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Feeding Dogs

In order for a dog to remain healthy a dog must eat a balanced diet of protein, fat, carbohydrates and minerals.

Pet shops sell a whole range of dog canned meat foods and complete dry diets designed for dogs. These are balanced diets developed specifically to meet the nutritional requirements of a dog.

Canned meat foods

There are two types of canned meat foods - one contains cereal and is a complete diet, and one is meat only and designed to be fed in combination with biscuits. There may also be a difference in the amount of biscuits required to be fed per can so be sure to read labels carefully before feeding. To feed a diet of canned meat only could lead to nutritional problems.

Dog Biscuits

Dog biscuits can be fed either with a canned meat meal or separately - the main thing is to ensure that if feeding a canned meal that requires the addition of biscuits the dog receives these biscuits in the course of the day.

Complete Dry Diets

Complete dry diets are a convenient way to feed a dog and meet all the nutritional requirements without any addition needed. They are ideal for dogs which develop stomach upsets when fed canned meat foods.

A dog fed on a complete dry diet may drink more than one fed on canned food and it is vital to ensure sufficient water is provided.

Semi-Moist Diets

Semi-Moist diets come in the form of cubes or mince and provide a good alternative to canned food. Again additional feed requirements may vary from one brand to another so be sure to read labels carefully before feeding.

Feed Times

Puppies require to be fed small meals throughout the day and generally should be started with 5 small meals a day, bringing this down to four meals a day at the age of 3 months, then 3 meals a day at 8 months. It is important that the puppy is fed a diet designed for its age - there are diets specifically designed for puppies and young dogs which will ensure the growing dog receives the nutrition required for healthy growth.

Traditionally it has been recommended that dogs of 12 months or older should be fed just once a day, with small breeds being fed twice a day because they only eat a small amount at each mealtime. However, more recent research has shown that even large breeds of dog are better fed two or more smaller meals a day as this decreases the risk of Gastric dilatation-volvulus or GDV (acute stomach bloat and torsion causing a life-threatening situation as a result of stomach distention or enlargement).

Amount of Food

The amount of food a dog requires will depend on its size and also on its age and daily exercise. Most commercially prepared dog foods will include a feed chart indicating the average food requirement by size of dog and this will act as a reasonable guide.

Changing Foods

It is important when changing foods to do so gradually by feeding the old food with a small amount of the new food and then over a few days decreasing the amount of old food and increasing the amount of new. This should avoid any stomach upset due to change of diet and is particularly important with puppies and young dogs.