Feeding the Border Collie's Fire
Your expert guide to feeding both hard-working and less-active Border Collies.
Susan Bertram, D.V.M.
Page 4 of 4
Preparing fresh food becomes more difficult for owners of multiple dogs, but if you can commit the time and energy to preparing homemade food, it can be a viable, healthy alternative. In fact, you may be able to save money by buying in bulk. Michelle Olsen of Snohomish, Washington, has owned Border Collies for 11 years, and began feeding a raw diet three years ago. Olsen noted physical and mental changes within a few months of making the switch.
One change that was pretty drastic was how much more coat my Border Collies grew, Olsen says. The condition of their teeth is better, too. When I take Chessie to the vet, the staff looks at his teeth and says, I can't believe this dog is 10 years old.
Olsen also noted an improved attitude toward training, most notably in obedience, which at the advanced levels takes a lot of mental energy. Before the raw diet, when we were working on something really difficult, the dogs would get stressed and peter out after about 20 minutes. They couldn't absorb anymore, mentally, Olsen says. Now, they can handle an hour, and still be full of enthusiasm, their tails keep wagging.
Mixing it Up
Many veterinarians and breeders believe that changing your dogs food too often may promote finicky appetites. For obvious reasons, pet-food manufacturers recommend feeding a single diet (theirs). But the concept of a healthy variety probably applies to your dog just as it does to you. Nutritional excesses or deficiencies inherent to any single formulation may neutralize when you feed different formulations.
A highly varied diet may provide trace and perhaps nutritional elements or antioxidants (yet unknown), and minimize the risk of repeated, long-term exposure to adverse elements (such as carcinogens). You can try changing diets with every bag of food, or every few bags. Be sure to purchase the new food far in advance so you can gradually mix the two together for a smooth transition, avoiding digestive upset.
If you're still undecided, simply ask the opinion of someone you know and trust, such as your veterinarian or breeder. Don't just ask what they recommendalso ask why. Get as many details as possible, and weigh them against what you've just learned. Be a bit wary of recommendations from pet-supply store employees, who can't avoid a conflict of interest: They may be required to promote the brands that generate the greatest store profit, and they probably are lacking in nutritional education.
Cutting-edge research proves nutrition influences everything from joint health to immune system function to longevity in dogs. The nutritional demands in active, working breeds, such as Border Collies, are best supplied by high-quality foods.
You may have to spend a bit more money or more time preparing your dogs cuisine, but the payoffs are well worth it: a dog that suffers fewer illnesses and remains active well into its golden years. Heres to many more years of happy herding, or fun-filled hours of fetching with your wisely fed Border Collie!
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