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Feeding and Vaccinating Your Dog

Dogs are born into this world with nature's expectation that they will travel 30 - 40 miles each day in packs to run down their prey. In fact, there are many laws against such behavior for dogs living in civilization. It is important, therefore, to maintain a regimen of regular exercise for your dog. 

Dogs are long distance runners.  Wolves and coyotes travel in an area of about 50 square Km each day.  They are long distance runners by definition.  They are deep chested and narrow wasted as is any long distance runner.  The  stomach and liver need to pushed against the diaphragm by the abdominal wall to enable maximum expiration, which allows maximum inspiration.  The dog is born with and needs to maintain a strong sinus arrhythmia of the heart rhythm.  The sinus arrhythmia is normally "wired in" the brain and present at birth. Stimulation of the heart in a rhythmic manner causes this cardiac rhythm even at rest. This speeding up of heart rate during inspiration and slowing at expiration is necessary because of the great amount of blood that is being "sucked" into the thorax on inspiration.  The increases heart rate of the sinus arrhythmia upon inspiration allows the blood to exit the thorax more rapidly, allow more oxygen to be exchanged during these long periods of running activity.  Thus, the speeding up of the heart on inspiration and the slowing of the heart on expiration (sinus arrhythmia) as well as a bodily conformation of narrow abdominal waist compared to the chest should be maintained for a long life to ensue.  When a dog runs "all out" its hind paws land almost exactly where its front paws had landed just before that. This allows the folding of the body on itself in a manner similar to holding our arms high over our head while standing and then bending with straight knees to touch our toes. This allows the folding of the body on itself and promotes the messaging of the abdominal contents as well as toning the abdominal muscles for their role in expiration.

Dogs need to run "all out" - off the leash for good health.

Dogs have been studied for centuries by archaeologists, zoologists, veterinarians and by molecular biologists. It has been determined that historically domesticated dogs have eaten grain for much of their diet. It has been found that the longest lived dogs are those maintained on very low protein diets. Groups of similar dogs maintained on higher protein diets have lived significantly less long. Therefore, we recommend a regular protein dry dog food from a reputable manufacturer meeting the National Research Council requirements for dogs. Recently, a report in Nature described the similarity of the wolf and dog genome. The genome of the dog differed from the wolf mainly in the areas of carbohydrate metabolism. Dogs are thought to be wolves that recognized that domestication would allow consumption of our garbage which, since we are gatherers, is principally carbohydrate..

Castration and spaying are necessary for dogs to live successful orderly lives in our society. These two procedures cause extra accumulation of fat. The best way to eliminate this accumulation is to limit food intake. In fact, it has been shown that restriction of dietary intake can increase longevity by as much as an additional 100%

Even though dogs eat grain and sticks and leaves and berries in the wild they do so because they are very hungry. There is no dog who yearns to go into a wheat field (with the wheat ripe on the stalk for 1-2 weeks) to do anything but hunt for mice.  All mammalian bodies including dogs and the mice and most vegetation that they eat are about 60% water.  If the food in the intestine is less than 60% wafer, solute from solid matter cannot be absorbed well and the body will become dehydrated. The principle of gastrointestinal absorption is that solute is absorbed with solvent isotonically to maintain the 60% water environment; basically, water passes with the nutrients from the gut seemingly "passively". In that way the body remains at 60% water despite absorption of nutrients.  Grain (dry dog food) is 10% water.  Therefore, the most important ingredient in the diet is water.  The food fed to your dog must be about 60% water.  This is prepared by mixing 1.5X the amount of water with the dry food.  For example, if you feed your dog 1 cup of dry food, you need to mix 1.5 cups of water with the dry food before it is fed. This mixture results in a 64% water meal which is easy to prepare and close enough for good gastrointestinal function. You need to put the water in the food before it is ingested - the water needs to be in the stomach at the same time as the meal.

We have found from clinical trials with dogs that, for example, if a dog is fed 1 cup of food once daily and the bowl of water is next to it the dog will maintain a constant body weight.  But, if the same dog was fed the same amount of dry food with water added, the dog gained weight.

We have found that if a dog is fed dry food with 1.5 x the volume of water added the food will empty from the stomach in 45 minutes. We have further found that canned food, which contains 78% water, empties from the stomach in 1 and 45 minutes. In the same trial when the same amount of dry food was fed without water it took many hours for the food to empty from the stomach. This is because the small intestine will not allow less than or more than about 60% water to be present. If the food entering the small intestine was allowed to be less than 60% water there would be dehydration of the body. The intestine protects the body from such a disaster.

The rapid exit of food from the stomach and the quick delivery of food to the intestine is important. This is because the major contraction waves of propulsion allowing motility which pass food through the intestine are stimulated by the presence of a bolus of food in the first part of the small intestine. This wave is then is propagated along the intestine (similar to the tubular apparatus used for decorating a cake).  The relative absence of this motility leads to constipation, intra-abdominal fat accumulation and, possibly, "food allergy"

Feeding Dry Food:

Feed 1 part dry + 1.5 parts water at the same time in the same bowl 2x/day. One such diet is Blue Seal Krunchies. This diet may not be exciting but is all that the dog needs and will keep the dog in good shape.

