Dogs love mealtimes! They are a real pleasure for him, and help reinforce your special bond. But more than that, your dog needs to eat a nutritious, balanced diet to maintain his health and well-being. And since he is relying on you to feed him, you need to make sure you're feeding him a suitable diet. This article is a guide to the nutritional requirements of dogs, so read on and feel good about feeding your dog.
A balanced diet
A balanced diet for a dog contains just the right amount of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. This is why feeding your dog a diet of home-prepared pet foods takes a considerable amount of time, effort, and expertise. Commercially prepared pet foods from reputable manufacturers are designed to meet the nutritional needs of dogs.
Some people like to feed their dogs a combination of home and commercially prepared foods. If you want to add home prepared foods to your dog's diet, start slowly and give him only a couple of new foods at a time. His digestive system will need time to adapt to the new foods.
Prepared foods are available in moist or dry varieties. The main difference between them is the moisture content. Dry foods have had most of the moisture removed. They are very convenient and economical, and you can serve them dry or wet (by adding water). Moist foods, such as canned foods, retain the moisture content.
No matter what diet you choose to feed your dog, make sure he always has plenty of fresh water to drink.
The nutrition pyramid
Vitamins. Vitamins are necessary for good vision, bone growth, and efficient metabolism.
Minerals. Minerals are for strong teeth and bones.
Essential fatty acids. These supply energy and a healthy skin and coat.
Carbohydrates and fiber. For energy and good digestion.
Protein. Protein is essential for healthy growth and muscle tone.
There are five nutritional elements that dogs need, and they each have a role to play in keeping your dog healthy and happy. Here is what each of them contributes to his well-being:
The right amount
Your dog eats to get enough calories to meet his energy needs. He gets energy from fat, protein, and carbohydrates, although carbohydrates are not essential to his diet. The more energy he uses, the more food he needs. If he doesn't eat enough, he will be lethargic and lose weight. If he eats too much, he could become overweight, which can lead to a variety of health problems. The number of calories your dog needs will depend on a number of factors, such as his breed, size, age, activity level, and life stage. For example, working dogs and pregnant dogs need to eat more food, more often, than moderately active companion dogs.
When you use a prepared food, the label on the package will give you a recommendation as to how much to feed your dog. Weigh your dog - don't guess - and feed him according to the package guidelines. But remember that your dog is a unique individual, and you may have to adjust the amount suggested to meet your dog's energy and dietary needs.
And don't forget to factor in the calories in treats. Biscuits, treats, and other goodies can really add up! As a general rule, no more than 10 percent of your dog's daily calories should be derived from snacks.
When to feed him
You can feed your dog once each day, or you can divide your dog's food allowance into two or more smaller meals if it is more convenient. Some people like to feed their dogs at their own mealtimes. If your dog is a small dog, keep in mind that he has a small stomach and may prefer to be fed twice a day. Dogs like routine, so whichever schedule you choose, stick to it.
Monitor your dog's health and weight regularly to make sure you are feeding him the right amount of food at the right time. A good, balanced diet will help ensure your dog lives a long, healthy life - which will give the two of you more quality time together. And that makes it all worthwhile!