10 Important Ideas For Your Dog’s Nutrition

Eating schedules differ for puppies and dogs. Puppies need to be fed much more often than adults. While grown dogs can be satisfied with one feeding a day, it is recommended to always break down their meals into several sittings. One risk of single feedings is that your dog will overeat and this can lead to complications. Single, large feedings can precipitate the risk of stomach torsion, which can occur after an excessively large meal combined with exercise. This can be fatal. Such a condition is known is also known as Gastric Dilatation/Volvulus. It is common in deep-chested breeds. Excessive bloat combined with gastric twist will put your dog into shock, prevent proper blood circulation and thereby oxygen and can lead to rapid death. If you think your dog has overeaten and has an excessively swollen stomach, with failed attempts to vomit and cold extremities, rush your dog to the emergency room immediately!

Puppies should be fed four times a day at regular intervals until they are six months old, and twice a day thereafter. Try to feed your dog or puppy at the same times every day, as this will help keep your puppy healthy and lead to predictable bowel movements.

2. Where To Feed Your Dog

Dogs need to be left to themselves when they are eating. It is a private moment, and they should not be disturbed under any circumstances. Your dog or puppy's feeding station need not be near the bedding area.

However, if you are using the Wizdog Potty, make sure it is at least six feet away (preferably as far as possible) from the eating area, as dogs do not like to eliminate near their feeding areas (well, neither do we).

3. What To Feed Your Dog

It is important to remember that not all breeds are created equal, and therefore you must choose a breed-specific diet, keeping in mind both quality and quantity.

The feeding instructions on most commercial dog food labels tell you to feed their food to any dog, with the only variable factor being the weight of the dog. Unfortunately, it is not that simple. There are many more variables that should be taken into consideration when feeding your dog than just its weight. We urge you to be careful, selective, and even reluctant when using commercial pet food.

As an example, a heavily shedding breed would have different nutritional requirements from a shed less breed. Such differing breeds have different nutritional requirements with regards to the coat-producing amino acids in their food's protein.

As another example, a 50 pound, thick-boned Bulldog has different nutritional requirements than a 50 pound thin-boned greyhound. These two breeds require different levels of bone building and strengthening minerals.

If a dog food is balanced, that is, it provides the proper amount of essential nutrients, how does an owner choose between the dozens of brands and hundreds of formulas available?


  1. The food must contain usable forms of the nutrients. Carbs, proteins, minerals and vitamins and useless if they cannot be properly absorbed. This is where the difference between expensive formulas and "cheaper" foods is greatest. The more expensive diets are more likely to have usable and balanced nutrients.
  2. Your dog must find it palatable. If Bella doesn't like it, it's of no use how well-balanced it is.
  3. Bella must remain healthy while eating the food. If she's losing, gaining weight, if she has stomach gas, her skin is dry, flatulence or regurgitation, you might want to consider changing her diet.
  4. Avoid choosing foods with high fat content if Bella is a bit on the lazy size. You should always bear in mind the activity level of your dog when choosing a food. or if can't resist supplementing her diet with high-calorie snacks. As a general rule, you should not exceed 25 percent protein for puppies or 22 percent for dogs that get moderate exercise.
  5. Remember that dogs probably don't see color and depend more on smell than on taste or appearance of the food. some color or food combinations that appeal to us mean nothing to a dog that mostly uses smell and taste.
  6. There is currently no standard definition of "natural" in either dog food or human food. Therefore, "natural" can mean everything from organically grown grains and organically-raised meat sources (no pesticides, antibiotics, feed additives, etc.) to having no artificial preservatives.
  7. Although allergies in dogs seem to be on the increase, few dogs are actually allergic to their food. Rice and Lamb feeds were developed some few years ago solve the problem of dogs allergic to beef, poultry or corn, but there is little evidence that the malabsorption and itchy skin problems experienced by many dogs could in reality be traceable to food allergies. Most indications lead to allergies due to lower immune systems, poor breeding selection, often occurring from poor nutrition, and over-vaccination.

4. Are Bones Safe?

This is a question over which endless debate ensues. Most people are reluctant to feed bones to their dogs, and sometimes rightly so. Dogs have come a long way since they were roaming freely in the wild chewing raw bones from carcasses. They are now smaller and more delicate and therefore may not have the ability to crack, chew and digest bones like their ancestors did. While we are not endorsing feeding bones to your dog, there are many positive sides to this argument. One argument is that cooked bones present a danger while raw bones do not. Raw bones crack, while cooked bones splinter, creating the risk that one of these splinters could puncture any part of the dog's digestive system, which can be quite dangerous. It is important to know that there are also several types of bones. If you are concerned that your dog may choke or hurt his stomach on small bones, you may want to try larger knuckle or neck bones. On the positive side, chewing bones is known to be good for your dog's teeth and gum health. Please remember that differing breeds have different needs and abilities. Because of the wide diversity among breeds, almost every breed needs to be approached differently with regards to their nutrition, and this includes their ability to chew bones. Please refer to the BARF TM Diet below for further details on bone diets.

