When you have a dog, one of the most important ways you have to influence their wellbeing is through their diet. Making sure you feed your dog a healthy diet (not just at mealtimes but including snacks as well!) can help with their general health, their looks, even their behaviour! If your dog has diarrhea and vomiting, and other upset stomach symptoms on a regular basis, it might be time to change up what (and how!) you’re feeding them.
Today we’re taking a look at some of the things that are good for your dog to eat, and how you can build the right diet for them.
The Right Age Group
If you’re buying food from the supermarket or pet store for your dog, you need to make sure it’s for the right age group. Puppies have different nutritional needs to adult dogs and senior dogs, and giving your dog food intended for another age might make them sick, or they may not grow as healthily.
Check the packaging for a label indicating the age group the food’s intended for (it should be obvious!) and if you don’t know when your dog will be passing through those different life stages, then look up the breed online or check with your vet!
Nutritionally Complete Food
While you’re checking the age group, look for a label confirming that your dog’s food is ‘nutritionally complete’. This means it contains all the nutrients your dog needs to be healthy in one meal. If your dog’s food isn’t nutritionally complete, it means you’ll have to top it up with supplements or snacks to remedy the shortfall.
A Raw Food Diet?
Some people feel strongly that dogs should thrive on a diet of raw meat, as their ancestors would have eaten in the wild. It is possible to feed your dog on raw meat, but there are a lot of drawbacks to this diet which may make it less attractive. For one thing, it’s not nutritionally complete, as discussed above! Puppies and older dogs in particular have complex nutritional needs and delicate digestive systems that are not wholly served simply by a ‘natural’ diet.
Snacks and Treats
Treats are important to many dogs and owners, if only as a way to reinforce good behaviour. So what makes a healthy dog snack? Some shop-bought dog treats are very high in fat, so while they’re tempting they might not be the healthiest option. If you’re worried about your dog’s weight, you may want to try home cooked lean meat, peanut butter (as long as it doesn’t contain sugar or sweeteners like Xylitol) or, perhaps surprisingly, chopped fruit like pumpkin or apples!