The nutrition of companion animals (pets) has received considerable interest during the recent decades, and certain large manufacturers of dog and cat foods have conducted extensive research and feeding trials, in order to establish nutritious diets that need no supplementation. US federal law requires that all dog food manufacturers (including those producing the pet foods we get here in Guyana) provide a listing of ingredients in their rations. However, the required labels often do not contain enough information for you to optimally compare one dog food with another. (See also NB (2) below.)
Well-known manufacturers, noted for their research, generally produce good quality dog/cat foods you can trust. In general, commercial dry or soft-moist foods are more reliably balanced products than canned rations. Canned meat may be added to the dry food (kibble) for palatability, but should not exceed 25 per cent of the total daily ration. (See also comments below under the heading NB (1).)
One of the best ways to gauge the effectiveness of a product is to observe its effect upon a dog’s stool. Poor quality protein passes through a dog’s intestinal tract unused, resulting in loose, mushy, or diarrhoeal stools. Very large stools, on the other hand, indicate excessive amounts of fibre and other indigestibles.
I would prefer if every dog/cat owner would confer with his/her vet and then prepare a diet sheet for a new puppy. The diet should then be followed, at least for the first few weeks, since an abrupt or constant changing of the diet can cause digestive upsets. Puppy ‘chows’ from the big, reputable companies supply the protein, carbohydrates, fat and minerals required to raise healthy puppies – provided they eat well (if puppies/kittens are laden with worms, they may not have healthy appetites). Purchase a name-brand product, one specifically formulated for puppy growth and development. Pups and young dogs under a year of age require about twice as much protein and about 50 per cent more calories per pound than adult dogs.
Puppies six months and older should be fed twice a day as much as they will eat in 20 minutes. Then pick up the dish. Labels on dog food packages provide recommended daily feeding amounts. They are useful guidelines, but not applicable to every puppy. As a rule, feed the puppy in accordance with his appetite. The thing to avoid, which happens too often, is feeding too much. An overweight puppy is in danger of developing structural defects.
(1) At the end of the first paragraph above, I mentioned the possible usage of moist canned food. Actually, I am not a great fan of canned food. On many occasions, if one were to trace the time it takes for the canned food to reach the retailers’ shelves (and then your home), you will find that a lot of months have elapsed from the date of manufacture and the day ‘Fido’ eats the canned meal. It has been reported that the stock which is not sold immediately to the pet stores/supermarkets goes to the back of the bond and awaits an order. When that order is coming from a faraway country like Guyana, it can be reasonably argued that it is the old (but probably, not assuredly, still good) stock which will be shipped. After all, no one does rigorous testing of pet foods exhibited for sale in supermarkets/pets shops/veterinary clinics, etc,in faraway countries, like Guyana. Then the shipment leaves the bond in trucks/20-40 foot containers overland to the shipping wharf of the producer country. Then the ship with the containers (not refrigerated) does its island – hopping until it reaches the last port (Georgetown) where it is off-loaded and spends some more time (exposed to the equatorial heat) on the wharf. On occasion, one sees the bulging (bloating) of the cans. But even if you can’t see the changes, it is reasonable to assume that the protein/fat/carbohydrates within the food (in the can which has been subjected to elements inimical to its quality) have undergone some degree of denaturing changes. This seems not to be too much of a problem with dried dog/cat foods.
May I advise that if you are going to use moist canned dog/cat food, please look at the following:
(i) The date of manufacture.
(ii) Where the food has been produced (how far away from the nearest sea port).
(iii) Is the can on the shelf deformed (bulging/bloated)?
(iv) On opening the can, is there a foul smell or gas emittance?
(v) Is the inside of the can discoloured (portions of the inner surface being black)?
(2) Some pet food manufacturers just list the percentage of protein in the ration without mentioning the origin of the protein – for example is it plant (soya) protein or animal based protein (lamb, veal, chicken, etc). Choose the one you prefer.