Your Dog's Health       Nutrition for Your Dog

 Nutrition for Your Dog 

To keep your dog looking and feeling its' best a good diet is imperative. The proper diet should include the right amount of nutrients - protein, minerals, vitamins, fats, carbohydrates and plenty of fresh clean water to drink. All of these elements help your dog produce strong bones and teeth, clear eyes and a healthy coat. A dog has different nutrition requirements depending on it's age, size, level of activity, health diagnosis and weight management program - from puppy to senior.


There is a multitude of choices and varieties of foods on the market for dogs. It can be overwhelming! Ask your breeder or veterinarian for advice. You'll need to pay close attention to how your dog responds to his food. It's even possible that a food may be fine for your dog for quite some time and then a reaction occurs. The reason for this could be that the manufacturer changed the ingredients slightly and your dog is having a negative response. Always check the label - if you suspect that your dog has allergies - scratching, runny eyes, digestive issues be sure to take your dog to the vet. Allergy testing may be necessary to get to the root of the problem.


Kibble or Canned?

Many owners prefer the convenience of "kibble" or dry food rather that canned food. Crunching the hard kibble helps clean your dog's teeth and exercises his jaw muscles. It also is less messy than canned food with yard cleanup. If your dog prefers canned food you can mix it with kibble. Just a small amount of canned food will satisfy your dog's palate. Be sure to cover and refrigerate any leftover canned food for the next feeding. Semi-moist foods (those cute little pouches) are convenient but don't contain the nutrition that premium kibble or canned food provide.


Consider the Age of Your Dog When Feeding

Puppies have different nutritional requirements than adult dogs. When selecting a food for your puppy make sure that it is the variety specially formulated for puppies. This provides additional vitamins and supplements to help bones and the brain develop and is also easier to digest. Your puppy will be growing rapidly, its' stomach is of limited size and he will require 3-4 meals a day until it reaches six months old.


After six months of age your puppy will be satisfied with 2-3 meals a day. Keep in mind that if you are giving your dog treats that you are adding calories to his diet and he could become overweight. Adjust his feeding if you are giving treats; also remember that treats don't usually contain the necessary nutrition your puppy needs.


Break a biscuit into several pieces - your treats will go a lot further and your puppy will still be satisfied with his reward! This goes for your adult dog too! Obesity in dogs is a serious health risk. It places additional strain on their joints, organs and overall health. Instead, reward your dog with a ball, a squeak toy or a nice belly scratch! He'll love you for it!


Feed your adult dog according to it's size and energy level. It's best to feed two smaller meals a day rather than one large meal. Your dog will be less likely to demand treats and this will also aid in more consistent digestion. He will process the nutrients of the food much better as well.


All dogs require plenty of fresh, clean and cool water. The food and water dishes should be cleaned daily to avoid disease from bacteria and germs. 


What NOT to Feed Your Dog

Don't let those puppy eyes charm you into feeding your dog from your plate or the kitchen table. This will surely develop bad habits that are difficult to overcome once the pattern has been established. It's also risky since many foods that are of nutritional value to humans can be pure poison for a dog. And, if your dog has an allergic reaction it may be difficult for you or your vet to recognize whether it is being caused by his dog food or some other source. For low calorie treats or other options seek the advice of your veterinarian. 



Your dog depends on you to be responsible for his health. Plenty of exercise, regular grooming, correct diet and regular veterinarian visits are necessary to keep your dog at his best. Taking care of your dog responsibly means that you'll be most likely to recognize any changes in his habits that could be an indication that he's ill. When you observe eating, sleeping, drinking habits and energy levels change you're able to to recognize that a call or a trip to your veterinarian may be in order.


For more information on your dog's health needs go to AKC's The Healthy Dog.


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