As a final thought, never, ever try and take a bone away from a dog (including your own dog). No matter how docile and wonderful your pet is, its inner instinct to bite in order to keep his bone is beyond its control. Grab that bone at your own risk!

5. Overeating

Dog Obesity is a problem that needs to be taken more seriously. Overweight dogs are more prone to injury, have a much greater risk during surgery, and are far more likely to suffer from issues related to stress on their joints, heart, liver, kidneys and lungs. Overweight dogs often live more painful, shorter lives.

As a dog owner, it is your job to help your dog maintain a healthy weight. You should feed him a proper diet, and NEVER reinforce begging behavior by feeding him table scraps. Further, make sure he gets at least 30 minutes of exercise each and every day.

As far as appearance, overweight dogs have higher fat content over the ribs and minimal or absent tuck-up and waist. They have heavy fat over the ribs, along the spine, and around the tail. Owners should take a closer inspection for rib fat layers on their dogs and the pronounced visibility of a tuck-up and waist. Of course some breeds have more prominent tuck-ups and ribs even during optimum conditioning so breed characteristics need to be taken into account. In general, dogs with the appearance of muscle loss and/or protruding bones are likely to be too thin. Many dog food manufacturers sell low-calorie diets for dogs that are either overweight or under-active. As noted above, we recommend that you research your dog's individual nutritional needs and abstain from relying on the labels of dog food packaging. Such modified diets can actually harm your dog more than they help.

All of that being said, here are some general rules to consider:

An emptied food bowl does not mean your dog needs more food.

The first step to weight loss is to cut back on the quantity of food you give your dog.

Never, ever give junk food as a snack. Fruits and vegetables or homemade treats are recommended.

Provide time for exercise every day.

Some breeds are more prone to gaining weight. These include Bulldogs, Beagles, Basset Hounds and Cocker Spaniels. If you're the owner of one of those breeds, pay particular attention to their diets.

To avoid having an overweight dog, you should tailor their diet to match their activity level, walk the dog several times each week at least a mile and cut back on treats, in particular high fat ones. Do not count on your dog exercising in the backyard on his own; like most people, many dogs will not too willingly exercise without some kind of incentive to do so. Furthermore, if your dog is spayed or neutered, he or she may require regular walks, combined with a low calorie diet, as the sterilization usually leads to a lessening desire to stray from the house in search of a partner, and therefore a lessened level of fitness.

To get your dog back to a healthy weight, first contact your local veterinarian and work with them to make sure hormonal problems are not the issue, find out the dog's optimum weight and figure out a minimum stress feeding schedule that will achieve your dog's desired weight. Some companies produce feeds containing fewer calories after having developing formulas catering toward overweight dogs. For example, a diet high in moisture may help abate a dog that is very hungry because it provides more volume with fewer calories.

6. Vitamin Supplements

As a general rule, supplementing your dog's diet with vitamins and minerals is unnecessary, and sometimes even detrimental. Most veterinarians and nutritionists would say that feeding a dog a balanced diet meeting nutritional requirements would automatically meet the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals. In fact, some go so far as to say supplements may even disrupt or unbalance the diet by complicating the relationship between vitamins and minerals. Still, some breeders do think it is worthwhile and regularly supplement their dogs with a choice of products, such as the 5 recommended here, promoted for healthy skin, coats, reproductive capacity, bone growth etc.

Some owners think growing puppies would benefit greatly from additional calcium, and therefore add it to the food as bone meal. But calcium must be digested in balance with phosphorus and magnesium or it could do more harm than good, for in the diet, an overabundance of calcium can cause myriad problems. As an alternative, some Omega fatty acid supplements have extra minerals and vitamins to boost the amounts that may not necessarily be available in dog foods.

Finally, dogs do not need vitamin C supplements because their bodies manufacture all of the vitamin C they need. Unlike humans, dogs are able to produce their own vitamin C in the liver. Today, there are a number of pet food products on the market that contain vitamin C, and all of the endorsements for using vitamin C have many pet owners confused on this issue. The pet food companies making the claim that it is in their food as a "natural" preservative should remember that their product is going to be consumed by a dog, and vitamin C is not "natural" for a dog's dietary intake. Beyond the fact that vitamin C is not a necessary part of a dog's diet, it is also important to know that feeding a dog vitamin C may have a negative effect on both the dog's liver and kidneys. Any time we take over the function of a healthy gland with dietary supplements or medication, the gland slowly atrophies. With regard to the kidneys, you must consider that most forms of vitamin C that are found in dog foods or supplements are not the same as the molecular form the dog is able to produce naturally. Some dietary forms of vitamin C actually end up in the dog's kidneys where they change the uric pH while waiting to be discharged from the dog's body. This change in the natural pH within the kidneys puts additional stress on them and can cause many problems.

The Morris Animal Foundation has released the findings of a survey determining the main causes of death for dogs in the United States. The second and sixth leading causes cited in that report were kidney disorders and liver failure, respectively. Supplemental vitamin C may not cause a dog to die as fast as a bullet from a gun or accidents (the #1 cause of death), but all indicators point to the fact that it does cause glandular problems which can contribute to an early death.

