The debate rages about dog diet, and the lines are clearly drawn between those who feed a commercial food and those who feed a home-made ration. Unfortunately, many who embrace the use of home made foods feel compelled to denigrate commercial diets as loaded with poisons, road kill, and inedible ingredients, but these accusations are based on fear and defensiveness, not fact. While it is true that meat and byproducts not suitable for human consumption may be rendered into dog food ingredients, these products are carefully prepared to enter the canine food chain. For example, dogs need calcium, calcium is often provided by bone meal, and the source of bone meal may be a plant that processes dead animals from a variety of sources. However, major dog food companies are careful to use ingredients that are not repulsive to their customers.
Commercial dog food is convenient, but is not all of equal quality. Cheaper brands may be loaded with calories, few usable vitamins, minerals, proteins, or carbohydrates. Some premium brands may be too high or even too low in protein (particularly diet-type dog foods), calories, and other nutrients for particular dogs. Specialized premium foods complicate the choices even more: different protein and carbohydrate sources, different preservatives, different formulas for working dogs, and different formulas for puppies and old dogs can easily frustrate conscientious pet owners. One brand, Eukanuba, has a variety of formulations for small dogs. Our dachshunds have been on Eukanuba for years and have maintained a consistent health, energy levels, and over-all well being.
Best strategy for deciding
The best strategy for choosing a commercial dog food is to find out what friends buy for their pets, see if the pets look good, and then try the food for your own dog. As long as the adult dog has plenty of energy and appears healthy, the food is adequate. If the dog is nervous, has a dull coat or skin problems, or lacks normal energy, and no other physical cause can be found, consider changing foods.
In general, foods with a balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids help improve joint and skin health; foods with moderate protein content are best for non-working dogs; and foods with meat as the source of protein are best. Foods based on corn or containing soybeans may not be suitable for some dogs.
Some puppy foods can push puppies to grow too fast, and rapid growth can lead to tissue and bone abnormalities. Even hip dysplasia can be affected by too-rapid of growth.
Homemade dog foods
Those who feed home made-diets often cite the work of Dr. Richard Pitcairn, developer of the Pitcairn diets for dogs and cats, and Dr. Ian Billinghurst, an Australian veterinarian who has created a raw meat diet for pets. Both diets are often used in conjunction with herbal remedies and preventive measures and with homeopathic concoctions. These alternatives have a fierce following and are nutritious and suitable when properly prepared and used.
Premium-quality dry food provides a well-balanced diet for adult dogs and may be mixed with water, broth or canned food. Your dog may enjoy cottage cheese, cooked egg, fruits and vegetables, but these additions should not total more than 10% of his daily intake.
Puppies should be fed a high-quality, brand-name puppy food. Limit people food intake, because it results in vitamin and mineral imbalances, bone and teeth problems and may cause bad eating habits and fat dogs. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times, and be sure to wash food and water dishes often.
Specific concerns about small dog nutrition
Energy levels: Because of their increased energy levels and smaller digestive systems, small breed dog food should be more concentrated with higher protein and fat levels derived from things such as chicken, fish and egg. These high-quality protein sources provide key amino acids that work to help keep your dog's vital organs healthy.
Dental benefits: Since small breeds are more likely to experience oral health problems because of their longer life span, it's important to use a food source that helps maintain good oral hygiene. Some specially formulated premium nutrition can help reduce tartar buildup, thereby improving the overall oral health of your dog. Reducing tartar reduces the opportunity of gum disease and helps maintain your dog's fresh breath.
Immune system: Since small dogs typically have a longer life span, strong immune support is particularly critical. Antioxidants including Vitamin E are key nutrients to help keep a small breed's immune system healthy. When comparing dog foods, look for beta-carotene, an antioxidant that can help rejuvenate an older dog's immune system—particularly appropriate given a small breed's longer life span.
Taste: In terms of taste, first look for a diet with concentrated nutrition from high levels of animal-based fat and protein, which tends to improve flavor for the dog. Also look for a reduced-size kibble, which can improve the overall eating experience.
A complete and balanced food specifically designed for a small breed dog will help ensure your dachshund is always at his best, from puppy to the mature dog-citizen.
Determining how much food to give your dachshund
Dogs will probably eat as much food as they're given. It's part of their natural wild instincts to consume all the food they can at any one time because they never knew when the next meal would come.
So, you cannot depend on your dachshund saying "Wow, I'm stuffed!" That won't happen. They will not walk away from the food bowl when they're full. That means that you have to control their food intake. That brings up the question: how much food to give them every day?
There are no fast rules about the exact quantity of food to give each day. Much of it is determined by your dachshund. If you have a dachshund with high energy levels, then he'll probably need more food that one with lower energy levels.
Perhaps the best guide is to keep an eye on your dogs rib cage and waist line. When you look down on your dachshund from above, there should be a definite narrowing of the waist line below the rib cage. You should also be able to feel individual ribs along their side, but not so much as they are extremely visible when looking at them from the side.
Now, if your dachshund does not have a narrowing of the waist line or you can't feel the individual ribs, then you're feeding them too much for the amount of exercise they get. Cut back on the quantity of daily food (this would include snacks and treats). If, in the unlikely even that your dachshund has an extremely narrow waist line and you can plainly see the rib cage, then you're most likely underfeeding and you'll need to increase their food consumption.