Dogs rely on the best possible nutrition to keep them healthy and happy. Unfortunately, dogs do not know which foods are nutritious for them and which ones aren’t. They may also not know when eating too much is not right for them. Hence, the responsibility of ensuring the correct nutrition and proper feeding habits of a dog rests on the shoulders of every pet parent on the planet. Here is how you can feed your canine friend the proper way.
Provide Dogs with Nutritionally-Balanced Diet
All dogs need carbohydrates, fats, and proteins for them to survive. These macronutrients ensure the optimum with fundamental functions of life such as energy production, organ development, and cellular integrity. It is important that these three macronutrients are in their correct proportions if you want to provide a nutritionally-balanced diet for your pet. Minerals, vitamins, and water are also important.
Adult dogs will need about 18 to 25 percent protein while puppies and senior dogs may require more than that. Adult dogs may need up to 40 percent protein, often depending on their current state. There are also adult dogs that may need less protein because of a disease.
Puppies need greater proportions of proteins to help bolster their growth and development. Proteins are important in the building of tissues, which in turn combine to produce organs. As the puppy grows, its many organs also grow until they reach full maturity. Hence, they need all the necessary building blocks of proteins.
Senior dogs, on the other hand, may require anywhere between 35 and 70 percent protein. This is to compensate for their declining protein reserves.
As for the fat composition of the dog’s diet, the general consensus is that it should comprise between 10 and 15 percent of its food. However, there are also those who say that you can give as much as 20 percent healthy fats to healthy dogs.
Puppies require more fat, especially those that supply the fatty acids for eye and brain development. Fats are also important for the puppy’s coat and skin health. Older dogs may need lower fat in their diet. This is because they may already have certain diseases where increased fat intake is a contraindication.
Dogs also require anywhere between 30 and 50 percent carbohydrates. This macronutrient often comes in the form of fruits and vegetables, which are also packed with minerals and vitamins. If your dog is at an increased risk of obesity, it is wise to go for dog foods with lower carbohydrates. If you have a working dog or a pet that is physically active, then you can go for a higher amount of carbohydrates.
This macronutrient supplies readily-available energy for your pet. Hence, if it leads a very sedentary lifestyle, then the dog will convert this energy into fat. If the dog has an active lifestyle, it will use this energy for its many activities.
- Vitamins and Minerals
Like macronutrients, micronutrients are also important for any dog. Vitamins and minerals are essential in maintaining the optimum health of your dog. For instance, Vitamin E can boost the immune system while Vitamin A can improve the health of the dog’s coat and skin.
Minerals help the body in the performance of different functions. Calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium are some of the more important minerals that dogs need. They also need trace elements like iron, manganese, chromium, copper, and selenium.
All organisms, including humans and dogs, need water. It is a very crucial part of survival. Water regulates body temperature and aid in the removal of waste. It is also the transport medium for all of the nutrients we mentioned above.
Adhere to a Dog- and Life Stage-specific Canine Diet
Different breeds and types of dogs have different nutritional requirements. The same is true for those in their specific life stages. For example, adult dogs are best fed with a maintenance diet. This is, of course, provided they do not have any disease or health condition that calls for a specific diet. Diabetic dogs, for instance, require reduced-calorie, low-fat, and high-protein diets. Dogs with allergies may also need a different kind of diet.
Puppies, as mentioned, require more calories, proteins, and fats than adult dogs. These nutrients are necessary for optimum growth. However, one should not provide puppies with too much of anything since accelerated growth can also bring about preventable diseases.
Nursing or pregnant dogs also have a different diet. For the most part, their nutrition is somewhat similar to the diet of puppies. It has to be high in calories, high in proteins, and moderate in fats. The additional nutrients are important for supplying the nutritional needs of puppies that are relying on the milk of their mom.
Senior dogs will also have a different diet. In an ideal situation, senior dogs should have reduced calories, high-protein, and low-fat intake. If the older dog already has a medical condition, then a special diet is a must.
Give the Correct Amounts of Food
Many pet food manufacturers recommend giving a certain number of cups of dog food for any given breed. However, this can expose your dog to the dangers of obesity. Too many calories can lead to the conversion of excess energy into storable fats. Likewise, if the dog is not receiving the right amounts of calories, it can also grow weak.
Before you adhere to the “cup” method of feeding dogs, we urge you to learn to compute for the actual number of cups that your dog needs. For this, you will need its body weight and the numerical factor that corresponds to your dog’s life stage or activity level.
To do this, convert your dog’s body weight into kilograms. Raise the result to the power of 0.75 or three-fourths. You will then multiply the result by 70 to obtain the Resting Energy Requirement of your dog. This is the amount of calories that the dog needs to maintain the optimum functioning of its vital organs only. Since RER only talks about vital functions, you have to adjust it according to the dog’s activity level or life stage. For a normal, neutered dog with normal physical activities, the factor to use is 1.6.
If you have a 40-lb neutered and active dog, this means you have an 18-kg pet. Raise “18” to 0.75 to get 8.7. Multiply this by 70 to obtain 609 calories per day. This is the RER of your dog. But since it is a normal, neutered hound, then multiply 609 by 1.6 to get 974.4. This is the total amount of calories that your dog needs to eat every day.
Converting this amount into “cups” now depends on the brand of dog food that you have. If you have a dog food that comes with 450 calories per cup, then your dog will need about 2.16 cups every day. If the dog food says it contains 300 calories per cup, then your dog needs about 3 and 1/2 cups per day.
It is obvious that the number of “cups” will vary from one dog food brand to the next. Hence, it is best to do a little math before you give anything to your dog.
Provide More Frequent Feedings than One Large Meal
There are some pet parents who feed their dogs one large meal. The problem with such an approach is that the dog may be at risk of developing bloat. This condition may sound benign to us, but it can be life-threatening to our pets. Bloat can turn into gastric dilatation volvulus, a medical emergency that requires surgery.
Bloat occurs for different reasons. One of these is the ingestion of a large meal. What happens is that the dog also gobbles up the air as it consumes its food. The increased air that it swallows can lead to the distention of the stomach. If the pressure is too great, the stomach can twist and turn into itself. This can cut off circulation to the other organs in the abdomen.
Hence, it is best to feed your dog at least two times a day. Some pet parents adhere to a three-times a day feeding. Others observe a 4x a day schedule. In general, puppies require more frequent feedings of up to 4x a day. This is because they have a faster rate of metabolism. The same is true for small and toy dog breeds. They often need a feeding schedule of 3 to 4 times a day. Healthy adult dogs respond well to a twice or thrice a day feeding.
Whatever schedule you will adhere to, it is important to keep in mind the dog’s calorie requirement. If your dog needs 975 calories per day, then you can give it 325 calories per meal three times a day. You can also give it about 487.5 calories per meal two times a day. You can compute for the number of cups by looking at the calorie content of your dog food.
Feeding your dog the correct way means focusing on a nutritionally-balanced diet. It also means considering the unique needs of your pet and feeding them at a frequency that can help prevent health problems like bloat.