As any dog owner knows, you spend a large amount of time caring for your dog and ensuring they are of the best possible health and happiness.
As with us humans, ensuring your dog has a balanced diet and all the right nutrients gives your dog the best possible chance of living a long, healthy life. No two dogs are the same, nor is the food requirement that they have the same throughout the various stages of their life. This guide will give you a few tips on how to ensure your dog is getting the best possible nutrition throughout all stages of his or her life.
What nutrients do dogs actually need?
In short, almost the exact same nutrients that we are humans do. Below is a breakdown of these.
No surprises here. Critical to the survival of a dog, with almost 80% of the dogs weight made up from water. A lack of water to any animal, including dogs can have a devastating impact on the health of a dog
Fats give your animal twice the energy of other proteins and carbohydrates, so are very important. A dog requires fats in the diet to help with structure of cells absorption of vitamins.
Again as with humans, carbohydrates provide energy to dogs and also are critical to a healthy intestine. Dogs do not have a minimum carbohydrate requirement however you should always be mindful that they are very important to the diet of your dog.
Proteins are absolutely essential for the following:
– Building cells, organs, tissues, antibodies
Proteins are found in a wide range of dog foods, including meats such as chicken, turkey, beef and fish. Always be mindful that you should look to incorporate some of these into your dogs daily diet.
Only a very small amount of vitamins are needed in order for a dog to maintain normal metabolic functioning.
Unless you have advice to the contrary from a vet, you are not required to give your dog any additional supplements should they have a balanced diet.
Minerals are extremely important for the healthy development of bones and teeth in dogs as well as the fluid balance.
Again, your dog should not require any additional minerals should they have a balanced diet.
Feeding your puppy
For the first 4 weeks of your young puppies life, the mother will provide all of the nutrients the dog needs in order to grow and have a balanced diet. Should the mother not be well, or the dog is no longer with the mother, a milk replacement can be used in order to provide this.
After the 4 week period a gradual weaning process takes place, where you should start to introduce foods to the dog. As time goes on, the amount of food introduced should be increased until the puppy has completed weaning completely.
It is important that the food you provide your puppy is high quality and contains all the vitamins and minerals it needs. Moistening the food with warm water of a milk replacer can be a great way to make it appealing to a young pup.
In general, puppies will require up to twice the energy that an adult dog does and in most cases will need around 30% of all foods to be made up of protein. It is very important to ensure that your puppy doesn’t overeat however, as they can grow too rapidly and develop other health issues.
Feeding an adult dog
How much food to give your adult dog is completely dependant on the size of the dog as well as the activity levels. It stands to reason, a small dog which has a short walk each day is not going to need the same amount of food that a large dog that walks 10 miles per day needs.
You should always speak to your vet to determine the exact amount of food your dog will need to maintain its weight, based on the current exercise and activity levels. This will ensure that your dog does not become overweight, but also is not starved of key nutrients.
Working dogs will need far more energy and therefore this will affect the diet considerably.
Regardless of the size of your dog or the amount of food it requires, you should always try to set up a feeding schedule (usually twice per day). This will help the body to expect food at certain times but also allow your dog to understand when is feeding time and when isn’t.
Many owners will setup up free choice feeding, which essentially means your dog can select when it would like to eat as the food is always available in the bowl, while others will opt for timed feeding which will give your dog a window where the food is available.
You should know based on your own and the dogs lifestyle, which is going to be best for you.
Feeding an older dog
As your dog ages, eventually it will become less active, at which point the above diet could result in weight gain and other health issues.
Your dog’s diet should be controlled based on the activity level and age. Your vet will be able to give you further advice on at what stage you should look at changing the diet of your dog, although you will have a very good idea of this as you will notice your dog slowing down with age.
It is very important that you do not simply cut out one aspect of the dogs diet, rather bring down the amount of food that your dog is eating – this will ensure that you are still giving your dog all of the important nutrients it needs to maintain a healthy body.
If you have any questions regarding the above, or would like to speak to one of our team, contact us today.