There are a number of potential diets for dogs, but it can be hard to determine which one is best for your four-legged friend. To help you make an informed decision, keep these factors in mind when deciding what to feed your dog.
What dogs eat
It’s important to remember all dogs are individuals, and what diet might be fine for your friend’s dog may be completely inappropriate for your dog. When it comes to a daily diet for your dog, it’s important to consult with your vet.
Domesticated dogs are largely carnivores that eat some omnivorous foods. It is entirely acceptable to feed your dog a pure kibble diet. Or you can mix their diet up with some cooked or raw meat, fish, vegetables and rice.
Many owners like to feed a raw meat diet to their dogs, and while this can suit some dogs very well, there are some important considerations you need to be aware of.
- Choose human-grade meat as some pet meat and bone products will contain preservatives that can be bad for your dog’s health.
- Practice impeccable food hygiene as the risk of both you and your dog getting a food-borne bacterial infection such as campylobacter or salmonella is high.
- Have a veterinary nutritionist formulate the diet for you. Many raw diets are not balanced appropriately for stage of life or medical conditions.
A small amount of cooked meat such as boiled chicken or lamb is an option for dogs to eat, but avoid cooked bones or toxic substances such as onion sauces that may be present on the meat.
Tinned sardines, tinned tuna, and tinned salmon in spring water can be fed as an occasional treat to your dog, but always check for fish bones first.
Don’t be scared to bulk out your dog’s meal with cooked pumpkin or raw grated carrot. Many dogs lack enough fibre in their diet, and the addition of cooked pumpkin or grated carrot can improve their bowel health.
Be careful to make sure your dog isn’t consuming the whole bone as this can lead to constipation.
Generally, one to two bones a week is sufficient to help remove plaque from teeth. Remember, the bone should be large enough that the dog can’t fit it in its mouth whole, and they should be raw – cooked bone can splinter, which can cause internal damage or obstruct the intestine, both of which can be fatal.
How much food your dog needs
The amount of food your dog needs will largely depend on the size, breed and age of your dog, as well as how regularly it exercises. The key is to ensure you don’t overfeed or underfeed your dog. If ever you’re unsure, ask your vet to assess your dog’s diet and nutrition, and the condition of its body and overall health.
Always ensure your dog is well hydrated. This means making sure their water bowl is filled up at all times and is changed daily, so they can help themselves to water whenever they need or want.
When assessing your dog’s size and weight, it is far more important to look at their body shape than weight. You want your dog to be lean, which means you should be able to feel their ribs when you run your fingers firmly over their side and see a defined waist. If this isn’t possible, it’s diet time. Obesity in dogs is linked to decreased longevity and diseases such as osteoarthritis, and it is totally preventable.
Keep certain foods out of reach
When it comes to your pets, not everything people eat is safe for them. It’s important to know that while this list is not comprehensive, these are the most common household foods that you’ll need to protect your pup from.
While dogs love the smell of chocolate, it’s toxic for them, and should never be fed to them.
Onions and garlic
Onions are very toxic to dogs. They cause oxidative damage to the red blood cells causing them to rupture leading to anaemia.
The citric acid found in fruits such as grapefruit, lemon, lime and orange, can cause diarrhoea, vomiting and at the very worst end of the scale, depression of the central nervous system.4
Milk and lactose
Some dogs may be lactose intolerant, resulting in stomach upsets like vomiting or diarrhoea. If your dog reacts strongly to milk products, it’s best to avoid them.
Raw yeast dough
While your dog can have small bits of bread, raw dough is definitely a no-no. As the yeast rises, it can cause gas in the dog’s digestive system, which is painful and may potentially rupture its stomach or cause gastric dilation and volvulus.
If you’re looking at maintaining a healthy weight for your dog, sweet and fatty foods should be avoided. Also, fatty foods can lead to illnesses such as pancreatitis.
Salt is an essential component to your dog’s diet helping muscle and nerve function. However, some dogs with chronic disease such as kidney, heart or liver problems may need to watch their salt consumption. It is always important to get advice from your vet regarding the diet of your pet.