Top 5 Tips on Properly Feeding Your Dog
We all want what is best for our dog and their diet. Outside of exercise, a proper diet is the single largest contributor to the well being and health of your four legged friend. What we feed our pets can set them up for a long happy life or failure. Listed below are ten simple tips to help ensure that your loved one will be with you for many happy and healthy years to come.
1. Your Dog is Not a Vegan/Vegetarian!
I am not here to debate about the health benefits of certain diets when it comes to human beings, but dogs are omnivores. Even if you have great intentions and want to live a moral life, your dog when placed on a vegan/vegetarian diet will suffer from being malnourished and that can drastically affect their quality of life or even lead to death. Even worse it is a guaranteed death sentence for cats as they are full on carnivores. It is unwise, even outright cruel to let your animal suffer and that is exactly what you are doing to them on a specialized diet such as this.
2. When Introducing New Foods Do It Slowly
Changing your dog’s food brand or type is perfectly acceptable, but in order to do the transition properly it is best to make the transition over the course of 5-7 days, mix the new dog food with your pet’s current food, continuously increasing the amount of the new food while decreasing the amount of the current one. Try to follow something along the lines of 25% new food and 75% old, then to half and half, finishing with 75% new and 25% old food before fully moving to only the new food should work fine.
3. Look at the Top Ingredients
Just like human food, if you can’t recognize or pronounce the first few ingredients in a dog food you are best to avoid it. Ingredients that are in pet food, just like human food, are listed in order of the weight of that ingredient in the formula, so you want to see a named animal protein such as chicken or lamb first on the list.
4. Dogs Will Not Starve Themselves
I cannot begin to tell you how many clients I work with that will tell me “My dog only eats human food.” “My dog can only eat wet food.” “My dog refuses to eat this food so we gave up.” Unless your veterinarian has instructed you to feed your dog a certain way, none of these statements are true. Dogs are intelligent, so much so that they will recognize that waiting to eat or refusing to eat a food will allow them to get their way and eat something they view as a higher reward. Dogs unlike cats will not starve themselves to death out of spite. If they miss a meal or two out of stubbornness you can almost guarantee that they will eat the next time you put down their food. In the wild a dog can typically go for about three days without eating without any serious consequence. That being said, I want to make it clear that you should never intentionally withhold food from your dog, only to present them with what their food is not what they want it to be. On one last note, if your dog honestly refuses to eat after a day or two you should seek medical attention immediately.
5. Know What Your Dogs Food Requirements Are
Follow the recommended amount for your dog based on its body weight. Most food labels on dog food provide a chart which will explain how much food to feed your dog every day according to their weight. If you have a puppy, make sure to check their growing weight regularly and readjust how much food is given as needed. Your vet may recommend more or less food against these charts for medical or general health reasons; their advice should be taken seriously and followed directly.
One last free tip, if your dog eats fast I recommend a slow feeder or controlled portions. Eating too fast can lead to digestion issues or worse for some breeds.
Good luck and please leave any comments or questions below.