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How to Feed Your Dog
COUNTRY LIFE, October 1928
by MARGARET A. FLORY
THE value of careful, intelligent feeding of all young animals can hardly be overestimated. Nature has provided the mothers of all species with either the actual perfect food or the instinctive knowledge of where and how to get the perfect food to nourish their young for the first few days, weeks, or months of their existence. When this source of supply comes to an end they are dependent upon their own resources or upon the kind offices of man. It is up to us then, if we intend to keep any kind of pets, to find out just what nature intended them to have in the way of vitamines, mineral salts, starches, fats, vegetables, and meats.
When you go to a dog show note the beautiful glossy coats these dogs have, the clear eyes, the springy step, the perfect teeth. In a word each dog is a perfect specimen of health and soundness, regard- less of what his conformation may be.
Now how was this perfection arrived at? First of course by intelligent selective breeding from sound parents. This is of supreme importance in raising worthy show specimens. But breeding alone does not produce the blue ribbon winners. Literally hundreds of splendidly bred, promising show prospects are ruined every year by poor rearing. Rickets, scurvy, eczema, and digestive troubles resulting in such defects as bow-legs, cow-hocks, knotty joints, harsh and shedding coats. poor teeth, and foul breath are all due to faulty diet and are all easily preventable. The veriest mongrel, while he can never be a contender in the show-ring, can have that lovely look of health and soundness that will make him a pleasure to have around the house instead of being the evil-smelling, coat-shedding creature he often is even when a beloved pet. It has been my observation that nine out of ten beloved pets are in atrocious condition most of the time. It is taken for granted that a dog has various skin diseases, sheds his coat all the time, and always smells “doggy.”
HOW then should a dog be fed in order to prevent these various afflictions? Of course the foundation for perfect health should be laid before birth in the feeding of the mother during pregnancy and afterward while nursing, but even if this process has been rather casual and unscientific much can be done with a newly weaned puppy. After a puppy is three months old it is hard to undo faults due to poor feeding although of course good condition can be arrived at and maintained by correct feeding. Properly reared pups of almost any breed should be given their first artificial food at about three weeks of age, at which time the teeth are fairly well pushed through the gums. This is nature’s signal that the mother needs a helping hand. She will sometimes start weaning the pups herself by regurgitating her own food when it is partially digested, especially in the case of a large litter. Give the puppy a little scraped or ground beef, raw, once a day for a couple of days, then increase to twice, and then to three times a day. The amount given of course must be governed by the size of the pups say a half teaspoonful at a time for small breeds up to two teaspoonsful for large breeds at the start. They will usually eat it ravenously. After a week add some milk and raw egg to-the diet. Cow’s milk alone is not a good substitute for bitch’s milk so it must be made stronger by the addition of egg and some sweetener. Make the formula in the proportion of one egg and one tablespoonful of sweetening to eight ounces of whole milk. Evaporated milk can be used in place of fresh. In this case give at least a teaspoonful of orange juice a day to make up for the vitamines lacking in the canned milk.
AFTER another week add something in the way of thickening to the milk feeds, such as shredded wheat, some kind of puppy meal (a number of dog food manufacturers put them up), or stale whole wheat bread. White bread in any form has no place in the dog’s menu, to my thinking, as it simply adds starch to the diet, which is to be avoided. A certain amount of filler must be fed to growing dogs, of course, and to older dogs that are inclined to be too thin. I have found hard puppy biscuits excellent, and eaten readily by old and young. These are good for for one feed a day, and may be broken and mixed with raw chopped meat or milk and egg. My greatest stand-by, however, is macaroni cooked in good rich soup. I get all the bones and fresh scraps my butcher will give me and cook them in a soup kettle for three or four hours. Then I remove the bones, cut off any meat that was on them and put it back into the soup, salt in the proportion of a teaspoonful to a quart of liquid, and add enough broken macaroni to absorb all the soup when it is done. This will mean about half as much dry macaroni as you have soup. This is particularly good in winter, though I use it all the year round. Carrots and onions may be added to this, or any table scraps, and also canned tomatoes. Raw cabbage put through the meat grinder and mixed with chopped beef is an excellent rickets and scurvy preventive in large breeds, and added to the macaroni makes a wonderful balanced ration.
Raw whole milk, either sweet or sour, raw eggs, and raw meat, with one good meal a day of bulk such as macaroni or biscuits, will keep any dog in good condition the year around.
Table scraps are fine where only one dog is kept, but too scanty in any well managed household to be depended on for more than one dog except as tit-bits to add to the regular menu. All meat scraps are good, but not chop or chicken bones as they splinter too easily. Any left-over vegetables can be given except potatoes, which are too starchy for easy digestion. Milk puddings are good and always appreciated.
I FIND that dogs like variety in their food almost as much as people do, and change the brand of biscuits used quite frequently for this reason. I like to feed meat raw, both because it is less trouble and because it is a bit more easily digested that way; but I sometimes bake it for them just long enough to get the juices started running. In this way it loses none of its goodness and it is more palatable. I always salt it a little. Breast of lamb is particularly good this way and they love to crunch the soft bones. Don’t be afraid to feed some fat. They need it just as much as humans do and really crave it if it is withheld. I always put suet or fat of some sort in the macaroni when I cook it.
When pups are eight weeks old they should be completely weaned and getting four or five meals a day. A good schedule for meals is 7 A. M., 11 A. M., 3 P. M., and 7 P. M. Sloppy food should be avoided and something hard should be given every day in the way of biscuits or large raw bones or hard stale bread.
There are various canned meat and cereal rations on the market now which are very good. Some are made with horse meat and others with beef. The latter are naturally somewhat more expensive. Personally, I have no prejudice against horse meat. It is very high in protein content and considered by many breeders a very valuable meat. Dogs invariably like it. It must always be borne in mind, however, when feeding any kind of canned meat, that all the vitamines are killed by the process of sterilization just as in canned milk, so raw eggs, ground raw cabbage, orange juice, canned tomatoes (almost the only vegetable in which the canning process does not kill the vitamines), yeast, and cod liver oil must be given to make up the deficiency.
Raw eggs with yeast and cod liver oil are fine to add to the breakfast cereal and milk in winter. Cut down the amount of the oil in summer.
Puppies raised on such a schedule, and wormed regularly up to nine months of age, with plenty of exercise and sunshine, cannot fail to grow to maturity, barring accidents, in the pink of condition.