FEEDING YOUR BULL TERRIER
We assume you may be about to launch into the adventure of acquiring a Bull Terrier puppy, so we’ll start from there.
The first point to make is to find out what your new puppy has been brought up on. Any change from its home diet should be made gradually, and bear in mind that even if you keep it on the same food, in new surroundings it may suffer from a ‘loose tummy’ for a day or two. But don’t let that continue for longer before seeking advice. The next point is not to leave food down for a puppy if it doesn’t clear it. Puppies resemble vacuum cleaners in several respects, and food should disappear in minutes.
If it doesn’t, either the puppy is ill, in which case there will be some other symptoms, or much more likely it is beginning the process known as ‘training the owner’. Most dogs like to do this, and Bull Terriers are very good at it. If the meal is not eaten within minutes, take it up and do not replace it. Wait until the next meal is due and feed as though the last one had not been missed. Often a poor appetite in a dog that is obviously well and in good bodily condition suggests that it is just being overfed.
There are no absolute rules on quantities to feed puppies – follow the breeder’s advice or food pack instructions until a change is obviously necessary. There are broadly two methods of feeding your dog. The ‘Tried and Trusted’ natural method involves a regime for which the breeder will, or certainly should, provide a chart. It will certainly include meat, wholemeal biscuits or puppy meal, possibly an infant cereal with or without milk and usually some form of dietary ‘supplement’. Most breeders of experience have reared many litters successfully using versions of this method. If you are tempted to follow their example, bear in mind that opinions change on such things as the desirable level of protein in a puppy’s diet, and very importantly, how heavy should the puppy be on a ‘weight for age basis’. Many would now consider that maximum growth rates achieved by stuffing in, as much food as the puppy will take is not necessarily the most desirable objective.
The ‘newfangled’ system of using a complete feed has quite a lot to recommend it. Most modern complete feeds are satisfactory, and if you are not confident of your own ‘nutrition’ knowledge, can be used to rear and keep very healthy dogs. These feeds are made by many companies, and selecting one rather than another is often just a matter of your, or the dogs, individual preference. They come in a range from ‘puppy’ through ‘young dog’ to adult – either ‘regular’ or ‘high performance’. Many vets hold a supply of sample packs of two or three brands of complete feed.
Bull Terriers have very powerful jaws and are able to chew off and swallow pieces of even the toughest bone, which may then cause problems when they cause a blockage in the digestive system. Some breeders may advise that large, raw marrow bones, are safe, but some dogs have been able to destroy even these. The best advice therefore is to avoid giving your Bull Terrier bones altogether. If you must give them something to chew, then experience has shown that the largest “Nylabone” chews seem to resist even the hardest bite, though these should be replaced long before they become small enough to swallow.
Rawhide chews, which are safe for many dogs should NEVER be given to a Bull Terrier. Pieces may be chewed off, which then become swallowed, stuck in the throat and then swell up very quickly with disastrous consequences.