by Jessica Tew // May 2018
We all know dogs love to eat! For most dogs meal times can be one of the most exciting parts of their day (after playing with you and having a nice long walk of course!). One thing we have found from running our classes is that some of us aren’t all 100% confident that our dogs have got the right eating habits, so this blog is to answer some of the most common questions we get asked about in class on ‘feeding your dog’.
There are many different types of dog food.
One of the easiest methods of feeding is to use a complete dry food. Make sure if you do feed dry kibble that it is definitely ‘complete’. This means that with each serving your dog is getting all the nutrients they need to stay happy and healthy.
Complete food can be available to dogs of different life stages; for example, puppy/junior food in some brands is suitable for dogs up to the age of a year. This ensures we are supplying the right levels of nutrients to promote healthy development. Adult food for dogs is normally recommended up to about 7 years of age and then there is senior food, just a change in ingredients to help out older dogs.
A complete food doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be dry kibble; you can also buy complete wet or frozen foods. The key is to look at the labels to avoid buying just mixers or tinned meat, which, depending on the brand, may mainly be just moisture and actually contain no nutritional goodness for your dog.
Of course, if you are feeding your dog a dry food and want to add a bit of tinned meat to enhance the flavour that isn’t a major problem, as long as you realise there might not be a great deal of nutrients in that wet food. Try not forget to reduce the amount of dry food you would use if adding a topper as to not overfeed.
By adding meat to the dry biscuits you may also be creating a ‘picky eater’, one of those dogs that won't eat their tea until chicken, beef or liver is added on top because they are used to the extra tasty stuff! We love spoiling our dogs but why not keep those tasty toppers to one side for later and use in training, that way your dog will get to enjoy not just their food but also working with you.
If you are trying to feed a dry complete food but cant inspire your dogs to eat this you can always try adding boiling water to the food first, just enough to create a bit of a gravy that you can swirl around the biscuits, once its cooled off you can then put this warm smelly meal down for your dog, now with increased palatability.
A lot of dog owners are raw feeding nowadays. You need to put in a lot of research first to make sure your dog is getting the right nutrition as unless pre-packaged you will need to work out what parts of the animal you will be using, how much and how often.
Your dog should be getting a minimum of two meals a day, if your dog is a puppy, is struggling with weight or has a medical problem then you may need to increase how often you feed them. Always refer to the feeding guidelines for the exact food you are using when looking at weights and amounts. Overfeeding can be just as harmful as not feeding them enough.
Each dog food brand offers different ingredients in different amounts and there is no one brand we would recommend. One brand may be perfect for one specific dog and not have the same benefits to another.
Just be aware that as it is for people it is also true for dogs that ‘you are what you eat’. Feeding a high energy dog food is great for working dogs out in the field but may not be too great if you notice your young puppy doing zoomies 24/7 around the living room.
Your dog’s food has a great impact on their health. Diet can even affect certain behaviours. If you notice your dog itching lots, licking excessively, passing diarrhoea a lot or producing excessively smelly stools it could be worth looking into your food. Speaking to a vet will help in the first instance but be aware of ingredients like wheat, grains and dairy which are just a few of the most common ingredients your dog can possibly be allergic to or unable to digest properly.
Speaking of allergies, there are many ingredients that could be classed as an allergen but there are many brands out there that are labelled as hypoallergenic and limit these ingredients. Research is key if you know your dog is intolerant.
Feeding right is the key to a happy, healthy dog. Why not look at our blog on ‘Ways to keep your dog entertained!’ to see different ways to feed your dog to make meal times more enriching and help tire them out.