Before attempting to buy even just one bag of dog food from the nearest grocery store, it is wise to speak with your veterinarian first.
The Basics of Diet for Dogs
Essential to life, water accounts for between 60 to 70% of an adult pet’s body weight. While food may help meet some of your pet’s water needs (dry food has up to 10% moisture, while canned food has up to 78% moisture), pets must have fresh clean water available to them at all times. A deficiency of water may have serious repercussions for pets.
Proteins are the basic building blocks for cells, tissues, organs, enzymes, hormones and antibodies, and are essential for growth, maintenance, reproduction and repair. Proteins can be obtained from a number of sources including animal-based meats such as chicken, lamb, turkey, beef, fish and eggs (which have complete amino acid profiles) and in vegetables, cereals and soy (but these are considered incomplete proteins).
Fats are the most concentrated form of food energy, providing your pet with more than twice the energy of proteins or carbohydrates. Fats are essential in the structure of cells, needed for the production of some hormones, and are required for absorption and utilization of certain vitamins. Fats also provide insulation and protection for internal organs. A deficiency of essential fatty acids (such as linoleic acid) may result in reduced growth or increased skin problems.
Carbohydrates provide energy, play a vital role in the health of the intestine, and are important for reproduction. While there is no minimum carbohydrate requirement, there is a minimum glucose requirement necessary to supply energy to critical organs such as the brain.
A couple of supplements may help keep your pet (and you) fit and trim. Almost every dog, cat and person can benefit from taking a daily omega-3 fatty acid supplement.
Take Care According to Life Stages
Weaning and Feeding Your Puppy
If you’re responsible caring for puppies in the first few months of their lives, you’ll need to be prepared to move them from a diet of mom’s milk to regular puppy food.
Feeding Your Adult Dog
Adult dogs require sufficient nutrients to meet energy needs and to maintain and repair body tissues. The amount you feed your adult dog should be based on his or her size and energy output.
Feeding Your Senior Dog
Dogs begin to show visible age-related changes at about seven to 12 years of age. There are metabolic, immunologic and body composition changes, too.
Helping Overweight Dogs
One of the most common pitfalls dog parents should watch out for is overfeeding. Attempts to shower our dogs with love by means of big meals and lots of tasty treats are sweet, but misguided. In dogs, as with humans, extra weight can lead to health problems. Be sure to indulge your four-legged friend with affection, not food!
If you don’t know how many calories your pet needs each day, you don’t know how much to feed.
A pet parent’s single greatest tool in the fight against excess weight is a measuring cup. Too many pet owners simply fill the bowl or “guesstimate” how much they’re feeding.
As an alternative to highly-processed store-bought treats, try offering baby carrots, green beans, celery, broccoli, cucumbers, sliced apples and bananas or ice cubes.
No Table Scraps!
Avoid giving your pet table scraps as these do not constitute a healthy meal for your pet.