Elderfox's Blog

Thoughts of an elder writer-in-progress

Being One’s Own Self. . .

It’s feeding time. . .and hopefully, you have some idea of what to feed from the information the breeder has given you.  Of course this may not be the lifetime diet for conditioning and maintaining a show dog or your particular dog.  For the most part, feeding programs are arrived at by trial and error, by testimonials from other fanciers, and by the subliminal persuasion of the advertising fraternity.  Many of us use National Brands, i.e. Purina, Iams, Gaines, etc., as a basic component.  Some are selected by price; the higher priced as a guide to quality is a poor guide; the lower priced in an effort to cut costs, is a dubious savings and various “scientifically” formulated for specific breeds, work or maintenance needs vary remarkably in their quality and nutritional value. 

There are those who determine vitamin and mineral products should be added to basic mixes.  This group ranges widely in its approach from using premixed “complete” tablets and powders, to individual vitamins and minerals carefully worked out, to those who guess (or hear) that something is good for a specific need.  Many nutritionists say these are unnecessary and can be dangerous; while just as many (excluding experts) insist on their use, as a recent fringe of “health buffs” delight in exhorting the seaweed (kelp), alfalfa, bone meal, yeast, garlic, herbs, etc. additives. Some leave food for dogs to self-feed, some insist on regular feeding schedules.  Some insist the basic mix is complete, while others feel there is need for addition of other foodstuffs such as muscle meats—beef, pork, horsemeat, lamb, chicken, etc—vs organ meats (kidney, heart, tripe, liver**), or eggs, fish, cottage cheese, vegetable proteins, gelatins, etc.; Fat additives may be lard, tallow, chicken fat or various vegetable and olive oils, and for heavensake don’t forget the garlic!

There are those to whom “Food Is Love” and those who anthropomorphize (attribute human qualities to animals) and labor long to insure high taste appeal in their dog diets (unknowing or unbelieving that taste is taught to their dogs, and who, likewise, are unable to accept that ‘prime rotten’** is probably more to the dog’s pleasure than prime rib).  Both of these groups are cherished by the advertising brotherhood, and it is to them the touching, amusing, powerful ads are directed. Then there are those innocents who add supplements and foods to dog food because they feel guilty not doing so. 

So it is difficult to find published authorities who will serve as guides through the maze of product fact and fantasy.  Difficult, yes, but not impossible.  A viable answer to an owner’s questions is to write to an area Veterinary College to ask for textbook recommendations of dog nutrition.  The Animal Nutrition Department of Animal Husbandry at Cornell University is one.  Even better, take time to write several, as different colleges might suggest different sources and the choices offered could make for easier availability.  Should several suggest the same information/texts, this would constitute a powerful recommendation.

The time it takes to seek out and read suggested texts can result in the comfortable certainty that the quality-at-any-price dog feeder can discover what a quality diet actually is, while the more budget minded may be able to feed better than they have been at no higher cost.  It is very likely your dog will be the better for your study.

**A note—Years ago (late 50’s/early ‘60s) we met a breeder of Cocker Spaniels, Setters, Afghans and Poodles who nailed cow stomachs and organs to kennels fences and supplemented commercial dog food with grains!  O’yes, it was extreme but the health and condition of their show dogs was remarkable with outstanding winning records.  Using such an idea today…not so much 🙂

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