Everyone knows that nutrition is important for every living organism, us and our beloved pooches included. However, because our pets are inherently under our care it is our responsibility to provide them with only the right nutrition in the correct amounts. It is thus, critical that we know how to feed our pet dogs. Here are several tips to making sure your pooch is fed the correct way.
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Always go for a nutritionally balanced canine diet.
Pooches depend on what we give them for their optimum nutrition. If we give diets that are relatively high in carbohydrates, then we run the risk of them developing hyperglycemia and diabetes. If we provide too much of unhealthy fats, their livers may not be able to process these efficiently, leading to fatty liver disease which can spell a lot of trouble in the long run. As such, it is important to choose a nutritionally balanced diet for our pooches.
Regrettably, it is not that simple. Just as humans, no two mutts are exactly alike. Both may be Labradors or Chihuahuas, but they surely will require different kinds of nutrition.
For example, puppies will often require healthier fats especially those that contain DHA as these will help in optimum brain development. They will also require more minerals like calcium and phosphorus to help in the growth and maturation of the different organs in the canine body. They will also need puppy-formulation vitamins to support optimal development.
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By the time they reach adulthood, their diets will change. It has to be a good combination of mostly protein and fats and, to a lesser degree, carbohydrates. Proteins are needed for the continuing development of the muscles while also helping strengthen the various tissues since protein is a very important component of structural tissues in the canine body. Fats, too, will prove invaluable to adult pooches as these are necessary in the maintenance of skin and coat health. They will still require carbohydrates but only up to a certain extent like providing them with the energy to play and exercise.
Older mutts will require a different diet, too. The choice of their food should reflect an understanding of the unique requirements of senior dogs especially in the light of the aging process. More often than not, they will need foods that are rich in anti-inflammatory substances and antioxidants as many senior dogs will already be experiencing a lot of inflammatory conditions brought about by aging. They will also need certain substances that can help lessen the impact of a significantly diminishing cognitive functioning.
The age of your pooch is not the only consideration when feeding it a nutritionally balanced diet. Its overall health is also considered. Young puppies, as fragile as they are, will require exceptional sources of antimicrobial agents to help them ward off infections. Sick or seriously ill pooches will also require a different kind of diet to help in the healing and recovery process and help facilitate more successful rehabilitation. Pregnant and lactating mutts will also require substantially different kind of nutrition to support their growth as well as the pups that are dependent on mommy dogs.
If Fido is a bit on the heavy side, you need to consider reducing its caloric intake but not to the point that you are starving it to death. The trick is to not over-feed your dogs. We all have this tendency to overindulge our pets.
You have the option of giving your pooch dry kibbles, wet canned food, or even prepare its meal yourself. Your veterinarian can help you decide on which nutritionally balanced diet you should place your pet on. If you want to go one step further and have the budget, organic dog food is a great option.
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Feed your pooches on separate bowls.
If you have several dogs in the household, it is always a good idea to provide them with separate food bowls. While this may not facilitate the ‘brotherhood’ that you would like to have in your dogs, feeding them separately can provide you several advantages.
First, if you have a pooch that is sick or ill and will require some form of medications to be mixed into its food, then having a separate bowl will help prevent your other dogs from taking these substances. You might think that you can always separate a mutt from its pack if it gets sick, you will still have to train it to eat ‘alone’ because it has already grown accustomed to eating as a pack.
Second, it makes it a lot easier to identify which among your pooches is not eating right. This can help you identify if your pooch that hasn’t eaten is sick or not.
Separating their food bowls can also help prevent guarding behavior. They will also try to gulp as much food and as fast as they possibly can so that other dogs will not get their food.
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Elevate your pooch’s feeding bowl a bit.
The correct positioning of your pooch while eating also matters. This is especially true if you have larger breeds of dog. The vertical distance between their food and their necks is greater than that of smaller breeds. This puts a strain on their necks which can lead to a host of problems. Try adjusting the height of their food bowls so that your pooch will not have to bend its neck so low that it might hurt after some time. If you can get a raised feeder for your dog, then do so.
Observe the 10-minute rule.
Well, okay, there really is no 10-minute rule. But the whole idea is to give your pet a certain length of time to finish its meal. Most of us have this tendency to give our pooches their meals and leave it on the floor until their next meal. This is especially frequent among smaller breeds. What their mindset is that it’s perfectly alright for them to eat later on since the food bowl is just on the floor. The message you’re giving them is that they can eat anytime. Unfortunately, they may not get the right amount of food that is required. So, give them their food. If they don’t eat it after 10 minutes, pick it up and don’t give them anything to eat until the next meal. Sooner or later, they will realize that they have to eat earlier because their food is not going to stay on the floor the whole day.
Train your pooch how to eat ‘properly’.
If you want your pooch to be as behaved as it can be when chowing down, then you need to train it. It doesn’t have to involve the entire meal, though. You only need to get a handful and then train your mutt to perform or execute a certain behavior that you want. For example, you may train it not to gobble up the food that you have in your hands. Then, have your dog sit and stay. Put their food bowl on the floor then release your mutt to finish its meal. What you’re teaching is that it has to ‘work’ to get its food.
Try using a slow feeder.
It can be particularly dangerous for dogs to eat too fast as they can seriously dilate their stomachs because of the unusual mixture of air while gulping and the food. This is a condition known as gastric dilatation volvulus. This is considered a life-threatening condition which swells and twists the stomach. Additionally, experts say that eating too fast can lead to upset stomach, regurgitation, and vomiting while also increasing the risk of digestive problems, choking, and even canine obesity. So, give your pet a slow feeder system like some types of chew toys that slowly releases food with each chew or bite from your mutt.
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Always give them fresh drinking water.
This is especially true if you are feeding your mutt exclusive dry kibbles. These canine foods only contain almost negligible moisture to help lengthen its shelf life. If you’re giving your pet canned diets, its moisture content should help keep your pet well-hydrated. However, if it is a working dog or is very active, you will still need to provide it with drinking water. It’s useless giving them highly nutritious food if you cannot tend to their basic need to drink.
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It is always a good idea to stick to one type of pet food to avoid upsetting your pet’s stomach. However, should you decide to give your pet something else, make sure to do it gradually because you can never be sure your mutt is not going to be allergic to some of the components of the new pet food. As such, gradually introduce this new food item into its meal and pay particular attention to any reaction that might occur such as an upset stomach.
As much as possible, avoid plastic food bowls.
Plastic food bowls are magnets for bacteria and odors. While you can easily clean these, a much better solution is to use either ceramic or stainless steel bowls instead.
Feeding our dogs is one of our responsibilities being their pet parents. Adhering to some or all of these tips on how to feed your dog not only ensures your pooch gets the best nutrition it deserves, it also conveys to our mutts just how much we value them and their overall health.