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I live in a place where there are lots of stray dogs. The number is quite high. I try to feed most of them but they are a lot in number. I'm a minor and do not earn much, so I feed them some cheap food but it's not at all bad food and it's only one thing most of the time, biscuits. They can hardly get hold of food like this.

I have some friends that help but they are also minors and cannot afford quality food because their parents and ours don't agree. It's okay. They help us to get doctors when there's a serious problem but not for everyday food.

Ingredients of that particular biscuit:

  1. Sugar.
  2. Salt.
  3. Inverted sugar syrup.
  4. Edible vegetable oil.
  5. Sodium metabisulfite IN 223 (dough conditioner).
  6. Wheat flour.
  7. Baking soda.
  8. Milk solids.
  9. Diacetyl tartaric acid esters of mono- and diglycerides of edible vegetable oils IN 472 (emulsifier).
  10. Ammonium hydrogen carbonate IN 503(ii) (raising agent).

We collect money and buy these biscuits in bulk.

There's been a rumor going around too, that these things damage the dog's liver. I don't know if that's true or not.

Is this harmful for them? If it is then what should I switch to which can be cheap? Please note that I'm not asking to recommend the food, not the actual question but just a hint can be very helpful.

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The food you are offering these dogs is a sweet snack with little to no nutritional benefit to the humans it's intended for; it has zero nutritional benefit for dogs.

My answer here on nutritional values for cat and dog foods gives the baselines set by the AAFCO, an organization in the United States. While these are specifically guidelines for manufactured pet food, they give a general idea of what is required nutritionally for dogs:

  • Protein: These biscuits contain nothing that would provide any protein to the dog
  • Fat: While the oil will provide some fats, it may not be of a type that the dog can process, or of a type that is healthy for the dog
  • Minerals: Dogs need potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iodine; it's likely none of these are present in the biscuits
  • Vitamins: Dogs also need Vitamins A, E, and B-series vitamins; again, it's likely the biscuits are providing none of these

What the biscuits are providing is a lot of wheat and sugar; while dogs are able to process wheat (converting it into sugars), it shouldn't be the bulk of their diet. Similarly, they can process sugars, but similarly to humans, they will become increasingly prone to weight gain, dental issues, and metabolic issues, including diabetes, which will have an impact on pancreatic functions. See PetMD and The Honest Kitchen for details on these issues.

PetCareRx gives suggested ratios for balancing a dog's diet; no more than 1/3 of their diet should be from grains (including wheat), with the remainder coming from vegetables (max 1/3) and proteins (1/3-2/3). As these dogs are likely scavenging from garbage, if you want to offer them something in addition to their found food to help them be healthier, it should be in line with what food waste is commonly available around where they live. If this food waste consists largely of baked goods, sugary wheat biscuits are a poor choice. What you choose to feed them will depend on what is available to the dogs already, and what is available for you to purchase within your preferred budget, however, I would recommend getting away from a product that is dominantly made of sugar regardless of what you choose to feed.

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  • What about milk? I have seen people feed milk to dogs. Is it healthy for them too? – weegee Sep 16 '19 at 18:34
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    @weegee Meat, vegetables or nuts are probably more appropriate, if you want to give the healthy proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins that Allison mentions. A dog's diet shouldn't include milk except dog's milk when they are a baby, even if many dogs like cheese a lot, it's probably not healthy for them. Avoid sugar and salt. Maybe you could find cheap dog food. – Manuki Sep 16 '19 at 18:47
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    Before choosing vegetables, be sure to verify the ones you'd be feeding are not actively toxic to the dogs; there are a lot of resources available on which fruits and vegetables are dangerous, and many that are fine for human consumption are not at all safe for dogs. – Allison C Sep 16 '19 at 19:16
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    Similarly to humans, animals can get hooked on sugary and "junk" type foods over healthy ones, which is another mark against the biscuits. – Allison C Sep 16 '19 at 19:22
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    @weegee If the dogs decline free food just because it doesn't taste sweet, that's a clear indicator that they find enough food on a daily basis and are not starving. In this particular case, it might be better to save the money you used for those biscuits and buy a lesser amount of higher quality food or medication instead. If the dogs are selective which free food they eat, you can be selective which dog needs the most help. Any type of medication or high quality dog food is better than cheap biscuits. – Elmy Sep 17 '19 at 9:32
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First of all, it is always good to see humans caring for strays.

Second, the cheap human food stuff you ask about is bad for everyone - humans, animals, environment, you name it.

If you do things "in bulk" for the strays, consider something easy, cheap and long-term sustainable -

  1. boiled rice or wheat or any kind of grain or cereal you can get sackfuls of at cheap or ideally at wholesale prices.
  2. throwaway stuff from the local meat/fish markets (heads, intestines, etc. etc.)
  3. some veggies, if the dogs like/eat them.

This should be:

  1. better than whatever biscuits or trash the strays would otherwise eat. It takes care of most/all of the nutritional and energy needs. It also doesn't get them hooked on sugar.
  2. cheaper than any commercial dog food
  3. far easier to make than a proper homemade dog-meal.
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