We all want our pets to be happy and healthy. Pet parents will usually have a good understanding of their fur babies unique needs, like how much exercise they should be getting, how to groom them and a general feeding routine. But what nutrition does your dog really need? Are they getting all the nutrients they need from the food they are eating? How do you really know? This article will explore this, so if you’re worried that your pooch isn’t getting the right nutrition, read on to find out more.
Vitamins and Supplements
If you’re particularly conscious of your dog’s nutrition, you may have thought about vitamins or supplements that you could give them in addition to their food and water. But, do you need to provide your pet with these extra supplements? Or is their diet enough. It depends on your dog’s general health and diet. A healthy dog does not require extra vitamins or supplements, as all good dog foods will include the good stuff that they need. There are many vitamins found in dog food that help with the health of their coat and skin, their bones, digestion, and metabolism, to name a few. If you feed your pooch a homemade meal, they may not be getting all the nutrients they require. It is always best to consult your veterinarian about your pet’s diet. A veterinarian will only provide your four-legged friend with these extra supplements if it is necessary. Excess portions of vitamins and minerals can cause more harm than good, so be careful and always get medical advice. Ideally, approved dog food from a good pet store is the best way to ensure your canine companion is getting all the supplements they need.
Am I Feeding My Dog the Right Food?
We established that approved dog food is a good way to ensure your pet is getting the right nutrition, but with so much variety, how do you choose the right dog food? What is the difference between wet and dry dog food and how do you know if it is right for your pet? Always make sure you find dog food that is suitable for your pooch’s size, breed, and age. It doesn’t matter too much whether you give your fur baby wet or dry dog food, as there are benefits to both of them. You may want to switch this up or give them a little bit of both so they get the benefits of both. Dry dog food is wonderful for your dog’s teeth, to help clean plaque, whereas wet dog food contains more moisture, which is suitable for dogs who don’t drink a lot of water. If you have just welcomed a puppy into your family, aim for puppy specific food. You can usually find guidance on the packaging on how to much to give and how often. You will find that your puppy needs feeding regularly throughout the day. Adult dogs require feeding less and will usually eat twice a day. If you’re worried you are overfeeding your pooch, or they are not eating enough, ask your vet for advice.
Feeding Them Your Own Food
It’s always tempting to give your pooch a bite of your dinner, especially when you’ve been getting the puppy dog eyes the whole time you’ve been eating. Dog’s certainly know how to make their pet parents feel guilty about food, even if they have had their own dinner not moments before you tuck into yours. A lot of pet parents will sneakily feed their pooch a piece of dinner and some even scrape the leftovers into their bowl to save waste, but is this actually doing your fur baby harm? It is advised not to give dog’s your own food. Our own meals can often be too fatty or rich for dogs and may lead to a bad diet and your dog becoming overweight. The odd scrap of meat such as plain chicken is fine occasionally, but this may also lead to your pooch becoming a bit of a fussy eater, especially when what you’re eating seems more appealing to them. Contrary to belief, it is also not advised to give your dog leftover bones from your meal, as this can be a choking hazard or fragments of sharp bone could cause damage. It’s important to learn what foods we enjoy are dangerous to canines too, should they get their paws on it somehow, like chocolate that has been left somewhere in their reach. Like we always advise, ask your vet if you need more guidance on foods that your four-legged friend should avoid.
Water is an important part of your dog’s diet. You may find that your pooch doesn’t drink as much as you think they should, but as long as you always leave a bowl of fresh water out, they will drink it when they need it. Leave the bowl in the same place so they know where to find it. It’s advisable to wash the water bowl and replace the water each day, for hygiene and safety. Dog’s prefer fresh water, so you may find they will drink it more once it has been replaced. As we explained previously, wet dog food contains moisture, so if you are worried that they are not drinking enough water, this may be a good way to ensure they are getting a bit more moisture in their diet. If you are worried your pooch has not drunk any water for some time, it is always best to get professional advice to ensure there are no medical reasons as to why they are not drinking. Lack of water can lead to dehydration which can be very dangerous. Regularly exercising your dog will naturally make them more thirsty, so this will help with their water intake. If you have traveled far for your walk, make sure to take some water with you for them to drink, especially if it is a hot day. It’s also important to make sure your pooch is being let out to pee when they need too. If they are having to wait to use the bathroom for long periods of time, they may learn to avoid water to stop the bladder discomfort.
Amount of Food and How Often You Should Feed Them
The quantity of food your pooch is getting is an important part of their nutrition. This varies depending on their age, weight and how much exercise they receive. If you have an energetic dog that requires lots of exercise each day, it is usually advised to feed them slightly more than what is recommended on the dog food packaging for their age range and size. This is to replenish nutrients and ensure they are eating enough to sustain a healthy weight. Dogs that are less active may be required to eat less than what is advised, which will help to maintain their weight and ensure they do not become overweight. You may find over the years that you might need to adjust your dog’s diet, such as if they become pregnant and need more nutrition or if they become overweight and need less. Adult dogs usually need feeding twice a day, but again, this depends on their activity levels. You can buy cups that measure the right amount of food for your pooch, so you can keep an eye on the amount that they are eating. Try and stick to the same time each day and if there is more than one pet parent in the house, remember to let each other know if your fur baby has already been fed, as you may end up feeding them extra portions by mistake! Also, if you have more than one fur baby in the house, make sure that they are eating their own food and not helping themselves to their siblings - this can lead to one being overfed and one not getting enough. Be present at meal times to check this isn’t happening and stopping it if it does.
Foods to Avoid Giving Your Pooch
There are many things we definitely know not to give pets, like alcohol and caffeine, obviously. A lot of pet parents are also aware that chocolate is a no-no too. But what other foods are a potential danger to our fur babies? You may not be aware of this, but all dogs are actually lactose intolerant, meaning dairy is off the table when it comes to giving them sneaky treats. They cannot digest milk and so eating dairy can lead to an upset stomach and discomfort. Many fruit, nuts and vegetables can be dangerous too, so it is best to avoid these altogether. Raw meat, bones, and fish are also not very pooch friendly, which may surprise some people. As a general rule, always stick to your dog’s approved food and avoid giving them anything different unless you know it is completely safe. If you give your pooch a piece of food without thinking about it first, this could lead to illness or even an emergency dash to the vets. Dogs will eat a lot of things and often gobble them up before we can stop them, so always be cautious about the foods that are available to them.
So what about dog treats? Are they a suitable part of your dog’s diet? With a healthy diet, a little treat is completely fine and won’t make much difference to their weight. Try not to feed them too many dog treats if you can and aim to use them as a reward rather than whenever they beg for one. Treats are a fantastic way to show your pooch they have been good or have done something well and worth rewarding. You can find healthy dog treats in all pet stores or most superstores, and often there is health guidance on the packaging. As a general rule, treats should only make up 10% of your pooch’s daily food intake. Treats can be helpful for cleaning your dog’s teeth or helping with bad breath.
Allergies and Dietary Requirements
You may find that your pooch is allergic to regular pet food. Your dog’s immune system may overreact to the food and may cause problems such as itching, a runny nose or eyes, and digestion problems. If your pooch is suffering from these reactions, they may be allergic to an ingredient in the food or an animal protein, like chicken or beef. You can get hypoallergenic (allergy free) dog food from most pet stores, which still include protein that your pooch needs but ones that they will not get a reaction from. These are often novel proteins such as duck, rabbit or venison flavor. Try and get medical advice from your vet if you think that your pooch is suffering from allergies caused by their food.
To summarize, sticking to a diet of complete dog food will ensure that your four-legged friend is getting all the nutrients they need. If you make your dog homemade meals, speak to your vet if you are unsure whether they are getting all the minerals and vitamins they need. Try and avoid giving them people food, as this can be fattening or cause an upset stomach. If you want to get more moisture in your pooches diet, opt for wet dog food. This is great for dog’s that don’t drink as much water as they should. Always keep fresh water available and allow your dog bathroom breaks frequently to ensure they are drinking enough. With the right amount of exercise and amount of food, your pooch should stay happy and healthy throughout their life.
If you have any questions specific to your dog's diet and health, please schedule a visit with an expert, veterinarian at FetchMyVet.com.