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Dog Food Advice: Feeding Your Puppy or Dog


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 bowl away.

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 different qualities.

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 advice.

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 less!

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 ingredients?

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.

Home-made food

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.

Treats

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 time.

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 tablets.

Dog feeding tips

For further information on feeding your dog please visit the Pet Food Manufacturer's Association website.