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Feeding Your Dog

Norwich Dog Training School – Feeding Your Dog

So much has been written about how dogs should be fed, and we would strongly recommend that anyone interested in researching this further should look up the B.A.R.F diet.

Just think about this for a moment – for many thousands of years Canis Familiaris (the dog family) lived outside, not in warm cosy, centrally heated homes. They roughed it outside; hunted and scavenged for food and unlike commercially available  ‘dog food’ available today – would not have been processed or had countless additives to improve the colour, smell or to give it a longer shelf life- and perhaps not surprising it would not have been wrapped in artificial packaging.

So if you accept this, then in the wild there is no such thing as puppy food; junior food; adult food; senior food; food for delicate tums; working dog food; gundog food; show dog food and so on. Dogs in ‘the Real World’ would eat whatever they could catch or find. So, by its very nature, dogs eating to survive will experience a certain amount of variety and no doubt some of the food stuffs would be bordering on putrid at times which is by no means a bad thing, as it helps to keep the animals gut alive in much in the same way as humans eat live yoghurt, Yakult, Actimel and so on….. So it could be argued, that we should ideally learn a little from mother nature as to the way we feed ‘Canis Familiaris’.

In nature, the difference between a young dog, adult dog, old dog etc isn’t what they eat – it’s simply the quantity. A young or more active dog will have a bigger appetite than an older and more sedate animal. Just in the same way as humans who are manual workers or keen sports players have bigger appetites than say a 95-year-old retired, pensioner. The more humans understand about diet and the science behind it, then we can only but hope the benefits will be passed on to our animals and will help contribute towards longer and healthier lives. However, the caveat here is that picture is far more complex than just food – it is profoundly affected by (1) The quality of the food ingested (2) Our dogs need to live a healthy life style, they evolved to be active and agile hunters – not couch potatoes (3) Healthy dogs are not obese (4) They should be carefully and selectively bred to reduced genetic disorders to mimic  the natural world order of ‘survival of the fittest’. Since in the wild, unhealthy animals rarely reproduce. What is concerning here, is that so many of the dogs bred fail on all 4 counts – and this is where it all goes so horribly wrong.

I have personally seen a wolf in a reserve in the USA that was living a happy life at well over 24 years of age, and recently in Portugal, a pure bred ‘Rafeiro do Alentejo’ (not a small dog) was recorded to being well over 31 years of age. So from this we should be able to draw the conclusion, that dogs can, and should live for far longer than most dogs do in the UK. A good friend of mine had a GSD that lived to 18 years of age and her daughter lived to 17 which is proof enough for me, that longevity and health are partially related to genetics. All of the Giant Schnauzers that I’ve owned over 27 years with the exception of my first one (which was poisoned), died between 10 ½ and 12 ½ years of age with cancer. So it slowly becoming increasing clear, and accepted by serious Schnauzer fanciers – that cancer is serious genetic concern in many Giant Schnauzer lines.

Of special note, so it is worth mentioning again, that for dogs in the wild, the nature versus nurture debate rules supreme. Only the fittest and healthiest animals survive to reproduction age, whereas in our domestic environment, the opposite appears to rule. Very young animals are bred from by people whose sole intent is to make as much money from them as possible, while the animal can physically produces pups – in essence ‘dog farming’. The breeding of young dogs, before any real health issues come to the surface (most develop in later life) can only but cause significant damage to a ‘breed’ as they pass on their poor health genes to future generations in ‘a race to the bottom…’

The early pioneers of many of today’s top working breeds, tried to follow the lead presented by mother nature in that if the animals were not healthy; had poor temperaments or didn’t carry the right genes for the particular job they were selectively bred for – then the harsh reality of life back then was that the animal would be put to sleep or passed to a pet home – not to be bred from. What commonly happens in the UK today is the total opposite – the vast number of dogs that are bred from are of a ‘poor pet quality’, often having little true relationship to the ‘original breed’. A kind of ‘mass production’ of ‘pet quality animals’ which has had the result that many of the breeds have been virtually destroyed in just few short years – but alas, the ‘dog farmers’ don’t care one jot as long as they make some quick money by cashing in on the breeds perceived reputation or popularity.

Our own dogs are fit, healthy and powerful – from our smallest to the largest. So I often get asked, what and how do I feed our dogs. The answer is not ‘rocket science’, it’s two meals a day with a rest bite of at least two hours, before being exercised to help reduce the risk of stomach torsion. I feed ‘raw, raw, raw’ (meat) and have done so for the last 40 years plus. My of dogs have had excellent teeth with no visits to the vets for teeth cleaning (I closely associate teeth problems with pet food brands which tend to stick to dogs’ teeth like glue, causing discoloration and plaque). My dogs have vegetables mixed into the raw meat, and one of the meals includes raw chicken wings or a raw carcass (the bones are soft). The chicken wings are there to provide a good source of calcium, beside giving the dogs jaws a mechanical work out. Sometimes I add eggs and their shells to the meal.

For supplements I add Salmon oil (rich in Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids); seaweed powder (a good source for multivitamins, iodine etc); Yumove Working Dog tablets (excellent for joints, ligaments etc); live yogurt to help keep my dogs’ guts healthy. Treats to amuse as and when, include Bonio biscuits, marrow bone biscuits, pigs’ ears, tripe sticks, paddywhack, muscle, dental chews etc.

Following an incident many years ago, when my male Giant Schnauzer crunched up and ate two raw marrow bones – and ‘got bunged up’ this was closely followed by a large vet bill, so I quickly learned no more bones for my dogs.

I hope you have have found this of some interest.