Dog Food Guidelines

Can you find your dog’s ribs easily, or do you have to search for them? If you discover that you are not able to feel its ribs, you have an overweight dog. Just like people, a healthy diet, combined with exercise, gives a dog physical and mental well-being. Good nutrition also gives your dog the means to fight off infection and illness.

It is best to feed your dog a diet of premium dog food that contains high quality digestible protein, without meat by-products, indigestible fillers, dyes or chemical preservatives. Even though premium food may cost more, your dog will eat less, be more satisfied and you will be able to see the results – glossy coat, shiny eyes, smooth skin and alert expression – with your own eyes. Regardless of what you choose to feed, always read the food labels to check for the ingredients and be wary of the additives mentioned above.

The debate of dry dog food versus canned dog food has been going on for some time. It has been advocated for many years that dry food helps rid teeth of tartar; however, this is not true. Brushing, nylon bones and regular veterinary cleaning are the best ways to manage your dog’s oral health. What is true is that dry food is very convenient and economic. If you choose dry food, the premium brands provide high quality nutrition and are definitely worth the additional cost.

Canned food contains more moisture because it is manufactured from fresh meat; it is very digestible and contains no preservatives. Dogs almost always prefer canned food to dry food, but it can be expensive if you are feeding a large dog.

Some more feeding tips:

  • Listings on dog food cans and bags of dry food of “how much to feed the average adult dog” should be taken as basic guidelines that can vary widely according to activity level, size and metabolism of a dog.
  • Most adult dogs do best if fed twice daily. This avoids overextending the stomach. Divide the total ration into two equal portions. It is particularly important to feed smaller meals to deep-chested dogs that may have a tendency to develop bloat or stomach torsion.
  • Limit strenuous exercise or play before and after meals, especially for breeds prone to bloat.
  • Do not let breeds prone to bloat consume excessive amounts of water after eating.
  • To avoid spilled food and water, teach your dog to sit before you put his food bowl on the floor. Deep-chested and large dogs should have their food and water bowls placed just under neck height.
  • Feeding time should be an approximate, not a precise, time. If you always feed him at 6:13, should 6:15 come around, you will have one frantic dog! You should rule the schedule, not him.
  • Never free feed. Many dogs will overeat if food is constantly available. They also may be more finicky about their food because they are never really hungry at mealtime. Let his gastric juices and digestive system take a rest in between meals.
  • Allow 15-20 minutes for your dog to eat his meal and remove any leftover food.
  • Keep children and other pets away from your dog while he is eating.
  • Don’t tease your dog by pretending to take the food dish away. If you are consistent and firm with him in all aspects of life, he will respect your authority. There is no need to exert your power over his food; he knows who feeds him anyway!
  • Always make sure his food is fresh and his bowls are washed with soap and water. Dogs will eat canned food even if it has gone bad.
  • Add a little hot water to canned food when you remove it from the refrigerator. Top dry food with a little canned food, unsalted meat or chicken broth for extra palatability.

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