Just like every living being, dogs too need food for their sustenance. But you’ll be surprised to know how much they need and what should be given to them as food.
Let’s find out everything there is to properly feed your dog.
How Much Should You Feed Your Dog?
How much should you feed your dog? The answer depends on your dog breed and your dog in specific.
Leave Food on the Bowl All the Time
Generally speaking, if you have a healthy dog that doesn’t have accidents at home and is quite active through the day, it is best you allow your dog to decide how much food it wants. Leave some food in dog bowls and let your dog eat as much as it wants. If the food is empty, you can replenish again.
Of course, this method of feeding is ideal only if you have an active dog. This is definitely not the best way to feed couch potatoes as it will only increase their weight. Never use this feeding method for dogs with diabetes too.
In this sense, you can think of dogs akin to humans. Let’s say someone leaves your favorite food on the table, say potato chips, all through the day. As you eat, it gets automatically replenished. What will you do then? Probably munch on it all day long, and pile up the pounds. The same will happen to not so active dogs too. So, avoid this method of feeding if you don’t have a super active dog on hand.
You can use this method of feeding for nursing dogs too, as they need a lot of calories. Much of their food is nursed to young ones in the form of milk, so they need more food to sustain themselves and to raise healthy pups.
If you do plan to leave out food in down bowls, make sure to pick dry dog food as it will not get spoilt when kept in the open for more than a day.
Even then, make sure not to leave food in the open for more than a few hours a day as it could attract insects and rodents. This is all the more likely if you keep food outside to feed your dogs.
Another possible downside is when you have more than one pet. All the dogs may bicker over the same dog bowl even if you leave separate bowls for each, just like how small children fight for the last candy even after having an entire bag. So, avoid this feeding method when you have multiple pets.
Related Post: How Much Should You Feed a Puppy?
Control the Portions
If you have a couch potato or a dog who likes to eat all the time, you have to control the portions served.
This brings up the question of how much is enough?
Talk to your vet and get an understanding of the dog’s weight. If you plan to buy commercially available dog food, the portions are printed on the label itself. Based on the weight of your dog, you can give the appropriate portions. Alternately, you can also take help from your vet to identify the right portion because in some cases, the label may suggest way more food than your dog needs.
You can choose to give the entire recommended amount of food in one go or you can split it across two meals, typically one in the morning and the other in the evening with an eight to 12-hour interval in between. But make sure never to feed your dog more than two times a day, as it could have adverse health effects such as weight gain and possibly even other complications like diabetes and stomach pain.
Keep Tabs on Feeding Time
Another option for feeding is to keep tabs on the time the dog takes to eat. Keep a small portion of food and give about 30 minutes for your dog to eat this food. Once the time is over, throw out the remaining dog food. Do the same thing after a gap of about 12 hours as your dog will be hungry at this time and can eat to its heart’s content.
The exact choice of feeding depends to a large extent on you, your dog and its activity levels. The first method is most ideal if your dog runs around all the time or if your dog is nursing its babies. In all other cases, opt for the second or third choice.
Don’t worry about your dog being hungry because it is not. Your dog does not need as much food or as much variety as human beings. Their taste buds are not so well-developed which means any food is fine, as long as it is healthy and nutritious.
Make sure never to overfeed your dog because it will only lead to health complications in the future, which is not good either for you or your dog.
Can I Give Treats to My Dog?
Everyone likes treats, and your dog is no exception.
But this doesn’t mean, treats should be the main source of food for your dog. Again, it is just like us. Though we love potato chips, can it be the primary source of food for us? Never. Likewise, dogs cannot eat too many treats too. Ideally, treats should not be more than five to 10 percent of your dog’s daily diet. If you’re unsure of the exact amount, take help from your vet and decide how much is right for your dog’s breed, size and weight.
Related Post: The Best Dog Treats
What about Giving Treats During Training?
Well, treats are the cue for your dog to follow your instructions, so you cannot avoid while training your dog. But that doesn’t mean you can give a lot.
Ideally, what you should do is take the recommended amount of treats and give small pieces of it every time your dog follows your instruction. This way, you don’t overfeed treats to your dog and at the same time, these cues will help with training too.
Related Post: The Best Dog Training Books
What Should My Dog Eat?
This is an important and often overlooked aspect. How many times do we give a little bit of our food to the dog while we eat our lunch or dinner?
