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4 month old border terrier
I know many people who feel more comfortable feeding Weetabix, ground mince, eggs, fish and combinations of these when rearing a litter of Borders. This food preparation is time consuming, and new owners may find it easier to give a simpler food that complements their busy lifestyles. With the huge choice of formulated puppy from the big manufacturers on the market to suit all breeds of puppies, there is no necessity feed a homemade diet, unless a question of personal preference. Bear in mind that a growing Border puppy needs roughly twice as many calories per pound of body weight as an adult.
As an owner, you will “get out what you put in”, and there is no better start for a puppy than complete mother’s milk and then the best formulated complete puppy food you can buy. My puppies go straight from mothers milk to pre soaked complete puppy food, which contains the correct balance of minerals, proteins and vitamins. I have used it for many puppies and have never had a bad reaction and they love it. By the time they are ready to leave for their new homes, they will be eating four meals a day and will rarely go to the dam for top-ups.
New owners should he given diet and general guidance notes, plus samples of the food. This should include the correct amount of prepared or pre soaked food as a guide to how much the puppy needs at each meal time, and the other may be a dry version of the me food. By 12 weeks the puppies should be enjoying dry meals with plenty of available drinking water. I encourage owners to call me to discuss any diet queries, including the addition of other foods, and or change from the puppy food to an adult alternative. By the time the Border is 10-12 months will have graduated to an adult dietary regime with two small meals or one larger meal per day.
With a new puppy, it is very important to establish a routine, and diet is a crucial part of that regime. The change of home and the loss of his siblings, plus strange new owners is traumatic enough, so it is vital that the diet remains exactly the same for at least a few weeks while he settles in.
As five six months approaches, teeth will start to drop out and the adult set of teeth appear. My puppies will be wormed again at this point, after which I will begin introducing a different adult food. it now becomes a personal preference for you as the owner. There are puppy diets that cater for juniors up to 18 months, but I prefer to move a youngster over gradually to adult food before it reaches 12 months. This is because Border Terriers mature quite early and usually ‘finish’ (i.e. mature) at about two years of age.
There is a school of thought that supports free feeding, which is when food is constantly available. I am not in favour of this method. I easing food down encourages laziness and it also poses a health hazard. Dishes left around containing food encourage vermin, and food loses its freshness. If food is not eaten. it makes it difficult to establish if a Border is sick and off his food, or worst being overfed. I feed my adults once a day. but if I think that one of the terriers is looking a bit on the thin side, I also feed a small morning meal until I am satisfied that condition has improved. A normal, healthy adult dog will clean op every time, and the dishes can be washed immediately after feeding and put away again.
If ever a Border Terrier leaves his food, I know there is something wrong and I go into ‘monitoring mode’. If a tempting morsel or two doesn’t switch him on again, it’s a stools and urine check, full body inspection and, if I am still uncertain, a veterinary appointment. I will watch a dog for a couple of days before I take him to the vet, to try to establish the reason for the lack of appetite. Watch for obvious signs of pain, discharge. tenderness anywhere, possible blockages, etc. It’s always better to be able to give your vet some clues if your Border is off-colour – and being off his food is a sure sign of being unwell.
So, there is a special offer on at the supermarket and you can save some cash on a different dog food from your tried-and- trusted make. It is an introductory offer and your Border Terrier might like it. so you buy a bag.
OK. but remember that you never get enough in a trial bag to he able to make an informed decision about the benefits or otherwise of the new food. A dog needs at least a month on a new food to establish its worth, in my opinion. It takes time for the ingredients to be assimilated into the system and for the results to be seen in the coat, breath, urine, stools and general well-being.
It is never a good idea to remove an acceptable food source from a dog immediately. however good the alternative appears to be. It should always be a gradual switch. Add a little of the new food to each meal until the new food is the main ingredient in the dish. Before buying. check the protein levels to ensure they are compatible with those of the current food.
Treats are a thorny issue. Owners give cups of tea, toast. biscuits and any manner of human foods to their charges, all of which are fine — in moderation.
Absolute no-nos for all dogs are raisins, currants, grapes and chocolate — especially dark chocolate, which is poisonous and can put a dog into a coma very quickly’.
My own dogs have one dog biscuit each when they are left, and when they go to bed at night and no more. I buy smoked bones (at a ridiculous price) and they enjoy chewing them during the day. If I am cooking, they get raw or part- boiled vegetable scraps. Hide chews arc also popular, but buy a reputable brand — some imported chews are not good quality and small chews can cause a dog to choke.
We are getting fatter as a human race in the Western world, and our dogs are getting fatter, too. We have too much choice and eat too much rubbish. We snack and graze during the day and give our Border Terriers plenty of our foods as they keep us company. What you see in your dog is the direct result of calories in and calories out. Too many calories into a dog who has little exercise equals an obese dog.
Combine that with the endless choice of pet foods available, and the task of keeping dogs fit and healthy can he daunting for the pet owner.
How do you know if your Border Terrier is overweight? If you can’t feel his ribs if you can’t see his waist when you look clown on him from above; if you can see fatty rolls under his skin he’s fat.
If your Border resembles this description, then it’s time you took him in hand or you will shorten his life and have a sick dog for most of his old age. Your vet can help by weighing him and advising on a strict diet, suggesting suitable food and advocating regular weigh-ins at the surgery.
Complete foods always have a feeding guide that often suggests more than is required. An obese dog needs less food and if possible, should be switched to a low calorie complete food. No table scraps and no guilt prompted alternatives.
Obesity is particularly damaging in older dogs, who need 20 per cent fewer calories than adult Border Terriers, but they also need more protein. It takes a fat dog much longer to assimilate food, and for the blood glucose concentrations to return to normal. As a consequence, an overweight dog is more likely to develop diabetes.
(an extract from “Border Terrier” by kind permission of Betty Judge)