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Over the past few months, I have offered diet critiques that tweaked good home-prepared diets in order to address health concerns – or simply to optimize the diet. To do this, I analyzed the diets and compared them to the National Research Council’s guidelines for canine nutrition. I want to be clear, though: I don’t believe this is a requirement for feeding a home made diet. Just as with the diet you feed yourself and your family, feeding a wide variety of healthy foods in appropriate proportions should meet the needs of most healthy dogs.
Don’t bother trying to make every single one of your dog’s meal nutritionally complete; as long as he’s receiving what he needs over a week or two (often referred to as “balance over time”), he’ll be fine. This approach is similar to how we feed ourselves and our families.
Problems arise with how this description is interpreted.
Too often, people think that they’re feeding a healthy diet when key ingredients may be missing or are fed in excess. Here are specific guidelines to help ensure that the diet you feed meets your dog’s requirements.
Complete and Balanced
It’s important that the diet you feed your dog is “complete and balanced,” meaning it meets all of your dog’s nutritional needs. It is not important, however, that every meal be complete and balanced, unless you feed the same meal every day with little or no variation.
Home-prepared diets that include a wide variety of foods fed at different meals rely on balance over time, not at every meal. Similar to the way humans eat, as long as your dog gets everything he needs spread out over each week or two, his diet will be complete and balanced.
A human nutritionist would never expect someone to follow a single recipe with no variation, as veterinary nutritionists routinely do. Instead, a human would be given guidelines in terms of food groups and portion sizes. As long as your dog doesn't have a health problem that requires a very specific diet, there’s no reason you can’t do the same for your dog.
Keep in mind that puppies are more susceptible to problems caused by nutritional deficiencies or excesses than adult dogs are. Large-breed puppies are particularly at risk from too much calcium prior to puberty.
Following are guidelines for feeding a raw or cooked home made diet to healthy dogs. No single type of food, such as chicken, should ever make up more than half the diet.
Except where specified, foods can be fed either raw or cooked. Leftovers from your table can be included as long as they’re foods you would eat yourself, not fatty scraps.
Meat and Other Animal Products: Should always make up at least half of the diet. Many raw diets are excessively high in fat, which can lead to obesity. Another potential hazard of diets containing too much fat: If an owner restricts the amount fed (in order to control the dog’s weight) too much, the dog may suffer deficiencies of other required nutrients.
Unless your dog gets regular, intense exercise, use lean meats (no more than 10 percent fat), remove skin from poultry, and cut off separable fat. It’s better to feed dark meat poultry than breast, however, unless your dog requires a very low-fat diet.
Raw Meaty Bones (optional): If you choose to feed them, RMBs should make up one third to one half of the total diet. Use the lower end of the range if you feed bony parts such as chicken necks and backs, but you can feed more if you’re using primarily meatier parts such as chicken thighs. Never feed cooked bones.
Boneless Meat: Include both poultry and red meat. Heart is a good choice, as it is lean and often less expensive than other muscle meats.
Fish: Provides vitamin D, which otherwise should be supplemented. Canned fish with bones, such as sardines (packed in water, not oil), jack mackerel, and pink salmon, are good choices. Remove bones from fish you cook yourself, and never feed raw Pacific salmon, trout, or related species. You can feed small amounts of fish daily, or larger amounts once or twice a week. The total amount should be about one ounce of fish per pound of other meats (including RMBs).
Organs: Liver should make up roughly 5 percent of this category, or about one ounce of liver per pound of other animal products. Beef liver is especially nutritious, but include chicken or other types of liver at least occasionally as well. Feeding small amounts of liver daily or every other day is preferable to feeding larger amounts less often.
Fruits such as melon, berries, bananas, apples, pears, and papayas can be included in your dog’s food or given as training treats.
Eggs: Highly nutritious addition to any diet. Dogs weighing about 20 pounds can have a whole egg every day, but give less to smaller dogs.
Dairy: Plain yogurt and kefir are well tolerated by most dogs (try goat’s milk products if you see problems). Cottage and ricotta cheese are also good options. Limit other forms of cheese, as most are high in fat.
Fruits and Vegetables: While not a significant part of the evolutionary diet of the dog and wolf, fruits and vegetables provide fiber that supports digestive health, as well as antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients that contribute to health and longevity. Deeply colored vegetables and fruits are the most nutritious.
