Main Border Collies
Feeding my dogs

Feeding my Dogs

Over the past years I have tried numerous dog foods, some agreeing with my dogs and others not. The following is just my opinion.  I am no expert in these matters but will give account of my experiences and hope it may help someone else along the way.

As you may see from my web site, I trial and use my dogs for work.  It is usual to have a couple of trained working dogs, a couple of youngsters as replacements and then there are the oldies who deserve to see their days out here with me; providing a range of ages, degrees of work and therefore a variation in feeding requirements.

I always understood and experienced that the higher the protein level in dog food the hotter my dogs were and the more difficult I found it to control them. The high protein level made them a horse on oats.

I consequently used a relatively low protein level dog food, preferably approx 18 - 20%. I had Jess a short coupled bitch who I always had great difficulty getting  fit enough to do a days work and a 15 min trial course. One year, before running her in the National, I upped her food to a higher protein and WOW! what a difference....I couldn't hold her. She was no faster, nor did she last longer but she was almost out of control. I have heard of a few doing this and having a similar result. So, it was back to the lower level food for Jess. I had discussed this with a vet friend of mine who told me that there were different types of protein; now I don't confess to understanding exactly how they differ but I now accept that there is.

I found a feed that suited all my dogs well, It didn't send the working dogs stupid, the oldies held their weight nicely and the youngsters looked really well on it. Then the firm changed the make up of it. It was a different colour, texture and my dogs began to have some problems with their health. It may have been that they had different sources for their ingredients but all the same it was very different.

It was difficult to find an alternative food and I tried all different types of food but couldn't find anything I really liked...or my dogs liked!

I stopped trialling Jade at almost 13 yrs old  and reduced her work load. After discussing it with my vet we agreed that quality would be better than quantity and I decided to keep working her, all be it with short outruns and mainly close work.....without her work she would be nothing...she lived to work the sheep and she needed a purpose in life. Then in about August 2009 she started having diarrhea and this wasn't very long after the food had changed. I took her to the vet who thought it to be a sensitive stomach and her age!!!.  I changed the food,  it didn't work, I fed her chicken and rice and eventually and got some solidity in her stools but not enough to be happy. She wasn't looking as good as she should and wasn't putting any weight on.

I went to Italy, judging, and met a gentleman there who suggested I try the all meat diet and leave the grains out of her food. Grain not being a natural ingredient in a dog's natural food except what would have been found in the stomach of its prey; and so possibly creating intolerances within the body.

As rice seemed not to upset her I used that as a bulker and sourced some frozen tripe which is supposed to be a near whole balanced food in itself, or the nearest to it; this together with fresh fruit , veg and organic eggs. I got her 85% normal but I worried about the lack of a balance of vitamins and minerals in her diet. I personally felt that I could not source all the different meats to provide a totally balanced diet so started hunting for something new again. Saying that, I keep a box of tripe in my freezer and a large pkt of rice, just in case. 
Talking to a friend about the problem she told me about Arden Grange but I was wary of the high protein levels ....and the price but decided to call them and ask their advice.
They put me touch with a veterinary nurse who advised for them and she was very good. They sent me some samples and I have since bought more. I use the Lamb one but the chicken was just as good.

Meanwhile old Tweed at 16 yrs old, started having diarrhea on the original food and became quite poorly. I starved him for 48 hours ( he starved himself really) to rest his stomach etc and suspected he had colitis (Inflammation of the colon) probably due to an intolerance to the grain again in the feed. I put him on the rice and tripe and he was back to normal within a few days
I introduced Tweed to Arden Grange and he w
as 100% on it and Jade was about 80 % on it. They both started putting weight on; Tweed was finem but Jade's old problems crept back in. She came out lambing with me everyday at 13 yrs old. Another friend had also experienced ''old age'' problems with their dog and also in old people, ie. stools that were formed to start with but ended up very runny as the dog finished emptying itself. I tried to ensure she had a good balanced diet, plenty to drink and tried to stop her from eating every sheep's afterbirth she could find!!! which incidentally also makes them very runny!

