DIET AND FEEDING
When choosing the best food and diet for your dog, remember what suits someone elses' dog may not necessarily suit yours, and your lifestyle. If you cannot decide which is best for you, talk to the breeder of your dog, if possible. You should keep your puppy/dog on whichever food it has been fed on when you first bring it home, and any changes must be made gradually, preferably over a two week period, otherwise you run the risk of causing a stomach upset.
When feeding a commercially bought diet, be sure to read the ingredients........the most expensive is not always the best. Organic foods usually use human grade protein sources, with less fillers and colourings, thereby reducing the risk of an allergy, if your dog is prone to them. Any breed of dogs can suffer an allergy to beef, chicken, grains etc, if you suspect your dog has an allergy - he/she may lick or scratch their feet and or have sickness/diahroah, speak to your vet who may recommend some allergy medication, along with a plain elimination diet, slowly introducing new foods to see which trigger any undesirable effects.
Raw feeding can be an emotive subject, and if you go down this route you must ensure you are giving your dog all the nutritents and vitamins he needs, a bowl of raw meat is not sufficient for your dogs needs. Fresh raw meat is an excellent source of protein, 'but', Salmonella can be a problem, especially with raw chicken and any other poultry and all raw meat carries E.coli. It isnt just your dog that is at risk when handling raw meat, you and your family are too, when handling the meat you run the risk of cross contamination on other surfaces in your kitchen. While many people swear by raw feeding and their dogs do well on it, others do not.
Little things can make a big difference to your dogs health, like how often you feed and when. Some dogs do well on one meal a dog fed at night/morning, others can suffer with stomach acid and have their portion split into two meals. Ensure your dog does not have any strenuous exercise two hours before or after a meal to avoid the risk of bloat. (There have been no known reported cases of a UK Collie suffering from bloat, but any dog is at risk if it is exercised on a full stomach).
Commercially bought food - Complete kibble / wet food with biscuit / home cooked diet
The main ingredient in your dogs food should be meat. Beware of foods that include too many 'by products' ie: skin, feathers, feet etc, basically anything not fit for human consumption. Some kibble manufacturers use the word 'meal' as opposed to meat, this purely means that it is the meat after the excess water has been removed.
The main benefit of a commerically bought kibble diet is that the manufacturers have done the research and all the hard work, making it very convenient for those of us that lead a busy lifestyle to feed our dog. It is easy to store, and often a lot cheaper than wet/canned food. However, kibble contains preservatives that wet canned food doesnt and most kibble is lower in protein than wet food, although you can find some high protein kibble diets, but these generally cost more.
Some of the cheaper kibble also contains lots of colourings and fillers, and while some dogs do well on these diets, they generally produce more waste as they do not absorb as much of the food as they do with a better quality diet containing more of the ingredients that a dogs need.
When feeding a commercially bought diet they often give you feeding guidelines, generally a dog weighing 50 pounds/20kgs needs around 1400 calories per day, but dogs are no different to us, in that there are many factors that should be taken into consideration ie: age, activity level, metabolism, if spayed/neutered and the quality of the food.
Some people prefer to buy fresh meat and vegetables and cook their own dogs food, the same rules apply as when feeding raw, and you must ensure the diet is nutrtionally balanced and the main ingredient should be meat.
You may find some of the information available on the Dog Food Analysis site of help when looking at different dog foods.
Interesting fact - Dogs have about 1,700 taste buds, we have about 9000 !
FEEDING RAW AND NATURAL FOODS by Fern Sargeant (Coarhabeg Collies) -
My decision to feed raw and natural food to my dogs has been slow in materialising and was hampered by my initial lack of experience and what was available. Today we have much more choice and what I feed is easily obtainable and I believe strongly that it is the right thing for my dogs.
I bought my first collie, a Border collie, back in the 60’s, having had very little previous experience with dogs. I was not given a diet sheet from the breeder so I mainly relied on advice from friends on what to raise him and feed him on as he matured. As a result his main diet became tinned meat and dog biscuits with odd treats for the rest of his life, his life span being approximately 12 ½ years.
After a pause I bought my first Rough Collie and though she was never shown, bred a litter from her, kept two bitch puppies and was persuaded to show them. I had just stumbled across a supplier of raw and I have to say, very smelly tripe and thought I would give it a go, adding it to the tinned meat. The dogs went mad over it and working on the principle ‘that a little of what you fancy does you good’, it became a permanent part of their diet and still is. These days though, the tripe is well washed to do away with the smell.
In those days I had ponies and at feeding time I began to gather a circle of expectant dogs which had developed a taste for accidentally dropped bits of raw carrot. I later found that some of them had a taste for raw apples as well. This got me thinking. Dogs evolved in the wild, eating only what they could catch or find and obviously they must have remained physically fit to do this and to reproduce their young.
So I started to investigate sources of natural dog food which could be obtained from abattoirs. To begin with I found cooked beef in joints which needed cutting up and which I fed with minced tripe and biscuits for a long time, having eased off the tinned meat. However with a change of abattoirs I moved on to raw beef and then with an increased number of dogs, eventually changed to raw beef chunks which didn’t need cutting up, adding minced tripe, raw chicken wings and mixer biscuits.
I later on added poultry breast chunks to the menu for some of the dogs as these chunks have no fat on them, which is useful for those whose weight needs watching. I weigh every meal to ensure they get the amount they need, however, there is an old saying in the horse world – ‘the eye of the master feedeth the horse’ and I think it applies to dogs as well.
Nowadays I use beef mince because it takes less time to prepare. With regard to the bones in chicken wings, I was assured on good authority that it is the cooked boned which are dangerous to dogs. The bones, if raw are safe and the dogs consider them a special treat – you only have to listen to them crunching them up with great glee. The added bonus is that they are very good for helping to keep their teeth clean.
Each bowl gets a few squirts of Omega Oil as a general conditioner and I add a glucosamine tablet as they get older from about 5 years old onwards to maintain supple joints.
I also add a teaspoon of a calming mixture of herbs that I make up myself, that can be bought at any
reputable herbal shop, if I become aware that a dog is anxious or stressed for some reason. The
mixture consists of equal quantities of Camomile, Lemon Balm, Vervain, Lime Flowers, Skullcap and
ROUGH GUIDE TO QUANTITY
Tablespoon of Minced Tripe Table spoon of Minced Tripe
Tablespoon of Minced Beef 1 ½ tablespoons of minced beef
1 small chicken wing or ½ large wing 1 or part of a larger chicken wing
Total Weight = 12 oz. Total Weight = 16 oz.
Add cupful of Mixer Biscuits Add cupful of Mixer Biscuits
If adding poultry breast chunks, reduce the amount of tripe and beef accordingly. More recently,
when I have had any spare, I have mixed in a spoonful of lightly cooked root vegetables, chopped up
and found they liked them.
As an afterthought, one of the best ways I know of restoring the appetite of a dog which has been
sick or off colour is with wild rabbit, which has a better flavour for dogs because of the natural food
they live on, fed cooked or raw. I keep one in the freezer just in case.
I recently worked out the average life span of our dogs and found it to be around 13 ½ years, the
oldest reaching 15 ½ and I am convinced that the diet they are on has to have contributed to their
general good condition and bouncy state of health.