Click Here for
Printable PDF Version
for Printable PDF Version
Let's stop and think about feeding for just a minute. Forget about advertising. Forget about what we have been told. Let's put on our thinking caps, use a bit of common sense, and think for ourselves. Think about what is considered good food for humans. What does a cow or horse eat? How about zoo animals--what do they eat? Do animals get viruses like us? Of course! Do animals get degenerative diseases such as cancer like us? Of course? Do they have an immune system like us? Of course!
Do you believe the immune system is influenced by diet? Of course! If we eat better, do we tend to be healthier? Of course! Which is healthier for humans--highly processed food such as hot dogs, potato chips and candy -or- unprocessed food such as chicken, potatoes and fruit/vegetables? We all know the answer to that one!
Is there ANY reason to believe our dogs are completely different from humans, farm animals or zoo animals? They get sick like us. They get cancer like us. They get arthritis like us. They have an immune system like us. In fact dogs share 25% of the exact DNA with humans and we are more alike to each other than either of us are to mice! And their immune system IS affected by diet--just like ours.
Now how about quality of ingredients. Which is healthier--fresh, inspected whole chicken -or- the diseased and/or otherwise leftover parts such as carcasses, beaks, skin, feathers and such? Is it healthier for us to eat whole grains or highly processed rice flour? Do vegetables contribute phytochemicals, nutrients and other things that enhance health? Is there any reason to believe this wouldn't apply to other mammals such as the dog?
Now, grab a bag of dog food and look at the ingredient list. How many ingredients do you recognize? How many are a bunch of chemical names? (LOTS!) Those chemical names are ALL the added vitamins and minerals. Why were all those vitamins and minerals added to the dog food? Could it have something to do with the fact that dog food has been so highly processed/cooked that there is little nutrition left in it? So little that the vitamins and minerals have to be added BACK into the food to make it nutritionally good? Could this stuff actually be GOOD for our dogs? Think about it! Do you think taking that lovely chicken, rice and salad dinner--baking it in your oven for hours until all the water is evaporated, then feeding it to your children along with a vitamin/mineral supplement would be as good for your children as feeding it to them fresh and whole--with ALL the nutrients still intact, including the ones we don't know about yet?
NOT ON YOUR LIFE!
Dogs are much healthier on fresh food, just as we humans are. For some reason dog food companies have done their best to convince us otherwise, but if we use common sense we know better. The best thing to feed your dog is fresh, whole food. Unfortunately dogs do need a different balance of nutrients as compared to humans. And they tend to be smaller so a balanced diet is more critical as shortages are more like to show up quickly. Little research has been done so far on how to feed dogs fresh food properly. It can be a rather tricky thing to do.
Luckily we have two options that work for now.
(1) We can feed a commercially prepared whole foods diet. There are companies who make fresh whole food dog diets and flash freeze them. We can buy them and keep them in the freezer until ready to be used. Then we can thaw and feed. Some of the better known ones are:
Steve's Real Food
Aunt Jenni's Homemade for Life
Three Cheers Raw! Raw! Raw
These foods are completely formulated and balanced according to the same AAFCO guidelines as dog kibble. These are our best alternative to a completely homemade diet and the only whole foods diet I recommend until we have done more research on how to feed our dogs.
(2) We can feed a top quality dog kibble along with a small amount of vegetables. More information on how to choose a top quality dog kibble will follow.
Somewhere along the line the pet food companies convinced both the vets and us that THEIR food is the best for our dogs. But if we use common sense we can see this cannot be true.
