What can we feed him and how much?
When we adopt our dog the first big question that comes up is what can we feed him and how much? To keep a dog healthy and balanced we have to control both the quality and the quantity of what we are going to provide. Bear in mind that according to many experts 90% of canine pathologies are directly related to poor nutrition.
The dog is essentially a carnivore and its diet must be rich in animal proteins (three fifths of the daily menu), low in carbohydrates, adequate in essential animal fats, with contributions of fruits or vegetables (one fifth of the daily menu), a high content of basic vitamins and minerals and always in adequate quantity, never excessive. This must be taken into account when considering what to feed our pet. For example, a food based on our leftovers has the risk of being very deficient.
Others, on the other hand, carefully prepare fresh food for their pet, trying to balance their diet with a varied one. Nowadays, pet food companies make this task much easier for us by using prepared feeds; however, these are not a panacea as their qualities can be variable. In summary, and without wanting to go into detail, here are some useful ideas and advice for a new dog owner. Also make sure to read this great article review about dog bowls.
The food. Choosing a nutritious feed for our pet may not be an easy task. There is a sufficient amount of food available in the shops that is already designed so that the dog does not have to consume anything else. Moreover, in many cases certain breeds have their own specific food. Don’t be afraid to ask your vet or specialist retailer which one is right for your dog. In the same way, if your dog is a specific breed, it is always a good idea to ask the breeder who sold it to you to advise you whether you should add any kind of supplement to the food, according to the characteristics of the dog in question. Bear in mind that not all feeds are of the same quality and that this type of food can be excessively expensive.
An exclusive diet with fresh food has some advantages for the health of our pet, although it requires more time (in the cooking of the food to avoid parasites, for example) and sufficient control of the different components involved in the canine diet, to combine them properly and thus correctly nourish the animal. Fresh food is a good complement in the case that the dog is given only food, although it has the disadvantage that the dog can end up rejecting the food (the dog has four types of taste buds and can be very selective with the flavors of its food).
It is recommended that the dog eats at the same time. Organizing your dog’s meals helps you to plan walking times. A healthy dog works like clockwork and this will help you keep track of his needs. A moderate diet is always preferable. It is just as bad to overfeed as it is to underfeed. Also, the type and amount of food to be given varies with age and development. When in doubt, it is best to consult your vet. A companion dog can easily tend not to be able to self-regulate its food, so it is never a good idea to leave the trough full. A dog with an obesity problem is unlikely to lose weight and its health will be greatly affected. It’s always better to leave him a little hungry (you’ll have a more alert and awake dog) than a stuffed dog. Teach him to eat within a time limit by, for example, putting the food in the bowl, taking it out soon after if he doesn’t eat it. You’ll get him to learn how to eat without being distracted. The daily ration should be given in three servings (puppies) and two (adults). A single adult meal a day has many disadvantages, such as long fasts and increased risk of gastric torsion, especially if the dog is large or very large.
The dog should always have fresh, clean water on hand. In summer it is advisable to ration it to avoid excessive intake due to heat that can lead to diarrhea. It should not be given food after hours. Similarly, we should not share our food while we are at the table, even less so at an early age. The opposite will lead to compulsive attitudes or difficulty for him to eat his own food, especially if it is feed based.
If the dog does not eat its food, is apparently healthy and without the bad habits mentioned above, this can be due to several causes. The first is that he is already satiated, so his ration will have to be reduced. The second is that he doesn’t want more food because he instinctively feels he doesn’t need it (self-regulatory mechanism), for example, because he doesn’t get enough exercise. In both cases this is visible if despite eating little the dog remains active and playful. A third possibility is excessive heat; the best thing to do in this case is to alter the meal time to the less hot times of the day. A fourth cause can be due to the boredom of the food; if it eats other foods (for example, fresh) anxiously we will have the proof we need. If it is not any of the previous causes the dog could be sick so you should go to the vet. This will be clearly seen with the appearance of other additional signs.
When you need to change your dog’s food (e.g. from a puppy food to an adult food, or a change of brand) try to do it gradually, mixing both types of food and varying the proportion of the mixture gradually until the change is complete.
Finally, it is a good idea to give him bones to gnaw on from time to time to avoid over calcification. It is better to give him large bones, avoiding small ones that could splinter in his throat and cause him to go to the emergency vet.