Professional dietitians and veterinarians have long and successfully being resolving the problems of feeding of domestic animals. Special foods, which include vitamins and many other vital substances, have been designed to meet the demands of our four-footed friends. As for the general questions in this area, they have been proved and tested scientifically long ago. Nonetheless we still contrive to make mistakes in feeding adult dogs, let alone puppies.
1. OUR MISTAKES CONTRIBUTE TO THEIR ILL HEALTH
Most often the reason of our mistakes is the lack of knowledge about requirements for food and daily ration necessary for good development of the dog's organism, and also the lack of respect to the feeding regimen that results in overfeeding.
The main and the worst evil we do owing to our kindness is feeding the dog with the foodstuffs we regard tasty. We give him sugar and salt more than the animal needs, even salami and other smoked ones. Does the dog indeed need them?
If your idea is to destroy your puppy, be sure you are in the right track. Bones are especially harmful. Until his teeth are totally formed he shouldn't get any.
2. PHYSICAL EXERCISES AND DIET. FULL OR HUNGRY?
The major rule each owner should know is that daily portion is in direct relation with daily physical exercises.
At larger activity the daily portion should be bigger. At reduced activity (the dog rests or sleeps more and walks less) it should be a little smaller as to the usual daily portion.
The basic indicator of correct feeding is the normal fatness at well-developed musculature. If your pet is healthy and is not predisposed to gluttony (actually, this is a rare feature) he easy leaves the bowl when it is empty. If the dog goes on licking the bowl ("drives" it on the floor), even may bring it to you, this means he needs more food. You should always remember:
1. The adult dog should be fed twice a day: in the morning and in the evening.
2. Take the bowl away 10 to 15 minutes after the meal was served, regardless of whether it is empty or not.
3. Fresh drinking water at free choice, especially when you feed with dry foods.
3. SKINNY OR FAT?
If your dog loses flesh you must increase the overall food supply. But first, take the dog to the veterinarian.
At normal fatness the hipbones are pronounced by touch but not clearly perceptible. If not, the dog has overweight. Obesity causes heart activity troubles and lessens your pet's life. Remember that it is up to us to prolong or to cut their age.
Consult the cynologist and if your dog is healthy just walk with her a little more and give her more opportunity to live active life. After all, they do right: they use every chance to run and play thus taking care of their weight and training their body. What about us?
4. MINERALS AND MINERAL SUPPLEMENTS. WHAT ARE THEY FOR?
Minerals are vital both for puppies and adults.
Bone four, calcium, phytin, glycerophosphate, complex mineral supplements including all the necessary components play an important role in building the puppy's skeleton. You should always remember that each breed needs the specific amount of minerals. To find out the exact norm ask the Head of your section in the dog club.
Overdose of mineral supplements may cause fragility of bones and increase the risk of fractures. As for an adult organism it doesn't absorb the surplus mineral supplements.
5. UNCOOKED FOODSTUFFS. TO BOIL OR NOT TO BOIL?
The dog should get fresh meat, vegetables (the form of salad is better), oat flakes, sea and oceanic fish. River fish should better be boiled. You may soak (don't boil!) oat flakes before feeding or give dry.
If you worry your dog will catch some microorganisms, scald the meat before cutting into pieces or put in the boiling water for 2 - 3 minutes. Never give the whole lump. It is recommended to give meat with the evening meal.
It's great if the adult dog, till she is five years old, gets her daily bone (except for the sheep's), or a cartilage, or a rib. Too many bones may cause upset tummy. You should flatly exclude bird bones. Boiled bird flesh is good for those put on a diet.
Always add some vegetable oil in the salad or sour cream (avoid mayonnaise) to raise digestibility of active vitamins contained in greens. You may also make fruit salads, or add washed nettle and dandelion leaves (never pick them near the roads).
6. INTOLERANCE TO SOME FOODSTUFFS
There are a quite number of products that should never be given to a dog.
1. Any sweets: pastries, cakes, lump sugar and so on. All these cause excessive watering and suppuration of eyes and may also affect liver.
2. Much salt is poison for a dog (as well as for us). Therefore use salt as small as possible.
3. Some spices and flavorings put in a cookie may be the reason of loosing smell, especially in hunting and guard dogs.
4. Never give mutton and pork, since they unset stomach and are too heavy for a dog's liver. By the way, fresh pork may contain distemper virus (Pestis canum causes carnivore plaque).
5. Exclude uncooked legumes, cereals, except for oat flakes. One potato in one or two days - this all you can allow, especially since dogs like uncooked potatoes.
6. Another point at issue is milk. Dog's ability to assimilate lactose is very limited. Milk is a puppy's food until he is 4 months.
Only products made of sour milk, such as yoghurt, curds and cheese are appropriate for the dog's organism.
7. IS IT RIGHT TO GIVE TABLE SCRAPS?
This is a usual mistake. As soon as the puppy comes into your house, he should right away grab he will not get any table scraps and must eat the food put into his bowl. The beggar dog sits beside the table and looks at you so that the food sticks in the throat. And when the gusts come to the dinner she'll show herself in all her beauty looking for a week spot in one of your kindhearted friends who will certainly give something tasty, as he thinks...
Now it's up to you to decide whether to accustom the pup to beg or not. A correct and timely food is more important, isn't it?
8. HOW FREQUENT SHOULD THE DOG GET HER FOOD?
Puppies eat very often. Newborns, blind and helpless, ransack the mother's belly for the nipple with precious milk. Until two months they should be fed on 5 - 6 maintenance, from two to four - 4 x maintenance, from four to seven - should take food 3 or 4 times as day, as the juvenile dogs. Adult dogs should be fed twice a day - in the morning and in the evening, and once in the summertime. Old dogs should get food 2 or 3 times a day.
Sometimes the dog may refuse to eat for all day long. If you are sure your pet is healthy, don't worry. That means your dog arranged a fasting day. And she is right.
9. ABRUPT CHANGE IN A DIET
Think before changing the food - if your dog really needs this. If you are sure, you'd better consult your veterinarian. He can give an advice about the proper food and will help control the changing to be painless.
When you use dry foods you should carefully keep to the recommendations of the food producer to avoid upset in digestive system. Be especially careful in first 5 - 7 days. Never add some other goods to the complete food, since the latter contain everything necessary for the dog's organism. It is very important to avoid overfeeding, especially in the first days of applying new ration.
Always watch your dog has pure water at free choice.
The dog should always have enough to drink.
10. APPLYING OF SUPPLEMENTS WITHOUT PRESCRIPTION OF SPECIALIST
When you use commercially prepared foods you don't need any special mineral and vitamin supplements. They won't favor the dog's health. Moreover, overdose may cause severe consequences and the good intentions will turn into a tragedy. Please keep off the experiments on your own pet!
You can always ask a veterinarian or the head of your section in a club for an advice. Be careful to the norms and feeding regimen as well as to the mood of your friend. Don't be lazy to consult the specialist. Learn to feel your dog. In this case he will be healthy and happy.
Translated by Tatiana Karpova (Moscow)
(MSU, Biology faculture, Dep. zoology and ecology).