There are many different high quality kibbles. Some good ones at this point in time include the following: Wellness, Innova Evo, Ziwi (http://www.ziwipeak.com/nzl/home.shtml#), Orijen (http://www.orijen.ca/orijen/about/), Kirkland (very much like the old Canidae), Organix, and Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's Soul, along with organic mixed baby greens, occasional raw frozen diets such as Nature’s Variety, Three Cheers Raw! Raw! Raw!, or Farmore and other fruits and vegetables. I love the Organix--it uses several organic ingredients, has a good list of ingredients and my dogs love it. Ultramix is from the same company only is not an organic food. Unbelievably enough my local Giant Eagle store carries Organix and Ultramix--the first time I've ever seen a quality food in a grocery store. Most of these can now be purchased at Pet Supplies Plus stores. I believe both can be purchased on-line through www.petfooddirect.com as well, some through www.amazon.com and many other places on the internet. Some of the same places that carry these foods also carry high quality snacks such as Dr. Becker’s Bison Liver bites and freeze-dried diets such as Stella and Chewy’s.
I would never, EVER feed a typical grocery store bought dog kibble as their quality is quite inferior to Canidae and some of the other dog kibbles. This includes Iams and Science Diet which I consider very poor quality as compared to the ones I've mentioned (compare the ingredients to see why!).
I will NOT feed a Puppy Food either. My dogs get only a quality Adult Food. At one time dog kibble was so poor in quality that if you did not feed a puppy food, the puppy would not get the nourishment it needed. Today the problem as reversed. Puppy foods are so powerful they actually cause the bones of a puppy to grow more quickly than the surrounding tissues are able to. This causes uneven development and may exaggerate any genetic predisposition to skeletal problems such as hip dysplasia or patellar luxation. Feed a high quality adult kibble ONLY.
More info on feeding at this site: http://www.dogaware.com/dogfeeding.html#addfoo
Puppies between 8 and 16 weeks of age do quite well on 3 meals a day. They start out with about a large handful of kibble for each meal or about 1/4 cup. At about 3 to 6 months of age you may begin feeding your puppy twice a day, about 1/2 cup or so each time. Somewhere between 10 and 18 months of age you may begin feeding just once a day--with some really good eaters you may need to feed just once a day by 6 or 7 months of age.
Each time you feed your puppy, put the food down for approximately 15 minutes. If the puppy hasn't finished it after 15 minutes, pick it up and put it away until the next feeding time. Do NOT try to feed in between. Refrigerate if you are feeding a commercially prepared whole foods diet. Do not worry if your puppy appears thin. Puppies are just like humans. Some are very thin while growing up and some are not. It is highly unlikely your puppy will starve itself unless it is already ill. A puppy that grows slowly is best--there is no first prize for gaining full size as early as possible! Puppies who grow slowly are more likely to be able to develop muscle and tissue at the correct rate to keep up the bone development. Of course some puppies are gluttons! Be careful not to overfeed a glutton.
As adults some Cavaliers may only eat 1/2 cup of food per day, others may eat as much as 1 full cup of food per day. I do not suggest feeding an adult Cavalier twice a day even though it is best for the dog. Cavaliers do not eat much! Half of very little is almost nothing! Nearly every owner I've known who tried to feed an adult twice a day ended up with an overweight Cavalier. When they try to divide 1/2 or 2/3 cup of kibble into two servings the amount barely covers the bottom of the pan--so they add just a little bit more so they don't feel as though they are starving their Cavalier. A little bit more every meal eventually ends up being a lot more! And their Cavalier becomes overweight. With one meal a day the amount looks to our eyes as though it is a half way decent amount and we are much less likely to add just a little bit more each day.
Here is an interesting article on feeding and dog's stomachs:
Due to MVD, being overweight is nearly a death sentence for a Cavalier. I guarantee you the best way to prolong your Cavalier's life is to keep its weight to a MINIMUM! Not overweight even a little bit. THIN! If your Cavalier is even a little bit overweight, it will hasten the onset of MVD and death. Do not allow this to happen.
HOW MUCH DO I FEED AND IS MY DOG OVERWEIGHT?
Your vet is not the person to ask! Over the years I have been amazed to find out that vets are very reluctant to tell an owner their dog is overweight until the dog is quite overweight--till the dog is so overweight it is very hard to get it off. Here are two ways to judge if your dog is overweight.
