There are many ways to create the best diet for your dog. In
general it is better not to give your dog any variety, which could
cause havoc with its digestion, and not to leave food down (so
throw away any uneaten food after 20 minutes). However, make sure
that water is always available to your dog, so never take its water
There are many different feeding regimes to choose from: dry
complete diets, semi-moist or tinned dog food with or without
biscuit mixer, and home-made food. Within this, there are many
The most suitable diet should be easily digested and produce dark
brown, firm, formed stools.
If your dog produces soft or light stools or has wind or
diarrhoea, then the diet may not suit your dog or it might have
some kind of digestive problem, so consult your vet for
Please remember that stability in the diet will help maintain good
digestion. Any change in diet should be made very gradually over at
least a week to avoid upset and you should try a new diet for at
least 10 days before making any further changes.
Best puppy diet: get help from the breeder
Puppies grow 20 times faster than adult dogs and so require a
special diet to aid their physical development. A specially
formulated growth food is recommended which needs to be fed at
evenly spaced intervals to avoid over stretching their small
stomachs. A responsible breeder will have given you advice
about your puppy's diet.
Feed your puppy four meals a day up until the age of four months,
and then reduce its feed to three meals a day until it is six
months old, when you can change to two meals a day, and keep it on
this regime for the rest of its life.
Dry complete foods
There is a wide range of dry complete dog foods on the market
and the quality varies widely. To make sure your dog gets
what he needs, choose a food specially designed for them and buy
the best dog food you can afford. The 'premium' dry foods tend to
have the highest quality ingredients. Many are based on chicken and
rice or corn.
Although these foods may appear more expensive to buy, you do not
need to feed the large amounts you would with a lower grade food,
so many of them actually work out to cost the same, if not
Some dogs are not accustomed to complete dry foods but will
normally grow to like them with time. If your dog does not seem to
like eating dry complete and this is what you wish to feed you can
try soaking the food in a little warm water to soften or mix in a
little tinned food, gradually reducing the quantity until he is
fully weaned and accepts dry complete.
Semi-moist and tinned foods
As with complete dry foods, tinned foods and semi-moist foods
can vary in quality. Again choose a good quality dog food with an
easily digestible recipe i.e. chicken and rice and choose a
specialist food which is nutritionally complete (i.e. does not
require additional foods to be added to it). As before it is best
to avoid changes in your puppy's diet so if you find a product that
works for your puppy, stick to it.
What is the difference between dry and fresh meat
The answer is simple - the difference is water content. Fresh
meat can contain up to 80% water. Find out more about the
nutritional content and difference between dry and fresh meat
ingredients and click here.
As it is very difficult to get this balance right, you are
probably better off choosing from one of the tried and tested
commercial diets. Puppies need the best possible diet whilst they
are growing up, as even a slight imbalance may harm their
development and growth.
Any change in diet should be made very gradually over at least a
week to avoid upset and you should try a new diet for at least 10
days before making any further changes.
There are a wide variety of prepared and natural treats on the
market which vary hugely in quality. Some commercial treats have
lots of sugar, colourings, milk products and fat in them. Even
'doggy chocs' or 'low fat yoghurt drops' can contain sugars or
lactose (milk sugar) so always check the ingredients label.
Good quality prepared treats have been developed with dogs dietary
needs in mind. However, all treats should be given sparingly, never
more than 15% of the total calorie intake.
If used regularly reduce the amount of main meal food your dog is
receiving in order to avoid obesity. Some chew treats have proven
ability to help prevent dental diseases, but again check the label
to ensure you are getting a genuine product.
Real chocolate is poisonous to dogs and can cause liver damage and
even be fatal, so never give your dog any chocolate, or leave any
lying around for it to find and eat, especially at Christmas
Avoid giving your dog any sweet biscuits or sugary treats which
are bad for its teeth as well as its waistline, and can cause sugar
'highs' and 'lows'. Stick to prepared treats and desiccated liver
Dog feeding tips
- It is better to stick to one variety of good quality dog food
and do not add any supplements (unless instructed by your vet), as
oversupplementing can be harmful to your dog.
- If your dog does not eat all of its meal in one go, you may be
offering it too much. Not all dogs eat the amount recommended by
the food manufacturers. The right amount should produce firm, dark
brown, crinkly stools. If the stools are firm, but get softer
towards the end, this is a classic sign of overfeeding.
- Never change your dog's diet abruptly (unless under the
direction of your vet). If you want to change its diet, do it
gradually over a period of a few days to a week.
- Do not feed your dog before travelling in the car as this can
encourage car-sickness, or an hour before or after exercise as this
could contribute to a stomach dilation and torsion (also known as
bloat) which is a life threatening condition requiring immediate
- Medium to large breeds of dogs should be fed from a raised bowl
to prevent them from swallowing air while they eat, which can also
contribute to bloat. You can buy bowl stands for this purpose. For
owners of breeds who are thought to be susceptible to this
condition, you should seek advice from your breeder, vet and/or
breed club on further precautionary measures.
- Leave your dog in peace while it is eating from its bowl.
Taking the bowl away while it is eating causes anxiety, which can
lead to food aggression. If you want to be sure that your dog is
comfortable with you approaching it during mealtimes, add a little
food to the bowl while it is eating, so it sees you as an asset,
rather than a threat.
- Never feed your dog from the table or your plate, as this
encourages drooling and attention seeking behaviours such as
begging and barking.
For further information on feeding your dog please visit the Pet Food
Manufacturer's Association website.