The recent case of cruelty towards nine dogs in Kalyan shook us all. Yes, there are people out there who would push their dogs to the edge of starvation that they start eating their own waste to survive! It is shocking yet true. Though most of us here love our dogs dearly and would never wish such a fate for them, when facing an emancipated dog, we are completely unprepared for the situation.
A dog with a sunken stomach and a scaly exposed rib cage is one that hasn’t eaten for days and may not have the strength to handle bulky food. So, what do you give them in this situation? The food must be light, easy to digest and filling. Something that they can hold in without upsetting their sensitive stomach.
Here are some things to keep in mind when taking care of an emancipated dog
Do Not Overfeed An Emancipated Dog
When you see a skeletal dog the first thing you may want to do is feed him/her a hearty meal. This can cause more harm than any good. Overfeeding an emancipated dog can cause ‘refeeding syndrome’. This is an identified syndrome for humans but very little is known about dog refeeding syndrome. It has symptoms like muscle aches, heart damage, irregularities in heart beats, seizures, failure of the respiratory system and, in severe cases, death. A sudden excess of food can lead to an imbalance in potassium and phosphorous. Since their stomach is already shrunken they feel full even after having a small helping. Many of these dogs may force themselves to eat the excess and have other gastric issues.
Instead of giving them one large meal, it is ideal to give emancipated dogs small portions of food after an interval of six hours and gradually increase the portion size and interval between two meals.
How Much To Feed My Dog
So, now that we know we cannot over feed our dog, how do we know the perfect amount for them? Below is a chart that records the approximate calorie intake of dogs according to their weight in kgs.
|Dog’s Weight (Kg)
||Total Calories Needed Per Day (Cal)
*Every dog is different and therefore their dietary requirements vary slightly from the chart above. It is always import to consult your vet before making a calorie chart that is ideal for your dog
Many veterinarians suggest a daily intake of one third of the emancipated dog’s actual calorific requirements and gradually increase it. So, for instance, if you have a dalmatian weighing 15kgs and its ideal weight should be 30kgs, you must feed him 502Cal and gradually increase it till you reach 1,508Cal in a day. Space out the calories in 4-5 meals that are six hours apart from each other.
Feed Them The Right Kind of Food
A dog that has not eaten for days will be extremely low on sugar. So, if you are feeding an emancipated dog that you have just met on the road, you may feed them a small amount of human biscuits (nothing with chocolate or other ingredients that are not dog safe). The sugar in the biscuits give them energy to carry on and find their next meal.
If you are fostering or adopting a malnourished dog and you are certain that you will provide for him/her, feed them meals with adequate amounts of phosphorous, potassium and magnesium. Adding supplements like omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids would be beneficial to them as well. Remember that this is the time when an emancipated dog needs extra fats. You can add a slight amount of dog safe omega 3, omega 6 oils or even olive oil or coconut oil to their meals. Select a dog food that contains lean white meat as the primary source of protein. Leaner meat is easier to digest and therefore easier for your pup to hold.
Encourage Them to Eat
A malnourished dog can also be really stressed and weary of their locations. This might make them pseudo anorexic or true anorexic. Try to make them feel safe and comfortable. Feed them alone so that they are not intimidated by bigger stronger dogs.
Remember, that if you give them something they cannot resist a famished dog is likely to oblige. If they turn their nose to regular dog food, moist their meals with room temperature chicken broth. The smell of fresh chicken has them wolfing their meals down in no time. Other alternatives are delicious food toppers that are made especially for dogs. Remember to flavor their food very lightly and only if it is needed. Try to keep the meals light, at least for the first few week.
Make Tweaks After Observations
If you continue with small portions and frequent meal times you will see changes. It is common for many emancipated dogs to vomit or have occasional diarrhea as they adjust to the new meal system. However, if it persists, you must rush them to the hospital immediately.
Start with higher portions of fat and protein but as they start to gain weight reduce the extra fats and increase the protein intake. Usually it takes at least a weak to notice changes in their structure. So, make slight changes to their meals after than interval of seven days.
Consult A Vet
Though the above feeding techniques were prescribed by veterinarians, it goes without saying that if you are taking care of an emancipated dog, you must consult a vet. An emergency doctor will help you check for their vital stats, peripheral/internal infections, oral hygiene, pain and discomfort, signs of anaemia and/or worms etc. A vet will also guide you through their dietary process and make sure your pooch is in great hands!
The simple tips mentioned above can give a hungry malnourished dog another chance at life. Expect a gradual increase in their weight and watch their personalities unravel slowly. Be patient and keep your vet’s number handy. You will have a healthy and happy dog in no time!