What Should you Be Feeding Your Dog?
We all want our furry family members to stay healthy and active for as long as possible, which is why it's vital to monitor your dog's diet. With so many options and differing opinions for feeding your dog, it can be confusing. Here are some of our recommendations for nutritious meals for your pup!
*These are just our recommendations - for the best options tailored to your dog and their needs, be sure to talk to your vet!*
Know When to Change Your Dog's Diet
As dogs age and change, their diet and nutritional needs change as well. Some of the most obvious signs that your pup is needing different food are: they stopped eating or are getting sick after eating, they are acting lethargic, or their coats are dull. Because dogs were originally hunting animals, they can go up to 2 days without eating, but if your dog has an established routine for eating that suddenly changes they may be needing a dietary change. Of course it is also important to know if your dog has any food allergies or medical issues such as diabetes that could affect their diet. Finally, if you noticed that your dog is gaining extra weight, you may need to consider changing foods or feeding them less food.
Dietary Needs for Different Ages
Young puppies usually need to eat more often and eat more than older dogs, as they are growing quickly. They typically are more energetic, and burning all those calories exploring and playing requires a lot more refueling! As dogs age past 5-7 years, they also may need specialized food designed for older dogs. Brands that are labeled "All Life Stage" are typically designed with puppies in mind, so they may not be the best for an older dog. Dog food that is specifically for older dogs contains nutrients that may help with sore joints and antioxidants.
Mixture of Proteins and Grains
Dogs are omnivores, meaning they eat meats as well as vegetables and grains. It is important to make sure your dog is getting a sufficient amount of both to keep their digestive system working best. Similar to humans, dogs also need a variety of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids. Most brands of dog kibble provide all of the essentials, but it is important to look at the ingredients. The best brands to buy feature real, recognizable, whole foods. If you can't recognize the ingredients, it's probably not a very good option for your dog. Keep in mind that your dog only needs about 350-400 calories of food per cup, and only about 2 cups per day.
If you prefer to cook meals for your pup, it's important to understand what foods are good and healthy options. It is better to serve your dog cooked food, as raw food comes with risks of making your dog ill. Good options for your dog include salmon, chicken, turkey, green beans, broccoli, peas, bananas, peanut butter, yogurt, and pumpkins or other squash. Just like humans, it's important to have a lot of variety in your dog's diet so they get all of the essential nutrients. Foods to avoid giving your dogs include chocolate, caffeinated or carbonated drinks, avocadoes, onions, garlic, or anything that has too much sodium. Remember: if you won't eat it, you shouldn't give it to your dog, so avoid things like gristle or fat.
While a variety in the type of foods you feed your dog is important, maintaining a feeding schedule and similar portion sizes is also important. When you take your dog to doggy daycare, especially if they are boarding for a long period of time, make sure you communicate all of your dog's dietary needs and routines. Even though Woof's keeps our own food in the facility, it's best if you bring food from home for your pup, so they can eat what they are used to.
For more information on maintaining a healthy lifestyle for your dog, look into the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).