|It is important to feed your dog a balanced diet so that they remain fit, active and healthy, and it is vital that your dog has access to fresh water at all times. |
A wide variety of dog foods are available to suit activity levels and life stages (eg. puppy/junior, adult & senior) and you should choose the appropriate one for your dog to ensure they are both happy and healthy.
Complete Dog Foods
There are a wide variety of dry complete dog foods on the market that vary in quality. Ensure that you choose a food specially designed for your dog (eg. puppy, adult or senior) and buy the best you can afford. The "premium" foods tend to have the best quality ingredients and are usually based on meat and rice.
Some dogs do not readily eat dry foods but to accustom them to it you can add a little warm water or tinned food to make it more palatable.
Semi-moist foods usually come in either mince or cube form and as with other types of food, they can vary in quality. Choose a food that is of good quality and is easily digestible. Ensure to read the feeding directions as some foods are not complete and additional feed, such as dog biscuits, may be required.
Canned Dog Foods
A wide variety of canned dog foods are available on the market. They come in two types - complete, which consists of meat and cereal, and just meat that needs to be fed with dog biscuits. Choose a good quality food and ensure to read the directions before feeding.
A variety of dog biscuits are available that are designed to be fed with canned meat foods.
Home Made Foods
You can also choose to feed your dog on a meat and rice based home made food. However, it is very difficult to get the balance right and you are probably better off choosing one of the tried and tested commercial diets.
A wide variety of dog treats are available and good quality prepared treats have been developed with the dietary needs of a dog in mind. Treats should be given sparingly and if using regularly, reduce the amount of main meal food your dog is receiving in order to avoid obesity.
Some chew treats have proved to help prevent dental diseases, but check the label to make sure you are getting a genuine product.
Real chocolate is poisonous to dogs and can cause liver damage so never give any to your dog, also avoid giving your dog sugary treats and biscuits as they are bad for its teeth and waistline.
How Much Food?
The amount of food a dog requires depends on it age, size and its daily activities. Dog food that you buy will usually have a feeding requirements on the label and these will act as a guide.
But bear in mind that not all dogs eat the amounts recommended by the manufacturer, so if your dog does not eat all of its meal in one go, you may be offering it too much.
Given the right amount of food your dog should produce firm, dark brown, crinkly stools. If they are soft, it is a classic sign of overfeeding.
When to Feed
When to feed your dog should be tailored to each individual. Puppies should be fed 4 - 5 small meals per day, with this being reduced over several months until they are fed twice per day.
Small breed adult dogs should be fed twice per day as they only eat small amounts at a time.
Large breed adult dogs over the age of 12 months can be fed only once per day, but research has shown that it is better to feed dogs twice per day as this keeps their metabolic rate up, food is used to provide energy rather than stored as fat, and it reduces stomach upsets and bloating.
Changing your Dog Food
If you feel your dog is not suited to a particular type of food and you would like to change it's diet, do so gradually. Begin by feeding the old food with a small amount of the new food mixed into it, then gradually increase the amount of new food, while decreasing the amount of the old food until the change over is complete. Doing this will help to avoid any stomach upsets, particularly with puppies and young dogs.