Careful feeding, without excess
As for all the big dogs, feeding is of the highest importance also for the Wolfhound, yet feeding him in an adequate way isn’t as complicated as could generally be thought.
In the course of the years most controversial theories have followed one another, no one having resisted entirely in process of time, however they contributed to build some established points from which experience suggests not to depart.
- Learning to observe the dog : the coat, the mucous membranes, the teeth, the nails, the anal glands.
- Avoiding calcium and energy in excess, especially during growth.
- Learning to estimate the weight of the dog at sight, to recognize the weight of form.
Processed food, how to choose them
The kibbles offer evident advantages : they are economic, practical and above all they are very reassuring.
Generations of Wolfhounds have been fed in that way and recently even better formula than in the past are available.
The industrial food presents the advantage to be very constant ; even a novice, assisted by the vet and the breeder can serenely feed his dog and merely introduce those modifications that prove necessary.
Hence the idea of the feasibility of feeding an animal a unique food every day and for its entire life is rather arguable.
The factories try to develop a medium nutriment adapted to all requirements and “perfectly” balanced.
This is a contradiction of terms, because what is perfect for the average of dogs is not by definition adapted for dogs that are out of the average.
This means that a food which should help the inexperienced owner reveals itself easier to cope with, if the owner has at least enough experience to realize when something doesn’t work as it should do.
But what is to be done to avoid falling into error when choosing the food?
Personally I have found it useful to follow some advice:
- Alternate between different companies / brands and different sources of proteins: feeding a unique food for the whole life reduces the capacity to digest new food, increases the possibility of creating deficiencies or excess and it is very boring for the dog.
- Avoid exotic food, type stag, duck, quail, etc. They are not necessary to the healthy dogs and there is the risk that you will not be able any more to have access to them in case allergies have developed
- Integrate a small part of fruit and vegetables, avoiding grapes, raisins and onions.
If the chosen food contains lots of cereals, it might be a good idea to add a small part of meat, but not more than 20%. If you add fresh meat in high proportions – but only if this is the case – it becomes necessary to add a calcium source. In all the other cases it is highly advised against supplementing an industrial product with calcium, in particular for a growing Wolfhound.
- The product should be as fresh as possible: control the expiration date and avoid to stock for too long, in particular if it contains natural anti-oxidants instead of the chemical ones.
Read carefully the labels.
In a good feeding:
- There are no fats and oils or proteins of non specified origin.
- There are no meals of gluten of maize.
- There are no by-products of meat.
- There are no BHA, BHT, Ethoxyquin.
- There are no coloring matters, artificial canners, added sugar.
- The quota of cereals isn’t preponderant.
The Wolfhound in growth period generally doesn’t need a feeding with very high content of energy, but those with a high level of protein (if quality proteins) must not be worried about.
Natural food: is it really impossible?
To feed the Wolfhounds with a home-made diet has become possible and not even too complicated, but as I had completely forgotten how to feed dogs with a home-made diet, I have read some books and articles and listened to the opinions of competent breeders and vets before starting.
In the page of the links I gathered a certain number of interesting web sites, I limit myself to indicate a particularly rich one in English.
It is dogaware, the web site managed by Mary Straus, a blogger who has now collected an impressive amount of data and information about canine feedings, industrial as well as the natural home-made, cooked or raw.
There are many ways of preparing a meal of fresh food for a Wolfhound, you may cook it or give it raw, chopped or entire, you may use cereals or not use them at all, as the most recent researches seem to demonstrate that the dogs don’t need them if the diet is enough rich in fats and animal proteins.
Personally I hate cooking and if I had to prepare buckets of rice and meat I believe that I would have stuck to the dry food.
I have adopted a diet based essentially on fresh raw food with a small percentage of cereals.
In other words, the point is to come as near as possible to the type of food biologically adapted to the particular physiology of the dog, which is mostly a carnivore and as such possesses a short and simple gastrointestinal tract, efficient in digesting meat. Having chosen a food with fresh constituents, I can buy quality food produced near where I live and by methods respecting the environment and those for whom they produce them.
