Once upon a time the poorest fed dog in America was the farm dog left to fend for itself for food. These dogs, undernourished bags of bones, were once so common they almost became symbolic of impoverished rural America. Today vast numbers of those small farms have vanished. With them have gone the gaunt, hollow-eyed hounds that greeted every farm visitor with a hungry, ill-tempered bark.
The farmer has snored to the city, gotten a job, and become the suburbanite. With him have come his companion dogs. And, the suburbanite house-pet has replaced the farm dog as the poorest fed dog in America. Probably 75 percent of all dogs in the United States owned by private individuals are household pets.
Most of these dogs are anywhere from 10 percent to 50 percent overweight because the most frequent error made by feeders of house-pets is overfeeding. Unlike their predecessors, today’s poorest fed dogs are not underfed, but overfed. The irony of it all is the fact that, while they may be overfed and overweight, they may also be undernourished! Unfortunately, there is a widespread misconception among dog owners that any dog food that comes out of a can or box that they bought at the grocery store is adequate and nourishing enough for a dog.
This belief has led politicians, sociologists, and even some nutritionists to express the opinion that most American house-pets are better fed than most Americans. While these statements may grab sensational headlines, the accuracy of such a proposition does not stand up under critical exploitation. While it certainly is true that some house-pets receive far better nourishment than some people, it is also true that many dogs in this country are woefully malnourished. Some of the dogs suffering from the greatest malnourishment are those eating the very item to which the politicians and sociologists attribute such grandiose performance-commercial dog food.
Not all, probably not even most, of the canned dog foods in this country are guilty of malnourishing a dog, but some do exist, and they are being fed. Nowhere does a dog feeder need to evaluate the food he feeds more than he does when he is feeding canned foods to a house-pet. Yet, the number of pet owners who actually feed their dogs based on their evaluation of the foods available to them is practically zero.
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