Feeding Dogs in War Times: A Look Back at 1918

This historic Dog World article gives a unique look at dog ownership and struggles with feeding dogs during a war.

From the Archives of Dog World: Enjoy this all-access pass to dog history from the pages of the longest published dog magazine. This content remains in its original form and reflects the language and views of its time. Health and behavior information evolves and only the most current advice should be followed.

Dog WorldOwners of dogs and especially owners of kennels should in every way respond to the government’s appeal for conservation of food and especially of those foods needed by our army and our allies. If that voluntary response is not sufficiently widespread and honest the time will surely come when the government will take drastic measures which may be very injurious to the fancy. It is not only necessary to practice saving and economy, but it is just as necessary to let it be known that we are doing it and thus ward off possible hostile action. Therefore it is up to the dog fancier and owner to devise new ways and means of feeding our dogs quite different from those of the old free and easy days or normal time. 

It is not a question of ability to pay for food, as it was in the past. The millionaire kennel owner falls in the same category with the poor man who keeps his family tyke. 

At Soo kennels we have been on the alert to devise new ways and means of meeting the emergency. Perhaps it would be of interest to others in the fancy to know what we are doing, and for them in turn to communicate to the rest of us through the columns of the Dog World what they are doing along this line. Then all of us may profit by the experiences of all.

In our kennel we are using considerable horse meat. This meat is obtained at a horse meat market in Milwaukee. It is under U.S. inspection and is very good. We avoid offal and feed only good meat. We usually get it in the form of hamburger. It is fed raw once or twice a week and at other times well cooked and minced with thoroughly cooked vegetables of the regulative type and crumbed bread, shredded wheat, waste, etc. In winter time corn meal and oat meal waste can be used instead of other cereals. We obtain our bread from hotels and restaurants. This consists of fragments left over from the tables and cannot be served in any form to patrons.

We are also using pork cracklings occasionally. These can be obtained from the packing houses at 6 cents per pound and make an excellent change of diet for occasional use. We find that dogs appreciate a change of diet as much as people and do much better when they have it. We also have found sheep and calves’ heads of great value as food. We usually get two to four at a time and cook them in a large granite pail. The bones are then extracted and what remains of meat and jelly is mixed with cooked and chopped vegetables and bread, etc., in the usual proportions. This makes the very best possible food for the dog, as its juices are a great aid to digestion and it contains high calorie value. It is especially desirable for dogs out of condition and for mothers after whelping. The jelly that forms in the bottom is a most excellent food for young puppies, especially at weaning time and after. 

The question of vegetables we believe is one of the greatest importance. We feed them at practically every meal unless dog cakes are occasionally used. Vegetables of the regulation type are always desirable. We use cabbage, turnips, rutabagas, carrots, beets (sparingly), parsnips and many greens, such as spinach, Swiss chard, turnip tops, cooked lettuce, pigweed, dandelion, etc., in season. A couple rows of Swiss chard 15 feet long will supply six dogs with great food for all summer and fall. The question of winter vegetables, provided at low cost, is one that must be considered early in the spring.  

At the present time we are carrying on some experiments in the dog biscuit line and are making progress. The object sought for here is to make a good nourishing biscuit that will keep and at the same time use only those materials not necessary to win the war. In the past we have used patent dog biscuits and have much to recommend in some of them when fed sparingly. They were in the past handy and cheap and if not fed more than once a day very satisfactory. But they are no longer cheap and almost unprocurable. If the breeder of moderate means wishes to use a convenient food of that kind it is up to him to make it at home. We have gathered together a lot of materials and we are experimenting with a reasonable degree of success. If in time we get something really good we will be glad to share it with others.

Excerpted from Dog World, August 1918, Vol. 3, No. 8.

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