Every dog owner knows that good nutrition is vital to health and wellness, and that dogs have differing needs depending on their age, condition and life stage. While it is to be hoped that any diet that sells itself as “complete and balanced” should fulfil all of your dog’s nutritional requirements, all dog foods are not created equal. As all dogs are of course individuals, there is a great deal of variance in terms of how likely it is that any given food will be the best fit for any given dog.
Read on to learn about the key eight top tips or cardinal rules for feeding your dog, in order to ensure that you are meeting all of their nutritional requirements and doing the best thing possible for their lifelong health!
A free supply of clean, fresh water is not only essential to provide hydration, but to help your dog to get the very best out of their food. Water assists with digestion, flushing out toxins, and the palatability of dry dog food, and is vital for all dogs in order to stay fit, healthy and well! Always provide water for your dog, and keep the water bowl far enough from their food that is does not get polluted with dropped scraps.
While most human foods (with a few exceptions) are not outright poisonous to dogs, neither as they designed to meet the dietary requirements of dogs either. While you may think it is fine to give your dog the leftovers of your meals or the odd table scraps, doing this achieves one of two things: either your dog will eat the treat and not so much of their intended meal, or they will eat both. This can lead to weight issues, or your dog missing out on some of the essential nutrients that they need. Don’t do it!
The importance of a balanced diet is drummed into us all from an early age, and this is equally true for your dog! When buying your dog food, check the labelling to ensure that the food states that it is nutritionally complete and balanced, often labelled as a “complete” food. Some dog foods may be labelled as complimentary or supplementary, meaning that they can be given as a treat, but are not nutritionally balanced for everyday feeding.
There are good fats and bad fats, and good carbohydrates and bad carbohydrates, and the whole question of what is what can be confusing! Make sure that your dog does not eat a lot of empty calories, or foods that are intended to provide bulk rather than good nutrition.
Most dog owners feed a combination of both dry food and wet food, and this may well be the best way to ensure that you are covering all of your bases! A diet of wet food only can have a negative impact on the teeth, while a dry diet can lead to dehydration and eventual kidney problems. The third alternative, of course, is to feed a raw food diet or meals that you prepare for your dog yourself at home, but it is important to undertake a significant amount of research before considering this, as there is more to it than meets the eye, and a very fine balance between providing superior nutrition and missing something out.
Dogs require a range of essential fatty acids to support the fat and protein structures that make up the cells of the body, including the skin and coat. If you find that your dog’s coat is dull or generally not in a really good condition, they may not be receiving enough fatty acids in their diet. Fatty acid supplements such as Omega three or Omega six can help with this, as can changing your dog over to a food that is rich in Omega three or Omega six already.
Your dog’s food can either help or damage their teeth over time, so it is important to feed wisely in order to protect them! You can buy special dental dog kibble, which is larger and harder than normal biscuit and provides a scrubbing motion to the teeth. However, this is not usually necessary for healthy dogs who do not have any dental problems, as long as you keep it that way! Ensure that your dog has plenty of things to chew on to help to clean their teeth, such as dental treats, raw bones, and hard biscuit.
Even if you feed your dog the most expensive, high quality nutritionally complete diet that you can find, you will be storing up future problems for your dog’s health and wellness if you simply feed them too much of it! It is important to calculate how much food your dog needs in a day comparatively to their energy levels and life stage, and adjust their diet as needed.
For dogs that are very active or lively, you may need to feed a special food for active dogs, which again can help to provide for the heightened need for nutritional balance and help to support an active life.