The ideal diet is a mixture that supplies daily all the elements needed for the dog’s bodily development and functions. It should be balanced and palatable, in a form that is easy and pleasant to handle. The amount of water contained in the food can influence its keeping qualities. As a general rule, the higher the percentage of water the poorer the stability of the food.
While supplements – in particular calcium and vitamin A are essential to most meat-based diets formulated in homes and kennel kitchens, they are not always used correctly. While one mineral deficiency is minimized or avoided, other imbalances may be created. Sometimes these supplements are used and recommended despite the fact that commercially prepared dog foods, containing adequate amounts in correct proportions of the required vitamins and minerals, are available.
The average nutritional requirements of dogs are known and most commercial foods are formulated to meet them. When a properly formulated. carefully produced product is available, no further nutritional supplements are necessary for the average dog. Special situations, such as those imposed by pregnancy, strenuous exercise or disease, may benefit from certain type s of supplements. However, during periods of increased requirements, the greater intake of food relative to body weight provides the additional nutrients required. A pregnant bitch at full term eats one-and-a-half to two times the normal amount of food and will thus be getting more vitamins and minerals in the correct proportions, if the diet is balanced. Indiscriminate supplementation will upset this balance. Excessive amounts of vitamins and minerals will not be beneficial to a dog already nutritionally replete. In fact. the difference between the required amounts and toxic levels of some small, and overdosing is dangerous.
In sickness, particularly in diseases of the liver or pancreas, or where there has been an inadequate diet of fat, supplementation of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K may be advised.
Most of the B-complex group of vitamins are found in varying quant in types of foods included in the diets of most dogs. Liver and yeast particularly rich sources. Additional amounts of some of these vitamins are synthesized by bacteria in the intestine. Sometimes this activity may be diminished if intestinal bacteria are disturbed or destroyed by disease or by antibiotic therapy. Under these circumstances, additional amounts of B vitamins should be given. Fever, a prolonged loss of appetite and chronic kidney disease are other conditions in which B vitamins should be given. At this stage, scientific experiments have failed to substantiate that vitamin C that plays any part in the therapy of disease in the dog. The most common supplements in use are those containing calcium, often in combination with phosphorus, other minerals and vitamin D.
Milk is an essential part of the pup’s diet but can still be fed to older , dogs without harm. It is a rich source of protein, fat and minerals, as well as having a pleasant taste. Milk can either be given as the raw product, slightly warmed, or reconstituted from either tinned or dehydrated milk. If the dog or pup is not accustomed to straight cow’s milk, it is advisable to commence by using watered-down milk (50 per cent water, 50 per cent milk). The concentration of milk should gradually be increased over a period of five to six days. Some puppies are allergic to cow’s milk and this will induce diarrhea. It is a fallacy that milk transmits worms.