Those puppy dog eyes may fool you into handing over a treat now and then, but are you sure you’re feeding your dog the right way?
Dogs don’t eat the same, digest the same, or require the same nutrition as humans, so feeding them properly can often take some research. And there’s no lack of choice when it comes to dog food. For some, a trip down the kibble aisle can be downright overwhelming.
You certainly want the best option, for the sake of your dog’s health, but do you even know where to start? The back of the bag is a good idea, of course, but translating lists of ingredients can be a challenge as well. And once you get home, will it be a welcome success, or a disappointed dog?
Feeding your pet properly should result in a happy and healthy pup, without leaving you scratching your head. It’s always best to check with your veterinarian before starting a new diet, but when it comes to setting up a regimen at home, here are a few tips to get you off on the right paw:
10. Feeding a puppy
Puppies are burning up a lot of energy in those early years and need to be fed 3-4 times a day. According to the Dog Breed Info Center, mother’s milk provides enough nutrition to get a puppy through the first 8 weeks of life, but they should be started on solid foods at about three to four weeks.
To make it easier for those young pups to eat their first few bowls of kibble, a little water used to soften the food can work well.
9. Feeding a grown dog
After eight weeks, and on into adulthood, a dog can be fed twice a day. Choose a nutritious food and you won’t have to worry about feeding your pet enough, as less healthy options are loaded with fillers like corn meal.
As the American Kennel Club details, the label “complete and balanced” is a helpful reminder that the kibble is deemed to contain the minimum required nutritional value for dogs by the Association of American Feed Control Officials.
8. How much?
A dog’s food requirements depend on its weight. The more a dog weighs, the more food it needs to flourish.
Pet MD recommends the smallest dogs, weighing under 10 pounds, including Yorkshire terriers, chihuahuas, and toy poodles, be given 1/2 to 3/4 cup of dry food at each meal. Medium sized dogs, like spaniels or beagles, between 20 and 60 pounds, can live on 1-1/4 to 3 cups of food for each meal. And the largest dogs, over 75 pounds, including great danes, mastiffs, malamutes, and St. Bernards, require up to 4-1/4 cups of food at every meal.
There are likely more directions on the bag, but check with your veterinarian for more specific instructions regarding your dog’s diet.
7. Meal time schedule
A regular schedule is just as important to your dog’s health as good food. Dogster.com recommends a 7 a.m. breakfast and dinner at 6 p.m. Whatever times you set, it’s important to keep them consistent to keep their metabolism stable and digestive systems working properly.
Between mealtimes, you’ll want to keep your dog active, of course. What doesn’t get burned up stays in the body as stored calories and could lead to health issues later in life.
6. Limit feeding time
Along with a regular schedule, meal time should be of the same length every day as well. As Petfinder reports, leaving the food bowl down for 5 minutes before picking it up and putting it away is a good routine to keep your dog eating when it needs to and not whimpering for snacks throughout the rest of the day.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.
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