First is the rib test. Look for a hand towel or dish towel in your house. Fold it in half. Find a wire crate, wire fencing or ex-pen, something with wire not spaced too far apart. Rub the towel over the wire several times and get used to how it feels. How does the wire feel, how easily does the towel move under your fingers? Now rub your fingers over the ribs on your dog. It should feel quite similar. A VERY thin amount of skin that moves easily over the ribs--ribs which can easily be felt and counted. If you feel some padding under the skin, the dog is mildly overweight. If you feel a lot of padding, you have to press a bit to feel individual ribs, and the skin doesn't move around easily--the dog is definitely overweight.
The second test is the waist test. Stand over your dog and look down at it while it is standing with the dog facing the same direction as you are. You can also use your hands with this test. As you are looking down at the dog you can see where the ribs are. If you are not sure run your hands from the shoulders over the ribs down to where the ribs end so you will know just where the ribs are. After the last rib, and before the hips, you should see a distinct indentation--a waist. If you can barely see an indentation, the dog is mildly overweight. If there is no indentation at all, the dog is definitely overweight. The following are three pictures of dogs. None are really overweight, but they will help somewhat in teaching you what to look for as some are have a tinch more weight than they should. I hope to get a picture of a very thin Cavalier and a very heavy Cavalier at some point in the future.
The arrows are pointing at the waist of each dog. Dog #1 in in pretty good weight. #2 is a bit heavier and lacking some waist, but both are in decent weight. Dog #3 is definitely much heavier. The dog has no noticeable waist as you can see and needs to lose several pounds.
Less Food: cut back to about 1/2 of what you had been feeding. If you are feeding kibble, take 1/2 of what you plan on giving your dog and soak it long enough so that it expands. Mix the dry in with the wet expanded food. The expanded food will help your dog feel a bit more full right after eating. Then add about 1/2 cup of green beans---fresh or thawed frozen (canned has too much salt) to the top and feed. The green beans are a very low calorie filler and quite good for your dog too!
If the dog isn't losing weight within 2 weeks, cut back on the food even more.
Some Ideas for More Exercise: try to take your dog for a walk daily, especially if you don't normally do so. If you can't do that for whatever reason, attempt to play fetch or whatever with your dog for 15 minutes a day. Tether your dog to you while you are working around the house so the dog has to go with you instead of sleeping on the couch. Try a buster cube with a few treats inside. That might help keep the dog busy for a bit. Throw the dog's kibble so it has to go and get it--either the treats or even the dog's entire meal.
The following is an article written by Jennifer Harris. It is a couple of years old so some of the newer kibbles I've mentioned are not on it--they didn't exist at the time she wrote this article.
ASSESSING A DOG KIBBLE
What to look for on the ingredient list.
Quality Foods Should Contain:
Superior sources of protein, either whole fresh meats or single source meat meal (ex. chicken meal rather than poultry meal)
A whole-meat source as one of the first two ingredients.
Whole, unprocessed grains, vegetables, and other foods. Nutrients and enzymes are more likely to be found in unprocessed foods.
Quality foods should contain very little to NONE of the following:
Food fragments - lower-cost by-products of another food manufacturing process, such as brewer's rice and wheat bran...Manufacturers usually include at least one fragment to help lower costs. Beware any food that includes several fragments.
Meat by-products (not handled as carefully as whole meat) - any food that contains meat by-products as the MAJOR protein source indicates a low-quality product.
HIGH-QUALITY FOODS SHOULD NOT CONTAIN:
Fats or proteins named generically (ex. animal fat/poultry fat instead of beef fat/ lamb meal)
Artificial preservatives (BHA, BHT, ethioxyquin)
Sweeteners (corn syrup, sucrose, ammoniated glycyrrhizin) to improve unappealing food Propylene glycol - a toxic substance when consumed in large amounts; added to some "chewy" foods to keep them moist.
How to Grade Your Dog's Food
Score: 94-100+ = A 86-93 = B 78-85 = C 70-77 = D 69 and below = F
"Give Your Dog a Bone" by Dr. Ian Billinghurst.
Good place to buy wholesome food and treats.
<BACK TO MAIN CAVALIER CARE PAGE