Feeding your Dog

The History of Dog food

Long gone are the days when pet owners fed their dogs on left-overs and scraps from the table.  As more and more information becomes available today’s pet owners are more demanding in terms of meeting their pet’s nutritional needs.  This has fuelled the creation of a massive pet food industry with supermarket shelves bursting with commercial diets. This article gives you top advice from pet nutritionists on what is the best way to feed your dog.

When the first commercial pet food diets appeared in the 1950’s they often utilised leftover and poor quality meat, gristle and viscera.  Standards have greatly improved with some products containing human grade meat.  Many companies are now marketing the fact that their foods contain no artificial ingredients reflecting a trend in human eating habits.

For the new dog owner this choice can be daunting but thankfully most commercial pet foods will meet your dog’s basic nutritional requirements as long as you follow the recommended feeding instructions for that particular food.

Diets in adult dogs should be balanced with water, protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Healthy adult dogs can be fed on complete ‘’ canned, dry or semi – moist’’ food varieties.  These complete diets do not need to be mixed with any additional foods, which is the mistake many pet owners often make. Mixing a complete food with another food type is essentially increasing the energy content of the diet and increasing the risk of obesity.

Despite the range of commercial diets available some people advocate the feeding of a more natural home made diet

How many times a day should a dog be fed?

Most people feed adult dogs either once or twice a day.  Both have advantages and possible disadvantages depending on the owner, dog and domestic situation.  Every dog is different but most dogs have sufficient appetite to eat enough in one meal to provide enough energy for the day.

Once a day feeding:

  • More controllable, it can usually be sufficient in size to satiate appetite.
  • Under or over feeding is less likely to happen
  • It can be easily fitted into your household routine.

You should avoid late evening meals as dogs may need to excrete faeces or urinate within the following few hours and this may be inconvenient in the middle of the night.

Twice (or three times) a day feeding

  • It is common to feed twice or three times a day along with/after the family meals, suiting some household routines better.
  • Smaller more frequent meals may increase basal metabolism. Useful for dogs who need to lose weight.
  • However, the daily food ration must be divided between these meals to avoid overfeeding.

It is desirable to establish a feeding routine and stick with it. Dogs become accustomed to feeding at particular times/time in the day, along with being fed at the same place. If dogs have poor appetites or are unwell, or are very old, they may benefit from twice a day feeding with smaller meals.

Overfeeding

This is becoming an increasing problem with the UK pet population. The, incidence of obesity is on the rise.  Modern day commercial foods are very energy rich and only need to be fed in small amounts to provide a dog’s daily energy requirements.  Pet owners who don’t accurately measure the amount of food they give to their dogs can lead to overfeeding.

In addition, pet owners love giving their animals treats without due acknowledgment of the effect this has on the daily energy intake.  Very small tit-bits can increase the daily energy intake significantly. This extra energy isn’t used and is stored, usually as fat.

See our truth about treats article

Also see our section on weight loss and obesity for more information

Choosing a Dog Food

Your browser may not support display of this image. There are many decisions to make when choosing a food for your dog.

  • Dry vs. canned
  • Palatability
  • Availability
  • Make of food

Some people find dry food more convenient than canned. It can be difficult to carry many tins of dog food, especially if you have a large breed dog!!  There is also a lot of waste from tins compared to the packaging of a bag of dried food.  However some dogs prefer canned to dry and owners may find it difficult to get such a dog on to a dry diet.

It’s difficult not to be ruled by your dog’s taste-buds. Very fussy dogs can often dictate to their owners what food they want to receive by simply refusing something they don’t fancy.  The next offering is invariably much tastier so they quickly learn to hold out for the best!  Having said that some dogs just don’t seem to like certain foods and this can often be a major factor when deciding which pet food to choose.

With so many to choose to from the final decision can be down to something as simple as reputation or word of mouth.  Fancy packaging may appeal to some, as may slick advertising campaigns and clever marketing.  The cuteness of the dogs on the packaging does not directly relate to the quality of the food!!!

Monitoring health

Once you’ve chosen a food then you should monitor your dogs health to ensure they are having all their nutritional needs met.  Checking your dog’s stools to ensure they are fully formed and of the right consistency is the first sign of gastro-intestinal health.  Other indicators that your dog is healthy are good skin, shiny coat, energy, vitality and absence of disease.

A good balanced diet leads to a healthy happy life!!!

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