Posts Tagged ‘canine diet’
Wednesday, December 15th, 2010
Consuming food or as many refer to as eating, is something that all living things must do to survive. All animals have different ways of eating, and to some people the eating behavior of a guard dog, or any other dog for that matter may seem a little strange. However, to the dog this is the most comfortable way of getting the food into its stomach. “Bolting”, it the term used to describe the normal swallowing pattern for a guard dog. There are certain steps that a dog goes through while bolting. First, the dog picks up a piece of food with its teeth, and then tosses the piece of food onto the top of its tongue with a short, quick thrust of its head. Next, without being chewed the piece of food is rolled to the back of its mouth. When the food reaches the base of the tongue, the food is upward and backward into the esophagus by a reflex of the tongue. After this, the piece of food is finally carried to the stomach.
If a piece of food is too large to be swallowed, the dog will then make it so that it is a swallowing size. The dog will hold the food with its paws and using its front teeth will tear it into smaller pieces. If it is too tough to be torn by using its paws, the dog will resort to another method. The dog will cut it into small enough pieces by using two specialized jaw teeth, called carnassial teeth. These teeth have large shearing surfaces that act like scissor blades, which can cut through practically anything. The can cut through tough surfaces like hide, gristle, muscle, and even bone. Although dogs have powerful jaw muscles that are useful for cutting food into swallowing size, they are use very little for chewing the pieces. This is because dogs have a small amount of teeth and they are not equipped for mastication.
Many guard dog owners believe that each breed should be fed differently. However this is not true because the eating behavior of a certain dog, is the eating behavior of the whole species. It is simply because all dogs eat the same. When feeding your protection dog there are some general considerations that can be made. Dogs are not required to eat food like humans, because dogs do not have hands. Their jaws are suited for biting and cutting, not chewing. Dogs rarely gag because they have few gag reflex nerves at the back of their mouth. Dogs also have very few taste buds on their tongue, but have an amazing sense of smell. Overall when feeding your guard dog it is important to realize that they eat much differently from us and the way they eat is normal for them.
Tuesday, June 15th, 2010
Healthy growing pups normally have incredible appetites for their size, so when your puppy stops eating, it can be cause for great concern. Knowing what to look for and how to respond is the first step in ensuring a strong and healthy German Shepherd puppy with a strong appetite.
As a general preventative measure, it is good to maintain a strict feeding schedule and build proper eating habits with your pup. Try to feed your puppy at consistent times from day to day, don’t feed it scraps from the table, always place the food in your pup’s dish, and remove the dish after 20 or 30 minutes have passed in order to help condition your puppy to eat at the proper times.
Assuming you’ve been maintaining a good schedule, and your puppy has been eating regularly, there are a number of reasons why your puppy may suddenly stop eating. One of the most common reasons is due to teething. Do what you can to reduce the discomfort from teething and ensure meals are eaten.
Unfortunately, other reasons your pup may stop eating could much more severe. Digestive illness, injury to the abdomen or parasites may all prevent your puppy from eating properly. As well, regardless of the cause, lack of food for extended periods of time can be fatal. Whether you have a German Shepherd puppy, Dutch Shepherd puppy, or Belgian Malinois puppy, you should always consult the expertise of your veterinarian if your puppy has gone more than 24 hours without eating, or shows any symptoms of illness.
Thursday, March 18th, 2010
Considering the reputation of dogs and their willingness to eat just about anything, it seems unlikely that your protection dog would be a picky eater. However, sudden changes in the main source of your dog’s diet can produce unexpected health problems.
Whether you are switching from one brand of dog food to another, upgrading to a better quality of dog food, or putting your dog on an entirely raw food diet, the introduction of a new diet should always be done as gradually as possible. Switching over abruptly from one diet to another often causes problems with digestion such as stomach cramps, heartburn, indigestion or, in rare cases, vomiting and diarrhea.
