The Urban Legends of Dog Food
True or False
Never feed your dog people food or table scraps
Never free feed your dog
Never feed your dog at the table
Once you find a good dog food, stick with it.
You should not attempt to make your own dog food
Bones are bad for dogs, especially chicken bones
Raw food diets are good for dogs with allergies
Well how do you think you did? Let’s find out.
Way back when, when people were struggling to feed themselves and their children, dogs were not high up on
the priority list. Pretty much the family dogs fended for themselves and made due with the occasional table scrap.
The average lifespan of a dog was likely not long enough to evaluate the effects of adequate nutrition. On the
other hand, dogs have historically been remarkable scavengers and if you have ever been to a third world
country you could have seen that first hand.
After WWII when America began to build the American Dream of neighborhoods with single family dwellings,
green lawns and a margin of disposable income. Some genioius had the vision of a way to squeeze the last drop
out of animal and agricultural byproducts by mixing up a mash, preserving and packaging it and selling it to all of
those city people with dogs. Convenience and modernism was all the rage.
Following on the heels of invention is marketing! With convenience and modernism being all the rage, the market
was ripe. Then along comes some marketing genius who realized that if he convinces everyone that they couldn’t
possibly know how to feek their dogs correctly since it is such a complex, scientific work of art. To even attempt
doing so you risk the very health and longevity of your dog. Naturally it follows that you wouldn’t feed your
beloved dog table scraps because that would upset the balance if this perfectly formulated all inclusive dog food!
Besides, they might get full and not want the dog food!
We are just emerging now from the “no people food, not ever” era. Some pioneers have even gone so far as to
make their own dog food and I don’t think they are using dog food to make is with either. Households across the
nation have begun feeding their dogs not only table scraps but are even purchasing people food to specifically
feed to their dogs! Among these choices are raw chicken, beef and fish, bones and all!
Another marketing ploy is that you should never switch dog foods! Imagine how many companies would have
gone out of business if that line was sold about shampoos! How would you feel about eating the same food day
in and day out? And we wonder why some dogs bite the hand that feeds them? The number of high quality dog
foods on the market today is astounding. I highly suspect that the benefit each dog realizes from each dog food
varies from dog to dog and over time. Dogs metabolic needs are not stagnant and predictable. I doubt that
nutritionists could design a complete and balanced diet for the human, so how can any company make that claim
for dogs, all dogs, all the time? Each dog food formula has a degree of variation. As I see it, the best way to
attempt to balance your dog’s diet is to vary the diet. Try out different high quality dog foods, make your own for
a while, feed your dog vegetables while you are chopping them up for dinner. Some dogs clearly are more
sensitive than others to dietary changes, especially dogs with allergies, so introduce new foods gradually in small
Now, what about free-feeding? There are definitely two schools of thought. From a trainer’s point of view, all
good things must be given by you, the all-powerful. The dog needs to know that you are in control of his very
livelihood and it is at your favor, he will, if the gods are happy, receive his bounty.
Another good reason for controlled feeding deals with the issue ofhousebreaking. As a general rule, dogs usually
have to poop after they eat. Consequently, you can more easily predict when your puppy will need to go outside.
These are very valid reasons for controlled feeding. I will make an argument for free feeding. I figure we control
enough of the goodies in a dog’s life so letting go of routine feeding isn’t giving over the Hope Diamond. Besides,
I think dogs are smart enough to know from wherein comes the food. The value of free-feeding allows dogs to eat
what they need, no more and no less. Once dogs know that food is always available they tend to relax about
food and are much less apt to develop eating disorders. This is particularly valuable when you live with a group
of dogs with different metabolic needs. Nevertheless, I would not recommend free feeding high value food; this
only refers to dry kibble. In reference to the housebreaking issue, it has been my experience that you simply need
to notice when your puppy eats and take them out accordingly.
Now, back to table scraps. I vote for table scraps with the following guidelines:
If it is good for you, chances are it is good for your buddy. I do not advise you or your dog to eat fatty, hi carb,
sugary, salty foods on a regular basis. Junk food and fast food are not part of the food pyramid. There are some
things that dogs shouldn't’ eat, especially in any quantity so I advise you know what those foods are.
Though they are called table scraps, feeding dogs from the table is not recommended If you don’t care about
having drooling, panting, pawing and whining dogs at your dinner table, have at it! Just don’t expect anyone to
ever come to your home for dinner.
There still remains controversy over the use of a raw food diet. I will leave that topic for those better informed on
it. However, I know many people who swear by a raw food diet for allergies. Dental health is another plus I have
heard about several times.
Which brings us to another answer about bones, especially the dreaded chicken bones! Well who knew, it is only
the cooked bones that are bad! When cooked, the moisture is removed so when the dog chews on them they
can splinter causing many problems when they are stuck in the throat of your dog or piercing the intestines as it
passes through. This is actually one of the advantages of a raw food diet. The hard bones help scrape off the
tartar on the dog’s teeth. I find marrowbones from Whole Foods to be the best. You can usually find them in the
frozen food section next to the meat counter.