There is no such thing as ‘best make’ or ‘best food’, the best way to approach this task, is to pick whatever best suits your pei. So how do you do it?
Few rules of thumb:
1. Always ask your breeder what type of food your puppy was eating while in the kennel.
The tummy of your peiby is very sensitive at this age, and if you add the stress of leaving the kennel and moving to a new house, you would like to keep as many constants as you can – food is the easiest one of them.
2. If your puppy is healthy, don’t change the food.
Dogs are creatures of habit, they don’t need the variety to keep them interested in the food, they don’t look at the labels and don’t watch the adverts on TV.
Frequent changes in the diet may cause stomach upset and allergies. Some of the reactions can happen within one-two feedings, but in some cases it may be slowly building up.
3. If your breeder didn’t provide any recommendations, you would like to make sure the food you pick won’t be high in protein.
Raw food vs dry food
The main difference between raw and dry food, is the method of preparation. Dry food is the result of industrial manufacturing process, which requires the food to be processed and ‘cooked’. This process leads to changes in the original structure and requires certain additions to ‘balance it out’. The dry food will have longer shelf life, is easy to store, less messy to serve and eat. Raw food has no cooked/heated ingredients, is ‘closer to nature’, however will have shorter shelf life and will require fridge/freezer space for storing. The main ingredient in both will be meat, however most of the dry foods will also contain grains, which you won’t find in raw food.
There are pro’s and con’s for either method.
There’s a huge variety of dry food on the market, which can make it difficult to narrow down and pick one. You need to learn how to properly read the label – the ingredients will appear in an order that indicates the quantity present in the food. For example, if you have a ‘Lamb dry food’, you can check the label and find out that lamb is indeed the main ingredient, however this food may also contain chicken. If your dog has allergies to different types of meat, you need to pay extra attention. Also there’s a difference in the quality of ingredients – the main ingredient may be ‘lamb meat’ or ‘lamb meal’, the second option considered to be lower quality. Most shar-pei breeders will recommend paying attention to the percentage of proteins, and will prefer food containing 21% or lower. Another tip that can help you pick better dry food is the recommended daily dosage – the lower it is, the greater value for your dog and the better your dog will absorb the food.
There are several providers of raw food as well, but the assortment is much more limited compared to dry food. You can also improvise and create your own, by simply buying meat and vegies. There are many articles and web sites that will help you in creating your own perfect menu, however this type of research may be somewhat time consuming and may require adjusting the diet as you go, based on your pets reaction to it. Raw food will have fewer ingredients, will contain meat and (grained) bones, veggies. The percentage of protein in this case doesn’t play the same role, as it is considered to be a ‘quality’ protein. Your shar-pei can have a pack of turkey with no vegies, but it won’t be equivalent to 100% protein dry food. Raw food is very moist, so you will see significant reduction in water consumption. Because the meat was not heated/cooked, the protein structure is different (unchanged) and in many cases you will find that your dog is not allergic to certain types of meat that may cause an allergic reaction when consuming dry food. Also, if you have an allergic dog, it will be easier to fight the allergy - smaller number of ingredients will make it easier to find the allergy trigger and eliminate it.
Bones in raw food
Many raw feeders will feed raw bones to their dogs and claim this is not dangerous at all. According to many BARF (bones and raw food) websites, raw bones are totally safe and the only risk is in feeding cooked bones. However, most of the vets will advise against bones in your dogs diet. Vets can share with you many examples of intestinal damages caused by the sharp edges of crushed bones.
When I started feeding my dogs with raw food, I was struggling to figure out which way to go - ‘bones or not bones’, then I found a Canadian website of a wolves sanctuary, where they save wild injured wolves, heal them and release them back to the nature. From this site I learnt the most significant difference between ‘home made’ BARF and ‘wild’ BARF – in the nature, wolves consume the whole animal including fur, skin, meat and bones, while in the domestic approach we provide our dogs with ‘clean’ bones. The digested fur will wrap around sharp bones edges and protect the wolves from internal damage.
It is so tempting to spoil our precious pets! And there are SO many options available in pet stores... However, you must be sensible and consider the ingredients and amount of treats you are feeding your dog. For example, giving your pet a slice of cheese will be equivalent to you eating 3-4 slices. If my pup’s owners insist on treats, my suggestion is to use fruit and vegies, you might be surprised to learn how much your pei can enjoy an apple or a carrot!
And if I was unable to convince you with ‘healthy and tasty’ approach, check out this table: