Written by Veterinary Dr Linda Simon
Knowing how to best feed your dog to ensure optimal health is not always straightforward. Owners generally find it hard to decide:
- How many times a day their dog should eat
- How much to feed per meal
- Whether to feed wet or dry diets
- Whether their dog needs a special diet or not
Read on to learn a little more about best feeding practices.
How often we should be offering food
Typically, the frequency of feeding will depend on the dog’s age. As a rule of thumb, we feed young puppies very regularly; at least four times a day. This is because they have small stomachs and are less able to regulate their blood sugars. Once pups reach about three months of age, we should be able to increase the portion they are given and taper their feedings down to three times daily. It is at six-month-old that it is usually advised that dogs are offered two meals and these should be given in the morning and evening. Some owners are comfortable continuing this pattern lifelong, while others may choose to go on to feed their dogs once a day.
Many small lap dogs are picky eaters as adults and will only want to eat once a day. However, a larger dog who is active may well need a couple of meals a day to keep them fueled. This is especially true for working dogs and those who get a lot of exercise. Listen to your dog; they will soon let you know if they are hungry!
How much to put in the bowl
Every Pooch & Mutt diet has a feeding guideline which can be found on the packaging as well as online. The guideline takes into consideration the nutrient profile and calorie content of the food, as well as the dogs weight and age.
If you find your dog is constantly leaving food behind, they are likely being overfed. More often than not, this is because they are receiving their calories elsewhere; in the form of treats and dental chews! Remember, no more than 10% of a dog’s diet should be made up of treats so it may be time to cut down.
Of course, a guideline should not be solely relied upon as each dog as their own individual metabolism. As well as following a guideline, keep an eye on your dog to ensure they are a good Body Condition Score. You may find you need to alter the recommended amount they are fed over time in order to prevent them from becoming over or under weight.
For over-weight dogs:
Dogs who are over-weight should not be fed for their current weight. So, if your dog weighs 20kg but should weigh 18kg, we should provide the amount recommended for an 18kg dog. Using a kitchen scales to weigh out food has been proven to be a lot more accurate than ‘eyeballing’ the amount or using a measuring cup.
TOP TIP: You will achieve best results by feeding a diet specifically designed to help portly pooches such as Pooch & Mutt Slim & Slender. With ingredients that promote satiety as well as fat breakdown, you are guaranteed results.
For under-weight dogs:
Again, dogs should be fed for their target rather than their current weight. While your dog may only weigh 10kg, if they should weigh closer to 12kg, this is the weight we should feed them for. For those who struggle to put on weight, feeding their meals little and often may prove easier for them to manage.
Choosing a wet or dry diet
You may opt to offer only wet food, only dry food or a mixture of the two.
- Are frequently preferred by dogs due to their texture and flavor profile
- Provide lots of moisture which can be beneficial for those with kidney or bladder issues
- May be easier for older animals and those with dental disease to eat
- Can cake to teeth, leading to gum inflammation and tartare build-up, especially in the absence of tooth brushing
- Can be messy, especially for those with long fur and ‘beards’ such as Griffon Bruxellois and Schnauzers.
- Can have a stronger smell which some owners may dislike
- Are easy to weigh and measure out
- Can be stored for a long time and in large containers
- Are nutrient and calorie dense
- Can improve dental health and reduce tartare build-up, which is especially helpful for those prone to dental disease such as Chihuahuas and Greyhounds.
- Contain little moisture so may not be appropriate for dogs with kidney or bladder disease.
- Are not always as palatable as wet foods so may be declined by very fussy eaters
What about Prescription Diets?
Animals with chronic medical conditions such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Chronic Kidney Disease or Diabetes will generally benefit from specific veterinary-formulated diets which are prescribed by their vet. These diets should not be started without medical advice.
For dogs who do not require prescription diets for medical diseases, owners might wish to take a look at Pooch & Mutt’s Functional Range. These are foods targeted at those with minor health or behavioural issues such as sensitive stomachs or excitability. The ingredients are specifically chosen to benefit these dogs and help combat their problem. For example, the Joint Care food is aimed at those prone to arthritis and can help improve mobility and overall quality of life. This premium diet is high in Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Glucosamine, Chondroitin Sulphate and Green Lipped Mussel; all of which benefit joints and may slow down the progression of joint disease.