Diet plays a crucial role in your dog’s health and wellbeing. With the right nutrition, dogs can lead long and happy lives. Find out how to get the balance right, for a dog that’s well-fed and full of energy.
What should I be feeding my dog?
A few factors need to be considered when planning your dog’s diet. First is their weight: the larger the dog, the more food they’ll need. Most pet food manufacturers base their food quantity recommendations on the weight of the dog.
Other factors include the breed and age of your dog. Some breeds are more active than others, and therefore require more food. Puppies need to eat more frequently because they are growing at a fast rate. As dogs get older, their nutritional needs change.
When it comes to dog feeding, the number one rule in all cases is to provide them food that’s nutritionally complete. This means food that contains the right balance of vitamins and minerals for dogs to thrive.
Let’s take a closer look at how to feed a dog a complete diet.
Food that’s good for dogs
Dogs are omnivores, which means they can digest both plants and meat. Wild dogs will eat plants to survive during times when meat is not available, but without meat their health deteriorates.
The following is a general list of foods you can feed your dog:
- Nutritionally complete dry dog biscuits
- Wet dog food in combination with nutritionally complete dry food
- Cooked meat and fish (with bones removed)
- Cooked pumpkin
- Raw grated carrot
- Cooked rice
- Fresh (not cooked) bones that are larger than your dog’s mouth
Sadly, some commercial dog food contains preservatives and other ingredients that are not fit for human consumption. This is why it’s important to stick to the best quality dog food brands, to make sure that they get a diet that’s free from nasties.
Always provide plenty of clean water for your dog to drink at all times. It’s good to get into the habit of refreshing their water every time you feed them, so they stay properly hydrated.
Food that’s NOT good for dogs
These foods are bad for dogs and should be avoided:
- Cooked bones (they can become a choking hazard)
- Bones smaller than your dog’s mouth (these can splinter and get stuck)
- Citrus fruits
- Dairy products (some dogs are lactose intolerant)
- Dough containing raw yeast
- Excessively fatty foods
- Heavily salted foods
It’s a common belief that raw food is good for dog feeding, but you need to be careful. Just like humans, dogs are susceptible to getting bacterial infections from eating raw meat. If you want to feed your dog a raw diet, consult your vet first to formulate a dog feeding guide that’s specially tailored to the needs of your dog.
How much should you feed your dog?
The size, age and activity level of your dog need to be considered when figuring out how much to feed them. It’s important to get it right, because overfeeding a dog can result in health complications such as heart disease, diabetes and joint pain. On the flipside, underfeeding your dog can weaken their immune system.
Basing dog feeding amounts on weight alone isn’t ideal: it’s better to have a look at the shape of their body. A healthy dog should be somewhat lean – you should be able to see a defined waist, and feel their ribs as you run your hand along their side. If this isn’t the case, their diet is probably to blame.
When trying a new brand of dog food, make a note of the dog feeding guide on the back of the packet. Follow this guide for a little while and see if your dog still seems hungry after meal times, or if they’re leaving food behind. From there you can decide whether to increase or decrease the amount you’re giving them.
It’s always a good idea to consult your vet before introducing any major dietary changes.
How often should I be feeding my dog?
The easiest way to figure out when to feed a dog is simply to feed them twice a day: morning and night. Adult dogs should be given two daily meals at consistent times, while puppies can be fed small meals multiple times throughout the day.
Sticking to a regular dog feeding schedule is good for your dog’s digestion. Dogs love routine – this applies to their toilet routines as well. To keep your dog happy and to avoid accidents around the house, it’s good to stick to set schedules.
How about treats?
It’s OK to give your dog treats to reward good behaviour – but bear in mind that treats should make up less than 10% of their overall dietary intake. Dogs respond well to praise and affection, so make sure to always encourage them in these ways as well.
It’s not advisable to feed your dog dinner scraps. This is because they could accidentally eat a cooked bone or ingest an ingredient that isn’t good for their digestive system.
Need more info?
When making dietary decisions for your dog, it’s always best to speak to a vet first. They can answer all your questions about how to feed a dog and what foods are best for their breed.