What to feed?
There are basically two approaches to feeding Malamutes. Either one is fine.
Option A: The simple dry dog food diet. Feed a top-quality brand.
Option B: The combo diet-- 1/2 premium dry dog food + 1/4 fresh meat/fish + 1/4 veggies/fruit.
- With either option be sure to purchase "premium" kibble
- Kibble can be fed dry or with water
Which dog food do we prefer?
We use a combination of Eagle Pack Power and Taste of the Wild to include 3 different sources of protein, as well as fish oil and probiotics.
We will let you know what the puppies have been on, but generally it will be a combination of Eagle Pack Power and Taste of the Wild-Pacific Stream. Although the Eagle "Power" is an adult food, it has one of the most effective mix of probiotics and we use it for that reason.
Since most pets in non-sledding homes tend to get obese, we recommend switching the pup at three months to a lower calorie food like Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream (TOTW) or to a large breed puppy food. Mix the old and new foods and gradually decrease the amount of the old food until the pup is completely adapted to the changed diet. Always use a "level" measuring cup, keep track of "extras" given to the dog during the day, and pay attention to the calories, protein and fat levels as these vary among formulas. If you feed meat
and vegetables (as we do), you will need to cut down slightly on the amount of dry food. Remember, do not feed the portion sizes listed on the bag! Overfeeding can cause diarrhea and make house training much more difficult. Keep the puppy on a schedule of small, measured meals.
Keep in mind that each puppy's metabolism and environment will be unique. You will have to adjust feeding amounts throughout the dog's life depending on exercise levels and the caloric value of the food you are using. The best way to monitor the dog's condition is to run your fingers over the pelvic bones and ribs periodically and adjust food amounts up or down. When the dog is wet after a bath or swim you should be able to see slight outline of ribs, with a dense dry coat you need to feel for the outline.
Are there other brands of quality dry food?
Yes, there are dozens of excellent foods on the market. In addition to the Power Pack and Pacific Stream, we also use the other Taste of the Wild formulas (the Prairie/bison and Wetlands/duck) for our adult dogs and the Premium Edge "Healthy Weight" Chicken/Salmon which is high protein 44%, low carb, low fat for our seniors. Snowlion Malamutes have done well on a variety of foods.
Some general guidelines for comparing formulas. Select a "natural," "holistic" or "human-grade" dry food preserved with mixed tocopherols (vitamin E). Secondly, look for a formula which lists a protein source--fish, beef, chicken-- as the first ingredient. Two different types of animal protein would ensure a proper balance of amino acids. "Meals," either fish meal or chicken meal are excellent sources of protein--just more concentrated versions of whole meat products without the water. Some cardiologists are concerned about the low levels of taurine in lamb, so skip the lamb & rice foods until the pup is full grown.
For an in-depth yearly review of premium dog foods, check out Whole Dog Journal. Most of the brands listed below are widely available.
- Taste of the Wild
- Eagle PowerPack
- Premium Edge Adult Skin & Coat Salmon
- Premium Edge Healthy Weight Chicken & Salmon 44% protein/ 12% fat
- Blue Buffalo
- California Natural
- Red Paw
Is it O.K. to switch foods?
Yes. Introductions to new foods should be made gradually over 2-3 days by combining half-rations of the 'old' food with the new one. Once your dog is accustomed to 2 or 3 types of kibble, you
can usually switch back and forth with no problems.
Ideally you should select a food with different proteins: fish, beef, chicken, etc. so that your dog will have a varied and balanced diet. This is especially important if you are not adding fresh meat to the diet. If the dry food you are using does not contain fish meal and fish oil, then we recommend adding a couple of tablespoons of canned mackerel or tuna several times a week. Some coat and skin problems in Malamutes are linked to nutritional deficiences that can be circumvented by including fish and/or fish oil in the diet.
How are dogs fed at Snowlion Kennels?
Pups--At two weeks our pups are started on a puree: goat's milk, eggs, honey, rice cereal and small amounts of cooked
hamburger--mixed in a blender and spoon fed. Gradually we introduce kibble. First it is blended with goat's milk; later it is fed dry. Other meals include chopped
meat, pureed vegetables and rice; or yogurt, soft-boiled eggs and oatmeal. We allow the dams to determine their own weaning schedule: most of the pups are still nursing through 5 weeks, but it is mostly for comfort as they are eating solid food by then.
Adults-- Depending on the season, the diets of our racing adults vary from 50 to 75% Eagle Power Pack & Taste of the Wild kibble and 25-50% raw meat, plus vitamins, and fat (corn or safflower oil). Hydration is extremely important for working sled dogs, especially in the winter when dogs are less inclined to drink so we add a lot of water to the feed. Always make sure the dog has fresh water, but when house training a pup, remember to pick up the water bowl two hours before bed time.
How should I start my Snowlion pup?
