Feeding Your Collie
There are too many brands of perfectly good commercial dog foods to list them all and there are far to many opinions on what is best for dogs. One thing I will say is to make sure that any commercial dog food you give to your puppy should at least have the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) initials on it. This means that this brand has been checked and has been found to carry all the very basic nutrients in at least the basic amounts to support the life it is going to feed.
I recommend also taking into account the role and function of your puppy. If it spends all day alone in a crate or enclosed room and only gets a few hours of attention weekdays and the occasional extended exercise on the weekends, you may want to avoid the brands that have excessive amounts of animal derived fat which turn into quick energy and if your puppy is out most of the day training and working than he may need something a little stronger for his caloric
needs. It's best to talk to a veterinarian or even a trained canine nutritionist if you're just not sure. Some people will even go as far as hand preparing an all natural meal for their dog. But it isn't just a matter of tossing a few scraps in the bowl. You must be very cautious and thorough with the ingredients. Even one missed or over dosed ingredient can cause problems.
Problems that can arise from the wrong commercial or hand made diet can be as simple as a little dry skin or as severe as a dangerous behavioral issue. There can be autoimmune problems that put your puppy's health at risk if his body can't fight off infections and disease. The right diet will be evident in your puppy's happy energetic play, his shining eyes and glowing coat. His stools should be firm but not rock hard, passable but not so soft that they look like watery mud. And though you may ask why anyone would care to pay attention to this, your puppy's stools should also maintain a consistent tolerable smell. Stools that smell unusually foul from twenty feet away could mean there's a problem.
When feeding your collie a commercially prepared dog food look on the back or sides of the bag for the feeding chart size/amount ratios. This will tell you how much to feed your dog according to his weight and age. Use this as a base and than adjust the amount as your collie's needs dictate. Basically, if he always leaves a little in the bowl than give him a little less and if he still seems overly hungry after a meal, add a little more.
If your collie is the type that isn't really interested in eating when you put the bowl down and is healthy, there are several things you can do. First off, don't leave the bowl down all day if he is a picky eater. Picky eaters tend to nibble throughout the day never really taking in all that they need and may stay a little on the thin side. When you put the food down, leave it there no more than twenty minutes. After that, pick up whatever is left and put it away. Even if your dog doesn't eat anything at that meal, chances are after waiting a day he'll be a bit hungrier than the day before and he should eat a bit more at that offering than he usually does. He should get no snacks or treats (except for training) during this time. Stick to this and it usually doesn't take long before they get the idea.
If they try a hunger strike and refuse to eat for the first several days you do this, try to persevere. Once again, ONLY IF THEY ARE HEALTHY AND REQUIRE NO SPECIAL DIETS OR MEDICATIONS. A healthy dog will not starve itself to death willingly. (I know of dogs who held out a full week before they finally gave in and acknowledged the new schedule.) Keeping a set feeding schedule like this will also make it easier for you to help a dog with potty training issues. You can try adding warm water to his food and letting it soak in so it releases some of the taste and smell that was taken away by the extruding (drying) process that was used to make the dog food.
Now, being a dog, I'm certainly not against getting a table scrape now and then, but this should never be a relied upon method for getting your dog to eat. The constant change of ingredients can wreak havoc on a collie's digestive system. Most finicky eaters will just pick right around the dog kibble anyway to get to the scraps and a dog living on scraps isn't getting everything he needs to be healthy.
Have a vacuum cleaner that just inhales the food like they won't get another bite for weeks? Than try this. Add a number of small and medium sized toys to his food bowl when its dinner time. In having to pick around the toys to get to the food he will slow down.
The Purdue Study on Bloat in Dogs...
... has concluded that raising a dog's bowls up may actually increase the risk of bloat!!!
What is bloat? Check here for a very thorough explanation:
This is evidenced after an on going 5 year study of over 1991 dogs of 11 varying large and giant breeds including collies!
The breeds represented in the study included Akita, Bloodhound, Collie, Great Dane, Irish setter, Irish wolfhound, Newfoundland, Rottwieler, Saint Bernard, Standard poodle, Weimaraner
The study was able to determine some very specific risk factors involved in bloat and they have come up with a "Risk Potential" chart that owners of large and giant breeds can use to determine their dog's risk factor for bloat. The information has not yet been released "officially" to the public but it's findings were presented to Veterinarians at a recent convention.
These results are rather astonishing to say the least. Some other risk factors also identified as increasing the chances of bloat in the study included older aged dogs, dogs with parents that suffered an occurrence of bloat, dogs who ate water moistened dry foods containing citric acids and dogs that ate dry food where fat was among the first four ingredients.
On the flip side, dogs that ate dry foods containing a rendered meat meal with bone among the first four ingredients significantly decreased bloat risk by 53.0%! An incredible study, this is one to be read by all owners of large and giant breed dogs! Due to this study I can no longer suggest the raising of food bowls. If you would like to read all available reports to date and identify your dog's potential risk click the link.
To read the article that brought this to my attention:
As far as canned foods go, I have to say I have a mixed sentiment on this. I love the smell and taste but I hate what happens afterward. It can make a dog gassy and make his breath smell if the residue and left over bits aren't brushed or cleaned out from the spaces between his teeth. It can make a dog's stools soft even to the point of being diarrhea and in most cases the product is just empty calories and water. However, if your dog has a consistently dry dull coat that hasn't been fixed by a change of the regular food, than a good quality canned food could be just the ticket for a little extra oil and fatty acid. It can also be a great aid in helping a seriously underweight dog to pack on a few quick pounds. Be careful though. Some dogs can't tolerate the addition of more energy giving carbohydrates and it could make them act odd or unusually active and rammy.
I do get canned food with my regular food but only on the days I have to go to work. It is the same brand as my dry food (which is perfect for me since I have food allergies) and it gives me just enough of an energy boost to make it through a hard night of working with younger, rowdier dogs and puppies. If I didn't work it would be an extremely rare treat. (The cat doesn't even get canned food but maybe six times a year!)
It is also important to remember to provide fresh water daily for your dog. If he is an adult and is thoroughly house trained you can leave the water down all day. If your dog has any house breaking issues or it is a puppy, I recommend that you closely monitor his water intake so you can be assured of when he has to go. Unless he is younger than five or six months of age, pick up the water whenever you leave the house or for the night so he doesn't continue to take more in and have to go just when you can't be there. For puppies less than five months that must spend 8 hours alone, I suggest trying a large rabbit bottle with ice rather than water in it. The ice will melt slowly and provide the puppy with water throughout the day but not all in one shot that could cause him to have to go before you can get to him. Your puppy can go the night without water right next to him so take it up before bedtime. If he absolutely has to go potty before the night is up, you can give him a small drink after you take him out. There will be more on this in "Potty Training Your Collie".
I hope that this has been helpful for you but please remember... Before you implement any changes to your dog's usual diet talk to your pet's veterinarian. Make sure he/she knows all about your dog and his normal habits and any problems past or present. They may be able to spot a potential problem dietary changes could cause.