When a dog is under the weather, most vets and dieticians agree that a principle to follow when feeding the animal is “little and often”. This would appear to suggest that, as a general principle, this is no less true for a healthy dog - in terms of supplying it with an easier digestive process. But the taxing routines of daily life mostly don’t allow for repeatedly providing the time to include feeding your pet more than once - or, at the most, twice - a day; except, perhaps, for those who like to supply a dog with tit-bits straight from the owner’s table while he or she eats - which is a bad habit for a dog, as any fule nose (with apologies to Molesworth and Ronald Searle).
Here at “adoptaveggiedog”, with the limited time available to attribute to 28 animals currently in our care, we are no different from the average. Unless they appear to be putting on weight, we succeed in finding the time to feed our dogs a small amount in the mornings, plus a main meal in the afternoons: if the waistline is expanding (theirs not ours!), we reduce this to just the main meal.
Kindly note that we don’t make any great claims of having carried out years of in-depth scientific researches into canine dietary requirements. Obviously, we studied a number of books on first beginning our policy, but, more important, the practical experience over some 28 years of owning dogs in quantity has supplied us with a knowledgeable routine that works very well here. Thanks to the enduring health of our animals, under these existing conditions and the immune systems they consequently construct, as a rule our sole regular contact with the veterinary profession is limited to when we need to have a dog neutered - prior to the execution of such a request, following a definite adoption application - or when vets bombard us with commercial vaccination reminders, as is their wont.
There are a few items that, even as strict vegetarians, we try to avoid including in their diet. They are listed below –
1. Vegetables of the “Solanum” family, i.e. – potatoes, tomatoes, peppers (capsicum), egg-plant (aubergine). These can cause arthritis in a dog, in later life.
2. Sugar. Ditto.
5. Our own form of vegetarianism includes the consuming of dairy products (milk, butter, cream, etc.), but excludes the use of eggs, or cheese containing animal rennet. Therefore, we eschew their inclusion in our pet’s diets, as well. A dog that is fully vegetarian may develop an adverse physical reaction to their use. I have known an elderly strictly-vegetarian fox-terrier suddenly develop septicaemia, and die, after mistakenly being fed a product containing a quantity of albumen by an uneducated dog-carer.
Here listed below are some of the standard items we do feed them, however, for your assistance and information.
In the winter, a portion of oatmeal porridge, one or two mornings a week, is ideal to protect your pet from the cold of the coming day. Just boil some pure water in a large pot and pour in some sugar-free oats, stirring constantly. As this will continue to cook even once the heat is switched off, it is advisable to turn off the hob a little while before it is completely set. Then add in some milk, bit-by-bit, both to improve the taste and to cool down the porridge before feeding (care should be taken to ensure that the dollops dished out have sufficiently cooled right through the contents). We only ever use goat’s milk , since, here in Spain, it is easily obtainable and compares favourably in price to cow’s milk, which we believe to be less beneficial in helping the dog’s immune system; but Soya milk is OK, also.
In summer, the porridge may be replaced with muesli - uncooked, naturally. To this we like to add some grated apple, sliced banana and natural sugar-free yoghurt. Sugar-free non-animal-content biscuits may also be added to the mix; or - for a dog with some weight on it that the owner is trying to reduce - just a light breakfast of a few of these biscuits is sufficient, also.
On the days when there just isn’t time to make them a more complex breakfast, merely a small amount of kibble in the morning, soaked for 10 minutes in milk (see above), will do the job. Our dogs are given this on 3 scheduled mornings per week, as a rule. On the other days, they are “treated”, as mentioned previously (what will be repeatedly referred to as “kibble” is the word we use for fully-vegetarian solid dog-food, obtained in large bags - in our case from a manufacturer called “Yarrah”, based in the Netherlands (see “Vegetarian Dog Food Suppliers”), with just the biscuits, of the type suggested before, on one morning a week.
The content of a vegetarian dog’s main meal of the day, as we care to provide - within the time-frame at our disposal - may be divided into three specific categories. These are “staple food”; “vegetables”; and “healthy additives”. We like to combine some of each into their main meal, and list here below how this is done.
Staple food :-
1. Kibble. Same as breakfast, except that water (filtered, mineral or spring) may be used to soak it at this stage of the day.
2. Pasta (egg-free).
4. Lentils (remember to soak them for 24 hours before cooking, if they are not pre-cooked or from a tin).
6. Bread - preferably wholemeal or granary, but semi-stale baguettes (easily obtainable in Spain) are all right. This can simply be crumbled or broken into the mix.
Vegetables (chopped and steamed; mashed if there is time.). We like to choose between the following. A combination of two or three is ample :-
Sweet Potato (yam)
Healthy additives (some of these are simply chosen to provide a more tempting taste) :-
Chopped parsley (good for the kidneys! They are fed this daily).
Other dried or fresh herbs, as obtainable, but used sparingly, since the strong scent may deter the dog from the food - chives, fennel, oregano, bay, sage, dandelion, thyme, etc.
A tablespoon of olive oil, to help digestion (in Spain this is reasonably priced, but other oils may be considered in countries were olives are not cultivated so profusely - such as peanut oil, rice oil, consumable almond oil - i.e. not massage almond oil! - or even sunflower oil, at a pinch).
Crushed almond, hazel, cashew or brazil nuts.
A broth made from Miso, poured on the food and left to cool.
Ditto, made from Marmite (we are aware this contains salt, but sometimes Miso is n/a, and a rare exception is not lethal!).
Goji berries (!) (not more than 4 or 5 daily)
A little crushed garlic, once or twice a week, is of great benefit, also - provided the strong taste may be somewhat concealed in the mix, by the addition of the oil or broth - since, of course, it will act as an internal disinfectant. Care should be taken, however, as, very occasionally, you may find that a dog’s stomach will be over-sensitive to its effects, and become mildly irritated.
Grated animal-rennet-free cheese (usually marked “suitable for vegetarians”).
Natural sugar-free yoghurt.
These “healthy additives” are merely suggested options, but all will help a dog’s general well-being. We tend to add a combination of two or three of them to each daily meal.
No doubt a prospective adopter will want to try various other items out, for him or herself, and the above are just guidelines. However, I’m sure they will prove useful in informing you what a dog that has been cared for by us is accustomed to be fed with, and thereby be helpful in determining its future diet.
David Dudley. San Blas. 11/5/14.