Sherob's Cookbook Introduction


What Type of Food? Boy feeding Schnauzer

With all the different types and brands of dog foods on the market, choosing one for your dog can be rather confusing, I am asked all the time about what kind of food is the "best," and my answer is always the same: whatever your dog does well on. Some dogs thrive on foods that other dogs can't tolerate, and the needs of your dog may change with its circumstances.

For instance, nursing moms will need a different food from growing puppies or sedentary older dogs. Toy breeds may have difficulty eating foods that large dogs relish, especially geriatric dogs with dental problems. Large pet stores like Petco and Petsmart as well as smaller pet-related businesses like grooming shops and boarding kennels carry many brands of quality dog food as does the grocery store.

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Read the Labelwoman reading dog food label

Whatever you choose, be sure to look at the label and read the ingredients. Some kind of meat should be one of them...not soy, corn, or some other grain. Unlike us, dogs are carnivores, although their digestive systems have adapted over the centuries to living with people, so they probably can do well on diets that wouldn't suit one of their wild cousins.

Good dog foods have different formulas that are nutritionally balanced for the age and activity level of your pet. Of course, some dogs will not be typical and may actually fit this niche. You'll just have to see how your dog does, and if he isn't thriving on one brand or brand type, you can try another.

Don't Create a Picky Eater

One caution, though! The surest way to make a picky eater is to keep switching dog foods. Some dogs do well with free-feeding, that is, having some food always available. In a multi-dog household, where competitive eating might occur, this may induce hostility between the dogs or may lead to overeating. If you don't free feed, leave food out for the dog for 45 minutes or so and if it's not eaten by then, pick it up. Next time cut back the amount you feed until you have an amount the dog eats at one sitting. If he skips a meal, don't worry. A healthy dog will not starve.

Dogs appetites vary, not only from dog to dog but from one stage of life to another. The puppy who has been practically inhaling his food may be quite indifferent to it as a teenager. Your gauge should be your dog's appearance and condition rather than how much you think the dog food company recommends or you think he should have.

Judge by Appearance

A dog in good condition and weight shouldn't look like a stuffed sausage. Only very young puppies should be roly-poly. His waistline should be clearly visible but not sunken in. When the dog is running or stretched out on the floor asleep, you should see a suggestion of ribs. Of course, in a coated breed, like a Collie, this might not be so obvious, but you should be able to feel them easily. When the dog is standing around normally, however, the ribs shouldn't be protruding. In other words, he should have a small layer of protective fat over his ribs, but not an excessive amount.


Unless he is undergoing a seasonal shed, your dog's coat should be glossy and resiliant, his eyes should be clear and bright, and his demeanor happy and active. If this isn't the case and a veterinary exam shows that nothing is apparently wrong, you might try something different with his food.

For a dull, dry coat, you can add a little fat to his food. Use safflower oil or cold-pressed flax seed oil, a teaspoon or so depending on his size. If your dog gets hot spots (moist excema) during the summer, try a lower fat food for a while and shift back in the winter. These are often a problem for Spitz-type dogs (Siberians, Malamutes, Akitas, etc) in warm weather. Of course, regular brushing will also help.

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How Much and How Often

Puppies eat a lot more in comparison to their body size and a lot more often than adults. A 12-week old may eat three or four times a day. By 6 months, he may eat only twice a day. You may break up your dog's meal into two servings, morning and night or feed once a day with snacks in between. Some dogs will eat more at one meal than the other. Some will eat as much as you put before them, and some will just nibble. As long as the dog looks okay, he's getting enough food.

When you are watching weight on a dog, you must remember to factor in the cookies. Calories count in dogs, just like they do in people. I used to have an Akita female who had a "NO COOKIES" sign on her kennel when I boarded her. She'd developed this cute little dance and "woooooooowooooo" that she used to entice treats from anyone passing her run. In one week, she gained 10 pounds. While her confinement contributed to this, most of it was extra food.

