Planning a diet for your dog may seem confusing at times, considering the overwhelming amount of information that the internet throws your way.
How much should I feed my dog? Can I feed my dog chocolates? How often do I have to feed them? All these mind-boggling questions need proper answers, and we are here to provide just that.
Trying one brand of dog food after the other will lead you nowhere and may also affect your dog’s health adversely. Before you decide to empty the dog-food aisle in the supermarket, let us tell you what a dog’s diet should include.
What to Feed your Dog?
No, two chapatis dunked in a bowl of milk will not cut it! When you are planning a diet for your dog, make sure these components are present in it:
Proteins: Dogs need at least 18% protein in their diet for fur maintenance and 22% for body growth and reproduction. Several dog-food manufacturers use vegetable proteins in their products, which may prove difficult to digest for our four-legged buddies; hence, animal protein is the better choice. Do not feed them too much protein, though. It may lead to hyperactivity.
Vitamins: Dogs need organic vitamins or synthetic derivatives for normal bodily functions. These also help boost their immunity and convert the calories to energy. If you are unsure about the kind of vitamins that your pet needs, consult a vet first.
Fats: The primary source of energy in your dog comes from fat. Buying fat-free dog food is not advisable since adult dogs need at least 5% fat in their diets. Fats also supply the necessary fatty acids that help keep your dog’s coat as shiny as ever!
Minerals: While pet owners often tend to ignore minerals in their dog’s diet – considering it makes up less than 1% of the dog’s body weight – they are vital for their teeth and bones.
Different Diets for Different Dogs
Puppies, adult dogs, and senior dogs need different amounts of food, and a pet owner must always keep it in mind.
Puppies require about twice the amount of calories as adult dogs. Make sure to follow a schedule to get them used to feeds while growing up, and gradually start feeding them twice a day. Their diet should contain at least 20% protein since they are in a rapid growth phase.
For adult dogs, choosing dog food that contains all the required dietary components is vital. To ensure they do not overeat, feed them a specific amount of food twice a day. Since adult dogs are less active than feisty puppies, gaining weight is easier for them. As pet owners, we should keep a check on how much they eat and keep track of their weight.
Senior dogs will do well on a low-calorie and a high-fiber diet to avoid weight gain and improve gastrointestinal function respectively. However, with age comes certain health concerns, and this is when you should change their diet as per their needs. Low-cal food and some low-sodium treats while maintaining protein levels is advisable in such situations.
Dog Diet: Dos and Don’ts
We understand how difficult it is to not give in to those large puppy eyes and soft whines that beg for food. However, for the sake of their health, we must keep certain things in mind:
Cooked meat is okay; cooked bones are not.
Always check for bones before feeding them fish.
Raw grated carrots and cooked pumpkins are superb additions to your dog’s meal since these help in improving their bowel movement.
Do not let your dog consume a whole bone at once; it will lead to constipation.
Do not, under any circumstance, feed them chocolates or onions. Not even when they are in the form of sauces. Both are toxic to them, and the latter may even cause anaemia.
Grapefruits, limes, oranges, and lemons have citric acid that causes vomiting and diarrhoea in dogs.
Do not give milk to dogs below the age of 6 months. For adult dogs, you may feed diluted milk.
Raw dough is a definite no since yeast causes gastric problems in dogs.
Avoid feeding them raw eggs, meat or fish.
No matter what, always ensure your dog is well-hydrated.
It is okay to feel overwhelmed while planning a diet for your dog but a vet helps in sorting things out and deciding what’s best. Every dog’s needs will be different. So, take a deep breath, switch on your laptop, and start researching. Once you chart out a diet plan, get it checked by a vet and follow their advice on any additional requirements. Happy pet parenting!