Kibble Questions: 10 Important Ways You Can Keep Your Dog Happy And Healthy
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.
Unlike humans, many of whom look forward to eating new things every day, dogs do best with regularity. Too much variety in a dog’s diet can actually lead to an upset stomach.
The Tails.com Dog Blog maintains that dogs have far fewer taste receptors in their mouths than humans, but while they don’t appreciate salty or bitter foods as much as we do, they do enjoy the taste of clean water.
4. Mixing food
If you need to change the food your dog is eating, or introduce a new one for any reason, following the rules of consistency, it’s best to do it gradually. An abrupt change may lead to GI upset or a finicky dog.
Dog Food Advisor recommends adding 20 to 25 percent of the “new” food to a meal, and increasing that amount, while decreasing the “old” food, over the following week.
While you already know how much food a dog needs every day, their water requirements vary, depending on a number of factors.
According to Dr. Karen Becker, of Healthy Pets, too little water throughout the day can result in dehydration, kidney stones, and organ failure, while drinking too much water can be toxic.
A dog’s water requirements are related to its size, diet, age, activity level, and environment, and Dr. Becker recommends that a dog drink between 1/2 and 1 ounces of water per pound of body weight every day.
It’s next to dogliness, and in this case, very important for your pet’s health. Public Health and Safety Organization NSF maintains that pet dishes are the fourth dirtiest place in the home, as many fail to clean them properly.
A bacteria-laden pet bowl, along with being distasteful, can lead to infection and pneumonia, according to Barkpost, which can be serious trouble. The only way to be sure you’ve killed off the germs, NSF recommends, is by a soapy washing every day, and 10 minutes soaking in a solution of a gallon of water and a capful of bleach once a week.
1. Watch those treats
Treats are a great training tool, but too many can lead to obesity and other health issues. Keeping a close eye on how many treats you’re giving your pet can be hard when others in the home are doing the same, so Dr. Louise Murray, DVM and vice president of the ASPCA Animal Hospital, has come up with a clever trick.
“Keep track of the number of treats you give your pet by setting aside a certain number of treats per day and talk to your vet about the amount of treats your pet should have on a daily basis and stick to that amount, regardless of when their daily allotment is reached,” Murray says.