Starchy Vegetables: Veggies such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, and winter squashes (including pumpkin), as well as legumes (beans), provide carbohydrate calories that can be helpful in reducing food costs and keeping weight on skinny and very active dogs. Quantities should be limited for overweight dogs. Starchy foods must be cooked in order to be digestible by dogs.
Leafy Green and Other Non-Starchy Vegetables: These are low in calories and can be fed in any quantity desired. Too much can cause gas, and raw, cruciferous veggies such as broccoli and cauliflower can suppress thyroid function (cook them if you feed large amounts). Raw vegetables must be pureed in a food processor, blender, or juicer in order to be digested properly by dogs, though whole raw veggies are not harmful and can be used as treats.
Fruits: Bananas, apples, berries, melon, and papaya are good choices. Avoid grapes and raisins, which can cause kidney failure in dogs.
Grains: Controversial, as they may contribute to inflammation caused by allergies, arthritis, or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD); as well as seizures and other problems (it’s not clear whether starchy vegetables do the same). Some grains contain gluten that may cause digestive problems for certain dogs. Many dogs do fine with grains, however, and they can be used to reduce the overall cost of feeding a home made diet.
Grains and starchy veggies should make up no more than half the diet. Good choices include oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, barley, and pasta. White rice can be used to settle an upset stomach, particularly if overcooked with extra water, but it’s low in nutrition and should not make up a large part of the diet. All grains must be well cooked.
Some supplements are required. Others may be needed if you are not able to feed a variety of foods, or if you leave out one or more of the food groups above. In addition, the longer food is cooked or frozen, the more nutrients are lost. Here are some supplements to consider:
Calcium: Unless you feed RMBs, all homemade diets must be supplemented with calcium. The amount found in multivitamin and mineral supplements is not enough. Give 800 to 1,000 mg calcium per pound of food (excluding non-starchy vegetables). You can use any form of plain calcium, including eggshells ground to powder in a clean coffee grinder (1/2 teaspoon eggshell powder provides about 1,000 mg calcium). Animal Essentials’ Seaweed Calcium provides additional minerals, as well.
Oils: Most homemade diets require added oils for fat, calories, and to supply particular nutrients. It’s important to use the right types of oils, as each supplies different nutrients.
Fish Oil: Provides EPA and DHA, omega-3 fatty acids that help to regulate the immune system and reduce inflammation. Give an amount that provides about 300 mg EPA and DHA combined per 20 to 30 pounds of body weight on days you don’t feed fish. Note that liquid fish oil supplements often tell you to give much more than this, which can result in too many calories from fat.
Cod Liver Oil: Provides vitamins A and D as well as EPA and DHA. If you don’t feed much fish, give cod liver oil in an amount that provides about 400 IUs vitamin D daily for a 100-pound dog (proportionately less for smaller dogs). Can be combined with other fish oil to increase the amount of EPA and DHA if desired.
Top-quality fish body oil and cod liver oil can provide your dog’s diet with valuable omega-3 fatty acids. Be cautious about feeding the amounts suggested on the labels, however; these often supply too much fat.
Plant Oils: If you don’t feed much poultry fat, found in dark meat and skin, linoleic acid, an essential omega-6 fatty acid, may be insufficient. You can use walnut, hempseed, corn, vegetable (soybean), or high-linoleic safflower oil to supply linoleic acid if needed. Add about one teaspoon of oil per pound of meat and other animal products, or twice that amount if using canola or sunflower oil. Olive oil and high-oleic safflower oil are low in omega-6 and cannot be used as a substitute, although small amounts can be added to supply fat if needed. Coconut oil provides mostly saturated fats, and can be used in addition to but not as a replacement for other oils.
Other Vitamins and Minerals: In addition to vitamin D discussed above, certain vitamins and minerals may be short in some homemade diets, particularly those that don’t include organ meats or vegetables. The more limited the diet that you feed, the more important supplements become, but even highly varied diets are likely to be light in a few areas.
Vitamin E: All homemade diets I’ve analyzed have been short on vitamin E, and the need for vitamin E increases when you supplement with oils. Too much vitamin E, however, may be counterproductive. Give 1 to 2 IUs per pound of body weight daily.
Iodine: Too much or too little iodine can suppress thyroid function, and it’s hard to know how much is in the diet. A 50-pound dog needs about 300 mcg (micrograms) of iodine daily. Kelp is high in iodine, though the amount varies considerably among supplements.
