You love it, your dog loves it - yes we’re talking about feeding time, the highlight of every day. It’s important too because a healthy, happy adult dog needs a hefty 37 separate nutrients in his regular diet. Luckily there’s loads of food to choose from, so whether your dog is large or small, a working dog or a laid-back dude, a senior or a mere pup, there’s a meal that’s just right for him.
Dog feeding guide
Wet or dry dog food?
Firstly, do you want wet or dry dog food? This is a matter of personal preference for you and your dog. A combination of both is good for his teeth and it’s also useful that your dog becomes familiar with the two textures in case you need to change his diet. Dogs can be just as choosy as humans so you might need to try a few options before he gives you the ‘paws up’. Whatever you choose, any good-quality, complete adult food will provide your dog with all the basics he needs.
How to serve dog food
We’ll start with the bowl. Best materials are stainless steel, glass or ceramic. Avoid plastic, it can shed toxins into food or water and, because it’s porous, bacteria can build up in it.
Serve the food in a clean bowl on an easy-to-clean surface, if it’s wet food serve it at room temperature. Then, put the bowl in a safe, out-of-the-way place. Your dog is a sociable animal but he doesn’t want to feed surrounded by the bustle of family life. Even the tastiest food is less enjoyable when someone treads on your tail.
How much dog food does he need? How often?
If it was up to your dog he’d probably ask to be fed about ten times a day. Luckily it’s not and we recommend an adult dog be fed once or twice a day. However, if he’s a smaller breed with a smaller tummy he may need to be fed less but more often. Also, larger breeds tend to bolt their food which can lead to gut problems, so if your dog’s a ‘bolter’ it might be better to feed him two smaller meals instead of a single, bigger one.
Obviously the amount of food your dog needs will depend on his size and age. So check the dog food guide on the side of the box or tin and measure out the amount that’s right for him. One last thing - don’t forget the bowl of clean, fresh water with every meal.
There are plenty of foods specially formulated for puppies and seniors and you can see the Bakers range here. Obviously it’s all about mum’s milk for new-born pups but within weeks they’ll be wanting something more substantial 4-6 times a day. As they grow older the number of meals will reduce until by six months they’re feeding twice a day. Puppies may seem like they want to eat everything in sight but it’s important not to overfeed them, so always check the instructions on the side of their food packaging.
Feeding senior dogs
As for older generation dogs, like humans, everything starts to slow down (although unlike humans they don’t get grumpy and spend all day in a chair tutting and grumbling at the newspaper). They may also start to gain a few pounds. Specially formulated senior dog food has fewer calories as well as nutrients to help support creaky joints and an older immune system. If you think your dog is gaining weight speak to your vet.
Guide to dog treats
Every dog deserves a well-earned reward now and again, especially if you’ve just trained him to fetch your slippers, tidy his toys, or not mate with the vacuum cleaner. Unfortunately a treat means extra calories so if you do give him a tasty morsel it’s important to remove those calories from his next main meal. A good rule of thumb is to limit treats, biscuits and chews to under 15% of your dog’s daily diet, or 10% if you give him meat-based rewards. As with regular food, check the feeding guidelines on treats packets and if you need any extra advice, speak to your vet.
What can't dogs eat?
We’ve all had the ‘puppy dog eyes’ treatment while we eat our dinner. Yes those eyes are tough to resist but feeding him scraps from the table risks reducing the value of your dog’s own balanced food. Raw meat is also on the no-no list as it can cause food poisoning if not first cooked to kill bacteria. Bones are also potentially hazardous, especially brittle chicken and fish bones that can damage teeth and obstruct the gut. Chocolate for humans is definitely out, as are onions, grapes or raisins, all of which can be highly toxic to dogs.
Changing dog food
At some point you may need to change your dog’s menu; maybe they’re getting older, maybe they’re pregnant, or maybe they have a medical condition. When you change, gradually introduce the new food in slightly greater proportions over the course of 7-10 days. If you change dog food in one day your dog’s tummy can be upset and well, things could get a little messy.
When you’re changing dog food from wet to dry varieties, it may take your dog a little while to get used to the different texture, and they’ll definitely want more water to drink. Changing from dry to wet may seem a bit odd with the lack of crunch and your dog may need less water. It’s worth bearing in mind that a portion of dry food may look smaller than a portion of canned food, because dry foods are denser in calories and still give the same energy from a smaller portion.
Storing dog food
Wet food can quickly go stale so avoid leaving it out and once opened, don’t keep it for longer than 24 hours, even in the fridge. On the other hand dry food can be left out during the day without spoiling although a clip at the top of the bag may be useful. Be aware however that if you leave it on view and go out there may be considerably less left when you return. That’s why some owners like to keep it in a sturdy plastic bin to discourage any unauthorised raids.
We hope you found plenty of food for thought in this dog food guide. Click here for the full range of Bakers wet and dry foods for all dog breeds at every stage of life. Happy feeding!
Thursday, October 15, 2015