While it may seem like your dog will eat anything you offer them (and steal food from your plate when you look away), it’s important to be considerate of how you feed them. Different dogs will have different dietary needs based on size, breed, age, activities, and health. Some canines are also picky eaters or tend to overeat, which can have an effect on their overall health.
While it is still best to consult with your veterinarian, there are some general guidelines to follow when it comes to feeding your dog and keeping them healthy at various stages of their life. These include what, how much, and how often to feed your dog. Read on to find out the best ways to keep your dog healthy and well-fed.
What Kind of Food Should You Feed Your Dog?
Dogs can eat various foods like meat, grains, fruits, and vegetables, but some human foods aren’t safe for dogs. Avoid giving your pup anything that contains chocolate, almonds, garlic, raisins, grapes, or onions. It’s also better to make dog food the main part of their daily diet, as these are designed to provide your pet with valuable protein, vitamins, nutrients, and fiber to stay healthy.
How Should You Feed Your Dog?
Ideally, your dog should have a dedicated pet bowl at home and a customizable eco-friendly foldable dog bowl to bring along on outings. Using dedicated pet bowls won’t just ensure your dog’s health, but also yours and your family's. Feeding your dog from the dishes you use exposes them to potentially hazardous foods that may have been left on the plates. Also, your dog’s saliva can harbor bacteria like salmonella, which can remain on your dishes even after soaping and washing them. This bacteria can then be passed on to you the next time you eat in the same dish.
How to Choose the Best Dog Food
When choosing dog food for your pet, pick something designed to meet their daily nutritional needs. Many commercial dog foods offer at least the minimum nutritional requirements for dogs. However, your pet's dietary requirements will change over time. Puppies need higher nutrient levels for developing their bodies, while senior dogs may need foods that promote better heart and joint health.
Also, large and small breeds need different nutrients, so you need to consider this too. For example, if your pet is a small breed dog, like a dachshund, chihuahua, or pomeranian, they likely aren’t as active as some large dogs are and will have differing dietary requirements. Also, keep in mind that smaller breeds can choke on large-sized kibbles, so make sure to buy food that is developed for small dogs.
On the other hand, large breeds with active lifestyles, like a dalmatian or chow chow, need nutrition that promotes musculoskeletal health. That’s because large dogs are more prone to musculoskeletal problems than smaller breeds. They may also need bigger servings or more frequent meals because they use up more energy throughout the day.
Should You Purchase Wet or Dry Food?
Some pets prefer wet food while others are satisfied with dry food, so be sure to consider what your dog finds palatable. Also, wet food can help dogs who don’t always drink water. The moisture in the food can help them stay hydrated. On the other hand, dry food makes your dog’s stool firm, making the droppings easier to clean up with a dustpan or pick up using poop bags.
What’s the Right Portion Size for Your Pup?
Managing the amount of food your dog consumes helps ensure that they maintain a healthy weight. Letting them eat as much as they want can lead to obesity and put them at a higher risk of developing heart disease, osteoarthritis, and diabetes mellitus.
Ask your vet to help you identify your dog’s ideal weight. Typically, they will base it on your dog’s size, breed, age, and activities. For example, hyperactive dogs who get lots of physical activity may need larger food portions than those who mostly stay indoors and spend their time sleeping. Senior dogs are also not as active as they were as young adult, so they may need to eat less than when they’re younger. Once you know your dog’s ideal weight, check the recommended amount printed on the dog food label that fits your dog’s ideal weight.
How Frequently Should You Feed Your Dog?
Aside from portion size, you also need to consider the frequency of feeding your dog. Again, you can base this on your pet’s ideal weight and how many calories they need a day. It also depends on your dog’s eating habits. If your dog has no trouble finishing one whole portion, then you can feed them once a day. But if they can only eat small amounts at a time, you can add more meal times spread throughout the day. Be sure to split the suggested dog food portion between feeding schedules. Otherwise, you risk feeding your dog more than they require in a day, causing them to gain weight.
There is no single method for feeding your dog because it is highly dependent on the individual pup. You may also need to change the type of food and feeding schedule based on what they need to stay healthy as puppies, adults, and senior dogs. Generally, if your dog has a healthy appetite, is fit, and produces firm and healthy stools, then you’re feeding them the appropriate type and amount of dog food at the right frequency. Just make sure to regularly consult your vet about what’s best for your furry friend.