How are you feeding your
When dogs eat, it's serious business --
just look at them concentrate as they
tear into their food! But for you, it's an equally serious subject .
you're an owner who cares about their health.
What should you feed them? That can be hard
to figure, when faced with the
confusing selection at your grocery store. So here's a breakdown of the
of food available, and the way nutritionists recommend they be used.
Two Kinds of Food
All food for dogs can be divided into one
of two categories: Dry and Canned.
Each has a specific function.
1. Dry food is the type most
frequently used among breeders and kennels
due to economy. It's especially favored in its expanded (large chunk
small nugget) form, and is usually made of a homogenized blend of
that provide dogs with a complete diet . You'll want to check the
information to be sure it's complete.
It may seem obvious that dog foods in the
Dry category are often served dry.
But for variety, they can also be served moistened with water or broth. If
choosing to serve it moist, keep the texture to a light, crumbly
rather than soupy (dogs usually prefer their food on the crispy side). If
make sure to provide plenty of water on the side.
2. Canned food includes two
subcategories: Complete and All-Meat.
Complete canned foods are meat products to which grains, vitamins, and
minerals have been added to meet all of a dog's dietary
requirements. This is
not to be confused with All-Meat canned foods, which contain no added
vitamins and minerals.
All-Meat canned foods should be used only
as additives to a complete diet,
and should never make up more than 10% of the total food served. Doing so
can destroy the nutritional balance of commercially prepared complete dog
Water Is Extremely Important
No matter what kind of food you give your
dog, don't forget the water. It's
so essential that it makes up 70% of your dog's total weight. Therefore,
when he's outside -- and especially in hot weather -- make a clean, fresh
supply available to him at all times.
Two Things To Avoid
Bones may occupy a place in
our imagination as the ultimate canine chew
toy; but in real life, they're simply not healthy for dogs. Some bones
alarmingly, and those that don't can still be broken into particles which
damage your dog's mouth or cause bowel impaction. Instead, give your dog
baked biscuits: they help puppies get rid of their baby teeth, relieve
to chew, and help reduce the formation of tartar.
Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
are unnecessary if you're already
feeding your dog foods that are nutritionally balanced. However,
who insist on adding a small amount to their dog's food probably
doing much harm . . . yet. When the amounts are increased, the
really begins: an excess or imbalance of vitamins and minerals is a
dangerous thing. Too much Vitamin D, to cite one example, can be toxic
without the proper ratio of Vitamin A. For reasons such as this, it's best to
use supplements only on the recommendation of a veterinarian.
Now you know what to feed your dog. So
let's discuss how.
The subject of dog dishes might seem like a
simple one. But there's actually
a specific type that's best for your dog. Puppies and short-nosed dogs
well with shallow dishes. Long-nosed dogs eat most comfortably from deep
bowls. And for long-eared dogs, steep-sided dishes are essential --
keep his ears from falling into the food or water. Whichever style your
needs, make sure it's made of a "chew-proof" material. You don't
breaking it and swallowing the pieces.
After choosing a proper bowl, you'll need
to select one of the two time
honored methods for feeding your dog.
The first way is to feed him on a
regular schedule, at the same times each day.
This has the built-in advantage of being a useful way to handle the fussy
if he walks away from the food you've given him, just take it away, and
a fresh bowl of the same at his next feeding time. He'll come around
suffers any real damage from his hunger strike. As for the proper serving
read the product label for recommended amounts. Then, increase or reduce
depending on whether your dog seems to need more or less.
The second way is the self-feeding method.
Kennels use this method
extensively, because it's so easy. All it requires is that you keep dry
all the time, in a pan or hopper that the dog can get to. From there, the
feeds himself. True, a dog left to his own devices will eat inordinate
of food initially. But after the initial binge, he'll typically trim his
accommodate his requirements. If he doesn't, then stick with method one.
Age And Lifestyle Demands
Dogs at different stages of life have
different dietary needs. Pay special attention
to the instruction that pertains to your dog:
Puppy: At first, a new puppy might
be too frightened to eat, but that will soon
pass. And when it does, he'll probably need more food than the product
recommends. In fact, a growing puppy requires about twice as much food per
pound of body weight as an adult -- but his little stomach can't take it
all at once,
so he must be fed several times a day.
