As you may know, little Great Dane Napoleon came to live with us three month ago now, and in that short time, he has more than doubled in size. Look at the picture: my arm used to cover his length from nose to tail, now I don’t even reach from nose to forearm. Meaning he eats like half a horse and will eat like a horse once he reaches adult size.
So far, I mostly fed him Dog Chow and Pedigree, which at $45 for a 50lb bag is pretty expensive. And he doesn’t love it. When we have meat, or when BF has cookies with coffee, he often comes and beg, filling up with human food. So sometimes the bowl remains half full, and is invaded by ants in a second, under the tropical climate. I need to keep the 50lb bag in a locked plastic box for the ants and rats as well, and the food will spoil quickly because of the heat.
Dog food almost comes to $1 a pound, knowing that in Guatemala rice and beans are around $0.5 a pound and expand with cooking, and cheap meat is around $1.5 a pound, for $2, I could make him a 2+lb bowl of rice and meat. Same price, for getting full control over what your pet eats.
I don’t know much about dog food but I have read about product recalls, and like human prepared food, it can’t been as good as a home cooked meal.
By the way, there are foods they absolutely must avoid. I read a list a while back, then forgot, then had a flashback in shocking horror when I saw Napoleon eating a bunch of grapes, and spent the rest of the evening reading death stories of dogs intoxicated by grapes, and monitoring his every moves. Thankfully, being a huge dog, the dozen grapes he at had zero effect.
Dogs can’t eat (here is a more complete list)
– grapes, raisins, currants, they can actually die of kidney failure if they do.
– chocolate, alcohol, coffee
– raw eggs and fish
– cooked bones
I found out about the last one when browsing for a list of food Napoleon could actually eat, and the author talked about chicken carcasses, as long as the bones are not cooked. If you cook them, or give your dog chicken leftover dinner with bones, he can die as the bone can lacerate his stomach or obstruct his trachea.
Reading another author recommending food for Great Danes, I was surprised to learn that the Great Danes get less bloat and other diseases when raised in Germany than in America. Why? Because they are fed the local diet, which is closest to what the race originally ate: beef, whole oats, rye, and potato.
This was another concern when Wikipedia announced that Great Danes only live 6 to 8 years, while most dogs last about a decade. Because they grow so fast and have such bog bodies, they are at risk for a lot of illnesses. And giving your dog good food can save a lot of money in vet bills later.
Just like human diet, you can balance the meals over the course of a week or two, but it is important that you do so, in order to provide your dog with all the nutriments he needs.
At 6 months, he should be eating 6 to 8 cups a day, going slowly up to 7-10 cups by 12 months of age. It is crucial not to feed him too much either, to prevent growth related problems like bone pains. With Dog Chow he’ll walk away from the food because it’s not so interesting, but with human food he can eat until he pukes.
So the new diet will consist of
– raw bones
– eggs: they can eat up to an egg a day, cooked.
– cooked minced meat and liver
– vegetables: pretty much anything but onions
– broth or meat juice
– rice, potatoes
Actually, most of it will be a diet of raw meaty bones, which are what dogs are used to eating in a wild habitat. The bones help them clean their teeth while eating, and provide the best source of protein. That post I just linked to says it may be more expensive than industrial dog food, but in Guatemala with meat being so cheap and kibbles being imported, I think it might be about the same. Even in the UK or the US you can ask your butcher to keep the rests of bones with only a little meat that humans wouldn’t eat, they should sell it at a discount. Chicken neck, chicken feet… there are also other parts that humans don’t like to eat which are great for dogs. As long as it’s RAW!
Another thing I learned about giant breeds is that industrial food can have them grow too quickly, which is bad. With real food, they grow slowly but surely into healthier adults.
Last added bonus: Napoleon was chewing on anything lately, as he was losing his baby teeth. Shoes, plants, wooden chairs… he loved to destroy it all. Now he keeps chewing on the bone instead. Win win!
So I am not moving to Germany just yet, but have decided to feed Napoleon home food as much as possible.