Food walks and play are the highlights of your dog’s day. As he has no control over what he is given to eat, as an owner you should give him the most nutritious food that you can afford.
Why diet is important:
Canines are among the most remarkable of animals as far as food is concerned: they can subsist on them unlikely foodstuff or rather they ca subsist on them, but incorrect or bad feeding will inevitably result in health problems, such as skin disorders, hysteria, obesity, muscle wasting and shortening of life.
Food requirement are different for every breed and for individual dogs within a breed. They are based on size and energy output, so a hound or a gundog working in the field needs more food, calories and protein than a sedentary dog of the same breed.
Types of dog food:
A bewildering array of dog food is available, each one claiming to be the ultimate nutritious food for your pet. However, for the novice dog owner, it is probably advisable to be guided by your vet or dog breeder.
Complete dry food:
This is one of the most popular convenience foods for dogs. It is mostly composed of cereals and their by products, meats from various sources, vegetables, soya, oils, fats, vitamins and minerals, but there may be colorants and preservatives, too. Dry foods can be marketed in many forms, such as biscuits, pellets, meal or extruded products. They are easy to store.
These foods contain up to 25% moisture and to avoid refrigeration, some preservatives. Their composition is similar to that of other commercial dog foods and they are easy to feed and to store.
These are often more than 75% moisture but the best ones are nutritionally complete with similar ingredients to other dog foods. Unless otherwise stated, most of these foods do contain preservatives and coloring which may make them unsuitable for dogs with allergies or skin problems.
Feeding your dog:
The argument as to whether it’s better to feed your dog once or twice a day has still not been resolved. Modern thinking dictates that if a dog has food in his stomach he is more likely to be calm and content, so it is preferable to fed him twice a day. This gives him two high points in his day. Most people who follow this regime divide food into three parts, one of which is given in the morning and two in the evening. However it is more convenient for some people to feed their dog one main meal a day, usually in the evening.
Some people prefer to prepare and cook their dog’s food themselves. Meat can be served either raw or lightly cooked and accompanied by some vegetable rice or even pasta. The amounts fed will vary but, as general guide, a 10kg (22lb) dog should have 300g (100z) of meat, 75mg (30z) and a similar amount of vegetables. Although undoubtedly tasty and healthy, the problem with feeding fresh food is that there may be deficiency of some minerals and vitamins, so you may have to add a high quality supplement. Ask your vet for advice on this as over supplementation may cause health problems.
How much food:
Most dogs will eat everything that is placed in front of them but they should not be allowed to put on excessive weight. Ideally a smooth haired dog’s ribs should be just visible and his calorific input (food) should not exceed his output (exercise). Commercially prepared foods recommend approximate amounts for different breeds, size and age, so read the labels. However, do bear in mind that every dog is different.
Chews and bones:
Dogs love gnawing on hide chews and raw marrow bones. Never give cooked bones, especially chicken and game bones, as they can splinter and the dog could choke. Be careful about offering bones if your dog is possessive and make him behave aggressively.