Multivitamin and mineral supplements: A multivitamin and mineral supplement will help to meet most requirements, including iodine and vitamins D and E, but it’s important not to oversupplement minerals. If using the one-a-day type of human supplements, such as Centrum for Adults under 50, give one per 40 to 50 pounds of body weight daily. Note that most supplements made for dogs provide a reasonable amount of vitamins but are low in minerals, and so won’t make up for deficiencies in the diet. Be cautious with small dogs; I’ve seen some supplements that recommend the same dosage for 10-pound dogs as for those weighing 50 or even 100 pounds. In those cases, the dosage is usually too high for the small dogs and should be reduced. Products made for humans are also inappropriate for small dogs.
Green Blends: Often containing alfalfa and various herbs, green blends may be especially helpful if you don’t include many green vegetables in your dog’s diet. You can also use a pre-mix that includes alfalfa and vegetables, such as The Honest Kitchen’s Preference. Note most pre-mixes also supply calcium, so you should reduce or eliminate calcium supplements, depending on how much of the pre-mix you use.
One of the best ways to keep your dog safe in the summer time is by providing lots of cool, clean, fresh water. Consider preparing low sodium chicken broth or yogurt ice cubes, and introducing canned dog foods (best when frozen in a Kong!) to increase the moisture content in your dog’s diet.
2. Burned Pads
Under the summer sun, asphalt on sidewalks and streets can heat to a temperature that can burn a dog’s paws. To avoid scorched paws, walk your dog very early in the morning or in the late evening when the streets have cooled off. If you must walk your dog during the day, dog booties can protect his feet. Always put your hand down on the asphalt for about thirty seconds – if you must pull your hand away because the street is too hot, it is too hot for your dog to walk on without hurting his paws. If you don’t want your hand on the street for thirty seconds, your dog probably does not want his paws on it for thirty or more minutes of walking.
Summer is the season for fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes; pests which can present a minor discomfort to your dog at best and at worst may be life threatening or cause self-mutilating behaviors. Feeding your dog a high quality diet, without preservatives or chemicals will build his immune system, making him generally more resistant to parasite infestation. There are a wide variety of preventatives on the market, including chemical spot-on treatments, repellent shampoos, essential oils, and flea/tick collars; talk to your vet to see what she recommends for your dog. Cleaning your house frequently and keeping your dog well groomed will also reduce the risk of parasite infestation.
4. Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is a serious risk to dog’s health – in worst case scenarios, it can be fatal. You can prevent heat stroke by restricting your pet’s exercise during the hottest hours of the day (early morning or late evening are the best times for exercise during the summer), by making sure he is well hydrated, providing cool places for him to relax, providing opportunities to swim, cooling mats, and by never leaving your dog unattended in the car during summer heat.
Many dogs die annually in hot cars. Even if your windows are cracked or you park in the shade, heat can build quickly in a car in the summer, turning it into an oven. If it’s 95 degrees at noon and you leave your windows cracked, the temperature in your car may still rise as high as 113 degrees. This is a recipe for disaster for your dog. If you must leave your dog in the car for any period of time, the air conditioning should stay on. Leaving a dog to die in a hot car is not just a health risk for your dog, but may be cause for animal cruelty charges in some area. The solution? Don’t leave your dog in a hot car.
Leptospirosis is contracted through bodily fluids or tissue and can be transmitted through direct (as in the case of a bite or ingestion of flesh) or indirect contact (through water sources, food, etc.) with an infected animal. Stagnant waters are a common source of leptospirosis bacteria. Lepto can cause permanent health problems or death if not treated quickly. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, trembling/shaking, lethargy, anorexia, tenderness of joints and muscles, and increased water intake. If you suspect your dog has lepto, get him to a vet right away, an emergency vet if need be.
There are vaccines for lepto but they do not prevent all strains and can cause significant adverse reactions. Talk to your vet about weighing the risk of infection with the risks associated with the lepto vaccine.
My doberman pup has swallowed 8 tabs of ivermectine. Now his pupils are dilated and eye color is changed. He is unable to see anything. What to do now?
I have 22 months german shepherd female. N she is not eating properly. . Her health is not developing .
We have a stray dog near our building. Few days he is not feeling well, his eyes are not opening properly , there is yellow n greenish liquid around his eyes. Even he is vomitting .A white soapy liquid with foul smell. Please can some one can help that what is happening to that puppy?
