Feeding Your Ridgeback

Regardless of who you ask, everyone has their own "master plan" for feeding their Ridgeback. Many advocate additions of raw items - both vegetable matter or meat - others swear by vitamins, minerals, herbs, etc. Lots of folks with one dog will cook especially for the dog. ( I gotta admire those who cook for their dogs...I barely cook for myself!) However, the majority of dog owners feed commercial kibble and I count myself among them.

Since most dog owners are simply looking for a great companion, I think some breeders forget to take this into account when they plan a litter. If I had a dog who had some digestive problems or allergies to certain foods, I would not breed that dog! I operate on the theory that everything is inherited and if a dog cannot tolerate commercial kibble, then don't pass on those genes...I don't care what the dog looks like. Give me a dog with a "cast-iron" stomach any day! I expect my dogs to thrive on what is available at the store because that's what the average pet owner has available to them.

Savannah the Beautiful!That said, I must add that I do "clean out the refrigerator" and give them added "treats" - raw bones and raw hamburger,kidney or beef hearts - from time to time...everybody loves variety now and then. :-) My dogs are no exception and my dogs do tend to add variety to their diets whenever the opportunity rises!

Ridgebacks, as a breed, tend to always be hungry. Many owners believe their dog is hungry and feed beyond what they should - this despite the evidence seen in their eyes...ie, a walking basketball disguised as a dog. ( I never feed the recommended amount on the back of a bag of dog food...it's way too much for the normal RR.) On the other hand, when you can see their ribs sticking out, you are not feeding them enough! You should be able to feel the ribs or only a very faint outline of them. The photo, above, shows a dog in perfect condition.

Feeding the PUPPY : How and when to feed your puppy. 

Young pups, from 8 weeks to 12-14 weeks need to be fed 3 meals a day. Then feed twice daily for the rest of their lives. I always add a bit of water with kibble as it keeps them from bolting down their food. 

I do not use puppy chow after 4 months of age!  You should begin weaning them off puppy chow after 3 months and be completed by 4 months. High protein, high calorie food can cause the bones to grow to fast for the ligaments and muscles to keep up and result in hip and/or elbow dysplasia, “pano” and other rapid growth problems. Use a good quality adult food if you aren’t into additives. 

I use adult food. I use either Iams ( Not lamb & rice ) or Pedigree (small chunks/kibble), both can be purchased at your local supermarket. There are also many good foods that are grain free. Since dogs can develop chronic yeast infections of the ear from a high carb diet, you may choose to use one of these. I have one old dog, who has a problem with grains, and I feed her a product called Taste of the Wild. I vary the protein source each bag, ie Salmon, Buffalo, etc.. 

I like to feed a partial raw diet, but if you are going to use kibble, I recommend adding some “items” to the kibble for puppies. For example: Once a day, add ½ a mackerel. Mackerel in a can purchased at WalMart. Here the price runs from .62 - .88 per can. There are 3-5 mackerel in a can. I refrigerate the rest after opening the can.) A cheap addition considering what a great shine to their coats it adds. 

To vary the “additives”, you can substitute occasionally some veggies/yogurt/cottage cheese of some sort. Dogs do not process hard cheeses – they love it as a training tool, but it has no food value for them. 

Veggies and fruit can be added with the mackerel if you have it... good for us, good for puppy, too! Veggies can be raw or cooked, whatever you have. Mine love bananas, pears and apples. NO ONIONS. 

I have been doing a modified BARF diet ( Bones and Raw Foods) with all my dogs for a couple of years. Evenings they get kibble and cottage cheese/yogurt/ricotta cheese – about a cup and a half to 2 cups or with ½ a mackeral, etc... Mornings they get either: 1 to 1 ½ pound raw hamburger/ 2 raw chicken backs/1 raw chicken leg quarter/about 4 chicken wings/ about one pound chicken necks/Cornish hen/ 1 turkey neck/beef kidney/combination of mackerel/chicken gizzards/boiled egg. Sometimes they also get, with their raw meat, some cooked green veggies.

Ratio of meat to veggies is about 80%-20%. NEVER give raw bones and kibble/carbohydrate as they will digest the kibble first and the meaty bone is left there to ferment causing diarrhea. Rule is kibble and green veggies/cottage cheese/yogurt/ground beef or turkey OR raw meat with bones and green veggies or fruit. ( At least 4-6 hours in between.) 

You could also give kibble in the morning and raw evenings for adults. Adult dogs could also have a beef knuckle bone in the afternoons/evenings as their raw meal for the day. ( Easily obtained from the butcher’s bone barrels.) I really like the modified BARF diet – a lot less poop, less smell and their teeth stay nice and white and their coats are so much softer and shine like satin! 

Puppies like to have raw carrots to munch on occasionally, or chop them up and add to their food. 

Always try and feed the puppy or dog at the same time of day – dogs thrive on routine! 

Always have plenty of fresh water in a clean water bowl. Ceramic bowls are great as they seem to keep the water cooler. 

Ridgebacks would like for you to believe they are starving to death all the time – they aren’t! You should be able to see a “waist line” and feel the ribs, but not see them. Too heavy a puppy is hard on their growing bones.