Switching over from one diet to another can be accomplished in about a week. However, the more gradual the change is, the easier it will be for your dog’s digestive system to adapt. The new food can be gradually introduced by mixing it with the old food. Start with about one quarter of the new food mixed with three quarters of the old. After no less than two days, you can switch to a mixture of about half and half. Continue in increments of two or more days for the half and half mixture, followed by three quarters new with one quarter old, and finally a diet consisting entirely of the new food.
No matter what diet you choose for your German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois or Dutch Shepherd, it is important that you keep it consistent. While some owners may be tempted to pick up different brands of dog food on sale, your personal protection dog will not appreciate the sudden change. You should only switch the diet of your protection dog if you feel that it would benefit your dog’s health, or if a change of diet is recommended by your veterinarian.
Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010
All mammals, including both canines and humans, require vitamins and minerals in their diet. Although the nutritional needs of a dog are very different from that of a human, there are also many similarities. Each requires calcium, sodium, potassium, vitamins B, C, D, and a host of other common vitamins and minerals that naturally occur in our food. However, there are several options in terms of how to ensure that your protection dog is getting enough vitamins and minerals in its diet.
First and foremost, you should be feeding your dogs premium quality dog food. Cheap dog foods often contain little nutritional value to begin with, and many of the naturally occurring vitamins and minerals are destroyed by heat during the manufacturing process. Many high quality dog foods often include added minerals to ensure that the food meets the recommended standards for canine nutrition. Even with the active lifestyle of guard dogs and protection dogs, high quality dog foods should contain all of the nutrients your canine requires without the need for additional supplements.
Alternatively, there are a number of vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables that can be given to your dog raw alongside raw beef and bones. Carrots, pears and apples are all suitable examples. However, it should be noted that a raw food diet requires much more thought and consideration on the part of the handler. While some fruits and vegetables are healthy for your dog, others, such as grapes, raisins or tomatoes, can be toxic. Also, switching your canine directly from a commercial dog food diet to a raw food diet can be hard on the stomach. Always consult your veterinarian before making any radical changes in the diet of your protection dog.
Finally, there are vitamin supplements. The simple truth is that vitamin supplements are in no way a replacement for a healthy vitamin-rich diet. In fact, too much of a certain vitamin can be toxic, and vitamin supplements may inadvertently make your dog sick. The only time you should ever give your canine a vitamin supplement is under the advice of your veterinarian. Whether you have a German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois, or Dutch Shepherd, a natural, vitamin-rich diet is almost always the best solution.
Thursday, January 7th, 2010
Although your dog is considered a carnivore, this does not mean that it will eat meat exclusively. In fact, it is very common for dogs to eat a wide variety of things that would not ordinarily be considered a regular part of the canine diet. Unfortunately for some, this may include your prized garden tulips. However, more important than the possible destruction of one’s flowers is the possibility that these plants and flowers are often extremely poisonous to dogs.
Among plants normally consumed by humans, there are a few which are known to be toxic to dogs. These include grapes and raisins, macadamia nuts, onions, garlic, avocado, tomatoes, potatoes, and rhubarb. Of course, most people would be hesitant to let their dog wander through their garden on any occasion, but owners should be especially cautious if they are growing any of the aforementioned plants.
Aside from plants normally consumed by humans, there are a number common decorative plants that can also be very toxic. Just because they are not edible plants does not mean that your dog will never attempt to eat them. Hunger is the root instinct of any animal, and curiosity is strong among especially intelligent dogs. Either one may cause an otherwise well trained and well behaved canine to being eating surrounding plants. Among the common decorative plants that are toxic to dogs are Aloe Vera, Azalea flowers, Daffodils, most types of Lily, Foxglove flowers, Holly, Hyacinth, most types of Ivy, Mistletoe, Morning Glory, Nightshade, Philodendron, Poinsettia flowers, Tulips, and many varieties of wild mushroom.
