Importance of a Correct Diet
A dog that is fed the correct diet will live a long and healthy life. Incorrect diet can lead to organ failure, behaviour problems and disease. Obesity can be worse for your dog than being underweight. It puts pressure on their joints, and often leads to breathing problems, skin disease and a reduced life expectancy. It can also cause diabetes and arthritis.
How much to feed?
When deciding how much to feed your dog, there are a few things to consider:
- Age – Young dogs need more protein and energy, which can be reduced when they are fully grown.
- Size – Bigger dogs need more food than smaller dogs to keep the body going.
- Exercise/Workload – A dog with a higher workload will need more energy than a dog that takes less exercise.
- Pregnancy or lactation – A pregnant or lactating dog will need more food, always consult your vet.
- Medical conditions – Some dogs have sensitive stomachs, so will need plain food with fewer additives, and may benefit from being fed smaller meals more frequently. If in doubt, always consult your vet.
Most commercially available dog foods give guidelines on how much of their product you should feed your dog; however it is important to remember that these are only guidelines. Nutritional needs can vary from dog to dog. Always assess your dog’s weight on an ongoing basis, and adjust their diet accordingly.
The nutritional requirements on an individual dog can vary tremendously depending on age or breed. The following is a guideline based on a healthy adult dog with a normal level of activity.
Protein – 18% Fat – 5.5% Carbohydrate – 30-40%
Bigger dogs with deep chests (eg Boxer) are prone to bloat. This is a condition where the stomach becomes twisted and is caused by the dog eating too much too quickly, or exercising too soon after eating. You can prevent this by raising their bowls so they don’t have to bend down to eat. Make sure the dog eats slowly and don’t let it drink a lot after eating. Feed two or three smaller meals a day to prevent them eating too much in one go. You should also avoiding walking your dog for up to two hours after feeding.
Bones can be fed to dogs, depending on the size and type of the bone. It can help to keep the dog’s teeth clean and relieve stress. You should avoid feeding cooked poultry bones as they can splinter and caused injury. Never give a puppy bones, and never give a dog a bone unattended. If your dog shows signs of being unable to digest the bone, discontinue feeding bones immediately.