Aside from providing a good home, and vet care when necessary, topping the list is nutrition. Have a read of the following articles and you'll find out what is really in many of the commercial pet foods. This isn't for the faint hearted. Google an article called "What is Really in Pet Food". Today’s medical journals provide proof that feeding processed, singular diets without offering variety or fresh food can lead to such health issues as allergies, digestive problems, and even degenerative conditions. Kibble has been a relatively recent "invention" as dog food.
Kibble was developed for the convenience of the dog care giver, not the dog's nutritional needs. It's well-known that cooking, especially at extremely high temperatures, depletes nutrients found in natural food. Many of the ingredients in processed dog and cat foods require grinding, boiling, re-processing and more boiling in order to sterilize them or make them edible. This is especially the case with meat by-products and meat meal, often the primary source of protein in commercial pet foods. Even if these ingredients are all natural or organic, the processing significantly reduces the nutritional value to your pet. Whether you choose an entirely raw, homemade diet or a commercial dog food, it is important to ensure you are getting the right mix of all of the nutrients your pet needs.
Our research of the best nutrition for our dogs always comes back to diet that is human grade (best quality) and fresh. That is not any different than what we want for ourselves. There are hundreds of Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones and Raw Food (BARF) diets that people follow. What we will describe below is what has worked best for us over a number of years. BARF is not for everyone but it is the best that you can give your dog provided that it is done correctly. Done incorrectly it can be more damaging than a poor quality kibble. To that end we have laid out in detail a basic diet that we have used for some time now. We do make changes as we learn new things from scientific studies, holistic vets and breeder's experiences with Norwich Terriers.
Are there any brands that are better than others? Yes. You do get what you pay for but you also need to know a little about what to look for. In a perfect world the protein source is organic. The protein sources should be higher than 50% of the total content of the food. There should be very few or no cereals, or grains...these are just fillers. The list of ingredients on kibble should be from greatest percentage to least. If you see fillers (rice, corn, etc) near the first few ingredients this may not be the best food to choose.
Dogs are primarily carnivores. Despite that you may intend to feed commercial kibble there are still benefits of feeding your companion fresh, human grade additives including vegetables, or the vitamin supplements listed in our Wildgoose diet following.
You should also be aware that there are a number of commercially pre-prepared raw dog foods available from the freezer section of better dog food stores. They also come in a freeze dried format. Brand names include Nature's Variety, Oma's Pride and many more. They come in frozen patties that you thaw prior to your dog consuming the food. Frozen they keep for a long while. Thawed they should be fine refrigerated for 2-3 days. Many of these foods are available from the internet delivered to your door if you can not find them locally.
The BARF diet refers to a diet fed to dogs, which totally excludes all types of commercial dog food. It premises itself on:
Dog foods have cereals as their main ingredient. The main ingredient your dog should be eating is raw meaty bones. It is these cereals that cause a range of problems such as allergies. Commercial dog foods are laden with preservatives, food colours and salt. They have additives so that the food will taste better so that the dogs will overeat.
BARF diet advocates will tell you that their experience has indicated:
You can also buy BARF diets in the freezer section of better dog food stores. That conveniences you and benefits your dog.
For more information read:
Proper nutrition is the foundation of health. Without enough nutrients the body begins to deteriorate and resistance to disease is lowered. Taking charge of your dog’s health means being informed on the subject of nutrition, supplements and general health.
This article will deal with vitamins. This information is provided for educational purposes and to help you make the correct decisions regarding your dog's health. It is not intended to diagnose or prescribe for your dog. The suggested dosages are for healthy adult dogs weighing 9 to 18 pounds. This information is what I do for my dogs. Wildgoose Norfolk and Norwich Terriers does not accept liability for the use of this information in lieu of the services of a holistic veterinarian. Remember that all things in life have varying degrees of risk. What is right for one may not be right for the other.
Even if you use the best commercial food available there is still the need to supplement for optimum health. Vitamins and minerals must be fed in the right balance to work properly. Feeding just one vitamin is relatively useless. Sometimes doing nothing can be worst of all. The information below was predominantly derived from Wendell O. Bellfield D.V.M. and Martin Zucker, “How to have a Healthier Dog: The Benefits of Vitamins and Minerals for Your Dog’s Life Cycles.” New York, NY: New American Library, 1981. It is just one perspective.