Of course, it is impossible to list every single plant which may be toxic to your dog, as there are literally thousands. The most obvious prevention method to keep your dog from eating toxic plants is to ensure they are not left unsupervised in a garden that contains a wide variety of flowers and plants. While being kept outside, it is recommended that your protection dog, guard dog or security dog be kept in a comfortable area that is kept free of weeds and fungus. It is also a good idea to ensure that your dogs are fed from a consistent source, such as a food bowl. Feeding your dog without a bowl encourages it to take food from other sources, and is generally a bad idea. Here at CCK9, all of our German Shepherd puppies, Dutch Shepherd puppies, and Belgian Malinois puppies are fed from bowls the moment we begin feeding them solid food to help enforce this habit.
Wednesday, December 9th, 2009
The hot topic of the day when it comes to dogs usually has to do with diet. Every article relates to what we feed our dogs, yet no one ever seems to talk about the importance of the water that we give them. We always address this when we are delivering a personal protection dog, since it isn’t a topic that seems to get much press, if any.
It has been my experience that dogs are best served by receiving non-chlorinated water. Not only is there the elimination of unnecessary chemicals introduced into your canine’s system, but it may extend the life of the dog; often by years.
Command Control K9 is fortunate to have a well on its 105 acre, state-of-the-art facility. However, we realize that not everyone is so fortunate. The good news is that there are several other options. Many of my clients purchase a water filter that can either be attached to your faucet, or to the top of a pitcher. Another method involves leaving tap water in a bucket for 24 hours with an air stone for aeration. Leaving the water in the sun also removes the chlorine. Lastly, non-chlorinated water is available for purchase at your local grocery store.
Personal protection dogs are a big investment. Giving your dog non-chlorinated water is one small way to increase the life span of your German shepherd, Belgian Malinois or Dutch Shepherd. Our dogs not only protect us but are part of the family too.
Friday, October 16th, 2009
Despite being classified as carnivores, the canine diet is often more complicated than simply raw meat. In fact, most dogs are both capable of and more than willing to eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and grains. Although meat remains the staple of canine diet, dogs do not require a high level of protein. Even in the wild, it is common for canines to eat available plants and fruit. Unfortunately, not everything that we eat as humans is fit for consumption by your protection dog. Many foods that we eat can be toxic to dogs, and even fatal. While some dogs may instinctively know to avoid certain foods, they are often more than willing to eat anything available, toxic or otherwise. Our German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois are incredibly intelligent, but a dog’s diet is the responsibility of its owner. It is up to you to know what is and is not safe for your protection dog to consume.
While this should go without saying, some people are inclined to give spoiled food to their dog rather than throw it out. It is never okay to feed your dog moldy or spoiled food. The same mold and bacteria that can make you sick can also your make your dog sick.
This is another one that should go without saying, but I’m sure more than a few dogs have suffered the consequences of an irresponsible owner, or a drink left unattended. A dog’s tolerance to alcohol is about that of a small child. Even small amounts can result in serious alcohol poisoning leading to liver failure, coma, seizures or death.
Tobacco and Drugs:
We sincerely hope that no one has tried to give their dog cigarettes, but it is often the case that cigarettes or pills are left unattended and are consumed by accident. Nicotine, pain killers, prescription drugs, cannabis and other illicit drugs are all highly toxic to dogs. While a child-safety cap may be effective at stopping children, it may not prevent your dog from chewing through the bottle. It is best to keep all cigarettes and medicines in a cabinet, out of reach from your dog.
While it may seem strange that two carnivores cannot share the same food, the dietary requirements of a cat are very different from that of a dog. While a one-time incident probably isn’t anything to worry about, the high fat content of cat food can become toxic if consumed often, or in large amounts. All high-fat foods can trigger pancreatitus in dogs, which is potentially fatal. Other high-fat foods, such as bacon, can also be toxic for the same reasons.
Chocolate and Coffee:
While it is never a good idea to give your dog caffeine, chocolate and coffee both also contain a similar substance known as theobromine. Theobromine, while less stimulating to the nervous system than caffeine, has a much greater impact on the heart. In dogs, the increase in heart-rate is extreme and can lead to seizures, tremors and vomiting. Guarana, tea and even cola beverages may also contain theobromine.
