaspoons a day. If tablets are preferred, the ordinary "one-a-day" vitamin preparations that can be bought at any pharmacy will usually serve admirably when given to the dog weighing twenty pounds or more in the same dosage as is given to man. Smaller dogs are given proportionately smaller doses.
Before making an explicit statement of the practical feeding routine, it would be well to mention a few words about the eating of grass. The ancestral dog probably ate grass when he was nauseous, toxic, constipated, or otherwise indisposed. The grass would exercise a beneficial laxative effect, causing the animal to vomit and to move its bowels, accompanied by relief of the indispositions. This seems to have been a wholly instinctive activity; the modern dog has retained this instinct. It still eats grass and apparently does so for the same reason as the ancestral dog. However, while the eating of grass does actually have salutary effects on many vigorous modern dogs, it also often produces harmful effects on a goodly percentage of animals maintained as household pets. It commonly causes an inflammation of the lining membranes of the stomach and intestine, with resulting vomiting and diarrhea that persist until the grass eating is stopped. Apparently many generations of domestication have wrought a change in the modern dog, at least to the extent that its body often can no longer withstand the violent cathartic action of grass. The dog owner can determine on the basis of experience just what the effect of grass on his particular animal happens to be. If he finds that grass does no harm, or is even helpful to his animal, he can allow this activity. If he determines that grass is harmful to his animal, he should naturally make a special effort to curtail the ancestral habit.
Finally, a popular prejudice may be debunked. It is a common belief among dog owners that liquor will stunt the growth of a dog. The truth is that liquor will not affect the growth of a dog any more than it will influence that of a human being. Dogs may be taught to drink intoxicating beverages, and if they take them in small or moderate quantities no harm will usually result. But it is also a fact that most dogs seem to have a violent revulsion to liquor, and to train an animal to drink it would be a rather difficult task. In any case, the feeding of liquor to the normal dog serves no useful purpose. Sometimes, when the animal is quite sick, liquor may be useful for medical purposes because of its qualities as a stimulant. Its medicinal use, however, should always be left to the discretion of the veterinarian.
The quantity of food to be given should not cause undue concern. Some dogs, like some people, are bigger eaters than others. The least amount of food that will maintain the animal in vigorous condition is the most desirable. If the animal appears too fat, cut down somewhat on the food. If the animal appears too thin, then feed the dog larger quantities of food. If you are in doubt, ask your veterinarian.
The Practical Dog Feeding Routine
The practical dog feeding routine varies with the age of the animal. The following general statement of diet may serve as a guide.
DIET FROM SIX WEEKS TO THREE MONTHS OF AGE MORNING: Milk; ora mixture of milk and pablum; orcanned or dry dog feeding supplies.
Noon: Raw or cooked lean chopped beef; orcooked lamb; or horsemeat; orcanned or dry dog food.
EVENING: Raw or cooked lean chopped beef; or cooked lamb; or horsemeat. With kibbled biscuits or diced lettuce and tomato. Season with salt. Or canned or dry dog feeding products.
10 P.M.: Milk; or a mixture of milk and pablum; or canned or dry dog food.
DIET FROM THREE TO SEVEN MONTHS AGE MORNING: Milk; or
a mixture of milk and pablum; or
canned or dry dog feeding
Noon: Raw or cooked lean chopped beef; or cooked lamb; or horsemeat; or canned or dry dog food.
EVENING: Raw or cooked lean chopped beef; or cooked lamb; or horsemeat. With kibbled biscuits or diced lettuce and and tomato. Season with salt. Or canned or dry dog feeding products.
DIET FROM SEVEN MONTHS OF AND OLDER MORNING: Milk; or a mixture of milk and pablum; or canned or dry dog food.
EVENING: Raw or cooked lean chopped beef; or cooked lamb; or horsemeat. With kibbled biscuits or diced lettuce and tomato. Season with salt. Or canned or dry dog feeding supplies are the best choices to feeed the dog.
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