Canine Nutrition: What should I feed my dog?

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Let’s start with what NOT to feed your dog and why.

  • Do NOT feed your dog garlic or onions since they can cause anemia and damage your dog’s ability to form blood clots.
  • Do NOT feed your dog grapes or raisins. They both cause kidney failure.
  • Hide your bubble gum and check the labels of peanut butter for xylitol. It can drastically drop your dog’s blood glucose and cause significant liver damage.
  • Avoid allowing your dogs to lick your plate or share your food as gravy, chicken skin, and other delicious human foods contain high fat which can eventually lead to pancreatitis or pancreatic swelling.
  • Do NOT add raw eggs to your dog’s food as it contains avidin which interferes with the absorption of vitamin D which can lead to bone issues.
  • When feeding raw bones, avoid weight bearing or large bones as they can cause serious dental issues for your dog. Instead, feed wings, feet, trachea, and other bones surrounded by meat.
  • If you are concerns about your dogs teeth, brushing their teeth daily is better than any bone or dental chew and dental chews are better than bone to bone chewing.
  • Do NOT feed your dog salty foods as they can cause kidney and liver issues.
  • Do NOT feed your dog poor quality protein. Most of the time, you get what you pay for so you may have to spend a little more to get a little more.
  • Avoid feeding them the same flavor all of the time as this can lead to fussiness and boredom. If you feed your dog kibble, mix different flavors and brands.
  • Unless your dog has Celiac disease or is an Irish Red Setter, grain is fine and he/she can gain several nutritional benefits from it.
  • Do NOT add vitamins to your dog’s food UNLESS ADVISED BY A VETERINARIAN. If your dog is on a decent food, adding any additional vitamins may lead to toxic accumulation and liver failure.
  • Do NOT feed your dog puppy food unless he/she is under 12 months of age with the exception of large breed dogs like Great Danes or if your dog is pregnant or lactating.
  • Pre-weaning aged puppies should eat at least every 2 hours. Puppies from 4-12 weeks old should eat 4 times/daily. Puppies from 13 weeks-5 months of age should eat 3 times a day. You should NOT feed your dog less than 3 meals a day until they are 6 months old.
  • Senior dog food should be started at 5-7 years of age depending on the breed of your dog and average lifespan.
  • Do NOT feed a small breed dog a large breed dog food since the size of the breed will determine the size of the kibble pieces.
  • Do NOT feed your dog cat food or vice versa. Dogs are omnivores and need to eat meat AND vegetables whereas cats are carnivores which means they ONLY eat meat.
  • Do NOT force your dog to drink water but do NOT withhold water from your dog.
  • Do NOT apply your taste buds to your dogs. Dogs enjoy eating garbage and feces which means our taste buds differ greatly.
  • Do NOT allow the amount of treats you give your dog exceed more than 10% of his/her daily calories. Choose high quality treats with limited numbers of ingredients.

When comparing foods, pay careful attention to the % water, protein, fat, carbohydrates, and vitamins. Protein is used for building and repairing tissue as well as energy, fat is used for long term energy, and carbohydrates and grains are used for short term energy. Choose the amount depending on your dog’s activity, size, and age.

Protein is essential to a complete and balanced diet. Your dog needs to consume 13 amino acids since he/she can already make 10 on his/her own. They cannot store very much protein so too much will become fat and cause unnecessary stress on the liver and kidney. If your dog in not very active, there is no reason for him/her to be on such a high protein diet. Eggs contain the highest amount of protein followed by milk, chicken, beef, soy, wheat, corn, and gelatin, respectively.

Too much fat can cause obesity, pancreatitis, and diarrhea. Too little fat can lead to poor growth and coat.

Eating more frequently is better for your dog. Try to avoid feeding your dog just once a day as this can lead to bloat which can be lethal.

Why is your dog’s diet so important? A complete balanced diet can offset disease and lead to a longer, healthier, and happier life.


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