In order to be healthy, dogs require as wide an array of nutrients – including protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins and minerals – as humans do. An adult dog (one that is, generally, nine months old or older) can usually get its full daily allowance in one meal. Small dogs eat less in a single meal because of their smaller stomachs, so it goes easier on their digestion if they’re fed twice on a daily basis. Pregnant dogs, on the other hand, need up to 50% more food than usual; and puppies benefit most from three or more small meals a day.
There are a wide variety of canned foods on the market, but most are meaty and high in protein. These are often best served with crunchy dry food or cereal filler mixed in. How much you’ll need to feed your dog will, of course, depend upon it’s size, but a helpful rule of thumb is about one can for every 15 pounds of their body weight. Feeding dogs whenever they beg is not such a reliable approach: they’re liable to do this out of habit, especially if they’re bored.
Complete dry foods have about four times as many calories as canned food, so lesser quantities will be needed. The caloric content of semi-moist food is about three times as much as canned, and also makes a complete meal in itself. It usually has a shorter shelf life than the other two varieties, but its high carbohydrate content makes it ideal for active dogs.
Some precautions: dog meals should be served at room temperature, and never offered stale or (of course) spoiled. Cat food is too high in protein to be suitable for dogs. Brittle bones, like those from chicken, can choke dogs.
You may opt to feed your dog fresh food as opposed to any of the prepared varieties. Meat provides most of a dog’s daily nutritional needs – but not all. Ground beef is high in both calories and fat. Chicken is lower in calories and easier to digest. Rice, pasta, vegetables and cereals can help to round out a primarily meat-based diet. Rice and pasta are good sources of carbohydrates, but you may need to season them in order to get your dog to eat either one. Dogs can easily eat and digest uncooked vegetables like carrots, cabbage, and potatoes. Feel free to experiment, keeping aware of your pet’s health: and if in doubt, consult a vet.
There are certain circumstances, such as pregnancy, puppy growth, or recuperation from injury or illness, when your dog can benefit from vitamin and mineral supplements. The opinions of a veterinarian should also be sought in these instances.
Finally, let’s give some thought to sanitation. Partially used cans of dog food will keep in the refrigerator for no longer than three days. Dogs’ bowls and serving spoons should be kept clean. What canned or moist food remains in a dish ten to fifteen minutes after serving should be discarded, and fresh food offered at the next mealtime. Dogs aren’t generally as finicky as we are, but we’d still do well to always consider cleanliness where they’re concerned.