© by Jim Faggiano
Whatever the dog's primitive diet may have been, it certainly wasn't all steaks and chops, and it did include a great deal more bulk and had an entirely different balance from an all muscle meat diet. Nor was it the sort of diet you would want to feed your dog today if you could. Scientific research has been carried on for more than a century now, and through it a great deal has been learned about nutrition in general, as well as about the best feeding programs for dogs.
From the time of conception until death, the well nourished dog requires at least 43 nutrients for maximum well being. All 43 nutrients needed by dogs must be in optimum or balanced ratios if one is to expect maximum performance. Not a single nutrient can be left out of the ration or added at inadequate levels and satisfactory performance still be obtained. Some of the various nutrients needed by dogs and the functions they perform are:
PROTEIN: A nitrogenous body building material generally associated with lean meat, soybeans, fish, cottage cheese and other nitrogen rich foodstuffs. Proteins are needed by the dog for growth, blood formation, antibody formation against disease, for tissue repair, hair growth, and for many other purposes. The dog cannot get along without protein. However, a large excess of protein can place a strain on the dog's liver and kidneys. For this reason it is important to feed the right levels of protein.
FAT: in the dog's diet provides energy or calories and provides fatty acids needed for normal dog nutrition and growth. Fat is a concentrated source of energy and contains about 2 1/4 times as much energy as pure carbohydrates, such as sugar and starch.
CARBOHYDRATES: also supply energy to the dog. Generally, carbohydrates are a much less expensive source of energy than are fats. Carbohydrates are found in many feed ingredients, especially those of grain origin. The carbohydrate content of meat is very low whereas the carbohydrate content of grains such as corn and rice is quite high.
VITAMINS: are required in such small quantities in the dog's diet that many dog owners feel they are of little use in the dog's diet!
DOG FOOD CANNED vs. DRY:
It takes three pounds of a complete canned dog food to be equivalent to on pound of a dry dog food. Using a canned dog food can obviously increase your feeding costs considerably.
The new and very convenient soft moist dog foods are also excellent rations but again are rather high in price. These generally contain the same ingredients found in dry dog food and certainly have the same nutrients. They are easy to store and need no refrigeration and are usually relished by the dog but provide no more food value than any good, dry dog food.
FEEDING HARD WORKING DOGS (POLICE)
Working dogs use a lot of energy. To replace this, a large amount of high quality, nutritious dog food is required. These dogs should be offered all of the dog food they want, unless they begin to become overweight.
If a hard working dog does not stay in good condition using a regular moistened dry dog food, then it is recommended that up to 20% meat be added. The meat does not increase the nutritional value or balance of a good dry dog food, but in most cases will increase the palatability and thus increase the intake of food.
During the period when a dog is not working, care should be taken not to create a weight problem by overfeeding.
In summary, dense, high protein high fat rations are recommended for hard working dogs with high energy needs.
DOG FOOD SUPPLEMENTS:
Many dog owners still refuse to believe that good commercial dog foods contain all the nutrients needed by normal dogs for all phases of their lives.
Supplementation is costly, unnecessary, and may cause nutritionally induced health problems. Some of the more common supplements to feeding are: eggs, calcium, vitamins D and E, charcoal and raw meat.
Excess vitamin and mineral supplementation can aggravate hip problems, heart problems and impair dog health.
A good, dry dog food and plenty of clean, fresh water is all that is necessary for a happy, healthy dog.