When you first decide to add a new addition to your family, you might not really think about the practicalities of owning a dog. It is understandable when you first bring that furry ball if energy home that you won’t even think about what to feed your new pet.
You could spend hours looking up recipes for pupcakes, grain free dog food reviews, and even showering the web for advice, but to be honest, what you feed your dog will depend on their tastes and personal needs. The best thing you can do is to test out different foods until you find one which doesn’t disagree with their stomach and that they enjoy. Here are some of the different types of foods you will likely come across during your search…
These are the most popular type of dog food because they contain a mix of every nutrient which your animal could possibly need to stay healthy and happy. A complete food is one which can be served alone and does not require additional supplements to the diet. Your complete foods can be either wet, raw or dry.
Complementary foods will usually be either wet or raw foods which do not contain the full range of nutrients needed by your pet. Because of this you will often have to bulk out these foods with mixer biscuits. Mixer biscuits are cereal based and will contain a range of herbs and vegetables depending on the type. They are served alongside complementary foods.
Dry complete food is the most popular option amongst pet owners to feed their dogs. The reason for this is that they do not need to be prepared and the storage is simple. They are the most convenient form of food to give to your pet. Dry dog foods are made up of ingredients which are cooked in one of a few ways:
Extrusion – this means that the ingredients are first ground up and then cooked in a giant steamer. Once the cooking process is complete the food is dried and coated in healthy fats and oils. This cooking process will usually aid digestion and kills bacteria, however cooking at such a high temperature can take away some of the nutrients from the ingredients.
Baking – this more traditional way of preparing food involves using a lower pressure and temperature and will leave more of the nutrients in the food. However, due to the biscuit being baked, they will need added wheat to bind the dough together.
Cold pressing – rather than risk losing any of the nutrients from the food through cooking, this method presses the cold ingredients and leaves everything in tact.
Air drying – another way to reduce the damage to the nutrients inside the food is air drying. A heated air current is blown over the food to evaporate the water without compromising the food.
You will usually see wet foods come in the form of a pouch, a tin or a small tray. Wet foods don’t require the addition of preservatives because pasteurisation kills off any harmful bacteria from the food. Wet foods can be a complete food but they can also be complementary and used with mixer biscuits. Wet food is more expensive as a way of feeding your dog because they contain water and therefore more needs to be used to get in those nutrients to your pet.
Raw foods are a type of food which have been on the rise in the last few years, with the rise of healthy culture in humans, companies have now set their sights on our furry friends and more and more raw pet foods are popping up in freezers and fridges in the pet store. Raw feeding is the most natural way you can feed your dog because it is the closest to how they would eat in the wild. Many people make their own raw foods for their dogs and these can include pupcakes, muffins and biscuits using ingredients such as carrot, peanut butter and oats. However if you don’t have the time to cook fresh food for your dog everyday, many companies offer pre-prepared food in the form of frozen blocks or nuggets. All you need to do is thaw the food in the fridge overnight and then you can feed it to your dog the next day. This type of food comes as complete or complementary.
Fresh complete foods have hit the market recently and are becoming a popular choice for dog owners. The idea behind fresh foods is to create meals using the best quality fresh ingredients and pack them into a tray or pouch, . There is minimal processing with the food which is great, and you will not lose a lot of the essential nutrients in the foods. Most of the time fresh foods will last for about 14 days and they must be refrigerated once opened.
How much should we feed them?
Deciding how much to feed your pet is something which will largely depend on the age, breed and weight of your dog. All dog foods will have guidelines printed on the back of the box so if you are ever unsure you can always use this as a reference. If you have no idea where to start, you can always take a trip to your vet and they will give you some advice on the situation. If you need to weigh your dog at home: simply stand on the scales alone and record your own weight, step off and then stand on the scales whilst holding your dog. You can calculate the difference and that’s your dog’s weight.
You can always change the amount of food to are feeding your dog throughout its life depending on your lifestyle at the time. If you seem to be having a very active lifestyle, you might want to feed your dog a little bit more than if they were sitting around the house most of the time. If you notice that your dog is either gaining weight or losing weight, take a trip to the vets to make sure it isn’t illness related, and then you can either increase or decrease the amount of food you give them.
If you don’t notice any weight changes in your animal but they seem to have digestive issues, you may still be feeding them too much food. Not all dogs will gain weight straight away, they will likely have stomach issues instead to start with. If you do notice that your dog is ill and they are either vomiting or suffering from diarrhea, you may need to feed them food such as rice and chicken for a few days to settle their stomach and help their immune system fight off the bug.
When to feed your dog
To be honest, as far as choosing the time each day that you feed your dog, it could largely depend on your lifestyle. For example if you work from 9-5 you might want to feed them breakfast before you leave, and then dinner when you get home. However, if you want to only feed them once a day that is fine too. Most of the time dog owners will opt for 1-3 meals per day for their pets.
A great idea if you are working all day but want your dog to have the freedom to eat throughout the day is to add in all of the food for the day in a bowl and leave it for them to pick at during the day. This method of feeding is called free feed. It means that your dog can choose when it wants to eat and it saves you making multiple meals for the day. However, make sure that you stick to measurements and don’t let the volume of food you give get out of hand.