What should I feed my dog?
Domesticated dogs are largely carnivores that eat some omnivorous foods. Wild dogs eat a variety of food which consists mainly of prey animals. Prey animals are composed of raw meat, raw bones, organs, other tissue and digested vegetable matter. While dogs are carnivores they do consume a small amount of the vegetable matter contained in the stomach and intestines of their prey. Dogs have evolved over thousands of years to eat this type of diet.
Basic dog feeding guide:
Feed high-quality balanced premium commercial food that is appropriate for the life stage and health condition of your dog. Check that it complies with the Australian Standard: Manufacturing and Marketing Pet Food AS 5812:2011.
Foods imported from the US must conform to AAFCO standards for labelling which are much more rigid.
Foods must provide the following:
- Energy (measured in calories or kilojoules) which your dog needs for muscle function for movement, a wide variety of bodily functions and to keep himself warm.
- Proteins and other nutrients for growth and repairing body tissues.
- Fats for energy and essential fatty acids.
- Vitamins, minerals and other micro-nutrients to regulate these processes.
You can offer some natural foods to provide some variety including fresh human-grade raw meat (e.g. raw lamb), raw meaty bones and vegetables.
Always check with your vet first that raw meaty bones are suitable for your particular dog (e.g. some dogs with misshapen jaws or dental disease may find chewing on raw bones difficult).
Raw meaty bones such as raw lamb ribs (not lamb chops though), raw lamb flaps and raw chicken wings provide several important health benefits including keeping teeth and gums healthy. However too many raw bones may lead to constipation. Generally 1 or 2 raw bones may be offered per week with a few days in between each serving.
The bone must be large enough so that the dog cannot fit the whole bone in its mouth or swallow the bone whole and always supervise dogs when they are eating raw bonesNever feed cooked bones as these can splinter and cause internal damage or become an intestinal obstruction.
A number of Australian dogs have suffered from kidney problems after being fed particular pet treats.
The toxin which causes the illness has not yet been identified and a number of treats from a number of manufacturers could be involved. Researchers have said that it’s difficult to pinpoint the particular treats involved because dog owners often feed several different treat brands to their dogs.
Cases have been associated with some chicken jerky treats, pig’s ears and other porcine products in addition to some chew-type products, mostly but not exclusively of Asian origin.
If you want to feed treats, veterinary researchers advise to use:
- a small portion of commercial dog food; or
- an appropriate and safe morsel of human food; or
- home-made treats prepared under veterinary advice
If you are using commercial treats, then it would be wise to limit these to occasional use, for example, a small treat once or twice a week.
If you are feeding commercial treats and notice your dog showing the following signs/symptoms then you should see your vet as soon as possible:
- loss of appetite
- increased thirst
- urinating more frequently
According to research, the illness is normally treatable with most dogs making a recovery if treats are removed from diets completely. But very occasionally more serious illness and death can occur.