My pet dog is very old and he can barely stand erect as due to old age his legs have become crooked he keeps on wailing as he is suffering through a lot of pain. I consulted a doctor but he told it's alright because he is on his last stage then too I asked for some painkillers for him to get some relief which he refused from prescribing I can no more see him suffering so please consult me for an appropriate medication for the same thank you.
If the stray dog is suspected to be rabid, then the pet dog should be put to sleep (Euthanasia). But if the owner is not ready or the rabid status of the stray dog is not known, post?exposure vaccination of the pet with cell culture vaccine and simultaneous careful observation of the pet are recommended for up to 2 months (up to six months is desirable) for possible signs of rabies in the pet. During this period, if the dog becomes sick, the owner should take the dog to the veterinarian to get rabies ruled out at the first instance. It should be noted that post?exposure vaccination is not very successful in dogs. Simultaneously, pre?exposure vaccination of all household members is necessary.
I kept water for stray dog outside my home. Two stray dog drank that. I left that water there itself. On next day my 5 months old cat drank that water. After 30 min my cat bitten me while playing. No blood came but it teared my skin immediately I applied dettol, after 8hr I take TT injection and then after 24hr I take 1st dose anti rabis vaccine (they said injection name abayrash 1 dose 350rs) On day 3 and day 6 I took injection (abayrash 2 and abayrash3) Now doctor telling me 4th dose is not need if cat was healthy. I told that water story. But doctor was in hurry mood and telling IS THAT CAT SAFE? THEN NO NEED. What if dogs are not healthy?
My cat had hurt himself. Its limping and just keeping down one leg. Wound is little bit started bleeding now. What do I do? Can I apply betadine ointment and what if he licks it off?
Yesterday my dog attacked a dirty pig and i think my st. Bernard had broken pigs one leg and eaten. Consult me if it is dangerous for my pet or not?
I have 1 year old Labrador dog and he sheds a lot continuously from 7-8 months till now. First I thought it was a seasonal but it does did not stop. I gave him Himalaya Furglow, Vithum-H syrups but not much effective. I also bought anti dandruff shampoo and made him bath many times but the dandruff goes out but no stopping of hair shedding, I give him drools premium dog food 2 times, chapati and milk, eggs at 2-3 days interval, curd and rice. Some times family members give him salty snacks like namkeen, salty biscuits but no sweet things. I also deworme him every 2 months and changing every time the deworming tablets. He is very active and smart. So what should I do to stop hair shedding. Is it any internal problem because I have seen that even street dogs shed like nothing when I rub my hands on them but my labrador dog shed a lot compare to that when anyone rub hands on his body. Please suggest any remedy.
Why do people/student torture animals- what drives them?
Can we analaysis and find solution: let try to stop this any more in our life
As we all aware that two animals cruelty incidents happened in tamilnadu, one with the dog and another with an monkey.
Case a, 12 yrs old kid hitting cat with broomstick, their parents brought for an counseling that he has not coutesy for animal and he was killing without any guilt.
Case b, 23 yrs adult was burning a rat alive with kerosine and feeling happy to see that rat die with burn.
And there are many cases which were not recorded and submitted for case discussion.
What typically possesses them to inflict such acts of intentional animal torture and cruelty?
These are because of psychological disorders (such as anti-social/psychopathic personality disorders and engage in deliberate acts of zoosadism), and/or because they have sexually paraphilic disorders (such as crush fetishism in which small animals are crushed for sexual pleasure).
This may be common behaviour among murderers and rapists - those with psychopathic traits characterized by impulsivity, selfishness, and lack of remorse.
Animal torture and cruelty is one of the three adolescent behaviours in what is often referred to the homicidal triad , the other two being persistent bedwetting and obsessive fire-setting. The combination of two or more of these three behaviours increases the risk of homicidal behaviour in adult life.
The behaviours in the homicidal triad are often associated with parental abuse, parental brutality (and witnessing domestic violence), and/or parental neglect.
What we can do:
The best way to prevent it is teaching by example. Parents and teachers are the key and plays very important role.
Pro-social behaviour (action/behaviours intended to help others) by parents and other role models towards animals, such as rescuing spiders in the bath, feeding birds/ants, treating pets as a member of the family,
Schools and colleges can have some pet home in the campus.
These activities or act has the potential to make a positive lasting impression on children.
It's a start, lets all have at least one pet in the home make your son/ daughter to take care of them (pet therapy).
Elayaraja m. Sc, m. Phil, pgdgc, pgdha
Kavithalyaa counseling centre, ambattur, chennai-53.