Decisions, decisionsCanned or Kibble?

Kibble is the kind of dog food that comes in bags and is some type of pellet. These may be of different sizes and shapes. Kibble used to be baked but now it is dried. It has the highest calorie count by weight of the various types of commercial food and is actually the best balanced, most nutritious, and least expensive.

Canned food may be all meat or may be balanced as a complete food. People with small dogs may find this a more convenient way to feed but need to be sure the dog is getting something to chew to keep his teeth clean and his gums exercised. Many people who feed kibble add a few tablespoons of an all-meat canned food to give it extra flavor. You may also add table left-overs, although these should be extra rather than a staple of the dog's diet.

Semi-moist foods are a great favorite with dogs but that is because of the higher amounts of sugar and salt in the food rather than it's being better for them. Yes, dog's like junk-food too, and you should probably look at these as the doggy equivalent of potato chips. Unfortunately, the same thing is true of many of the of the canned and dry foods sold in grocery stores. That's why you have to be sure to read the labels!

Wet or Dry?

Doggy punch bowlEver eat popcorn at the movie and forget to buy a drink? Then you know how your dog feels after he eats a bowl of dry dog food. He MUST have access to fresh water.  Of course, almost all dogs prefer the "punch bowl" to water in a "dog" bowl.  Be sure you don't use any cleaner that stays in the tank if your dog can access the toilet, and if you're soaking it in cleaner, be SURE to put the top down because the can cause serious damage or may kill your dog!

Many people, especially those with breeds prone to problems with gastric torsion or bloat, wet the food thoroughly before feeding. It can soak up an amazing amount of water.

Chewing hard food, rawhides, dentabones and such will help remove tartar build-up on your dog's teeth, so feeding wet food negates the cleaning action of the kibble. Smaller dogs, especially toys, may have problems with tartar that is exacerbated by soft or wet food, so be sure to keep your dog's teeth cleaned on a daily or at least weekly basis and have them cleaned by the veterinarian at least once a year.

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What the @#@ is BARF?

BARF is an acronym for Bones and Raw Food, a diet for dogs that has gained many adherents over the last few years, some of whom are zealots. Several books are available that discuss how to feed a balanced diet that you either cook or feed raw. The best known is Billinghurst's Give the Dog a Bone.

BARF diets are especially good for dogs that have immune system problems. Among these are lupus, VKH or uveitis dermatosis, allergies, pemphigus and sebaceous adenitis. The most ardent of the BARF feeders claim all sorts of benefits for their dogs from it and predict all sorts of dire things about feeding commercial foods. They also have some very uncomplementary things to say about the pet-food industry.

I think keeping things in perpective is a good idea. Certainly unscrupulous companies exist in the pet-food industry, just like they exist any other type of business, but on the whole, dogs today are healthier and live longer thanks to better nutrition and that is the result of advances in the formulation and preparation of commercial pet food. The businesses that own Iams, Eukanuba, Purina, Flint River, Innova and other premium food labels do extensive testing on their own dogs and wouldn't stay in business long if their clients were actually dying from eating the product.

Can dogs thrive on food that doesn't come from a can or sack....well, duh! Dogs have been around for 16,000 years that we can demonsrate by fossil evidence and maybe longer if the mDNA studies are right. The first prepared dog food dates to the first Byrd Antarctic Expedition where Milton Seeley formulated a biscuit-type food that could be used to sustain the dogs on the expedition. He never patented it, and Kasco dog food company began manufacturing it commercially. Even I can work out that math! (I'm a number-dyslexic).

Dogs have been eating raw food for thousands of years, and thriving on it. They are rarely subject to the same problems humans have with bacteria like salmonella because their digestive system is different. Dogs have a long history of living off garbage (not that I'm advocating this as a feeding technique).

In fact, a considerable body of evidence suggests that the association between man and dog began over the garbage dump. Dogs are scavengers and would have helped keep communities clean in prehistoric times. In less industrialized areas, this is a service. At my house, it's a clean-up disaster, but in either location, the dogs love getting into the trash!

