Any dog owner will tell you that is probably the understatement of the year. Most dogs love food and will rush to the bowl to gobble up whatever you give them.
Even when it’s not their meal time, they’ll gladly welcome little doggy treats from you. So, you’ll have no problem getting a healthy dog to eat. However, there are a few rules you must follow when feeding your dog.
Know What You Are Feeding Your Dog
There are many different brands/types of dog foods sold commercially. Some are dry and come in bags. These are like biscuits and made of wholegrain cereal with a mix of meat by-products and vegetables. This type of food is commonly called kibble, not to be confused with the brand “Kibbles and Bits”. Sources that list dog foods by nutritional value usually list kibble at the bottom of their lists.
There are other types of dog food that are moist and come in cans. Mixing a can of moist food with some dry food can give your dog a more balanced meal.
What matters here is that the food is of high quality and meets your dog’s nutritional requirements.
A Good Homemade Meal
Who doesn’t love a nice, homemade meal? And dogs are no different! Plus, the best way to know what’s REALLY in your dog’s food is to prepare the food yourself. In fact, this is the HEALTHIEST option. There are many homemade dog food recipes available online. A quick Google search will reveal them. You’ll be able to prepare meat and vegetable meals for your pet that are fresh and much more nutritious than what you could ever get from a bag or can. But you do need to research this, to make sure you give your dog a meal that is balanced for dogs, not humans. It’s best to speak to a vet if you wish to make homemade meals for your dog.
Do note that your leftover table scraps should NOT be fed to your dog. He may keep pawing you or making those hard-to-resist whining noises, or even worse, looking at you with those big puppy dog eyes, while you eat, but generally, the food you eat will not be suitable for your pet’s constitution.
What Not to Feed Your Dog
Do NOT feed your dog chocolate that’s *meant for humans. It is poisonous to them and can actually kill them. Several other foods are not suitable for dogs. Their effects can range from an upset stomach or diarrhea to seizures or death. Don’t feed your dog any of these things:
- Anything containing the Sweetener Xylitol
- Cat Food
- Chocolate, Coffee and Caffeine
- Coconut, Coconut Oil, and Coconut Water
- Grapes and Raisins
- Milk and Dairy
- Onions, Garlic and Chives
- Raw/Undercooked Meat or Eggs
- Salt and Salty Snack Foods
- Tomatoes (the green part)
- Wild Mushrooms
- Yeast Dough
If your dog has eaten any of these foods, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435. If possible, note how much of the food was ingested.
*meant for humans – that reminds me of a funny story. It was Christmas Day and the whole family was at my parents’ house. I had given my Scottie, Dolly, a box of Hartz Dog Kisses. They looked like Hershey’s Kisses, but were bigger and flatter, and did not contain real chocolate. They were lying, open, on a desk that you would have to walk past to go to the restroom. My mother had noticed, without saying anything, that every time my brother walked past that desk, he would grab a couple of those treats and eat them. I guess brothers are enthusiastic eaters, too. LOL
Foods You CAN Feed Your Dog
- Brussels Sprouts
- Green Beans
- Potatoes (cooked)
- Sweet Potatoes (cooked, skinned)
OK in Small Amounts, Dangerous in Large Amounts:
Have Fixed Meal Times
It’s best to have a fixed feeding schedule for your dog. Don’t place a big bowl of food and expect your pet to help itself to the food whenever it’s hungry. Knowing most dogs, they’ll keep eating until they’re sick. With cats, you can usually put down enough food for the whole day, and they will eat only until they are full. But dogs – no! Have a fixed time of day when you feed your dog and your pet will automatically know when the time is approaching. Dogs are smart that way.
Fill the bowl and place it in a specific spot that’s away from human traffic in your house. If you have more than one dog, it’s best to have a separate bowl for each dog and keep them apart during feeding times. This will prevent one dog from quickly gobbling up its food and greedily running over to help its friend finish up its food, too.
Torsion, aka bloat, is something that can happen to some dogs, usually larger, barrel-chested dogs. The dog’s digestive system gets inflated with gas, which can be quite uncomfortable, and the stomach can twist, requiring emergency surgery. They don’t really know what causes this to happen, but one possible reason is the dog gulping down his food too quickly. A way to prevent this is by using divided bowls. They make the dog work harder to get at the food, thereby making it harder to gulp it down too quickly. Here is an example of what a couple of them look like:
Signs that your dog may be experiencing bloat or torsion:
- Anxiety: pacing around or trying to be sick, without success, may be warning signs
- Problems breathing: the expanded stomach prevents the dog from breathing properly
- Saliva: watch out for dribble or saliva from your dog’s mouth
- Gut bloating: if you notice a distended stomach, seek advice fast
Learn more about torsion and bloat at the Kennel Club
Always Have a Water Bowl Around
Unlike food, which is fed at specific times, water should be available round the clock. You may use a water bowl or a water dispenser. You should monitor your pet’s water consumption. If it suddenly doesn’t drink as much water as it usually does, there could be a health issue.
Treats can be used to train your dogs or encourage good behavior. That said, dog treats are akin to snacks for humans. Fun when consumed in moderation, but can lead to obesity if not controlled.
Most dog treats are high in calories and carbs. This can cause your pet to gain weight if it’s given too many treats daily. So, exercise caution here and if you feed it too many treats, compensate by reducing your dog’s meal portions during feeding time. Of course, don’t do this too often, or you will upset your dog’s nutritional balance.
You can also make your own healthier dog treats. Here is a recipe for Becca’s pumpkin dog treats.
Besides the points above, there are a few others that are important to mention briefly.
- Feed your dog the calories it needs daily. Your vet will be able to guide you here.
- Don’t feed old or stale food to your pet.
- Frozen food should be defrosted and at room temperature before serving.
- If you’re preparing the meals, make sure the food is cool before serving.
- Monitor your dog’s weight. They should be lean but not skinny. If he or she is becoming overweight, you’ll want to use portion control, or a dog food formulated especially to help them lose weight.
- Take your dog outside to exercise more. This will help with weight management and is crucial for your dog’s well-being.
That about sums it up. Stick to the pointers above and you’ll have a healthy, well-fed dog.