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As the carer of your dog, you are responsible for all sorts of different aspects of their life. This includes making sure that they get enough exercise, attention etc. But you are also in charge of what goes into their bodies. However, there are so many different food options out there and it can prove to be a major challenge when you are trying to select what is right for them. Obviously, the food that you choose depends on your dog’s breed, age, and their individual tastes. Well, if you are struggling, we are here to help with a set of simple guidelines that you can follow.
Age and Activity Level
First and foremost, you need to think about both the age and activity level of your pooch. Puppies and younger dogs tend to need a greater amount of calories than an older pet as they are still developing and have higher energy levels. As well as this a pregnant dog will need more calories as they are having to support their puppies. Dog food tends to be divided into age categories, so always check the label to make sure that it is entirely suitable for your pup.
Some nutritional needs can be generalized to all dogs, while others are more specific to your mutt. Just like you need different food groups to function properly, your dog is exactly the same. As a general rule of thumb, your dog is at a healthy body weight if you can see their waist and feel their ribs with the flat of your hand. If they are heavier, you should consider reducing their overall calorie intake. And the calories which they are consuming should be a combination of fat, protein, and carbohydrates.
Consult with Your Vet
If you are ever unsure about the individual needs of your dog, it is worth speaking to your vet to see if there is any advice which they can provide. Your dog may have some specific health concerns which require an adjusted diet. You should also provide your vet with any information which can help to make their task easier. Perhaps you know that certain types of food positively or adversely impact your pooch.
Don’t Be Taken in By Marketing
While advertising and marketing can be seductive, you shouldn’t let it make your decision for you. It is important that you take a more objective approach which is based on the individual needs and requirements of your canine. Every dog food manufacturer is going to tell you about the qualities of their brand, but it is up to you to separate the claims from the qualities which are going to be beneficial to your dog.
Choose Between Canned and Dry Food
One of the biggest choices which you have to make when you are selecting dog food is whether you opt for canned or dry food. You may find that your dog has a preference for one over the other. Canned foods tend to be more expensive than their dry counterparts, so your budget may end up playing a part in your decision-making as well. Again, you need to see how each option sits with your pooch. One may cause greater instances of diarrhea or vomiting, so you need to be on the lookout for any signs that your dog is suffering from an upset stomach.
Always Check the Label for the Ingredient List
Just like you should always check the ingredient list of anything that you are putting in your own body, the same also goes for your dog’s dinner as well. First of all, you want to check the type of meat which is included to make sure that a single one is listed rather than something more generals such as meat by-product. You may decide that it is worth spending a little more to get some organic dog food for your furry friend. Of course, dogs are omnivores which are able to eat vegetables and grain as well. You also need to check for any ingredients which your dog is allergic or intolerant towards in any way. One of the best ways you are going to be able to determine the different brands is by comparing them directly.
Go For the Freshest Packs of Dog Food Available
So, you have settled on a brand and specific type of dog food. Next up, you need to make sure that the food that you select is at its freshest. Always ensure that you look at the best before date so that you can select the one which has the longest date. You should also check to confirm that the bag is intact and that there aren’t any holes or other damage. Remember that stores will want to get rid of the bads with the shortest expiry date first, so you may have to put a bit of extra effort to get the freshest food available. Even though you can save money by buying a bigger bag, you need to make sure that your dog is going to eat it in time.
Keep the Food Properly Stored
Once you have bought the food, your next step is to make sure that you keep it properly stored. Otherwise, it is not going to retain its freshness. Many bags come with inbuilt freshness locks and similar storage innovations, but your other main option is to pour everything out into an airtight container. After this, you can then keep it in a place which is both cool and dark. Unopened canned food should be stored in an area with similar conditions. As a general rule of thumb, you should use unopened dry food within a period of six weeks, but always check the packaging for any more information.
Treat Them Well
Another part of your dog’s diet will be formed by the types of treats which you provide for them. There are all sorts of treats on the market, and you need to be able to differentiate between what some of your main choices are. As you would expect, some treats can contain less healthy ingredients including sugar, colorings, lactose etc. The best treats are designed to complement your dog’s other sources of food, but they should all be given sparingly and should make up no more than 15% of the overall calorie intake of your pup. There are also many chew products on the market which are designed to prevent dental diseases, so always check the label to ensure that you are getting a genuine product. You are better off sticking to the pre-prepared treats rather than feeding them directly from the dinner table. The other main reason why this is not a good idea as it can result in bad behavior like begging and barking. And once your pooch gets into these habits, it can present a major challenge to break them.
Get the Portion Size Right
Just as overfeeding can easily lead to obesity in humans, the same goes for your dog as well. If your dog doesn’t consume all of its meal in one go, there is every chance that you are putting down too much. You are better off sticking to a single variety of good quality dog food. Avoid adding any supplements unless this has been specifically recommended by your vet. And if you are planning on making some changes to your dog’s diet, you should do this gradually over a period of a few days rather than springing the change on them suddenly.
Feed Your Dog at the Right Time
As well as all the other considerations which we have just discussed, you also have to think about feeding your dog at the right time of the day. For example, you don’t want to feed your dog just before getting in the car as this can result in travel sickness and a big mess in your motor! Another rule to follow is to avoid feeding them an hour before or after exercise as this can result in stomach dilation and torsion. When your dog is eating, you should leave them alone to enjoy their food. If you try to take it away, this can result in anxiety.
As you can see, there are all sorts of considerations that you should make when you are feeding your dog. First of all, you need to get the type of food right in the first place. With so many different varieties on the market, it is worth taking your time to decide which one is right. After this, you then need to feed them the right way and at the right time. Remember, what goes into your dog’s body can end up making such as big difference to their overall health and wellbeing, so it is worth getting it right.