A Guide to Giving Your Dog a Healthy Diet
How do I choose my dogs food?
A good way to find out what kind of dog food is available is to talk to the experts, whether it be a Vet or your local pet shop.
Dog food is separated into two main options; dry food and wet food. Wet foods usually come in tins, pouches and foil trays. Dry food is widely known as ‘complete’ food as it is nutritionally complete meaning you don’t need to feed your dog anything else to keep him or her healthy.
You could also come across ‘complementary’ dog food; this is not designed to be eaten on its own, but fed with something else to ensure your dog has a healthy and balanced diet. A good example would be to mix it with a tinned or canned food to provide a complete meal.
How do I feed my dog?
It is best to feed adult dogs once or twice a day using controlled food portions. Very small breeds and larger breeds should be fed twice daily.
If you are going to change your dog’s food it is recommended that you make the changeover gradually, ideally over a week depending on the food type. Each time you feed your dog, add a little of the new food to their current food, then gradually increase the new food daily as you reduce the old food. This is to prevent digestive upsets in your dog.
How much food should I give my dog?
Dog foods have feeding guides attached to their packaging which give a rough indication of how much food your dog requires to maintain a healthy diet. However some dogs will need more and some will need less; simply adjust the amount you feed to suit your dogs body condition.
Dogs that are more active will need more food and more calories, they would benefit from being fed a ‘performance’ or ‘working’ dog diet, this can be nutritionally adjusted to meet the needs of your dog.
If your dog is overweight he or she can benefit from eating a ‘lighter’ diet, which contains fewer calories.
How can I help to prevent bloating?
Some deep chested breeds of dog can be prone to a condition called gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV); this causes the stomach to fill with gas and twist, blocking the outlet for gas. If your dog’s stomach swells it should be treated as an emergency and a Vet should be called straightaway, GDV is a serious condition that dogs can die from.
There are some steps you can take to prevent GDV:-
– Try and avoid any stress during mealtimes – fussing your dog while he is eating, or feeding more than one dog too close to another can cause stress, which increases bloating.
– Do not feed your dog for at least one hour before exercising.
– Do not feed your dog from a height or on a stand.
Are there any special requirements during my dog’s life?
Throughout the different stages of your dog’s life the nutritional requirements can change, during these times your dog may benefit from different kinds of food.
‘Life stage’ foods offer different foods for puppies, adult dogs, senior dogs and active or working dogs. Each type of food is nutritionally tailored to the needs of a dog at a particular stage in his life.
As an example, your dog could be given a food without having to consume the added levels of nutrients you would find in a puppies food, meaning the dog would avoid any nutritional excess.
If you are worried about the health of your dog, always seek veterinary advice.