dog eating

Guide to Proper Dog Nutrition

Improper nutrition negatively affects a dog’s health and can increase its risk of developing diseases. Feed your dog properly, and they’ll live a long, happy life with you.

A Balanced Diet

Your dog needs a balanced diet, meaning they should get enough of the essential nutrients, namely protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. And water should always be available to them.

Get your dog the highest quality dog food you can afford to get them. They may not seem too different compared to less expensive options. For example, they might have the same amount of protein.

Where they differ is in their digestibility, since higher quality dog food uses better protein sources. Some brands have added antioxidants and vitamins. And higher quality dog food brands typically have higher nutritional value, meaning dogs need less of those brands to get the same nutrition.

Your dog might enjoy a little something mixed into their food like broth, cooked eggs, and vegetables, but these shouldn’t make up more than 10% of their daily intake.

It might have surprised you to see vegetables among those suggestions. But dogs actually have tooth structures and intestinal tracts that have adapted to an omnivorous diet.

Between dry and canned foods, there isn’t any difference in terms of nutrition and digestibility. So just pick one based on your preferences and budget.

Food Allergies and Sensitivities

Something else to consider with your dog’s nutrition is whether your dog has any food allergies and sensitivities. These can cause skin conditions and possibly gastrointestinal symptoms.

True food allergies in dogs are less common than you might think. These involve an immune response to certain substances, resulting in the previously mentioned symptoms. They can also rarely cause severe reactions like anaphylaxis.

When dogs seem to be allergic to a food, it’s usually a food sensitivity rather than an allergy. These don’t involve an immune response and are instead a reaction to an offending ingredient in their food.

Your veterinarian may recommend dog food that’s grain-free if they suspect that your pet has a food allergy as part of an elimination diet to see if any changes to their diet result in changes to their condition.

However, diagnosing allergies is usually complicated, and it may not always be possible to successfully diagnose them.

dog with food

How Much to Feed Your Dog

Ideally, you would find out how much to feed your dog by getting their lean weight, that’s their weight minus their body fat, and give them an amount of food based on that. But that’s impractical and would require constant monitoring.

Instead, the amount of food your dog needs can be estimated by your veterinarian based on their size, body condition score, and activeness. A lapdog needs much less food than a large dog that regularly exercises and plays.

Obesity in Dogs

Like in any animal or human, being obese negatively affects a dog’s health and is the most common preventable disease in dogs. It lowers a dog’s quality of life, shortens their life expectancy, and increases the risk of developing diseases.

To help your dog, you can’t just reduce their food intake as this will lead to malnourishment over time. Your veterinarian can give you recommendations on how to properly manage your dog’s weight.

Your veterinarian might dictate specific products, portion sizes, and meal frequencies to help your dog lose weight.

Weaning Puppies

If you’re caring for newborn puppies, you’ll need to gradually reduce their dependency on their mother’s milk. This should be done after they are four weeks old. However, if there are any problems with the mother’s health, you may need to feed them a milk replacer.

If this happens, contact your veterinarian immediately for recommendations.

To wean puppies, start by separating the mother from her litter for a few hours at a time. Gradually increase the length of time over the course of several weeks. It’s when they’re separated that you introduce them to eating from a pan.

Puppies need high-quality, brand-name puppy food. Moisten their food with warm water or puppy milk replacer. Don’t use regular milk since dogs don’t have the enzymes to break down lactose.

Puppies need different amounts of food as they grow. They need more food than adults but gradually need less as they grow. Here’s how much they need depending on their age:

  • 12 weeks old: 4 meals a day
  • 3 to 6 months old: 3 meals a day
  • 6 months to 1-year-old: 2 meals a day
  • 1 year old onward: 1-2 meals a day

Now you’re all ready to care for your dog’s nutrition. Keep them on a balanced, nutritious diet, and they’ll grow into fine, healthy companions.

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