Macadamia nuts and walnuts are toxic to all dogs. Peanuts are known to trigger extreme allergic reactions in some, but not all dogs. Because foods containing certain kinds of nuts may also contain traces of others, it is safest to avoid giving your dog any kind of nuts.
Rhubarb, Buckwheat, Tomatoes and Potatoes:
All of these foods contain a compound known as oxilic acid, or oxalate. While many other foods also contain oxalates, rhubarb and buckwheat have the highest concentrations while tomatoes and potatoes have high concentrations in the leaves, skins and, in the case of tomatoes, unripened fruits. Oxalates can trigger abnormalities in the functioning of the nervous system, kidneys and digestive tract of a dog. Tea leaves, star fruit, black pepper, parsley and poppy seeds are also known to contain oxalates and should not be fed to your dog.
Grapes and Raisins:
The toxic effects of grapes and raisins are not immediately noticeable in dogs. The ingestion of grapes and raisins causes acute failure of the kidneys. Lack of kidney function leads to a steady increase of other toxic substances in the blood which are normally filtered out. It is this build-up of other toxins which leads to death. Difficulty in, or lack of urination may be the only immediately noticeable symptom in a dog who has ingested grapes and is experiencing kidney failure.
Onions and Garlic:
Onions and garlic can result in a form of anemia caused by the bursting of red blood cells. Even very small amounts can have a severe negative impact on your dog’s health over time. Never feed your dog onions or garlic, or anything that contains onion or garlic powder as an ingredient.
Strangely, avocado seems to be toxic to many species of mammal, carnivores, herbivores and omnivores alike. Dogs are no exception. Avocado can cause fluid to build up in several organs, including the lungs. This leads to difficulty breathing, and death by asphyxiation.
This is not to say that all mushrooms are toxic to your dog. Many types of mushrooms that are edible by humans can also be consumed by dogs. However, wild mushrooms are an entirely different scenario. The innocent-looking mushrooms growing in the corner of your garden may contain deadly mycotoxins that could affect the kidneys, liver and even the brain of your dog. Be sure to remove any wild mushrooms from your lawn to prevent your dog from eating them.
Of course, anything that might be toxic to humans is most likely toxic to dogs as well. However, there are a number of questionably edible substances which your dog should definitely avoid. These include yeast, any dough containing yeast, liver, raw fish, raw eggs, nutmeg, salt, persimmons, iron supplements and an artificial sweetener known as xylitol.
Monday, May 11th, 2009
A few years ago, a friend of mine called me in a panic. She told me that her German shepherd was whining, attempting to vomit, panting and had a bloated stomach on the left side. I told her to immediately take the dog to her vet. The symptoms were strongly indicative of a life threatening health concern called gastric torsion, or commonly referred to as stomach flipping.
Torsion is most prevalent among large breed dogs. The stomach of the dog will twist or rotate after eating and then engaging in rigorous activity. The problem is further compounded if the dog drinks large amounts of water before or after eating or exercising.
In order to reduce the chances of torsion, never exercise your dog after he or she eats (within 2-3 hours). In fact, after mealtime is the best time to crate your dog. Additionally, do not allow the dog to drink large amounts of water directly after or one hour before exercise or eating kibble. Feeding your dog two meals a day instead of one is helpful. If your dog should exhibit bloating and pain, take him or her to the vet immediately since this is a life threatening situation. Some studies have shown that only half of all dogs experiencing gastric torsion survive. The key to survival had to do with the timeliness at which the handler sought medical attention.
Genetics play a role. Do not a purchase a German shepherd or other large dog without inquiring if any relatives of the dog have experienced gastric torsion.
Fortunately, my friend’s dog made it. She has not had a repeat occurrence now that she knows what to do and what not to do. The chances that your dog will experience this health problem are slim. But on the off chance it does happen, your dog will have a higher rate of survival because you now know what to look for.
Knowledge is a powerful thing.
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