Well, that’s not a good practice because a lot of our foods are not ideal for dogs and can lead to digestive problems such as stomach pain and stomach bloat.
So, what should you feed your dog?
Before going into the specifics, here are some things to keep in mind.
- Every dog is a different individual and hence will have specific preferences and requirements. What works for your neighbor’s dog may not work for your dog. It is important to keep this aspect in mind.
- Dogs are both carnivores and omnivores, so it is not always necessary to feed a meat-based diet. You can also include some vegetables and grains, provided you are giving your dog a balanced and nutritious meal.
- While choosing the right dog food, it is important to keep in mind the stage of your dog’s life and any medical conditions, it may have. For example, dog food for puppies will have a vastly different set of nutrients than food for seniors. This is because your dog requires a varying amount of calories in different stages of its life. When it is young and energetic, it requires more food especially foods high in protein. As it gets older, it doesn’t need so much protein because its digestive system will become weak and it may not be able to digest such heavy foods. So, it is important to feed your dog according to its age and stage of life.
- Kibble diet is good. You can choose to put your dog on a kibble diet completely or you can mix it up with rice, fruits, and vegetables. It is completely up to you and your dog’s preferences. You can even opt for grain free dog food.
- If you decide to feed raw meat, make sure it is human-grade meat. Many pet owners tend to buy dog meat which contains a whole lot of unwanted preservatives. To avoid the negative effects of these preservatives, it is best you choose the meat that you will consume.
- Make it a habit to practice good hygiene. There is really no excuse for this. Keep raw meats separate from other foods to avoid cross-contamination. If you plan to make your own dog food, ensure that you do it on a clean surface to prevent the spread of any bacterial infection.
- If you are in doubt, always check with your vet as to what would be a good and balanced diet for your dog. This can go a long way in keeping your dog active and healthy.
- There are a whole set of foods that you should avoid completely because your dog is not designed to digest your foods. Examples of such foods include cooked meats especially bones, spicy foods, and onion sauces. In many cases, the foods end up becoming toxic for your dog.
- If you can, try to add some extra fiber to your dog’s food. Many vets opine that dogs do not get enough fiber in their diet and this affects their bowel movements. To avoid such issues, add pumpkins, carrots and other foods high in fiber.
- Avoid giving too many bones as this can lead to constipation. Also, the bones should not be too large as they can cause the dog to choke.
Now that you know how to feed your dog, when to feed and what to give, let us run through some dog food choices that you can serve.
Related Post: Dry vs Wet Dog Food: How To Choose The Best For Your Pet
Types of Dog Food
Broadly speaking, there are five kinds of foods that you can give your dogs. They are:
- Kibble or dry dog food
Kibble or dry dog food is the most common and the most easily available kind of commercial dog food. It also lasts for a long time and doesn’t have to be refrigerated. This dry food is balanced and contains all the essential macro and micronutrients that your dog needs to be healthy. So, giving your dog kibble alone is enough too.
The added advantage is that the dry food keeps your dog’s teeth healthy too as it needs to crunch and chew this food. It also helps to keep the teeth clean and avoid the build-up of tartar.
Since there are many brands out there today, make sure you read through the labels before deciding to choose a particular brand of kibble for your dog.
- Canned food
Dogs love canned or wet dog food. It is also easily available everywhere and has a long shelf life. But one downside is that it can get expensive too. Also, not every brand provides all the essential nutrients your dog needs, so you’ll have to do some research before sticking to a particular brand.
Another disadvantage with some canned foods is that it contains about 75% water. So, the nutritional value of these foods goes down.
A better option is to make your own wet dog food at home using this canned food and adding a few other ingredients to make it a wholesome meal for your dog.
- Semi-moist food
Semi-moist food comes in the form of burgers and pork chops. Though they may look attractive, they tend to be loaded with artificial coloring and preservatives, all of which are harmful to your dogs. So, it is best to avoid them except for occasional treats.
- Raw foods
Raw foods consist of raw meat and maybe even some fruits and vegetables that are mixed raw with the food. While many vets claim that this diet mimics the dog’s natural food habit, there are a few risks associated with raw diets. It is best you check with your vet before switching to a raw diet.
- Home cooked foods
This is where you can experiment as much as you want, as long as you provide a balanced diet for your dog.
We hope all this information helps you to raise healthy dogs.