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I was tapping away on the old keyboard the other day with Lulu, our upwardly mobile working dog, lying across my feet to attract attention to herself, and I thought of the million and a half words or so I have banged out on food for humans, and the measly amount I have devoted to food for said humans' closest animal friends.
Feeding of dogs is often haphazard and dangerous for the dog over the long term, because it is easy to forget that dogs are dogs, and not some exotic breed of human being, little furry philosophers with nasty habits. So, in family situations, the dog tends to eat scraps of what the family is eating at mealtimes, and then gets a feed of its own as well.
Ten years ago, our old family dog used to relish a cup of tea, Indian, not Chinese, every morning, and porridge in the winter. He also had a passion for black puddings, and every market day we’d buy him a black pudding for his delectation.
Funnily enough, at that time, we didn't try the black puddings ourselves. But, since then, I have become a bit of a connoisseur, as I am sure I shall relate at a future date, given half a chance.
But back to the point. Random scrap feeding on top of the dog's proper feed can wreak havoc on a dog's digestion, because however cute a dog may be, it is still a predatory creature of the wild with a predator’s digestion. Give or take, a dog's stomach takes 16 to 18 hours to empty after feeding. Human stomachs empty much more quickly.
Therefore, dogs don’t need to be fed more than once every 24 hours. And the dog should be fed at the same time each day for the best results. This doesn’t mean that treats are out. But, if your dog is both eating with you, so to speak, and on its own, its digestion will soon be shot to pieces.
All things being equal, a dog in the wild eats a roughly balanced diet. It will get, not only raw meat, but the skin, fur, bones, blood and the vegetation-stuffed intestines of the prey. This means that, with the extra green stuff it also selects to eat on the side, its diet is varied and healthy.
Dogs in a domestic situation tend to be given a monotonous diet of cooked and processed rather than fresh, raw food, without the roughage and the green stuff, except when they eat grass as a form of self-medication. Bones are essential for them, for chewing and cracking. But, in the domestic situation, they are often fed too many bones and end up with constipation.
It's a matter of developing your dog's palate, and dogs are most willing to have their tastes expanded in scope. Some people have accustomed their dogs to a vegetarian diet exclusively. But we believe that fresh meat of one sort or another at least three times a week is vital.
Other authorities suggest a diet of 70 percent fresh, raw meat. For the rest, vegetables, wholemeal bread and biscuits suffice, with a cup of what's on the stove to pep it up, gravy, soup, stew.
Lulu loves the lentil soups we have twice a week, and enjoys beans and chickpeas. Cheese is her abiding passion, and she will go to any lengths to get a bite of cheese. So a little cheese in her meals is, for her, the spice of life, and she scoffs the lot, whatever it is.
It is quite easy to accustom a dog at an early age to eating vegetables with its meat. We grated carrots on Lulu's food when she was young to start her off. Dogs love sweetish crunchy things like peas in the pod, home sprouted seeds and Chinese cabbage, once they get used to them.
We add rice water to Lulu's meat, veg and biscuits from our cooked brown rice. She appreciates drained water from the bean sprouter as well, and water the vegetables have been cooked in. But I like to use this for bread making.
Although her meals are separate from ours, and at the same time each day. Lulu has a snack of the wholemeal bread we eat every morning to stop her thinking about breakfast in the middle of her digestive cycle. Sometimes she has a raw egg, or some vegetable oil with the bread to keep her coat glossy.
Most dogs have a keen interest in what might be thought of as unusual food for them. Our old family dog used to walk up and down the pea vines in the garden and sort of shred the fresh peas in her mouth so that he could get the delicious juice.
Other dogs we know love picking blackberries or raspberries delicately from canes. Lulu has developed a keen interest in dried figs, fresh apple, dates and nuts. But lollies are out. And I heard in passing the other day that a whole bar or chocolate can actually kill a dog that eats it, but have had no chance yet to verify this.
One dog we had couldn't get over the little round droppings the chooks left behind.To her they were an exotic form of marshmallow or jelly bean. When she thought we weren't looking, she would creep down to the chook runs and sort rapidly through the litter picking up the droppings in her teeth with the delicacy of a watchmaker sorting out the cog wheels in an antique timepiece. Then, in a flash, the treat would be gone, and so would she.
You could chat on for hours about a dog's diet. But I will leave you with one astounding fact. Diet can be used to control fleas.
Depending on the size of the dog, one to three cloves of garlic a day, chopped or mashed into your dog's food, together with between a teaspoon and a tablespoon of brewer's yeast and 10 to 20mg chelated zinc, will, when metabolized by the creature, develop an odour and flavour on the dog's skin that fleas find most unattractive. Better than run-of-the-mill pesticides.
It will take up to a month to build up to flea-fighting levels in a pet skin, and the dog's breath will smell a bit of garlic as a result. But we eat about six cloves of garlic a day ourselves, as any of our friends will tell you, so, who's complaining?
How much should I feed my dog? http://dog.stayhealthyblog.com/diet/right-way-to-feed-your-dogs/