Feeding Fallacies & Water
Water is an essential nutrient and its importance is often minimized. No living cell can exist without water and every cell requires a continuous supply. A dog can go without food and lose up to 40 percent of his body weight and survive; but he will die if his body loses one tenth of its water content.
A dog’s body should maintain its total water content at a relatively constant level; consequently, it is imperative that a continuous supply of fresh drinking water be available to maintain fluid balance. Water on the side is especially important in self feeding.
Although they have been proved false, there are several popular superstitions about feeding dogs that continue to be handed down in families or handed out by self appointed authorities.
While you are raising your puppy, someone may tell you not to give him milk because “milk makes worms.” This could not possibly be true unless the milk contained worm eggs, which is not likely. Puppies that are fed only milk after weaning may well become debilitated from the combination of inadequate diet and worms they already have, but milk alone does not manufacture worms. Excessive amounts of lactose, the sugar found in milk, however, may produce diarrhea. Many dogs, especially puppies, are unable to metabolize lactose properly.
Another old wives’ tale is that raw meat will make a dog vicious. The basis for this belief is difficult to imagine. It is true that a dog fed nothing but raw meat would be getting an insufficient diet and, as such, might not be in the best of spirits. But the raw meat would not make him vicious or bloodthirsty. Meat that can be eaten rare by humans can be consumed raw by dogs.
Raw meat is often blamed as a cause of worms. A dog may get tapeworm from eating a rabbit he has caught, or possibly from uncooked pork, but there is no other connection.
Another popular notion is that feeding garlic or raw onions will “cure” worms in a dog. Worms are eliminated only by medicines that are made of stronger stuff than any amount of garlic or raw onions. Because worm medicines are potentially dangerous, you should turn a deaf ear to those who say your pup “just needs worming” whenever he seems to be ailing. Your puppy may need worming, but on the other hand, he may be suffering from any of a dozen serious illnesses. Don’t weaken him further by dosing with worm medicine. See your veterinarian.
When anyone advises you to feed your dog raw eggs to make his coat shiny, tell them that the uncooked white of an egg destroys the absorption in his intestines of an important vitamin, biotin. The yolks of eggs can be fed raw, but whole eggs should be cooked.
Many people worry when their dogs “wolf’ down food. A dog’s digestion doesn’t start in his mouth as it does in humans. Eating fast and swallowing food whole is natural, and probably a regression to the time when dogs ran in packs and had to compete with others to get their share.
A block of sulfur placed in a dog’s water bowl is credited with everything from preventing worms to curing skin diseases. Alas, sulfur has no medicinal or nutritional value, and is just an ornament in the water dish.
A common belief is that dogs should not be given the smallest speck of leftover potatoes because “starch cant be digested by dogs.” This fact was disproved years ago by scientific tests. Dogs can digest cooked starch just as people can. Carbohydrates, so essential in the dog’s properly balanced diet, come partly from starches. This does not mean, however, that a diet of potatoes, macaroni, or bread is recommended.