Vitamin C is a good place to start. Vitamin C is perhaps the only vitamin that could be used in isolation. Dogs produce about 40 milligrams of C per kilogram (=2.2 lbs) of body weight per day and most pet food companies do not add it to their food. This is only a fraction of what is actually needed. Research indicates a number of pet diseases to be forms of sub clinical scurvy, the deficiency of vitamin C. This includes hip dysplasia, lameness, arthritis, spinal myelopathy, ruptured discs, viral diseases and skin problems.
Vitamin C is the basic to all life processes and necessary for a sound system. Vitamin C regulates the dog’s body biochemical balance and is the body’s major detoxifier and repairer of the damages of stress.
Calcium ascorbate powder is suggested as the best form and is lowest in acidic taste. 500 mg (=1/8 teaspoon) per day is suggested.
Vitamin A deficiency can be the cause of a number of skin, coat and mucous membrane problems in dogs. These include lung and respiratory tract; eye membrane; bladder lining; teeth and gums; digestive tract; and the layers that comprise the skin and glandular system. Like vitamin C and E, A is an anti-oxidant. It is also necessary for the development and growth of puppies and aids the immune system protect from infection.
Dry, itching skin is the first indicator of a vitamin deficiency. In dogs, deficiency symptoms include degeneration, reproductive failure, night blindness, uncoordination, seizures, failure to gain weight and deafness. Vitamin A is largely overlooked by commercial pet foods.
The suggested dose is 10,000 IU once a week. Significant skin problems may require more. I have read that a maximum of 10,000 IU per day for a short period, in some cases can be used. To avoid toxicity, you should consult a holistic vet if you think you need more than 10,000 IU per week.
Vitamin D. 400 IU per week of Vitamin D is recommended. That is sufficient for healthy teeth and bones. Since D is produced by the sun, it is the winter months or dogs that don’t get outside much that require this supplement. Lack of calcium and phosphorous are also indicators of a need for Vitamin D. This vitamin regulates the thyroid and nervous system, heart , skin , respiration and blood clotting. Rickets is a deficiency of D. Symptoms of D deficiency are allergies, kidney and urinary disorder, diarrhea, arthritis, poor metabolism, poorly developed bones, muscles or teeth and irritability.
Vitamin E is essential for healing diseases of the circulatory system and preventing them, including heart tachycardia and arteriosclerosis. It promotes fertility, slows ageing prevents cataracts, boosts the immune system, protects the body against pollutants and cancer and helps heal the skin. It also boosts muscle power in dogs. It helps dissolve tumours and relieves posterior paralysis and disc problems. It oxygenates the blood and improves the function of the internal organs. The suggested dose is 100 IU per day.
B Complex Vitamins are necessary for the proper functioning of the brain and nervous system. Generally, B vitamins reduce pain and protect the body from stress. They are required for emotional and mental health; energy; immune system and infection fighting ability; nervous system health; the proper functioning of skin, hair, eyes, liver, muscles and digestion. B vitamins are water soluble and cannot be overdosed. The suggested dose of B complex is 25 mg per day.
In health terms, you are only going to get out what you put in. Vitamin supplements are only a small part of the whole package that needs to be considered for optimum health. What we feed at Wildgoose and little about vitamins.
On a farm, dogs don't eat alfalfa, wheat, oats, corn or any other grains as a mainstay of their diet. They will nibble in a bucket of grain once in a great while and only primarily out of curiosity or boredom. Dogs eat protein in the form of meats and eggs.
We have been feeding our Norwich and Norfolk bones and raw food for the last 6 years and we have found a noticeable positive difference in the general health of the the dogs in every respect. Our raw diet is essentially (by weight) - Updated as of 3 January 2006:
The meat source includes the bone. We grind most things with a simple home electric grinder so that they don't choke on bones that might be too big. We use turkey, lamb, and fish (mackerel mostly) as our preferred protein sources because they are less acidic than beef, chicken, or other fowl. We rotate the meat source so it is not always the same. Organ meats are great (tripe, heart, liver, offal). For the vegetables we usually make a puree of a few different ones (carrots, zucchini, pumpkin, green beans, broccoli, parsley, etc). Organic meat and vegetable sources are the best!
Mix all the food above (meat, vegetables, dairy, organ meats and fruit) into a container. You can freeze this in any quantities that you like. We sometimes use ice cube trays for portions. The mix will keep in the fridge for a few days. You now have a complete home prepared food for your dogs! Here are a number of things that one can add to diets (with explanations) for variety and rotation sake.
In addition to good food we also recommend daily supplements to round out the best diet that we can provide for our dogs. We supplement daily with: