You would think that feeding your dog would be the easiest part of your responsibilities as a dog owner. Wrong again! You’ll need to make some decisions and that means you may have to do some homework.
First of all are we talking about a puppy or and adult dog? That will make a difference as to the amount of dog food required. When thinking in terms of food, puppies are typically considered adults at the age of 1 year at which time you would switch to adult food. If there’s any doubt or concern about this, or if you just want to be safe, consult your Vet. Your Vet is a fabulous resource for any questions you may have and it’s always a great idea to consult with him/her on anything concerning your precious pet.
For obvious reasons, the proper feeding of your dog is extremely important. Over feed and you put your pet at risk for obesity and serious health issues. Under feed and you end up causing a problem dog that chews on toys, books, etc. and steals food off the counter or table and is constantly into the garbage.
How often should you feed your dog?
Next decision… regular scheduled feeding or free feeding. Free feeding means that you keep food in the puppies bowl all the time and he/she eats whenever their hungry. There are different schools of thought regarding free feeding. Some Veterinarians feel this is the best option for your puppy because they’re growing quickly and may require more food one day than another. Others suggest feeding your puppy about 4 times each day.
My personal vote goes with the later. Here’s why… Free feeding your dog can be difficult if you have other pets (trying to keep the other pets away from it). Then, when your puppy becomes an adult, one short year later, you’ll need to retrain your dog to eat only once or twice each day. If you continue to free feed your dog throughout adulthood, you are setting the stage for an overweight dog and likely serious health issues.
Having said all of this, my recommendation would be to feed your puppy 4-6 times each day. They’re little and have lots of energy. They need to eat often to fuel their little bodies and mature properly. Maintain a regular time schedule for feeding, and leave the food available for 15-20 minutes. Then take it away. If your puppy is hungry he’ll eat, if not he’ll have another opportunity in a few hours. Upon adulthood reduce the feedings to 1-2 times each day.
You’ll notice that there are no absolute answers to the number of times each day to feed your dog. That’s because there are so many variables involved in determining the answer; age, size, breed, how much exercise does your dog get, is your dog underweight now or overweight, how many treats does he/she get each day. Each of these points need to be considered before deciding how often to feed your pet. I absolutely recommend that you consult with… guess who? Say it with me… your Veterinarian! He/she can help you set up the perfect schedule for your pet.
What about that People food thing? Okay? Or not so okay?
The answer is… not so okay. Truth be told, in moderation, some people food is harmless. However there are some foods that can be very harmful to your pet. For instance it isn’t a good idea to trim the fat off your meat and feed it to your dog. This kind of fat overload can give your dog pancreatitis which causes chronic abdominal pains.
Ham & bacon are too salty and contain too much fat. This can cause your pet to have pancreatitis and, in some breeds, could ultimately result in bloat. Bloat is a potentially life-threatening condition arising from your dog drinking too much water from the salty food.
Large amounts of liver can cause vitamin A toxicity. This is serious because it affects the muscles and can cause deformed bones. Because vitamin A also has an impact on the metabolism, severe weight loss and anorexia is also a concern.
Any dairy products like butter, cheese, and milk are harmful to your dog. They weren’t designed to eat these types of food so their bodies can’t digest them properly. The consumption of these products could cause bloating and diarrhea in your pet.
Bones, particularly small bones from chicken and fish can get lodged in your pets’ throat which can cause choking. Bones can also cause splinter and tear a dog’s internal organs.
Cat food is much higher in fats and protein than dog food. Just like baby food, dog and cat food is designed with the specific needs of each animal in mind. The extra fat is not healthy for your dog and eating cat food instead of dog food means that your pet is missing essential nutrients for his/her health. That’s why it’s called Dog Food and Cat Food, not Pet Food.
Chocolate and caffeine are toxic to dogs and negatively affects their heart and nervous system. Chocolate can cause seizures, coma and ultimately death. One 1 ounce of baking chocolate can poison a 10-pound dog. There are different kinds of chocolate some not as toxic as others. But let’s face it… does it matter? None of them are good for your pooch, so a BIG no on this treat.
Of course there’s the obvious… drugs and alcohol are absolute no no’s. You might find it comical to watch a tipsy dog, but I’m sure that you will not see the humour in knowing that the alcohol you gave him put your precious pet into a coma and possibly resulted in his death.
There are many other people foods that can cause serious health issues for your dog. There is enough evidence that many foods are harmful for your pooch that the simplest solution is to just NOT feed your dog people food at all. Another bonus to this solution is that you will not have a dog that begs for food while you eat at the table. There are so many treats that have been designed especially for your pet that it really just makes sense to stick to those. What should you feed your dog?
Which is the best for your dog, dry food or canned food? That’s the great debate. There are pros and cons to both, so… let’s make a list:
Dry Dog Food Pros
Helps keep dogs teeth clean from tartar
Dogs have better breath
Easier to store
Easier to handle
More cost effective
Less likely to spoil
Wet Dog Food Pros
More proteins included
Contains fewer preservatives
Contains less grain and more moisture keeps a dog hydrated and benefits the urinary tract
Is very flavourful, often the preferred taste for dogs
May be better if your dog has certain health issues
Dry Dog Food Cons
Not all dry foods are quality foods
Usually has more preservatives
Wet Dog Food Cons
Sticks on dogs teeth causing tooth problems
Requires more dental treatments
Gives dogs bad breath
Less healthy because it contains a higher fat content and more water
Once opened canned food can spoil quickly
Now that we’ve gone over the list of pros and cons, let me say that absolutely nothing is carved in stone. Your dog may have a health issue that requires him to eat canned instead of dry. For example, dogs that have lost their chewing teeth or have dental disease may not be able to chew dry dog food, and may only be able to eat canned food. I fostered a dog once that would only eat her dry dog food with 2 tablespoons of canned food mixed in.
You will find that some experts promote canned food for puppies and switch to dry food for adult dogs. The obstacle with this is that it’s difficult to make the switch.
You may have a dog that is a really picky eater or one that gulps his food with the speed of light and then throws up. These dogs need your help. Work out a plan with your Vet. This article was not meant to have all the answers. It was intended to give you some things to think about. It’s not as simple as “grab a bag of dog food from the store” and we’re good to go. As a responsible pet parent, you’ve got some things to think about. Now, talk to your Vet, ask your questions (be sure to ask for the rationale behind the thought), and together build your strategy.
Above all else, remember to hug your pet today.