It is likely that dogs were first attracted to living with humans by the prospect of an easy meal. However, it took over 15 000 years of co-existence before someone hit on the idea of mass producing a food that was made specifically for dogs. And this first commercial dog food, created in the mid 1800’s, was hardly a commercial success. People continued feeding their dogs as they always had until the mid 20th century, when the idea of ‘dog food’ finally began to gain traction.
You may be wondering what dogs were fed for the thousands of years up to that point. The truth is, for much of that time, they were pretty much left to their own devices, and had to scrounge, steal or hunt what they could. Later, it became to feed the dog whatever leftovers remained from the human meal.
As the dog’s role evolved from guardian, hunter or worker to family pet, they would have got more regular meals from their human companions. Often though, the bulk of these meals would still have been table scraps, with some sort of commercial feed added for bulk.
As information has become more accessible, via television and, especially, the internet, there has been an increased interest in dog health and nutrition. This has seen a dramatic increase in the number of TV programs, websites and magazines about dogs.
We’ve seen the introduction of specialized, size specific, breed specific and age specific canine diets, as well as things like the BARF diet. Small wonder the average pet owner is confused about what to feed his dog.
So, I hear you ask, what food is best for my dog?
Well, depending on who you listen to, it could be anything from raw meat and vegetables, cooked homemade meals, or a premium, vet-approved brand of kibble.
All of these approaches have merit. But the important thing is balance and a menu that caters to the dog’s omnivorous nature. All good dog food diets, whether raw, dry or home cooked, need to take this into account.
Try to split your dog’s calorie intake three ways between meat, vegetables and fiber. Or feed a slightly higher percentage of meat and reduce the other two components proportionally.
Cooking for your dog and shopping for fresh foods are time consuming. But even if, like most of us, you are “time poor”, you can still feed your dog a balanced, healthy diet. Simply speak to your vet about the best premium or super premium dog food brand for your dog.
There are many variants available, so be sure to choose the right one from puppy, senior, lite, large breed etc. Some even cater to the nutritional needs of specific breeds.
Two definite no-nos are feeding your dog table scraps, and feeding him a cheap brand of kibble.
The cheap brands available on most supermarket shelves are packed with grains and thus of low nutritional value. They may also be behind numerous ailments ranging from allergies to more serious diseases like cancers.
Table scraps are also not ideal for dogs. Generally these will be high in fat and contain things like onions and garlic, which are harmful. If you feed your dog from the table you’re also likely to end up with a persistent beggar on your hands.