Nutrition - General Principles

A dog's digestion is extremely adaptable to a wide variety of foods, but feeding need not be the complicated business that all too many people associated with dogs would have it be. Many diets are more suited to the owners than to their pets.

Many reputable dog food manufacturers now make brands of complete dry food for dogs. Some are more palatable than others, but they all contain a balanced mixture of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and a selection of the essential minerals and vitamins required to maintain a healthy dog. If the dog is fed dry foods from weaning, then little trouble will be experienced in encouraging your dog to take this form of food as an adult.

If palatability of dry food is a problem, then adding a proportion of cooked meat or canned food to the measure of dry dog food may enhance its appeal. Lean meat from veal, rabbit and poultry (white meats), are very similar in composition to red meats, and all share a high food value. The main difference for our purposes, is the fat content; white meats having generally much less fat, and are of a more polyunsaturated nature than the red meats. Fats add flavour and digestibility to other foods and help bind together dry foods; they are also a good source of the vitamins A and D.

Too high a proportion of meat is harmful and is not a balanced diet. Proportions fed should be approximately 20% meat or canned food, and 80% dry food (of the complete balanced type). Whilst canned food has not been suggested to form the whole diet, at least 20% good quality canned food has been recommended. In fact, the better brands of canned foods are completely balanced and are therefore better than fresh meat in this regard. Brawn loaf and other such pet foods have not been recommended, as the meat source, freshness, and preservative levels are often dubious.

DO NOT CONFUSE ORDINARY DOG BISCUITS WITH THE COMPLETE DRY FOOD BRANDS.

Suitable brands which provide your dog with a fully balanced diet can be found by checking the details on the label or by checking with your vet. Most brands on the market are suitable and a lot will depend on your dog's preferences. If changing from one brand of dog food to another, be patient with your dog. The old mixture should still be fed whilst you gradually add the new brand; mix the two thoroughly, making every attempt to conceal the new food within the old. This should be fed until your dog eats this with the same relish as his old food, gradually adding more and more new food and less and less old food. For some dogs, there will be no problem, but for others, this procedure may take several days. Don't hurry this, after all, the dog may have had 24 months or so to become accustomed to his old diet, so don't expect all this to change in 24 hours. Your dog's digestive system must also adjust to this change which may take up to 2 weeks.

** When water, at room temperature or warmer, is added to foods made from plants, it activates enzymes already in the plants. These enzymes break down the phytin complexes, freeing the minerals for your dog to use. This is one of the reasons why soaking your dry dog food before feeding it improves its digestibility. However once this dry dog food is moistened it is far more susceptible to bacteria and other germs which is why you should never leave your dog's food lying around after he has finished with it.

Diet and your Siberian Maintaining your Siberian