WHAT SHOULD YOU FEED?
Your dog recognizes that what’s on your plate is a great deal better than what is in his bowl, and you’ll probably be tempted to prove it to him by giving him a taste. Before you do, keep in mind that a balanced diet with complete nutrition is essential for a healthy dog. Therefore, your dog’s caloric intake should be monitored carefully.
Your dogs nutritional needs include plenty of fresh water and good quality food. Your dog’s food should be fed in amounts that are enough to meet his energy requirements. Too little or too much is equally unhealthy.
A lot of the dry dog foods out there are rice, corn, or soybean based. You’ll know the higher quality brands by the first ingredient listed being meat or fish meal. These foods will naturally be higher priced because you’re getting higher quality, but they are definitely worth looking into. Dogs tend to eat less of a food that is higher quality, so that helps reduce the cost. Dry food also contains a greater caloric density, meaning less water, than wet foods. This is okay for smaller dogs, but larger dogs may have trouble getting the calories they need to support their energy output since they would have to eat so much of it. The type of food you give your dog is a personal choice, but it’s recommended to give larger dogs (over 30 pounds) dry or semi-moist food.
Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are needed for energy. The amount required can depend on not just the size of the dog, but the medical history, activity, and stress level of the dog. An outdoor dog is likely to get more exercise than an indoor one. This means they will require more protein and fat to produce energy. Also, different life stages and certain special situations require different amounts of nutrients. A pregnant and nursing dog’s caloric needs are going to be greater than a regular adult, and a working dog will need more calories than a couch potato.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) publishes regulations for nutritional adequacy of “complete and balanced” cat and dog foods. Your pet’s food should at least match to minimal AAFCO values. Pet diets that meet the standards of the AAFCO will have “formulated to meet the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profile for (a given life stage)” printed on the label.
- AAFCO Standards: Check the label of any foods to make sure they conform to AAFCO standards.
- Food: It’s your choice whether you want to feed your dog dry, moist, or semi-moist dog food. If your dog is 30 pounds or more, it’s recommended you feed dry or semi-moist food to be sure your dog is able to get the right amount of calories.
- Water: Always supply plenty of fresh water.
YOUR DOG’S AGE
- Puppies (less than 8-9 months): Always feed your puppy a consistent, high-quality canned, dry, or semi-moist food with a label that states “puppy” diet. If your puppy is over 30 pounds, it’s recommended you feed them dry or semi-moist food for a better caloric density.
- For adult dogs (8-9 months to 6 years): Always feed your adult dog a consistent, high-quality canned, dry, or semi-moist food with a label that states it is an “adult” diet. If your dog is over 30 pounds, it’s recommended you feed them dry or semi-moist food for a better caloric density.
- For senior dogs (over 7 years): Always feed your senior dog a consistent, high-quality canned, dry, or semi-moist food with a label that states it is a “senior” diet. If your dog is over 30 pounds, it’s recommended you feed them dry or semi-moist food for a better caloric density.
CONSIDER YOUR DOG’S BODY WEIGHT
- Underweight: Make an appointment to see your veterinarian about the body condition of your dog. Consider switching your dog’s food to one with higher fat and protein and start feeding your dog 1 ½ times the amount of food you usually feed him.
- Lean: There are many healthy dogs, especially active young males, who are a little bit thin. Consider giving them 25% more food than usual. Weigh your dog every week to keep track of their progress.
- Chubby: It’s a good idea to increase your dogs daily exercise routine if your dog is a little bit overweight. If your dog is not limited by a medical condition, gradually increase his exercise over a period of 2 weeks. If no progress is made, cut out all treats, except vegetables, and decrease their usual amount of food by 25%.
- Fat or obese: If your dog is not limited by a medical condition, increase their exercise slowly over a period of 2 to 3 weeks. Completely cut out all treats except vegetables. Switch your dog to a low-fat, high fiber diet and reduce the total daily food amount by 25-40%. Call your veterinarian to talk about your dog’s diet and ask about any prescription diets they recommend. These diets can be very effective in providing the right nutrition and keeping the calories down.
Be careful when adjusting your dog’s diet and exercise. Make sure you talk to your veterinarian before changing the diet of a dog with liver, kidney, heart, bladder, or intestinal problems. If your dog has allergy issues, certain metabolic diseases, or other medical conditions, they may also need a special diet.