When feeding your puppy, keep the feeding
times regular; it will help his
digestion. We recommend four meals for puppies aged six weeks to three
months; three meals for puppies aged three months to six months; and two
meals -- "breakfast" and "supper" -- for puppies six
months on up. When he's
comfortably plump (but not pot-bellied), you'll know he's getting enough
Of course, be sure he's eating a complete and balanced food intended for
For very young puppies or weanlings, mix a
gruel of dry or canned puppy food
and lukewarm water. Stir or use a blender until it is a smooth
watery enough for the puppy to lap up. As the puppy gets older,
reduce the liquid until he's eating the product un-grueled, with a bowl of
Overweight: The weight of your dog
is based on a simple calculation: calories
minus exercise. Dogs that work -- herding or hunting, for instance --
large amount of exercise, and subsequently need to eat a lot of calories
balance it out. Sedentary dogs, on the other hand, aren't burning as many
calories, so they require less. In short, if your dog is overweight,
balance: give him more exercise and less calories.
To reduce calories, give him a
nutritionally complete dog food in smaller
Over 6 Years Old: Because the dog's
metabolism is slowing, this may be the
amounts and/or in a diet formula. Also, several small meals per day may
more satisfying that one large one. At the same time, gradually increase
exercise, perhaps just by taking him on longer walks.
time to switch to a dog food specially formulated to give your older dog
good quality protein and extra vitamins. Your veterinarian might also
a suitable vitamin supplement.
When changing your dog's diet, always make
substitutions gradually; this is
easier on his sensitive digestive tract. Also, if there is any tooth or
(not uncommon in older dogs), soften dry foods with a little liquid.
Pregnant or Lactating: The need for
protein and all other nutrients increases
gradually to three times the normal amount. To accommodate these
requirements, you'll want to feed your dog larger amounts of a high
nutritionally complete, and easily digested commercial dog food (food made
puppies can satisfy these demands). During the last weeks of pregnancy
especially, serve your dog several meals a day, since her stomach may not
able to hold at one time all the food she needs to nourish herself and her
A day or two after the puppies are born,
your dog may refuse to eat dry food. If
so, feed her some canned puppy food instead. She'll need it -- because now
she'll have to produce milk for her puppies while trying to nourish
her three times a day, or more if she wants it.
One Last Thing: Troubleshooting
We've covered the basics of feeding your
dog. And ideally, this would be the end.
But for better or worse, dogs are not machines: they're individuals
periodic digestive problems. So in closing, here's a quick list of four
symptoms and what you can do to help your dog feel better fast.
1. Vomiting: Unlike in humans,
vomiting in dogs often doesn't mean anything -
dogs vomit all the time, especially after eating grass (which they love to
it can also be caused by a sudden change in diet. So if you're changing
dog's food, do so by gradually substituting the old with the new over a
period. If vomiting is persistent (and especially if it contains blood),
2. Constipation: This can be caused
by poor diet, lack of water with diet,
chewing on bones, reduced activity, or general slowing down in older dogs.
Feeding him liver may help, or a small dose of milk of magnesia -- but
overdo it, or you may cause diarrhea. If constipation continues, or if
appears to be in pain or shows other symptoms, consult your veterinarian
3. Diarrhea: This often occurs as a
result of adding rich gravies, fats, milk, or
eggs to the dog's food; if you have been adding any of the above,
Or it may just be intestinal upset caused by a change in diet (see above
on Vomiting), a change in drinking water (such as when traveling),
or fright. To treat a slight case of diarrhea, withhold food for a day and
antidiarrheal compound (such as Kaopectate), in a dose and frequency
suggested by your veterinarian. If the symptom persists, and especially if
contains blood, bring it to your veterinarian's attention immediately. It
indicate a serious health condition.
4. Flatulence: Contrary to
expectations, this is not always caused by
indigestion. It could be the result of feeding your dog an excess of meat
If so, cut down on these foods, and keep your dog on a complete and
diet. Your veterinarian may be able to provide additional suggestions.
5. Tail Wagging: Of course, this
isn't a problem at all. It's the happy look of
a dog who's well-fed and cared for. So, if this is the only symptom your
showing, consider yourself extremely lucky. And continue to follow our
guidelines to help keep your dog healthy throughout his lifetime.