Feeding the Border Collie's Fire
Your expert guide to feeding both hard-working and less-active Border Collies.
Susan Bertram, D.V.M.
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Are there some proteins Border Collies thrive on, while others cause problems? Mike Canaday of Coalinga, California, president of the United States Border Collie Handlers Association (USBCHA) as of presstime, believes Border Collies digest and absorb lamb better than other proteins. Lamb and rice diets are ideal, says Canaday. Chicken and rice is good, too.
Canaday, whose Border Collie, Smut, finished in the top 10 at both the sheep and cattle National Finals in 2001, feeds a diet that contains 25 percent protein and 15 percent fat to his dogs. Though there are commercial diets with higher protein levels, Canaday feels theres no advantage to feeding these. Theres only so much protein a dog can digest and make use of, he says.
Susanne Craddock of Galena, Maryland, who has owned Border Collies for 20 years, and competes in obedience and herding, agrees. She feeds her dogs a diet containing 22 percent to 24 percent protein. When Craddock visited Great Britain in 2000 to attend the International Sheepdog Trials, hosted by the International Sheepdog Society, she learned that British Border Collie handlers avoid feeding really high-protein foods.
They never feed more than 18 percent protein, Craddock says They say its not good for the dogs, because the breed is so intense and already so high energy and wound up. Though Craddock admits no scientific proof exists, conventional wisdom suggests excess protein might intensify these already extreme characteristics.
Does your Border Collie suffer digestive troubles, such as vomiting or diarrhea, or experience recurrent skin problems? Perhaps your dog can't digest certain food ingredients or suffers from food allergies. Dr. Thomason believes selecting a higher-quality brand of dog food minimizes digestive and skin disturbances. I tell owners to buy foods that are meat-based, versus grains, and especially to avoid those listing corn as the first ingredient. Border Collies don't digest corn well, it goes right through them.
In Dr. Thomasons experience, some skin problems have cleared up with better diets alone. As an added bonus, your Border Collie will produce less stool when fed higher-quality foods. Once owners switch to a high-quality food, they are always amazed at how much less waste they have to pick up in the yard, Dr. Thomason says. Dogs fed a high-quality food will enjoy better skin and coat quality, and ample energy and stamina. If health problems do arise, they respond better to treatment, says Dr. Thomason.
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