The choice of a specific diet and food options for your dog depends on many factors: breed, size, weight, health, and lifestyle.
However, there is a particular set of rules for feeding dogs that apply to all pets.
Dog nutrition and diets have been researched quite a bit by dog handlers (partly because this area has become a lucrative business), and they came to some conclusions and decisions about feeding dogs.
These rules seem obvious, but many dog owners do not follow them and feed animals anything they happened to have, not providing the pet with everything necessary.
It undermines the overall immunity of the dog and can lead to adverse consequences. You need to feed your dog correctly, from the puppy age, to avoid many problems in the future.
Components of a Proper Diet
From day one (or better even earlier), it is critical to decide whether you want to feed your dog dry food or not. It is a choice that will stay with them throughout their life.
In case you choose to feed your dog this way, make sure that the amount of the other consumed food does not exceed 20-30% of the overall amount of food you give them.
There are biases about dry food that mostly come from the stereotype that this kind of food can not be right for pets.
Consider consulting your dry food choices with the vet or check out the best diet dog food yourself to ensure you give your dog the nutrition it deserves. Try to keep in mind that the industry envelopes and many balanced and nutritional dog foods are also worth your attention.
Make sure your dog’s diet consists of:
- Proteins rich in nitrogen compounds – can be found in animal products, primarily meat;
- Carbohydrates which the dog usually receives in the form of sugars and starches from food;
- Fats in sufficient (but not excessive) amounts that perform an essential energy function and also affect the condition of dog hair;
- Water which always should be in the access area for your dog;
- Minerals such as salt, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium.
It does not differ much from a healthy human diet, right? Dogs can even have their tastes and preferences in food. Hopefully, it helps to see that dogs are real, living creatures just as we are, and they need to be fed properly to grow and function properly, just as we do.
Remember that dogs are predators, so the base of their diet should be meat – at least 40-50% (the percentage is more precisely determined on an individual basis).
Non-dry food should also satisfy the daily need for substances necessary for the dog’s body growth, development, and maintenance of high-quality life.
When feeding dogs with natural products, it is better to add additional mineral supplements to the diet because a portion of good, ready-made dog food is already balanced enough.
Mealtime is one of the most pleasant and essential moments in a dog’s life. It is due to vital instincts, the development of conditioned reflexes, and a specific hormonal background that exists before and during the meals.
The dog’s food should not stand all day. It is vital to feed the dog regularly, at the same time, and then remove the bowl.
Feed your dog after a walk. Digestion of food by dogs lasts at least 6-7 hours. It is better not to encourage any physical activity at this time.
How many times a day to feed your dog is also an individual choice, based on the dog’s age, lifestyle, and health. You need to take into account the dog’s mobility, working qualities, and energy level.
A healthy dog in its prime is usually fed 2-3 times a day, while small puppies need to eat 4-6 times a day. Older dogs often require more frequent feeding but in smaller portions for their gastrointestinal tract’s normal functioning and to avoid obesity.
Finally, the most challenging part – do not let your dog eat anything between the feedings. It is not easy to resist those loving and pleading puppy eyes (no matter how old your dog is). But it is also only a question of time and training for your dog to stop begging for food.
What to Avoid
The image of a dog with a bone is another common stereotype. It would be best if you did not give your dog any bones because they can lead to intestinal obstruction or, worse, the rupture of their digestive system’s organs.
Mineral or cereal bones from pet stores can be a great alternative to treat your pet with.
There are other things you should exclude from your dog’s regular diet, such as:
- Sweets and sugars that lead to obesity, teeth decay, diabetes, or other metabolic disorders. Sugar substitutes lead to weakness, loss of strengths, and in high amounts – to liver failure.
- Products rich in caffeine are toxic for a dog’s neural system and heart;
- Most fruits and berries (grapes, raisins, currant, peaches, plums), because of their consistency of toxins and acids, cause a heavy impact on dogs’ kidneys and liver. Citruses are the safest here, but dogs tend to not like them because of the strong smell.
- Yeast dough and its products: the fermentation process releases a gas that can cause bloating or even damage to internal organs. It also releases alcohol that can not be given to dogs like many other products for humans, such as vitamin complexes or human dietary supplements.
- Mushrooms, broccoli, pieplant, and nutmeg are toxic and could harm different systems, organs, muscles, and functions of the dog’s body.
Next time you will want to feed your dog the leftovers, try to examine them first. You do not want to use your dog as a food waste disposal unit.
Comparing the experience of having a dog to having a child may be lame and unconvincing, but their diet should be as vital for you as your own and your closest ones.
In case something is wrong, your dog will not be able to tell you about it, so you must observe and notice its every reaction and changes in behavior.
With the right diet for your dog, you prolong your friend’s life and get rid of many diseases that are prevalent in aging dogs as a result of a poor diet and are harder to treat than in humans.
In addition to the moral and ethical component and the desire to do good by your pet, you save a significant amount of money and time on its later treatment.