Unnecessary to say that my hounds are happy to find themselves with a bowl full of fresh food, and what I have noticed immediately is a drastic reduction of droppings, clean teeth and a shining and abundant coat.
The support of a Nutritionist.
A Nutritionist has done specific studies on the alimentation of animals and particulary on small animals, or else is a Veterinarian specialialist in the same area.
My wolfhounds follow a perolized diet, prescripted by a Nutritionist.
The Nutritionist check yhe pupèpies during hte weaning ad leave the kennel with a dietetic scheme. The new owner can either choice to use it, with the consulence of the Nutriotionist according with the Veterinarian, or switch the pup on a appropriate commercial food.
I must admit that it is more time consuming to prepare fresh meals than open a bag and pour the content in a bowl.
Not everybody has the time needed to purchase the ingredients and to prepare them each day for his big dog.
Those who don’t want to renounce the advantages of a fresh and raw feeding may adopt a valid alternative in purchasing preconditioned frozen food.
In Italy the offer doesn’t abound but considering that in Europe it has become common to find the department of frozen food for dogs in the supermarkets and animal shops, I bet that soon someone will discover this channel. For now the products available on the market are simple and prepared on a small scale; they may be ordered on-line and you will receive them at home.
It is possible to use them as a basic food, adding various other aliments to ensure that variety which is one of the advantages of the home-made diet. They are convenient when traveling or in case of emergency or when you just not had the time to unfrozen the ingredients.
To base entirely the feeding of a Wolfhound on these products is however rather expensive and entails the same limits than the industrial foods.
Raw meaty bones :
chicken wings, chicken wings with back,
turkey necks, lamb chops (better minced if for an old dog or a puppy). My own eat miced bones becasue they are appropriate fo all the life stage.
Chicken, turkey, lamb, beef, coocked pork.
Liver, spleen, heart of different animals.
Green tripe unwashed
Fish : Entire, thawed
Fruit and vegetables: raw, finely crushed
Vegetable oils : soyabeen, corn, turnflower, flax, peanuts
Yogurt / kefir
Rice, brown rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, drybread from time to time.
A good feeding plan must provide all the nutriments, even if not necessarily in the same meal.
In addition it should be adapted to the requirements of each individual at the different stages of his life.
Those who embark on this sort of feeding for the first time should search for adequate information, then follow in detail an approved diet and understand the basic principles that regulate it. To copy diets found on the web is dangerous, especially if are not developed by expert nutritionist.
1) These constituents and indications are the results of my experience with my dogs, they are just indicatory and cannot replace the advice of a veterinary.
2) The organs, as well as fish and tripe may contain larva of parasites; if used raw it is better to freeze them for at least one week.
3) The freezing inactivates the major part of the parasites but not the virus and bacteria. The raw meat of pork may contain dangerous ones for the dog and it is therefore better to serve it only cooked.
4) Too hard bones may cause fractures of the teeth, those too small as the chicken necks may induce choking. These mishaps happen rarely but have proved possible. For a Wolfhound I consider suitable the various parts of the chicken (wings, thighs), turkey necks, the tails of the bovines and some parts of the rabbit and the lamb, but only of young animals. Alternatively the meaty bones may be chopped into small pieces with a hatchet or minced with a grinder.
5) Cooked bones as well as frozen ones should be avoided because they may splinter and injure the alimentary canal.
6) No feeding scheme, be it natural or industrial, should be embraced like to plight one’s troth. If the alimentary combination opted for isn’t well tolerated it must be modified and/or completed according to necessity.
7) There are not many vets able to prescribe a home-made diet, but in no case the vet should be kept in ignorance of the diet adopted.
Donald R. Strombeck
Home prepred dog and Cat diets.
Iowa State University Press 1999
Complete Guide to Natural Health for dogs & cats.
Beth Taylor Karen Shaw Becker
dr Beker’s Real Food for healthy dogs & cats.
Monica Segal, AHCW
Raw and cooked canine diets: The next level.Promote Health
Monica Segal, AHCW
K9Kitchen: The Truth Behind The Hype
Feed Your Best Friend Better: Easy, Nutritious Meals and Treats for Dogs