Using the Arden Grange, the amount needed for each feed is about 1/2 to 1/3 of that needed of the other food and so ends up almost the same price in the end. The volume fed with the cheaper food IMO was just bulk and was passed through the other end with 4 or 5 loads a day per dog. Now there is so much less to clean up, the dogs are putting weight on again, their coats are good and their condition is excellent and I am still in control..I have not , so far, had any handling problems, except my own handler errors!

was doing reasonably well on Arden Grange but then things started to go down hill again. A visit to the vet and she was put on Zantac and another stomach settling medicine. She had stopped eating and her stools if you could call them that, were soooo runny and many of them black with what we concluded to be blood. That weekend I talked to a retired vet, a very experienced person, who suggested that it sounded very much like Crones Disease...loss of weight ( poor absorption of the food) runny stools, intermittent loss of blood in the stools and anaemia yet still she needed a purpose in life and wanted to come with me to the sheep.

I searched the internet for information on Crones Disease and found that in humans it can be controlled with diet but would it work for dogs, I was worth a try.
According to information I found, certain foods should not be mixed together. I rested her for a day or so, well in fact she rested herself. Then I fed her boiled potato, veg and cooked chicken ...NO FAT.. so therefore no skin. Bit by bit the stools started to form but then we would have set back as she had probably picked up something else to eat and upset the balance. She was having a mixture of cooked lamb, chicken and raw tripe or Butchers tripe with potato and veg if I have it....twice a day. I also sent for some probiotics to see if it would help to build her friendly bacteria up again. I had tried live yogurt but dairy products upset the condition and set us back again.
One day her stools were perfectly formed and a good colour (no blood) but then the next day they were not good again and I suspect it was because she sneaked in and pinched the pups food which had grain in it...not a lot but enough to mess things up again. She had also been having the odd immodium capsule which definitely helped things along. Then one morning I went to her pen to let her out and she was in pain..........I knew then that I would not put her through any more and that there was something radically wrong with her. After discussing her with my vet I took the dreaded decision and  I set her to ''run free''.....I miss her so very much.
Another good product IMO is Butchers' tripe in tins....pure grain or cereal added.

Poor food can create problems like:   Behavioral problems, Eating feaces, Fussy eating,  food allergies and intolerances, various digestive ailments, aggression, fear/phobias, skin problems...itching and hot spots and more. I am not saying that a good food without unnecessary grains and additives would cure or prevent all of these but it might certainly help some of them as I can vouch.

As I said before, I am no expert but this is just my opinion.

Probiotics available from following web site:

Moving on with the food topic:
As I learn more about dogs I realise that there are so many more dogs developing allergies and the Border Collie is one of those breeds becoming more affected and I ask myself whether it is the food or perhaps the environment they now live in or both?

It is said that PRA (progressive eye anomaly) has become so much more of a rarity since dogs have had a 'balanced food'' and not just a few kitchen scraps, flaked maize and whatever else! I understand that it is the vitamin E in the food that has helped to reduce cases which of course is a good thing but have we taken a step backwards, we seem to be wanting  (in general) a cheaper dog food?
Does the dog food on the supermarket shelves have umpteen preservatives in it to give it a prolonged shelf life?
Are those preservatives doing our dogs any good?
What protein levels are in the supermarket dog food and indeed the bulkier ones?
And what type of protein is it, is it the type that sends the dogs stupid and hyper or the type that is healthy?

It appears that the better dog food will have a good named protein such as lamb or chicken or beef as their main ingredient and not the cereal that IMO is not a natural food for dogs with much of it causing grain intolerances.
How much faeces does your dog pass in a day......if I feed the cheaper types of food it is probably in excess of 4 or 5 loads a day......what a waste of money and food for it all to just come straight through, never mind the work cleaning it up!!!!
What should I do if my dog has an allergy, is scratching, has heat spots and bald patches, has diarrhea
I would do the following:
1. Make certain that the dog is free from parasites eg  mites and flees and not forgetting ticks.
2. If the dog has diarrhea Feed the dog with a food that has 1 protein and 1 carbohydrate, an excellent one is Wofcol salmon and potato but beware of the effect of the higher protein in this food; then when everything is settled and the allergy has abated then introduce other foods in and work on trial and error to find out what food the dog is allergic to.

If you are having some of these problems, I hope the account of my experiences helps a little.

Twelve months ago I bought a little bitch and her coat was quite red and a little dry. I fed a good quality foodand the difference was unbelievable.  The coat is now at its best with full regrowth and as black as black and silky and she is in superb condition. Here are two photos.... before and after.