10 golden rules to follow when feeding your dog
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10 golden rules to follow when feeding your dog

Dogs
Health & Safety

Dogs love their food! There is no getting away from this fact. This propensity to think with their stomachs can work in our favour if we use their meals and treats as an integral part of dog training.


The conscientious dog owner should ensure they follow a few basic guidelines when feeding their dogs to keep meal times stress free, safe and appropriate for the dog in question. Read on to learn about the ten golden rules of dog feeding.

Measure your dog’s food

Many dogs would eat everything that is put in front of them, and may overeat even when they are full. Follow the guidelines on your dog food packaging carefully in terms of calculating how much food your dog should receive over the course of the day and weigh your dog regularly to make sure that the amount of food you give is appropriate for your dog’s activity levels and age.

Food guarding

Dogs should be left in peace to eat their meals. If your dog seems concerned or tries to guard their food when people approach, maybe by stiffening, growling or even snapping, do not try and remove the food. This could lead to the behaviour escalating as your dog will feel it even more necessary to protect its food. Instead, the best approach is to make your presence welcome by dropping more food as you pass by. Find out about hand feeding and how to resolve ‘food guarding’. 

Allow your dog to eat in peace

Don’t feed your dog at a time or in a place that is busy or has a lot of activity going on as your dog will find it hard to relax. Make sure that children and visitors respect your dog’s space when they are eating, and don’t bother your dog when it’s dinnertime!

Feed dogs separately

If you have more than one dog, you will usually feed them at the same time. However, ensure that your dogs are fed far enough away from each other that they can get on with eating their meal without worrying about what the other dog is doing, or that if they don’t eat fast enough, they might end up losing some of their meal.

Don’t exercise your dog straight after feeding

While your dog might need to go out to the toilet shortly after eating, vets advise that you wait a couple of hours after a meal before you take them for a walk or start any vigorous exercise or games. Just like people, dogs need time to digest their meals properly after eating and walking or exercising your dog too soon after dinner can interfere with digestion and lead to upset stomachs or even more serious conditions such as bloat.

Don’t just feed your dog your own food

Dogs have different nutritional requirements than people, both in terms of the content of their food and the calories they need. Unless you are prepared to commit to researching and preparing homemade canine-appropriate dishes for your dog, which can often take more time and effort than cooking for people, don’t think that using them as a dustbin to finish off your scraps is a healthy diet for a dog.

Think about your dog’s food bowls

Invest in good quality dog bowls that are of an appropriate size and depth for your dog, and keep their bowls clean at all times. Ceramic or steel bowls are best, as plastic can soon become chewed and tatty, and begin to harbour bacteria.

Don’t over-do supplements and vitamins

Many dog owners like to add a supplemental product to their dog’s food to give them a little extra boost or help to tackle a health issue, but it is important not to go overboard. Feeding supplements or herbs may come accompanied by a range of additional effects for your dog, and mixing supplements or vitamins can sometimes be problematic. Always talk to your vet first if you wish to start feeding your dog a new supplement.

Change foods gradually

If you wish to change the food that you feed your dog, don’t simply wait for your bag of the old food to run out and then start feeding something new. Phase in the new food gradually, over the course of a week or so, mixing it in with the old food in increasing quantities to allow your dog to get used to the change in taste and nutritional make up and avoid causing a gut problem.

Don’t feed your dog their whole food allowance at once

Feeding one big meal a day is not considered to be the optimum way of feeding dogs and will often lead to them wolfing down their food because they are really hungry as they haven’t eaten for 24 hours. Split your dog’s food into at least two meals per day, and feed them at intervals to keep your dog topped up and satisfied throughout the day.

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