Feeding your dog:

by Dennis Fisher.


*Feeding the bitch in whelp
*Weaning pups  
*Feeding young dogs  
*Feeding adult dogs
*Feeding older dogs.

This article is one of a great many articles written by Dennis Fisher about a very wide variety of subjects concerning different  dogs, such as obedience training, breeding, showing, health matters, training problems and other subjects.  All these articles appear on Dennis Fisher's websites.   Visit  http://www.allaboutgermanshepherddogs.com the site that has been set up specifically for German Shepherd Dog enthusiasts, or http://www.freedogadvice.com  if you interested in a breed   other than German Shepherd Dogs.


There are a great variety of views with regard to the subject of feeding.  Many people subscribe to the idea of a natural feed diet, feeding only natural foods and there is a great deal to be said about this method of feeding.   However for sake of convenience it is far easier to feed one of the excellent commercially available dog foods.

With regard to the well-advertised, premium dog foods, here again people have their own special favorites.   It is also possible that you might find that your dog prefers one special brand to another.  It is often a matter of trying different brands to see which your dog prefers.

  With regard to quality, this will also depend to a very large extent on the breed of dog – whether your dog is a member of a giant breed, a medium size or very small breed.

Climate is also a factor to be considered.

  Feeding the bitch in whelp.

The gestation period is approximately  63 days.  During the first three weeks the bitch requires very little in extra nourishment.  From this period she should receive extra nourishment in the form of  enriched milk added to her normal ration of dog food, together with the addition of  eggs.

As she becomes more noticeably  pregnant instead of the one large meal she may been accustomed to,  her feeding should consist of three smaller meals.

If she is receiving a premium quality dog food there is not need to add supplements, but if the dog food she has been getting is of the normal supermarket variety it would be wise to add  a vitamin mineral supplement.

It is quite common for a bitch to refuse food the night before whelping, but this is not always the case.  Do not wait for  food refusal as a sign that whelping is imminent.  Some bitches eat almost until the last moment.

Naturally once the bitch  has whelped she should be given as much food as she wants, divided into three meals during the day with plenty of enriched milk and as much water as she wants.     

For the first day or two it might be advisable to feed only enriched liquid meals, but it depends to a large extent on the bitch’s preference.  Meat can be added to the meals as soon as she is ready to eat this.  

The bitch may also readily consume as much ox heart or liver as you give her.   But do not overdo this luxury as it could result in loose bowels.

  Weaning pups

Here the feeding schedule I have used for German Shepherd pups.  I found  this feeding schedule very  successful in rearing strong healthy pups.  Obviously it can be adapted in quantities  depending on the breed of dog you own.

The pups receive their first meal as early  as 2 ½ weeks while the bitch is still nursing.

It consists of a very small amount  of scraped raw beef.   This amount is usually increased over the next few days and at  3  ½  weeks  each pup is receiving about a tablespoon of meat.   At this stage a milk meal is introduced and the pups are taught to lap.

As cow’s milk is not nearly as rich as that of  bitch’s milk, full cream powdered milk is used to enrich the cow’s milk.   My special preference is for Nestle’s “Pelargon” but any of the well-known brands are satisfactory.

The suggested mixture is a heaped tablespoon of  full cream powdered milk to half a pint of cow’s milk  that has been slightly warmed.   The pups are fed  in their own individual special,  small size  infant pup’s dishes and are taught to lap by gently pushing  their noses into the dish.   After some preliminary blowing the pups soon get the idea.

  When the pups are 4 weeks old they receive another meat meal and at this stage the scraping of the feat is dispensed with (it is a time-consuming operation!) and finely minced beef is substituted.

  Each pup receives  at least  one once of meat at each of the two meals.  In addition to the milk being enriched with full cream powdered milk  eggs  yolk  are  added into the mixture.

At the age of 4 weeks the pups are receiving approximately 2 oz. Of milk mixture.  The meals are increased to four at the age of 4 ½ weeks with the addition of another milk meal

At 5 weeks  a  good quality, puppy kibble is added to two of the milk meals.

At 6 weeks the pups are fully weaned and are completely independent of the mother.  But the greedy ones often feed from the mother in addition to their meals until she is not prepared to tolerate them any longer.

At seven weeks the pups are still receiving four meals a day with  quantities being adjusted according to their appetites.

Four meals a day are fed until the pup is four months old when one of the milk meals  is  discontinued and the other three meals  increased in quantity depending on the pup’s appetite.

  Feeding a young dog.

At six months the number of meals is reduced to three but at this stage I introduce a good quality commercial food.    At nine months the dog receives two meals a day – a morning meal with milk mixed with the commercial food.   The evening meal consists of the commercial meal mixed with a certain amount of meat. 

  The  manufacturers of good quality, premium puppy food recommend  that no additional supplements should be added.  They also suggest that no additional feed, including meat, should be added.  However, I have always  felt that the addition of the small amount of meat makes the food very much more palatable.

The quantities each dog will eat varies a great deal.  Some dogs are naturally greedy eaters.  Others are somewhat finicky.  It should be a general rule however not to leave any food in the dishes.   Give the dogs approximately fifteen minutes to finish the meal and remove any food that is not eaten.   On the next occasion feed less.

  Feeding the adult dog.

Once the dog has reached eighteen months it will be  in order to feed only once a day, if this is more convenient. But in the case of very large breeds that are sometimes prone to stomach and bloat, it  would be better to divide the feeding into two meals a day.

  There is no need for additional supplementation if a good quality dry dog food is given.  But remember to have fresh water available, as the dry dog food tends to make the dog very thirsty.  Do not allow the dog to have water immediately after they have eaten. Rather wait at least half and hour before allowing the dog access to the water.

 Feeding an older dog.

If the dog is healthy he will probably eat just as much when he gets older.    But when he becomes less active with age there is a tendency for to put on too much weight which is not healthy.

Obesity is a problem with dogs, especially greedy dogs and certainly with spayed females.   Watch the dog’s weight carefully and cut down on the food if there are signs of obesity.

  There are certain dog foods on the market that specifically cater for the older dog no longer as active as previously.  They are intended to prevent obesity.