Must-Know Mealtime Basics for Dogs
Keep your canine hale and hearty with these dog-related mealtime basics.
Have a dog to feed? Tempt his or her taste buds with healthy meals that are full of flavor. Here's a simple guide to understanding the different types of dog food, proper hydration, and snacks to keep your pooch happy and healthy.
Offer a Balanced Diet
A balanced diet for a dog serves up a smorgasbord of nutrients: proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water. All of these nutrients can be found in commercial dog food. Grain-free pet food includes high-quality protein, vitamins, and alternative sources of carbohydrates to support your pet’s healthy lifestyle.
Dog food falls into three categories: moist, dry, and semimoist. Each offers the same level of nutrition, though most dogs prefer the consistency of moist food. It also digests easily and stays fresh longer, but it costs the most. Dry dog food delivers affordability and reduces tartar buildup, but it can get stale. Semimoist food stores well, has good flavor, and costs a bit more than dry.
Let your dog feast on one type of food, or create a house blend featuring any combination of types depending on your dog's tastes and nutritional needs. For finicky pups that won't devour dry food, feed them for less by mixing a small amount of moist food into a bowl of dry kibble to add texture and flavor. Adjust the amount of food you give your dog according to its metabolism and lifestyle.
Provide Plenty of Fresh Water
Your dog's water dish should never be empty; provide fresh, clean water at all times.
Dogs require about 2-1/2 times as much water as dry food. So expect your dog to drink more when fed kibble instead of moist or semimoist food. Limit water intake just before and after meals to reduce the expansion of dry dog food in your pooch's stomach.
Monitor Snacks and Scraps
As much as you might love to treat your dogs, they don't need snacks, treats, bones, or table scraps. Treats are designed to supplement meals, and too many handouts can lead to obesity and its related health problems. You can give your pet either store-bought or homemade pet treats, just limit the amount to less than 10 percent of your dog's daily diet. If you use treats when teaching your dog a new command or trick, gradually replace the food reward with verbal praise.
You compromise the nutritional balance of commercial dog food by adding human food to it. So don't scrape the leftover mashed potatoes or meat loaf into your dog's bowl. Although you mean well, such a gesture encourages behavior problems such as begging and stealing food.
Signs of a Healthy Diet
Look for these signs to determine if you're feeding your dog a healthy diet. If you're unsure, touch base with your vet to get good advice for the type and quantity of food to feed your pet.
- Shiny coat
- No dry, flaky skin
- Good appetite
- No weight gain or loss
- Stools of the proper consistency
- No unusual or strong odor from waste
- Normal energy and activity levels