Top tips for feeding your dog

When choosing a food for your dog, you need to consider a few practical, common sense questions:

  • What type of food are you thinking of – dry or moist
  • What is your dog’s stage in life (puppies should obviously eat puppy food, which has been specially formulated for them)?
  • How active is your dog, so what amount of energy will it need through its feeding bowl?
  • Any situation requiring particular attention, e.g. sensitive skin?
  • What size is your dog – small breed vs. large breed?

It’s vital that you remember that your dog’s digestive system is different to your own, so dogs need to be fed on a diet that’s been specially formulated for their needs.

A good dog food should include the following:

  • High quality ingredients.
  • Nutritionally balanced formulation.
  • High meat content (check the % meat content on the bag, this varies between foods).
  • Omega 3 and 6 to encourage a healthy, shiny coat.
  • Prebiotics to promote a healthy gut and aid the immune system.
  • Antioxidants to help with sustained health and vitality.
  • No added colourings, flavourings or preservatives.

You should aim to feed your dog at the same time every day, and don’t forget to make sure that they have fresh water available to them at all times.

Dealing with a picky eater

Just like humans, some dogs will be picky when it comes to eating, even if you’ve dished up really tasty and healthy meals.

Don’t be tempted to believe that your dog needs more variety. Your dog will very happily have the same food for the rest of its life, assuming it’s tasty and full of nutrition.

One of the reasons for this problem is that you’ve mistakenly ‘rewarded’ your dog with scraps from the table. It may well have stopped eating from the bowl in the hope that it’ll get something more exciting from the family dinner.

The first thing you should do, therefore, is to cut out all treats or hand-downs from the table. When your dog twigs that there’s nothing coming other than what’s in the bowl, it’ll soon come to its senses!

A useful trick is to put out food in the bowl and leave it there for thirty or forty minutes. If it hasn’t been touched at that stage, then take it away and don’t put out food until it’s time for your dog’s next meal, at which stage you should repeat the process.

Don’t be worried that your dog will starve – if it’s genuinely hungry, it’ll eat. You might have to put up with some whining for a while, but you’ll eventually come out on top!

Feeding a larger dog

Feeding a larger dog such as a boxer, labrador retriever or golden retriever can bring a few challenges of its own. Many owners worry as to whether they’re giving their dog enough food – but it’s just as much a problem if you over-feed them.

  • An obvious starting point is to check the instructions on the food label, but you should also make sure that you keep an eye on your dog on a regular basis to make sure it’s neither too thin nor too heavy.
  • If you want to start off on the best foot, weigh your dog to get an accurate starting point – then start giving it the appropriate amount of food from the manufacturer’s food label.
  • Then, every few weeks, have a good hard look at your dog and check whether it’s looking just right in terms of weight – your vet can also help you assess it from a professional point of view.

Weighing your dog is easier than it sounds. Weigh yourself, first, and then weigh yourself holding the dog. Subtracting one from the other will give you your dog’s weight.

If you think your dog is too heavy or too light, simply reduce or increase the amount you feed accordingly.

Always feeding the same food

Don’t worry about feeding your dog the same food all the time

Dogs are not like humans. They should be perfectly happy to eat the same food for a lifetime.

Often, when we decide to change our dog’s diet, we are using human values, thinking it may be a treat for them to have some variety.

The problem about this is that if your dog is a tad picky to begin with, this process of changing feed will make them even pickier.

Also, if you constantly change feed and your dog becomes unwell, it can be hard to decide which of the recent feeds is the culprit.

If you need further help or advice, speak to our veterinary experts.

Our Experts

Eugene joined the Technical Support Team in Connolly’s RED MILLS in June 1990 as a pet food nutritionist, and is a tremendous source of expert, impart ...

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