While some dogs may be picky eaters – most pups love meal time! It is a pure joy with your dog bouncing from left to right, and seemingly the highlight of Fido’s day, and it is easy to forget what a huge responsibility it is to feed a dog. As dog owners, we are responsible for our furry friends’ well-being, and this includes feeding them the right meals and feeding them the right way.
What does it mean to feed your dog properly? It goes beyond just picking the right dog food, and there are several aspects that need to be considered before filling up your pup’s bowl with food. Every responsible dog owner wants their four-legged friends to live long and healthy lives, and we increase their chance of doing so by feeding them correctly.
Choosing the Right Dog Food
A big part of how to properly feed your dog is feeding the right type of dog food. There are thousands of options out there; you see them as you go to the grocery store, at the pet store and online, and it becomes your responsibility as soon as you get a dog to make sure that dog is properly fed. Grocery store brands are not usually the best alternative for your pup, as most use low-quality ingredients such as fillers and grains.
Low-quality dog food brands are often great with marketing, but don’t let a fancy looking bag fool you, as there is no law preventing a company from putting the photo of a juicy steak on the bag, when – in reality – the product only contains artificial beef flavor.
Another common ingredient in low-quality dog food is corn. Corn itself does not harm a dog, but it also does not contribute to its overall nutritional intake, as the canine body is unable to process raw corn. This means they can eat it without it presenting a health risk, but it does not provide them with more than a cheap filler with little to no nutritional value.
Lastly, always avoid dog foods with animal by-products, as these two are considered low-quality ingredients with questionable nutritional value. By-products are the parts of the animal that could not be sold for human consumption, and there is no guarantee that these contain enough protein for your dog.
Instead, always look at the first three ingredients and make sure that at least one or two are named meat products; such as chicken, lamb, beef, duck or fish. You also want to make sure that there is no artificial flavor, colors or preservatives in the food you choose for your dog, as some of these have been linked to canine cancer. Natural and Organic dog food is a fantastic way to go.
Dog Bowls – Does it Matter?
Something a lot of dog owners fail to think about is the dog bowl they use to feed their dogs. The bowl may directly affect how your pup feels after a meal, and it is important to pick a food bowl that fits the needs of your dog, but also the situation in which you will be feeding him or her.
Large dogs and seniors can often benefit from an elevated bowl designed for larger dogs, as it could be putting unnecessary strain on their backs and necks every time they are forced to bend all the way down to the floor to eat. After all, a larger dog is further away from the floor, and it makes sense to bring the food up to a little for a more natural eating position. In the case of older dogs, arthritis, bone- and joint pain could be causing them discomfort at the time of eating, so consider buying an elevated dog bowl, or place the bowl on a small stepping stool or at the bottom step of the stairs.
If your dog tends to gulp down the food within only a second or two, you should consider buying a bowl designed to slow down eating; as rapid eating can lead to digestive issues and the life-threatening condition bloat. There are dog bowls which feature a form of labyrinth inside the bowl, where the dog then must work harder to get the pieces out – hence slowing down. You can also opt for skipping the dog bowl and to instead feed your dog using an activity toy or a dog puzzle.
Another thing to take into consideration is the material of the bowl you are serving your dog’s food in. Use stainless steel instead of for example plastic, as some dog owners report changes to the color of the dog’s nose after eating from a plastic bowl for an extended time period. There are no studies showing that this should be a health concern, but why risk a discolored nose if it isn’t necessary.
Feeding the Correct Amount
It is not only a question of what food you feed and what you feed the food in but also how much food you are feeding your dog. Overfeeding can lead to obesity, which in turn is an open door to a whole list of potential health issues. Excess weight puts unnecessary stress on bones and joints; often causing pain and discomfort, and it can potentially lead to a shorter life.
Underfeeding can also have serious health consequences; and lead to anemia, lack of essential nutrients and extreme fatigue. Always follow the feeding instructions given for the specific product you are using to feed your pup, as the recommended amount differs depending on the ingredients and the energy content.
Low-quality food brands will often require you to feed larger portions compared to a high-quality dog food brand, so if you switch foods for your dog – always double check the recommended daily portion. This is usually calculated after your dog’s weight, so you also need to make sure you know how much your pooch weighs before bringing out the measuring cup to serve breakfast. With that being said, these Low-Fat dog foods can help.
How Often Should I Feed My Dog?
Some dogs prefer to eat only once a day, but when possible – try to have them eat at least twice a day. This is due to not wanting to overwhelm the digestive system, as they might be so hungry by the time they get the only meal that they gulp down the food without chewing it properly – something that also increases the risk of bloat. Aim at feeding an adult dog once in the morning and once at night or split the daily amount up in smaller portions if your pup has a habit of eating too fast (or if he or she seems hungry throughout the day).
Keep in mind that young puppies should be fed more often, so read up on how often your puppy needs food depending on his or her age and ask your veterinarian if unsure. The food product will usually have information regarding this as well. Compare to how often a human infant is fed, because you don’t want to end up accidentally starving your new puppy.
Go Easy on the Treats
If you give your dog lots of training treats throughout the day, make sure you cut down on their daily portion of food, or you could end up overfeeding. Compare it to human eating their three meals a day, and on top of that two large pastries.
To be able to eat those pastries without gaining weight, the person would have to cut down on their regular portions, and the same applies to dogs. It is also important to check what is in the treats you are feeding, as you don’t wait to be ruining their (hopefully) healthy diet with unhealthy low-quality treats.
Another option is to measure up the daily portion in the morning and to use the dog’s regular kibble as treats instead of another product. Providing you use a high-quality kibble – this method will help keep your dog in shape by eliminating unhealthy treats from their daily routine.
The Importance of Exercise
You can do everything right when it comes to feeding your dog, but unless you are also exercising him or her properly – all your efforts may be in vain. All dogs regardless of size and age need exercise, and you should never underestimate the positive effects of a daily stroll around the neighborhood.
Adapt your exercise routine to your dog’s age, physical condition and size, and make every outing fun both for yourself and for your pup! With the right amount of exercise along with a healthy diet – your fur friend will thrive for many long years to come.
+ Feed a high-quality kibble or wet food
+ Follow the feeding instructions on the bag or can
+ Feed more than one meal per day
+ Elevate the bowl of large- and senior dogs
– Exercise your dog right after a meal
– Disturb your dog while he or she eats
– Change dog food brand too frequently
– Use plastic food bowls
Your Dog Deserves It
A dog is completely dependent on his owner to provide him with enough nutrition to grow up strong and healthy, and considering how unconditionally a dog loves you throughout their life and how willing they are to go the extra mile to make you smile – they deserve the best dog food that there is.
Every dog is different, but by educating yourself on the nutritional needs of a dog and how to feed them properly – you increase your chances of hitting the nail on the head when it comes to the right dog food, food bowl, and feeding routine for your four-legged friend.