Owning and caring for a dog is a big responsibility, as your dog entirely depends upon you for all their needs. Ensuring your dog’s good nutrition can go a long way in ensuring your dog’s overall health, happiness and longevity. One may spend long hours researching the best brand and type of dog food for their furry companion, but the truth is that how you feed your dog can be just as important as what you feed your dog.
How to Properly Feed Your Dog
One of the first questions a dog owner may ask is how often they should feed their dog. Puppies generally need to eat about four times a day in order to grow and develop well, and maintain healthy energy levels throughout the day. It is highly recommended that puppies are fed by hand initially, so that they develop a strong bond with their owners and are less likely to develop food aggression problems later in life. Adult dogs do better with two meals every day, preferably in the morning and in the evening, while elderly dogs may choose to eat only once a day.
Some individuals choose to leave an ample amount of food out for their dog to pick from throughout the day. This is called free feeding, and is generally not recommended. Free feeding can lead to health problems, including obesity, because some dogs aren’t able to control their food intake and will continue to eat compulsively as long as food as available. If their owner is not measuring the amount of food they are leaving out throughout the day, they can quite possibly be dangerously overfeeding their dog. Teaching your dog that there is a specific schedule for eating can also teach your dog that there is a specific schedule for using the bathroom. By adhering to a schedule of feeding your dog and then taking them outside to relieve themselves twenty to thirty minutes later, the process of housebreaking your dog can be made much smoother.
It is important to measure how much food you give your dog, as this helps to control their weight. While a human being may be able to recognize when they are full or when they have consumed enough food, dogs are unable to do this. Feeding your dog based on how hungry they seem or how much food they can consume is dangerous and not recommended. Since the feeding guides on packages are general averages and often overestimated, it is helpful to speak with your veterinarian to determine, based on your dog’s size, age and level of activity, the proper amount of food to give him every day. If your dog appears to be a fussy eater, stick to the feeding schedule and remove uneaten food after twenty minutes. They may choose to eat more readily at their next meal if they learn that food will be taken away if not consumed. However if, in addition to refusing to eat, your dog shows other signs of illness such as vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy, you should take them to your veterinarian as quickly as possible.
If you have found a dog food that is nutritious and acceptable to your dog, there is no real call for changing their diet in order to add variety. In fact, sudden changes to your dog’s normal diet can cause digestive upset as they are highly sensitive to these changes. The two main times when a dog’s diet should be changed is when they move from puppy food to adult food, and then from adult food to senior food. These changes should be made gradually by initially mixing just some of the new food in with the old, and then over a period of one to two weeks gradually increasing the amount of new food and decreasing the amount of old food until your dog is just eating the new food.
If ever you are concerned about what or how you are feeding your dog, it is best to check with your veterinarian who can make a professional recommendation based on their personal experience with your dog.