Keeping all of this in mind, vitamins and nutritional supplements can be beneficial in some instances. Older dogs recovering from surgery or chronic illness may need nutritional supplements in order to heal properly and sick pets may not consume enough food to provide adequate nutrition. Moreover, even hard working dogs such as guide or rescue dogs may require supplements to stay at a top fitness level.

7. Food Contents

Understanding the contents of your pet's food and reading between the lines on labels is important to your dog's overall health. Since many owners do not know what the different terms on a dog food label mean, we have provided some useful basic definitions:

By-product: This is a product which is a secondary effect of the processing of a main ingredient. For example, there are many by-products of poultry. Along with the meat of the chicken in your dog's food, other parts such as feathers, blood, bone, etc. may be processed in such a way as to be considered allowable in your dog's food. As another example, blood-soaked sawdust from the floor of a meat-processing plant could be labeled a "meat by-product". If you see the word by-product on your pet's food, you can almost always assume that they are not referring to actual meat.

Mill Run: This is residue left over when the actual product is removed after a milling process. For example, "Corn Mill Run" would be a corn husk blend pulverized consisting of cobs which are left after a process of milling has removed all of the kernels. This is the veg counterpart to the meat by-product.

Digest: This is a feed-grade animal ingredient which, though insoluble in its natural state, undergoes a process by which it is made soluble.

Meal: Basically, this is finely ground animal parts This is not enough that it can be measured and thus have an ingredient listing showing any POULTRY MEAT to be in the food, and thus it is categorized as poultry "meal".

Gluten: The sticky substance in wheat or corn starch that gives the starch its tough elastic quality. It is used to hold together the pulverized composite of animal feed-grade ingredients.

Digestibility Test: This is a test to see how much time it takes a food solid to break down in a strong laboratory acid. While some companies will try to claims that a higher score, or quicker laboratory breakdown, makes their food the best, this simply is not true. If the products being broken down are not those of nutritional value to your pet, than it is no advantage at all!

The nutrition guidelines above are borrowed from William D. Cusick, who is widely considered to be a prominent expert on canine nutrition.

8. Food Allergies

Allergies are extremely common in dogs and can be caused by specific foods. Such allergies manifest themselves as digestive problems or skin breakouts.

As treatment for food allergies, most vets will send you home with antihistamine tablets and a special diet that can be purchased only through their office and often are made with fish, duck or venison. Others will want to test for allergens and develop an immunity serum, which is a very costly proposal with often mediocre results.

9. Treats

Dog Treats sq

Giving puppies healthy snacks such as carrots and celery early on in life makes them more receptive to them in adulthood.

Also, consider making healthy homemade treats for your dog to enjoy. 

Low salt cheeses are ok. The internet contains a wealth of information and recipes that can give you some ideas for treats.

10. BARF and Other Diets

BARF is an acronym for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. BARF also stands for Bones and Raw Food. Similarly descriptive terms include evolutionary diet, natural diet, and species appropriate diet.

Dr. Billinghurst's BARF DIET-

If you are sick of feeding your dog store-bought mystery food and would like to switch to a more natural Diet, this may be just what you are looking for.

First of all, Dr. Billinghurst's BARF DIET does not contain grain. This is essential in that your pet's body is not designed to digest grains, and in fact does not need it. Just like us, your dog can get the carbohydrates he needs from raw fruits and vegetables.

Along these same lines, the protein sources your dog absorbs should also be as natural as possible. For this reason, the BARF diet utilizes much the same meat we eat, including chicken, beef, lamb, and pork. The fats integrated into this diet are also naturally derived, to optimize your dog's health. Finally, BARF also takes advantage of natural sources for your pet's vitamins and minerals.

But BARF is disapproved by many vets and dog owners.

In fact, for most domesticated dogs, a raw food diet may not be the answer. Most experts tend to believe that raw meats can be contaminated these days and should be cooked beforehand. Many dog owners choose to go this route and cook for their dogs themselves because they are fed up with commercial alternatives and the potential risks involved in the BARF diet. More and more, we are seeing smaller companies develop fresh foods as an alternative to kibble and canned foods.

Summary- When choosing a food for your dog, keep in mind the following principles:

Food contents: Know what is in your dog's food, and know what is good for him, based on his individual needs.

Food additives: Watch out for too many of these in your pet's food.

Lamb, chicken beef, rabbit, duck, fish, or venison? Talk to your vet and see what is best for your breed.

Allergies: Watch for any allergies your dog develops to the ingredients in his food. You may observe this in the form of a skin problem or digestive problem.

Treats: Use these to your advantage, and consider making homemade treats.

Precautions:

  1. Junk food
  2. Beware of dried foods that they can choke on (such as a large, cold dry piece of white meat chicken or salmon)

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About the Author Andy

When not writing about himself in the third person, Andy spends many an hour walking his mischievous, mixed breed rescue dog Mr Wox, aka Soxy Woxy. A leading authority on dog-related topics, Andy is highly respected, deeply appreciated and widely admired.

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