A beginner’s guide to feeding stray dogs
If you’re a beginner who just started to feed the stray dogs of your community and you need help, we at KAW are here to guide you! While there may be many things to know about feeding stray animals, here is a list of some basic things that one should keep in mind when feeding a stray.
Feeders need to be compassionate as well as responsible. Despite the presence of animal lovers in every part of the country, there are also uncountable instances of human-animal conflict, particularly so in the case of stray dogs. To keep things smooth for both you and the strays you feed and look after, here are some pointers that all feeders must be aware of:
1) Make it a point to avoid causing or exacerbating any fight or confrontation with others or cause problems with local individuals. Remember that you can go back to your home, but the strays might have to face the consequences. If you feel that an animal’s welfare is at serious risk, you need to take a legal route even if it’s more work, for the sake of the animals that you cannot protect at every minute of the day.
2) Do not feed in front of residential areas or neighboring houses. Instead, feed them at one particular point. This fixed feeding spot should be away from residential complexes.
3) Feed the dogs only once a day- we firmly believe that if you feed them multiple times in a day, their natural instinct of looking for food gets disrupted, and the dog will become entirely dependent on you, which can be problematic if you’re not around even for a few days. Exceptions to this are, pregnant bitches, orphan pups, sick, old, or paralyzed dogs who will need food servings as per vet suggestions or otherwise due to their inability to scavenge for food.
4) Dogs tend to be territorial, especially when they live in packs, so feed different packs of dogs in separate groups to avoid fights, keeping multiple feeding spots which are for far apart from each other if necessary. Keep back up feeding spots and rotate them sometimes to create flexible territories and avoid fights among dogs.
5) Always keep a bowl of water outside your house or on the streets for the stray animals. Alternatively, carry a bowl and a water bottle with you and pour them some after feeding. Avoid giving them ice-cold water. Make sure it is at room temperature.
6) Always have a time allotted for feeding them. We recommend feeding the strays at hours when there is no one around like early morning, mid-afternoon, or late at night.
FOCUS ON WHAT YOU ARE FEEDING THEM
What you feed your stray dogs is very important-. While multiple types of food can be safely fed to the dogs, one should always pay attention to the nutritional value of the food being given.
1) Eggs: Can be boiled eggs and can either be fed alone or mixed with chapati or bread. Not suitable for puppies.
2) Chicken: boiled chicken with rice or chapati is suitable for dogs but one should be extremely careful of not feeding the bone as that can get lodged in the throat of the dog causing them to choke.
3) Dog food: this is yet another great option in case some people do not have time to cook and prefer something which is readily available. While there are many brands offering a great variety of dog food, some of the recommended brands are Smart Heart, Pedigree, and Kennel kitchen. Please check the nutritional value of the dog food brand before feeding.
4) Fish- Certain fishes like Salmon, Codfish, or Hank can also be a part of a balanced meal for dogs as long as they are cooked properly and bones are removed.
1) Chapati, rice, and cornflakes, although keep in mind that strays might reject dry rotis and rice so it is better to mix something. You can also feed khichdi if that’s easier. The important part is not to add spices or even salt (a pinch is fine if absolutely necessary).
2) Milk: try to avoid feeding milk too regularly, but if you must, dilute it with water. Milk is also a good option to mix the chapati or rice in it.
3) Biscuits: While many people also feed biscuits, it is important to keep in mind that they should only be fed unsweetened biscuits like Marie Gold biscuits. Although Parle G is most people’s first instinct, it is better avoided because the amount of sugar in them doesn’t suit dogs’ systems.
4) Vegetables: any and all non-toxic vegetables such as sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots are great options. You can also make a curry both using these non-toxic vegetables and mix it with rice for quicker and easier meal serving.
5) Fruit: Fruits that are completely safe for dogs include bananas, kiwis, blueberries, strawberries, and pineapples (which you can give frozen for a summer treat).
1) Vegan alternatives such as rice milk or coconut milk are great for dogs' health, which can be mixed with rice, roti, or vegan biscuits. Vegan packaged dog food is hard to find in India though brands like Ami and Benevo deliver to most parts of India.
2) Soya alternatives- Soy milk, soya chunks, or soya flour are good protein alternatives. Boiled (with a pinch of salt if necessary) and mixed with rice makes a good meal for dogs. Tofu is also available although it is an uncommon and costly choice.
3) Certain legumes and lentils- Chickpeas, peas, and lentils in moderate amount cooked well without any seasoning and oils also give the benefit of proteins to dogs
*While most Indies are tolerant of all kinds of food, it is important to note that certain Indies also have a dairy intolerance or lactose intolerance or other food-specific allergies. It is always advised to consult a vet and change diet if any symptoms of indigestion are being shown to the current diet. There are many diet options to choose from.
TAKING CARE OF THE SURROUNDINGS
As mentioned earlier, there are many cases of human-animal conflict when it comes to stray dogs. For the sake of the safety and wellbeing of the dogs, it is crucial to maintain harmony with people around you while feeding, as far as possible. To reduce the likelihood of being objected by neighbors, one should always be careful while feeding the animals. In order to prevent creating any kind of mess in and around the feeding area, it is advisable to use either bowls or newspapers when serving food so that everything can be cleared. By making sure that your surroundings are clean and tidy, fewer people are likely to object to the work that you are doing. It also ensures that mixing with soil does not waste food or dogs don’t end up eating the trash or dirt alongside food that is on the ground.
TAKING CARE OF THE MEDICAL NEED
Most stray dogs face some kind of infections or affliction due to the unhygienic nature of their surroundings, especially puppies less than six months old. It is important for the feeders to get their dogs vaccinated and dewormed to prevent these as far as possible. Small wounds can also be dealt with without a vet visit, usually by applying an ointment or powder, but do consult a vet over the phone to be safe.
STERILISATION OF DOGS
Did you know that over the course of a lifetime, a dog and her puppies can be responsible for the birth of more than 67000 puppies if unchecked? High growth rates of the street animal population are one of the most significant causes of human-animal conflict in urban settings. For this reason, it is important for the community feeders to get their dogs sterilized (neuter for males and spay for females).