The diet of a dog should always be adapted to its individual needs. Breed, age, energy consumption, pregnancy in females, illnesses, and other factors play an important role in nutrition. It is therefore important for dog owners to know the nutritional needs of their pet in order to always be able to offer an appropriate diet and decide what type of food would be best for example wet, dry, or self-prepared food.
The topic of "feeding your pet dogs appropriately” can be confusing with so many products on the market and various views. New dog owners in particular may benefit from advice on what, when and how they should feed their dog to ensure their pet’s nutritional needs are met.
What should dogs eat?
No matter what you feed your dog, the food needs to be balanced and complete. Therefore, it needs to contain all necessary nutrients for the individual dog. There are multiple options you could offer your dog for example dry or wet food, a vegetarian or vegan diet, or the BARF diet. It is important that your pet receives the correct mixing ratio of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins with their food and advise should be sought from a vet if you are unsure of the most suitable diet for your pet.
- Puppies: If you have a puppy, please note that young animals should be fed a good quality puppy food, which is specially tailored to their needs and optimised for their normal development. Up to the age of three months, the recommended daily food amount should be divided into four portions given during different times of the day/evening. Over time, the number of meals can be reduced, and the puppy food will be gradually replaced with adult food (please, follow the advice of your veterinarian or breeder).
- Adult dogs: Adult animals can be fed twice a day. However, no more than 12 hours should elapse between the two feeding times; otherwise, the dog’s stomach may become overly acidic, and it will become nauseous. Generally, it is recommended that smaller dogs receive multiple portions a day, even in adult age.
If you're wondering how much food your dog should receive, please, consider the following:
A dog’s needs depend on its life stage, breed, neuter status and activity level. Sporty dogs, that are on the move a lot and very active, have a higher need for nutrients, and energy than the "normal" house dog, which only lets off steam every now and then, or has little exercise due to its age. Online you can find specific tables and food calculators to determine the exact requirements of your pet. However, it is advisable to introduce your dog (and their daily activity routines) to an expert who is specialised in nutrition.
You can also follow the food manufacturers’ instructions initially, periodically measure your dog’s weight and their body condition score, to check whether your dog is being fed correctly. If necessary, adjust the portion sizes accordingly and do not forget to take all the daily treats you give to your pet into account as they contribute to your pet's daily calorie allowance.
Eat in peace
Do you like being disturbed while eating? No? Neither does your dog. Give him a quiet moment to enjoy his food. This is particularly important if children are playing in the house and disturbing your dog. Feed your dog in a quiet place where nobody will disturb him. If you have more than one dog it is always best to feed them separately away from each other's bowls to discourage food guarding/fighting.
Stick with one kind of food
Dogs are not gourmets. If they like their food, it does not need to be changed constantly. We humans might find this boring, but for dogs sticking with one food is much better for their digestion. If you want to offer a new “menu”, then please, do it in slow stages. Thus, gradually add the new food to the food your dog has been eating all along and slowly reduce the amount of the old food over time. This allows your dog’s digestive tract to adjust to their new diet.
Provide fresh water
Your dog needs constant access to clean and fresh water! Water is important; it is the main component of healthy, living cells in the body. Without water, your dog’s body will not function properly, and it will become dehydrated over time. Change the water in the bowl at least once a day, or more often if it is contaminated with dirt, saliva, food leftovers etc.
Hygiene is important
Proper food and water bowl hygiene is important. To do this, clean the water and food bowl daily. Leftovers (especially from wet food) are a breeding ground for germs and bacteria. In the water bowl, saliva and food crumbs can usually be found and facilitate germ and bacteria growth. It is important to thoroughly wash the bowls with soapy water, give the soap (or detergent) a good rinse, and dry them well after rinsing before replacing them (it is also best if you have spare bowls on hand).