Note: This article on dog health appeared in the May 4th, 1895 issue of Home Chat, “A Weekly Magazine for the Home” published in London. The advice given is provided for historic purposes; for example, feeding dogs bones depends on the breed, and this article does not differentiate between large and small dogs although it does mention that cutlet bones should not be fed. This article is provided for historic and general informational purposes and as an example of Victorian era dog health advice, although I think we can agree that overfeeding a dog is still not a very wise thing to do.
Daily exercise is most essential to the health and good condition of our four-legged friends. Without sufficient exercise a dog’s digestion is soon impaired, and many complications are liable to arise therefrom. It is not absolutely necessary to take the animal for a long walk, because when a dog is given his or her liberty, and is accompanied by its owner for a short stroll, it in its gambols backwards and forward, covers, in all probability, many more times the actual distance that we ourselves have walked. Thus, by the animal’s attendant only having gone, say, a mile, the dog itself has perhaps journeyed some five or six. Any how, whether taken for a regular constitutional or not, always allow your dog to have at least half an hour’s daily exercise at full liberty.
It is a commonly accepted theory that a dog’s digestion takes twenty-four hours, and it will undoubtedly be found—especially if the animal is more or less closely confined—that provided a thorough good meal is given to him in the afternoon of one day, he will often refuse to eat anything the following morning.
We much prefer, however, giving two meals a day— in the early morning and again in the evening, say at six o’clock. In the morning ground oats and middlings (“sharps”), half and half, mixed with boiling milk and water, is excellent, to which may also with advantage be added some soaked and broken dog-biscuits.
In the evening give dog-biscuits unsoaked, and if the animal can manage to break them himself they are best given whole, but many small dogs require the biscuits to be broken up for them. At this meal a few scraps of meat and bones may also be added to the bill-of-fare, but never feed a dog principally upon meat.
The effect of a meat diet exclusively is to cause mange, eczema, and other diseases, and even if only what may be termed a rather liberal amount of meat is given in the case of a house dog, the breath of the animal will become very offensive. Nevertheless, bones should always be given once or twice a week. By the gnawing of bones the dog is enabled to clean its teeth; besides, the consumption of a certain quantity of bones is most beneficial to its health.
Small bones, especially cutlet bones, should not be employed, as these are sometimes liable to choke the animal. Large bones, with just sufficient meat on to tempt him to devour them, are the best, and if too large for him to eventually consume, they should be broken up with a hammer.
Dogs are not often wilfully ill-treated, for with the advance of civilisation, real, downright cruelty to dumb creatures is fast disappearing from amongst us. But unfortunately many (especially ladies) are apt to go to the other extreme, and by their mistaken kindness to inflict a large amount of suffering on those very creatures that they would do almost anything for, could they thereby prevent them from feeling pain.
A dog should never be fed more than twice a day. To be continually giving tit-bits to him, or even, as some do, place a number of appetising and tempting dishes in front of him repeatedly during the day, is a sure way, in the long run, to not only cause the dog to suffer considerably from indigestion, apoplexy, and the like, but also to materially shorten its existence.
We once asked a vet, who was in the habit of receiving a number of dogs that were in ill-health to cure, what was the most frequent complaint from which his patients suffered. His reply was “Simply overfeeding.”
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