Figuring out what to feed is really not as hard as you think.
Commercial dog food companies spend millions of dollars marketing the (erroneous) concept that you aren’t smart enough to know what or how to feed your Sheltie. Hogwash! They also would like to think they are safer but you may want to check out all the dog food recalls we've had.
I ascribe to the, “If we can feed human kids without a formula, we can figure out what to feed our Shetland Sheepdogs without using a formulated bag of kibble” philosophy.
Why not join me?
Would you feed your child nothing but Ensure and Pedialyte their entire lives because you were afraid to figure out a balanced meal?
Absurd, isn’t it?
If you don’t have to be a Registered Dietician to feed your human family, why would you think that with regards to your Shetland Sheepdog?
There are several sub-philosophies out there regarding canine nutrition. Here are the three basic divisions:
Then there are those who feel good canine nutrition should include….
A great starter book for the BARF diet is by Ian Billinghurst, the vet who started it all. The book is called Give Your Dog a Bone: The Practical Commonsense Way to Feed Dogs for a Long Healthy Life
There is also his companion book The Barf Diet (Raw Feeding for Dogs and Cats Using Evolutionary Principles)
As with just about any topic, you will find the extremists that are willing to come to blows if anyone dares disagree with their philosophy on canine nutrition. My personal attitude is that it’s a diet, not a religion, so chill out.
There are a few things that canines shouldn’t eat. Remember, their digestive system is different than ours. I avoid feeding:
If canines can survive the garbage that comes out of most commercial dog food bags, they can survive very well even if you forgot a vitamin or gave them some veggies they didn’t absolutely need in your personal raw plan.
Further, understand that the canine's gut is shorter than a human's, so there is a reduced possibility of developing problems from ingesting bacteria like salmonella. The continuous salmonella outbreaks were the humans getting ill from handling the traditional commercial products, not the pups getting ill.
Looking for additional information on a raw dog food diet? Here are more resources. I encourage you to just keep reading and learning until you feel comfortable.
I obviously believe that a raw diet is the best and the most species appropriate way of feeding my guys.
Start simple, do just meaty bones without supplements or veggies to begin. Or, you have the option of the many prepared frozen raw diets available now.
Then continue your research as you gain more confidence and add what you think is necessary to the diet little by little. Any one of the three viewpoints I mentioned is head and shoulders above the usual dry or canned options at the grocery store.
Don’t sweat the details, as they say. It’s what the traditional dog food companies are counting on, even as they sell you their bags of fillers and chemicals. Seriously, when was the last time you read the ingredients on the side of the bag? Hardly good nutrition.
For those of you still on commercial dry or canned kibble that don't feel they can do the raw diet, please do some research on what is in the food you feed now. There are more and more sites that help with this issue of canine nutrition. Check them out.
If you really, really get nervous about the switch, you can start with commercial frozen raw dog food. I use them along with whole raw food just for the sake of variety.
This is a really quick book to get through and the author is a vet, Dr Tom Lonsdale. It may give you a little more courage to get started. Work Wonders: Feed Your Dog Raw Meaty Bones
If you have a little more time, this is another book he wrote that you may enjoy: Raw Meaty Bones Promote Health
Even if you decide to keep on with the same ol' commercial kibble, you can help your dog's digestion with a few supplements. Read my pages about probiotics and enzymes.