What is the best food or diet to keep my dog healthy?
The UK is a nation of dog lovers so it goes without saying that you’ll want to do everything you can to keep your pet pooch fit and healthy. And that means giving them the best food and diet possible.
When a dog has a healthy, balanced diet, it shows. Their coat is glossy, their eyes are sparkling and their energy levels know no bounds!
But feeding your pup the wrong type of food can lead to serious health problems down the line, and cause you to turn to your dog insurance for help with vet bills.
Overfeeding is another issue.
It can make them more prone to illnesses such as obesity, breathing difficulties, heart problems, arthritis and diabetes, which can all have a negative effect on their happiness, as well as their health.
What types of food should I feed my dog?
In order to keep your dog fit and healthy, its food will need to include amino acids, carbs, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals and, of course, lots of fresh water.
Dogs are omnivores meaning that they eat both meat and plants but meat should be the primary source of protein in your four-legged friend’s food bowl as that helps to stabilise their blood sugar levels and preserve lean muscle mass.
So, how do you navigate the pet food aisles and work out what food is best for your dog? Bags of commercial pet food will show a list of their ingredients.
Whatever’s at the top of the list is included in the greatest amount and should be something like beef, lamb, chicken or fish.
When possible, always buy high quality dog food as these will contain more meat. One that says it’s ‘with chicken’ must contain at least 4% chicken, but ‘chicken flavoured’ products may contain none at all.
The PDSA recommends that you should avoid foods where the first ingredient is listed as ‘animal derivative’ or ‘meal’ as these ingredients are much lower in quality than real meats and won’t have as much nutritional value for your pet.
You might also want to look out for ‘complete’ dog food products. These can be wet or dry and contain all the nutrients your pooch needs to stay 100% healthy.
How much food should I feed my dog?
The amount of food you give your dog will depend on a number of things: its age or life stage, breed, health and lifestyle.
For example, a small lap-dog that spends most of the day inside will need less to eat than a working Labrador that is racing about in the fields every day.
Most bags of dry food, known as kibble, will suggest the size of the serving you should give your dog, based on its weight, so make sure you read the packet carefully before measuring out the food.
The PDSA suggests weighing out the full amount of food suggested on the packet at the start of the day. Give your dog half in the morning and put the rest in a container or bag.
This means if you want to use food as a training aid, reward or as a treat, you can take it out of the container to be sure you’re not overfeeding them.
Should I feed my dog scraps?
You might be tempted to give your dog scraps at the end of a meal – but be careful.
Bones can easily get stuck in their throats and can cause damage to the stomach lining and intestines. Giving them scraps from your plate may also put them off their own food, which may cause problems in the long run and encourage bad habits if they’re still at puppy stage.
Remember, if your dog’s eating habits change at any point, it could indicate a problem with their health.
Call your vet for advice if you’re unsure, especially if your dog hasn’t eaten anything for 24 hours.
What should I do if my dog is overweight?
It’s best to get into good habits early when it comes to dogs and their food. Overfeeding your dog as a puppy will increase the risk of it developing problems such as hip dysplasia when it’s older.
Blue Cross suggests you should feed your puppy the minimum amount of food for its weight that’s recommended on the packet.
But if your adult dog is looking a little portlier than usual, the charity has these top tips:
- Visit the vet
Before you start increasing your dog’s exercise regime ten-fold, check with the vet as there may be a medical reason that warns against it.
- Count the calories
Your vet will be able to give you some calorie-controlled food so you can monitor exactly what your dog is taking in.
- Sign up for a weigh-in
Make sure you attend the regular weigh-ins at the vets – most run weight control clinics that are free of charge and help you track your dog’s progress more accurately than you might be able to at home.
- Keep a food diary
Note down exactly what your dog has eaten over the course of a week – from its regular meals to treats and scraps. That way, you’ll be able to spot any little extra calories that might be slipping through.
- Be smart about treats
Although treats aren’t essential outside training, we all love to spoil our hounds now and again! If you do decide your doggy has earned a treat, make sure it’s no bigger than the size of your index finger. Healthy options include raw veg or rice cakes but if they prefer their own doggy biscuits, make sure these come out of their daily ‘ration’ amount and aren’t added on top.
If you’re concerned about your dog’s weight, or you’re looking for further advice about the right diet for your dog, consult your local vet or veterinary nurse.
The Blue Cross also recommends looking at ‘right weight for breed’ charts online because every dog is different.
And be warned – they also suggest even a slightly ‘chubby’ looking dog is usually exceeding its recommended weight by at least 15%.
Protecting your pet
Looking after your dog’s diet and exercise needs is the first step to having a happy and healthy pet. Protect your pup even further by getting a quote through Go Get It. Got more than one pet at home? We can provide you with a multi-pet cover quote too! Why not compare quotes today and see how much you could save?