When introducing your new furbaby to the family, you may not have considered the complications of feeding them.
However, once they’re in your home, you’ll realize not all dog food is created equal.
Dog nutrition is an important topic. You want to ensure your new pet has as many years as possible to spend with you, and you want to ensure they’re healthy and happy.
Although a wide variety of dog food is sold and many people have different techniques for feeding, not all dogs are provided with the nutrition they need. Dog nutrition is important, so make sure your new friend stays at optimum health!
1. Read and Research the Ingredients
Before grabbing the first pack of food within reach at the grocery store, look up the ingredients.
Dog food at a minimum should have healthy amounts of
- Vitamins and minerals
An easy way to tell if the food has the right amount of each is to check if it meets the recommendations of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
The AAFCO doesn’t have the ability to approve or recall dog food but it can lay out the standards for what’s considered healthy food. If a food meets these recommendations, it can proudly display it on the label.
2. Consider Your Dog’s Age
A dog’s nutritional needs will be determined by their age. Puppies have different needs from adult dogs — in fact, they require around twice the caloric intake!
Their food should be made up of between 22% and 32% in protein (and it’s not recommended to exceed this any more than it is to give them food lacking in protein).
Many foods are specially formulated for puppies.
By the time they become an adult, they will taper off into a steady diet that can usually maintain for most of their life, barring any medical issues.
As they enter their senior years, they might need a special diet to optimize their health. Again, many brands have food specially formulated for this stage of life.
3. Consider Your Dog’s Size and Weight
A dog’s size and weight, as well as their breed, will also determine their nutritional needs.
If your goal is to maintain their weight and they’re of a healthy shape and size, you can usually go with the recommendations of the brand in terms of how much you should feed them.
If your dog is underweight, you may need to feed them more. Are they eating all the food you give them? Should you try a different brand?
An overweight dog should be eating less, or put on a specially formulated diet to bring their weight down.
A dog nutrition calculator can serve as a guide for how much your dog should be eating, although it’s not perfect and best to consult with a veterinarian.
4. Balance Their Activity With Their Food
Even the best nutritional dog food and perfect portions can be damaging to a dog if not balanced with exercise. Although some small breeds don’t need much exercise at all, large, athletic breeds need a lot and you should be prepared to give them this.
With good nutritional food and a good exercise regime, your pup will stay in top shape!
5. Google Anything New Before Feeding It to Them
Many people ask the question, “Can I feed my dog human food?” when getting a pet for the first time.
The answer is: maybe.
Although most human food doesn’t add anything to their nutrition, it can be a tasty treat every now and again — and we love to make our dogs happy! You want to make sure it’s in the correct setting though — giving them table scraps every day will mean suffering your dog begging every time you eat dinner!
It’s important, however, to research any food you give them, even if it’s just a small amount. Many foods are toxic to dogs and should never be given to them, such as:
Even the safe foods, however, should only ever be given in moderation.
6. Get Your Dog Checked Out If Something Doesn’t Quite Add Up
If you feel like you’ve done your research in terms of dog food nutrition and something still isn’t adding up, it may be time to see a vet and see if something is wrong with your dog.
For example, are you feeding your dog a lot but they’re still underweight? Or are you not feeding them enough yet they still keep gaining weight?
Many conditions can be underlying causes for a dog being either overweight or underweight. If something fishy is going on, schedule an appointment with your vet to have some tests run.
Sometimes the problem isn’t their food at all, and your dog needs medical help.
7. Ask a Professional for Help
Something doesn’t have to be wrong for you to ask for help. If you’ve just gotten a dog and you’re feeling overwhelmed by the idea of what and when to feed them, you can always ask the vet what they recommend when the puppy is getting their vaccines or during any routine appointment!
There are also veterinary nutritionists who will be happy to meal plan for your dog if you want to seek out their services.
If all else fails, reach out to friends and family who’ve owned dogs for advice. Just remember that dogs different from breed to breed, so not to copy everything they do to the letter!
Dog Nutrition is as Important as Human Nutrition!
Dog nutrition is important. Don’t neglect it, or grab the first can of food on the shelf without reading the label.
Presumably, you want your pup to be around for a long time. One of the best ways you can do good by him is to ensure that his food is delicious and nutritional, keeping him at optimum health for many years to come!
For more helpful lifestyle tips, check out the rest of our blog!