A dog’s stomach is a seemingly bottomless pit always searching for more food. Owners have learned the hard way to not leave their dinner plates unattended or forget to reseal the kibble bag. If dogs had it their way, they’d eat whatever and however much they want!
That’s why it’s up to their loving owners to offer healthy foods and modest portion sizes. These tips are a good starting place to get your dog’s diet on the right track.
- Dog food is available in two different forms: wet and dry. Which type of dog food you pick depends on your personal preference and your pup’s physical condition. A vet might recommend wet food to increase the dog’s water intake or encourage them to swallow pills. Many owners opt for dry kibble because it’s easier to handle and can be left out longer. Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong choice as long as your canine friend is receiving all the proper nutrients.
- Read the ingredients label before purchasing dog food. Humans aren’t the only species who fall into the trap of junk food. Dog owners should avoid foods packed with high amounts of salt, sugar and filler products because they often lead to obesity—not to mention your pooch might turn into a picky eater! As always, consult your veterinarian before switching dog foods. You’ll likely encounter ingredients that don’t sound familiar, and owners should know what they’re putting into their dogs’ bodies.
- Some dogs have dietary restrictions due to food allergies and chronic diseases. When this is the case, you can’t pick up any bag of dog food at the store and call it a day. Work closely with a vet to determine which brand works best with your dog’s medical condition. Dietary restrictions often involve avoiding certain ingredients that aggravate symptoms or make it difficult for obese dogs to lose weight.
Proper eating habits
- How your dog eats affects their healthy diet almost as much as what your dog eats. Depending on the breed, some dogs have the natural instinct to hunt for their food. Your dog won’t feel like they earned that bowl of kibble when it’s handed right over. Before serving their food, run your dog through a set of basic commands like sit, stay and come. This teaches obedience and creates a well-behaved pooch.
- Many dogs eat too quickly and get a little too excited for dinner time. When left to their own devices, they might scarf down a bowl of kibble in mere seconds! This will only leave them wanting more or might make them vomit. Dogs who eat too quickly should receive their meals in small batches or in puzzle toys. These hollow, flexible gadgets hold small portions of dog food that require a bit of brain power to access. Your dog must first figure out how to pry open the toy, forcing them to eat slower.
- Avoid certain activities right after mealtime. Rigorous exercise can mess with the digestive process and lead to gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), otherwise known as severe bloating. A little bit of bloating doesn’t sound like a big deal for humans, but it can quickly turn fatal in canines. Dogs with deep, broad chests are especially at risk for this deadly condition. The good news is you can easily avoid it by allowing plenty of time between dinner and a visit to the dog park.
Age and weight restrictions
- Feeding schedules will vary depending on your dog’s stage in life. Puppies that are only a couple months old require three meals a day because they’re still growing. Due to their fast metabolisms, puppies also need more calories to maintain a proper balance between diet and exercise. Fully grown adult dogs, by comparison, can get by just fine with breakfast in the morning and dinner at night.
- Vets often prescribe a calorie-restricted diet to dogs living with obesity. It’s your responsibility to carefully measure portion sizes and make sure your pooch isn’t eating too much. Your vet will also be very specific on what obese dogs can and cannot eat. No matter how often that sad puppy dog face begs at the dinner table, don’t fall for it! Following the vet’s instructions will help your canine companion keep off those extra pounds.
Check with your veterinarian before trying out these dietary tips. Owners should make sure any nutritional changes are in their dog’s best interest and don’t accidentally cause further harm. Every dog is different, and so are their diets. Some canine friends have medical conditions that restrict the types of foods they can eat. But, for the most part, as long as you balance healthy choices with regular exercise, you can’t go wrong!