So if raw food doesn't cause problems for dogs, what about bones? We've all heard about not giving your dog chicken bones. Nowdays, we're often advised not to give them any bones at all. True, you should never give dogs any kind of cooked bone. Cooking alters the consistency of the bone and makes it more likely to splinter.

As for the uncooked ones....Well, I live in a suburban area that apparently has a lot of wildlife. I didn't realize how many critters roam around at night until my dogs started presenting their prizes to me. Some of them operate on the same principle we used as kids when we went berry picking. One for me, one for the pie! This became very obvious when I put Amber on a diet. She just didn't loose any weight, no matter how little I fed her. The reason became obvious when I opened the door one night just as she was polishing off the last of the squirrel!

None of my dogs have suffered any ill effects from implementing their own BARF feeding program, and when I've feed this type of diet, they've done well. They've also done well on commercial dog food, so I don't advocate one over the other generally.

However, for teeth cleaning, nothing compares with bones. So even when I feed kibble, I give all my dogs some kind of raw food at least twice a week, usually a chicken neck or back. Sometimes, I find soup bones at the meat market that they can work on for several days. If I find chicken thighs, wings, or legs on sale, I pick up several packs for snacks. In the summer, I leave them frozen--a sort of doggy popsicle.

You're probably wondering if there are any recipes in this here's one that I use, especially when I have puppies or expectant mothers. Yogurt is a great souce of calcium, and the active cultures in it help greatly with digestion. Buying it for dogs is expensive, so unless you've got a yogurt maker stashed in a cupboard somewhere, here's an easy way to make your own.

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Easy Homemade Yogurt

Scald milk - do NOT boil (To Scald, cook in saucepan on med heat until a film forms on the top) Then remove from the burner and let cool to approx 110 degrees.
Pour into jars, add approx 2 tblsp per quart of either yogurt with live acidofilus cultures or yogurt starter. You can then let it rest in either a warm oven (approx 110 - 120 degrees) or in a warm water bath (water at approx 110 degrees) for 4 - 8 hours. (We have a friend who set it on her hot water heater). We set up a warm water bath in a igloo cooler and let it sit over night. It will start to thicken but will not completely firm up until it is cooled. Place the jars in the fridge, and it's ready to go as soon as it cools.
From Michelle Lennon on Showdogs L

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Michelle Lennon, a Rottweiler breeder, was also kind enough to share a sample of her dog's daily meals.  They are formulated for a 50-lb dog, but since northern dogs like Malamutes and Akitas tend to be very thrifty, it might actually be enough for most of them even though they weight more and too much for ones that are closer to the 50 lb. mark.

Soak 1/4th cup rolled oats (or Sojourner Farm grain mix) in 1/2 cp whole milk or yogurt (let soak overnight)
1/4 cp raw or lightly steamed veggies (carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, beans,
spinach, zucchini, etc)
250mr Vit C
1 tblsp raw honey & organic apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp kelp & alfalfa mix
1 tsp cold pressed flaxseed oil
(1/4 cp kibble if you wish)

1/4 cp kibble
1 egg, raw
2 tblsp whole milk yogurt
1/2 tsp kelp & alfalfa mix powder
>250 mg Vit C
1 tsp raw honey & organic apple cider vinegar mix
approx 1/2 lb meat protein (can be raw beef, chicken, lamb, canned tuna or
>mackerel) the chicken bones are great for them - as long as they are RAW!!!
1/2 clove garlic,chopped (Michelle adds this into the veggies when she chops them)
1/2 tsp flax seed oil

    For more information about feeding a more natural diet, some excellent books on the subject are available.  Of course information is available on the internet.

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Dog bone and bowl rule courtesy of Fuzzy Faces

©2007, Sherry E. Wallis.  All rights reserved. All copyright material not owned by the authors used with permission.