Feeding Canned Diets:

Any brand name chicken dog food is the best.  Some contain almost all meat . Chicken meat exemplifies the light meat found in rabbits, rats and mice, eaten routinely by the wild canid.  Also, since the chicken meat in these products is the byproduct of old egg laying hens, a good amount of meat can be provided to allow feeding your dog economically. These diets are not all meat but the omnivorous ability of the dog will deal with the mix. These foods can be fed alone.  It is a good diet for smaller dogs who often consume one can or less.  For sensitive digestive tracts canned chicken dog food is the best choice of diet. It is best, however to mix 4 parts canned food with 1 part dry food and 1/2 part water to provide a 60% rather than 78% water diet making the mix as ideal as dry with 1.5x the water. Remember, as is, without the added dry portion and water canned food takes longer to empty form the stomach possibly promoting a sluggish bowel.

Free Feeding:

If a dog was fortunate as a puppy to have learned to eat ad libitum over the day so that it ate the dry food and then consumed water after ingestion multiple times during the day, it would maintain its body weight with a moderate amount of food and good gastrointestinal motility. That dog would be adding water to the stomach as it went through its day and satisfy the 60% water requirement for rapid emptying of food from the stomach. .

Older Dogs:

Older dogs (more than 10 years old) need less protein. It is best to feed these dogs two times each day and to feed dry food at 1/ 2 the daily volume consumed before 10 years of age. Add to this boiled rice (cooked to maintain a lot of moisture), 1/4 of that usual volume, and elbow macaroni, 1/4 of that volume (these can be prepared once a week and refrigerated). The final volume will be the same as in the past but its protein and salt content will be lower.  Remember to add 1.5X the volume of water to the dry food; the rice and noodles are about 60% water.


The shelves of supermarkets are filled with all kinds of pet foods. The reason for this is to entice you to entice your dog to eat. Overeating will get your dog fat and lazy. A good measure of ideal body conformation is the ability to feel the ribs through the subcutaneous fat with the back of your hand.


Nutritionally, it is not necessary to mix dry food with a bit of canned food but some dogs have been able to convince their owners that it is necessary. For those in such a predicament we suggest just a dash of canned food (less than 1/20th total volume) added to dry mixed with 1.5x the volume of water. .

There is great variety in dog digestive tracts. Some of these do not tolerate the foods that most dogs can eat. Be careful to watch your dog's stool; if it is not of a good consistency, a new food should be tried.  Dogs should not be flatulent! Do not frequently switch dog foods.  Once your dog has eaten a 25 or 50 pound bag of food its digestive tract is used to that food and that food should be continued.  Dogs will not get bored with their diet unless you convince them that they should be tired of it.  It is always better to eat to live than to live to eat.

Feeding pups:

Feed three meals each day until the dog is 14 weeks old and then feed 2 meals a day. At the end of each meal the pup should still be a bit hungry. Because they have a difficult time with training it is best with puppies to feed them shortly before a time when you can take them for a good long walk. Try to keep your eye on a pup and allow it to go out when it needs to. These times to go out are significant, but the pup's signal is often very subtle. Female pups are usually trustworthy at about 3 - 3.5 months and males at about 4 - 4.5 months. Before these ages limit water availability to times that allow you to take the pup out if it asks you to do so. After these ages the water can be left out 24 hours per day.  Alternatively, a more difficult method is to allow a pup to realize that dry food is available 24 hours per day and eat ad libitum.  Training is initially more difficult but has other rewards as we have discussed above.   As your dog matures you will have to adjust the amount of food to keep the dog’s conformation trim, deep chested and narrow waisted.  Castration and spaying cause weight gain and, therefore, the amount of food fed needs to be reduced after these procedures.



Puppies intestinally absorb antibodies from their mother's milk in the first few days of life. This antibody protects the pips against viral diseases. If the mother has been vaccinated recently she will have more antibodies in the milk to be delivered to the pups. These antibodies dissipate over time, with higher concentrations yielding longer lengths of immunity. A vaccination schedule is set up to protect against various diseases by vaccination at the point when there is no concentration of mother's antibody present in the puppy. Early vaccination is necessary for those pups whose mothers have not delivered much antibody in the milk but also stimulates activation of cellular immunity against Distemper, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza, Hepatitis.  Rabies vaccination is performed at 3 months of age at which time there is no maternal antibody to neutralize the vaccinations ability to produce antibodies in this pup.  Rabies vaccination is repeated one year after the first vaccination and then every 3 years. If rabies vaccination is administered back to back 9 - 12 months apart once in a dog's life, all subsequent rabies vaccinations are legally 3 year vaccinations (in Massachusetts) after that. The vaccinations for the other viruses and bacteria are repeated periodically.  Recent evidence has revealed that antibody levels are significantly maintained to allow protection against viral diseases for three years at least.  Therefore, after the 1 year inoculation, we will vaccinate for the viruses every three years.  Leptospirosis and Borrelia (Lyme organism) are spirochetal bacteria which need to be vaccinated against annually.  These vaccinations need to repeated annually because the duration of immunity from a bacterial vaccine is only about 1 year.  Dogs that are exposed to alkaline brackish water in the summer are especially susceptible to Leptospirosis.   Lyme disease is spread through the small Lyme tick much of the year.  It is absolutely necessary to vaccinate for Lyme annually because the presence of these small ticks, laden with the Lyme causing bacteria, are all over this area.  Lyme, discussed elsewhere on the site, is a disease of inflammation.  Experimentally most dogs exposed to the organism show no reaction.  However, 5% of the population who are truly infected with Lyme will die from Lyme.  

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