Feeding Your Poodle
We get asked by nearly every puppy
family what we recommend their new poodle puppy should
be fed, how often and how much? Those are all good questions and
answers will vary to those questions, depending on who one asks!
But here is our opinion...
The first question is to determine whether or not you wish to feed your
poodle on a kibble, home-cooked or raw diet. There are pros and
Kibble is easy, clean and the most convenient for many families...
AND there is a tremendous variety of processed kibbles available.
They vary in quality of ingredients and cost. I believe
that the most healthy diet for your new poodle is either a well balanced
raw diet or home-cooked diet, and we will discuss the reasons why
below... but for now, a bit of info about various types of kibble!
you are going to feed kibble, we have found that the cheaper the food,
the more filler there is... which also means that you scoop more
poop when you feed these poorer quality foods, sometimes double the
amount of poop to clean up! Top quality foods will have the first
ingredient listed as a meat meal of some kind; for instance: chicken
meal, fish meal, lamb meal, etc. This is important, because by
the time the meat is dehydrated into meal, it is a very dense source of
nutrition. If a bag of dog food has simply "chicken" listed as a
first ingredient, then by the time it is made into kibble, it will be
much farther down in the ingredient list, making it very likely that
the main source of the food is grains such as corn, wheat or rice.
And while grains can be ok, your poodle is a CARNIVORE, meaning that
it's main food source should be meat, not grains!
And by the way, "chicken byproduct
meal" is NOT considered to be a quality ingredient, as it is made up of
all manner of parts that aren't all that great, such as the feet,
heads, feathers, intenstines, etc. You want a kibble that
proudly boasts "human grade ingredients used".
Many kibbles have a lot of chemical
preservatives in them, which gives a long shelf life of up to two
years. BUT they are likely the leading cause of skin allergies or
other digestive allergies in dogs. Natural preservatives such as
rosemary, vitamin E or other herbs will generally have a shelf life of
six months or so... so it needs to be bought from a place that
has a good turn-over of stock and then used up. Here on the
West coast of Canada, there are a number of premium brands recommended,
such as Go!, Holista, Riplees Ranch, to name a few. Your own area
will likely have dog foods that are manufactured fairly locally and
will be of good quality. Not as good as "real food" but certainly
better than "Pedigree" or "Mainstay".
Food allergies are troublesome to
narrow down sometimes, as commercial kibbles often have many allergens
in them. If your poodle reacts to the kibble, is it the
preservatives, the wheat, the rice or the chicken??!
If you find your dog :
scratching lots and you know it's not fleas
has welts, hives, or pimples on his/her skin
is vomiting its food or not wanting to eat
has loose or runny stools or is messing in the house because he can't make it to the bathroom...
may want to discuss food allergies with your vet or do an elimination
diet to get to the bottom of it all. Many vets are not trained in
diet issues and will simply tell you to buy "Nutro Lamb and Rice" or
some such thing, but as it has a lot of preservatives and grain (rice)
in it, that is not very good advice! Either do a raw diet or find
a kibble that has only one protein source and one carb source AND that
is an unusual source, such as duck/potato or salmon/oatmeal, or try a
grain-free formula that does not use chemical preservatives. Do be aware that allergy symptoms can take up
to six weeks to completely disappear, so you will be looking for a
gradual improvement. It is often a good idea to do a 24 hour fast
with liquids only to help speed clearing the toxic stuff out of their
system too. (Puppies, hypoglycemic, pregnant or lactating dogs
should not be fasted!).
Raw Food Diet/BARF Diet
We feed raw food to our poodles, and they have done wonderfully on it.
I know that many recommend against it and tell us pet owners that
"commercial dog food has been scientifically formulated by canine
nutritionists to be a balanced food and has all the nutrients required
to keep your dog healthy"...
HMMM! Sounds just like what they told everybody in the 1960's
when breastfeeding babies was discouraged and most were told that
"formula is the best for babies because it is scientifically developed
for babies and is the best for them"! Since then, that little
piece of advice has been retired and we are encouraged to feed our
children REAL FOOD. Most of us understand that processed,
dehydrated and canned food is not as healthy for us as freshly prepared
food, and the same logic applies to our pets as well. There is
lots of information about the BARF diet or raw diets on the web, but
here is what we do:
We feed raw chicken backs and beef liver in a ratio of 10lbs chicken
backs/necks to 1 lb liver or other organ meat and 1 lb flash frozen
veggies such as beans, peas, carrots, etc. Sometimes we add
cheese in or cottage cheese, sometimes we add yogurt. We will
also add in powdered greens every now and then. Fresh veggies can
be added too, but the dogs will get the most out of fresh veggies if
they have been pureed in a food processor or juicer (add the juice and
pulp back together).
We will give them raw rib bones to enjoy as a treat, and sometimes will
give them the raw chicken backs or necks whole rather than coarse
ground. Since feeding raw, we have found that their poops are
very small and easy to clean up... it's obvious that the dogs are
getting a lot out of the food, because there is sure not much left to
On average, we feed between 2% to 4% of the dog's weight daily and
divide it into two feedings. Pregnant and nursing moms are fed
more... sometimes a lot more! Puppies also may need more
than that, so we do the "rib test" often when we pet our dogs.
Your poodle's ribs should feel like a xylophone covered by a heavy
sweatshirt when you run a flat hand over the ribcage. If you
can't hardly feel ribs, then your dog is too fat and needs to have the
amount of high protein feed cut back. And if he's skin over bone,
it's time to worm the dog and then increase the food (or if you've been
feeding a lower quality kibble, you need to switch to a premium quality
kibble or do a good fresh-prepared diet for him).
If you are feeding both raw and kibble, DO NOT feed them at the same time!
The raw food digests much quicker than the cooked/dry food, so
you will want to try feeding the cooked/dry food in the morning and the
raw at night or some such arrangement. Also, we do not give our
dogs cooked bones of any sort, because cooking them makes them brittle
and difficult to digest. There are other risks too, so we just
don't do it!
Our butcher in town does two grinds a week for us, but many families
with just one dog in the house will get it done every two or four weeks
and freeze portions in baggies or on a cookie sheet and then simply
take out the needed amount every day and put it in the bowl.
That's pretty easy! You can also purchase premade raw
formulas in frozen chubs and take out what you need.
If you wish to feed a fresh cooked diet, Dr Pitcairn's Guide to
Wholistic Vet Care has a wonderful chapter on recipes for a balanced
diet for dogs and some for cat also. I bought mine second hand
from Amazon.com for under $10.