Because there are so many high-quality, nutritious dog foods available, pet parents now have the ability to select their dog’s food according to their personal standards. Many opt to feed their dogs dry food because it is the most convenient to store, it is less smelly than wet food, and it can reduce tartar buildup. Some owners feed their dogs nutritionally balanced wet foods or they use them as treats, to hide medication or to increase their dog’s water intake. No matter what you’re contemplating feeding Fido, there are a few things you need to know before making a final choice. Here are some tips for choosing the best dog food and feeding your best friend.
- Be sure to read and evaluate the ingredients. This may be easier said than done, but dogfoodadvisor.com is a great place to start.
- Based on weight, measure out the correct portion, and be consistent! Supervise your dog while he eats to ensure that he is eating normally.
- Use the “nothing in life is free” rule - ask your dog to sit before feedings. This will fulfill his desire to “work” for his food, and reinforce good behavior.
- Make sure your dog doesn’t eat too fast or exercise too soon after eating. This can result in “bloat,” (technically known as gastric dilation-vovuslus or GVD). This is a very painful and potentially fatal condition. Deep-chested dogs are particularly prone to GVD, though any dog showing signs of bloat or discomfort after eating will likely need immediate attention. Consult your veterinarian or local emergency clinic.
- Be careful when using elevated feeders for your dog’s food and water. Elevated feeders can increase the chances of bloat in certain breeds. The latest scientific study recommends that elevated feeders should only be used for dogs that have health related issues where lowering their heads to eat is difficult or painful.
- Be sure to tailor your dog’s diet (ingredients, texture and feeding frequency) to his specific needs. For example, two-month-old puppies should be offered three meals of dry food a day because of their high metabolism and need for excess calories.
- Consult with your veterinarian to determine your dog’s healthy weight, and monitor his intake and exercise to achieve it.
- Some special conditions may occur that will require you to change your dog’s diet such as food allergies, medical conditions and life stage. As always, consult your veterinarian.
- If you elect to change your dog’s diet, change his diet gradually. That is, begin by mixing in a small amount of the new food with the old food. Each day, increase the amount of new food and decrease the amount of old food in each serving.
- Avoid feeding your dog foods that are high in salt, sugar, and fats, as they can lead to diabetes, obesity and dental problems. They may also may make your dog a finicky eater.
The Michelson Found Animals Foundation's mission of saving pets and enriching lives is made possible by the generous contributions of Dr. Gary Michelson and Alya Michelson.