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Food & Diet
How To Feed Your Dog?
At A Glance
Nutrient-dense foods like meat, some fruits, and vegetables can give your dog all the vitamins and minerals it needs. Avoid foods that are dangerous for dogs like avocados, grapes, dark chocolate, and raw meat.
Feed dogs at fixed intervals and with the right portion size to nourish them and keep them healthy.
A happy, healthy dog requires good nourishment. Like humans, they need to have a balanced diet to meet their nutritional needs. But as an owner, how do you do it right?
If you’re a doting dog owner, you might be overfeeding your dog to the point of obesity without realizing it, doing it more harm than good.
The reverse is just as bad. Undernourishment leads to many different illnesses and can even lead to feelings of neglect.
Knowing what to feed your dog, how much, and how often will help assure your dog’s overall wellness. When fed right, dogs become more energetic, fine-looking, sharp, clean-smelling, fit, and healthy.
With the range of dog food available in the market and in your own pantry, which ones should you choose?
Healthy Hounds Eat Right
Contrary to what most people think, dogs are not strictly carnivorous. They would be happy to eat a wide variety of food. Yes, they love the meaty, savory eats you feed them, but you can introduce fruits, vegetables, and even nuts to their diet, too.
A well-rounded dog diet delivers the many different nutrients they need. According to a report by the Committee on Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats of the National Research Council, a dog’s diet should be rich in amino acids from proteins, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, carbohydrates, and water.
This means that there should be more to your dog’s diet than just meat and entrails. Non-meat foods should be part of their fare, not just as extenders, but as essential elements of their nutrition.
The next time you feed your dog, throw in some fruits, such as apples, bananas, mangoes, cantaloupes, or blueberries. With these, along with other food groups in their bowl, they can take in new flavors and high nutritional value with every bite.
Fun Fact: Cranberries can help with your dog’s dental hygiene and urinary tract infection by fighting certain types of bacteria.
As for vegetables, dogs can benefit from carrots, celery, green beans, and peas. Broccoli, cabbage, and bean sprouts are nutritious, but can cause bloating and flatulence if they eat too much.
Make sure that your dog is hydrated well to help with its digestion and nutrient absorption. Nutrient-deficient dogs usually have dull coats and skin, experience too much shedding, lethargy, allergies, and infections, and may develop diseases such as diabetes, anemia, and pancreatitis.
It’s important to make sure your dog has plenty of clean water within reach at all times.
The pet food you find in the market goes through stringent regulation and is largely safe for dogs. However, you must keep in mind that these products often contain artificial flavors and other additives.
It’s best to feed them to your dog in moderation and mix them with human-grade, healthy foods that you can prepare in your kitchen.
What You Must Not Feed Your Dog?
Some of the foods that are toxic to dogs are avocados, grapes, raisins, cherries, tomatoes, onions, asparagus, mushrooms, caffeine, alcohol, macadamia nuts, and dark chocolates.
Raw or undercooked meat and rotten, moldy foods can cause bacterial infection.
Meat bones are choking hazards and may puncture their digestive organs.
If your dog seems to have an allergic reaction to certain foods (itchiness, swelling, inflamed skin, vomiting, diarrhea), check with your veterinarian. The vet will put your dog on a restrictive diet to track and find out which types of food trigger allergies.
Portion Size Matters
The optimal food portion for dogs varies depending on the dog’s breed, weight, age, activity level, and health condition.
For example, a 50-pound Golden Retriever that gets an hour of vigorous exercise per day needs many more calories than a 50-pound senior Saint Bernard that spends its days curled up on the floor.
If your dog has a health issue, your vet may advise some diet restrictions to fast-track healing.
Small puppies need nutrient-dense food to help with bone and organ growth. As they are weaned from their mothers, you can feed them small meals thrice a day and then transition to twice a day as they become bigger and stronger.
Be careful not to overfeed puppies as obesity while they’re young can be difficult to reverse as they grow older.
Large-breed dogs like Labradors and Newfoundlands that weigh around 100 pounds require more calories (about 1800) than small breeds (about 500).
Serve Meals on a Schedule
Setting a regular time for feeding can help you control how much your dog eats. Giving it access to food all day could lead to overfeeding and obesity, so it’s best to practice healthy portion control.
With a scheduled feeding, you can easily track your dog’s food intake. A fixed interval of 8 to 12 hours can improve digestion and nutrient absorption.
In between meals, you can give your dog some treats or snacks. Just make sure they only make up around 10% of your dog’s diet.
Make sure that your dog’s food is worth the wait. Serve it a balanced, satisfying meal each time to get the nourishment it needs throughout the day.
Don’t feed your dog food that is clearly lacking in nutrients, such as junk food and processed food that contain additives. Like humans, dogs’ bodies also rely on good nutrition for optimal function. Anything less could put their health at risk.
No matter how much your dog loves sweet treats or salty chips, you must regulate what it eats and choose only food that will benefit its health.
It’s best to keep your dog at its ideal weight. Obesity can lead to chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart problems.
As a dog owner, it is your responsibility to make sure that your dog maintains a balanced diet and only eats what it needs.
Feeding time with your dog must be a fun time for both of you. It is a chance to nurture your relationship and show your dog how much you care.
The saying “the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” may very well be applied to dogs, too. Feed their tummy, win their heart. Prepare your dog’s food with its best interests in mind and see it reap the benefits.
Let your dog savor its meals each feeding time. Food is meant to be enjoyed, so make sure to give your dog satisfying meals, so it looks forward to them each day.
A digital marketing expert by profession, Andrews is a gifted writer and animal lover at heart. A self-confessed "pawrent", Andrews is well-versed in all things dogs. He uses his years of experience of raising puppies into show-quality dogs to help guide first-time pet parents. He believes in spreading the joy that comes with being a dog dad and advocates more families to adopt pets.