We will send your pup home with the current food we are using and a suggested feeding schedule. Please check with us before you go out and buy food, as we do change foods from time to time and don't always update this page! If you decide to feed another brand, the 'old' brand should be mixed with the new formula you have selected. If you can not find either food in your area, you can purchase Eagle online or at a feed store on your way to pick up the puppy near Lake Tahoe or Susanville.
Can I feed my dog an all raw meat or "Barf" Diet?
We do not recommend feeding raw meat to very young pups as their immune
systems may not handle the bacteria (e-coli, salmonella, clostridium perfringes) and other pathogens that are commonly found in raw meat. Please wait until the puppy has finished its vaccination schedule and its immune system is better developed.
We recommend feeding a combo diet where the raw meat does NOT exceed 50% of the total diet. If you wish to feed 100% raw, then you should run blood chemistry panels every 6 to 12 months to make sure your dogs are getting a balanced diet. Some of the commercially prepared and frozen raw diets are likely to be more balanced than the traditional "bones and raw meat" approach. You can mix raw meat in with the dry food; or feed one meal a day raw, the other dry; or feed raw 2-3 days a week, keeping the overall raw diet to no more than 50% of the total diet.
What kinds of raw meat do we use here?
During racing season when we're on the road we use a balanced raw frozen food called Champaine's race diet. At home we supplement with beef organ and muscle meat since the dry foods are fish and chicken-based. We also give our dogs beef ribs and soup bones each week to keep their teeth clean.
Can I do a combo diet without using raw meat?
Absolutely. "Meat" can be quality canned dog food: Evangers, Canidae, Innova among others. Most of the kibble brands listed above also have excellent canned food. OR "People food" : cooked hamburger, deboned chicken, cottage cheese, hard boiled eggs, canned mackerel, tuna, salmon. The "Extras" of the combo diet can include- raw carrots, apple slices, or just about any fruit, as well as left over salad or steamed vegetables.
My Malamute always seems hungry, should I feed more?
A typical Malamute will polish off his bowl of food in five seconds. This does not mean he needs more food; this is just normal Malamute behavior. The only Malamutes I have seen turn down food are those who are very sick or those who are habitually overfed.
Remember, the metabolism of a Malamute is unique. The breed evolved in a harsh environment where the scarcity of food and extreme cold favored the survival of thrifty dogs--those with slower metabolisms.
The only way to know whether to adjust portions (to feed more or less) is to run your hands over the dog and check its condition. You should be able to feel ribs and pelvic bones under a thin layer of flesh. Do not expect your veterinarian to inform you that your dog is overweight. Most vets do not want to offend clients and will not say anything until your dog has developed ligament and joint problems. By then the damage is done.
If you would like to your dog to feel full without adding calories, add two cups of water to every cup of kibble. Most dogs could use the extra hydration. If your dog needs to go on a diet, cut out ALL cookies, greenies, peanut butter Kongs, and all treats. Reduce his kibble by 1/3. Add some frozen green beans. Dieting is tough. But dealing with a torn ligament or arthritic joint--side effects of being obese-- is no picnic either.
NEVER FREE FEED A MALAMUTE. I will repeat this as it is the primary cause of obesity and developmental bone and joint disorders. DO NOT FREE FEED YOUR MALAMUTE.
How much should my young puppy weigh?
3 to 5 months is a rapid growth period and pups may gain up to 10 lbs a month. 3 months= 30 lbs, 4 months= 40 lbs. 5 months= 50 lbs. By 6 months the growth generally slows and the amount of food usually needs to be reduced. Each puppy is different, depending on climate and exercise levels, but most of our 6-12 month old pups are put on adult rations and they get a TOTAL of 2 cups to 2 1/2 cups a day of Eagle Power Pack mixed with TOTW dry food. TOTW is slightly lower in calories so you may have to increase the total amount by 1/2 to 1 cup daily. Remember TOTAL daily amount is just that, not the amount you should feed at each meal. Our pups typically do NOT reach their full adult weight until 15-18 months. The Standard size- bitches 23-24 inches at the shoulders 70-75 lbs; males 25 in 80- 85 lbs. Our dogs are standard size and should be maintained in lean condition. Over 90 lbs and you've got a fat Snowlion Malamute on your hands.
How can I tell if my dog is overweight?
There should be an indentation at the loins, ("a waist") and 'tuck up' between the rib cage and abdomen underneath. When the dog is wet or has shed its guard coat you should be able to see an outline of ribs. Malamutes are an athletic 'working breed,' they are not supposed to be a giant, ponderous, clumsy animal. Think of a versatile, endurance 'triathelete' vs the overdone sumo wrestler. The former can hike, run, carry a pack, skijor, run on a sled team. The latter is hardly equipped to cover miles or move for hours through rugged terrain. Keep in mind that overweight dogs who go through too rapid growth periods as a result of overfeeding are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia and other developmental disorders. Studies have shown that dogs on restricted diets live longer and healthier lives than overweight dogs. The average pet is obese and vets will not comment on it, but I will.