Food for dogs:
Dogs need a good-quality, nutritionally balanced diet. A good way to achieve this is to feed a good quality, nutritionally complete and balanced dry food (kibble) as the main component of the diet. Because the food is complete and balanced, you don’t need to add anything else. And dogs don’t necessarily need variety in feeding - having the same food, served in the same place at the same time can be comforting and satisfying.
Choosing a kibble: select for life-stage (puppy, adult, senior) and dog size (small, medium, large, giant). Price generally predicts quality – good quality food is more digestible, has balanced proteins, and better manufacturing processes.
How often to feed? Adult dogs generally have one meal a day. Young pups need small, frequent meals - 4 meals per day at 6-8weeks of age, 3 meals from 8weeks till 3-6months, then 2 meals till adulthood. Smaller breeds reach adulthood (when most of growth is complete) at around 12 months, whereas very large breeds don’t near adult size till 2 years old.
How much to feed? Different foods have different weights and density. And different dogs have different needs depending on life stage, exercise levels and individual metabolism. Use the feeding guide on the kibble packet as a starting point, then adjust for your individual dog – 10% more if your dog is very hungry or losing weight, 10% less if your dog is leaving some food or gaining weight. Always make any changes to diet gradually, to avoid digestive upsets.
Some particular cases:
Large- and giant- breed puppies: A balanced and life-stage-appropriate diet is especially important for large & giant breed puppies, as correct nutrition helps avoid skeletal growth abnormalities. Larger dog breeds take longer to reach adult maturity – the largest breeds need a puppy or growth food until they are 2 years old. It is also especially important that large & giant breed puppies don’t carry more weight than they need to – keep them lean & active.
Supplementing a dog’s diet: If the dog’s diet is complete, then you do not need to add anything else. ‘Diluting’ the diet by mixing rice or pasta into kibble could actually make it unbalanced – by changing the ratio of proteins, carbohydrates and other components. If you do want to add extras, then add small amounts of meat or vegetables.
Foods to avoid: Dogs should not eat chocolate – it is poisonous for them. Also avoid onions, garlic, grapes and sultanas, avocados and macadamia nuts as these foods can be toxic to dogs.
Prescription and special-purpose foods:
Sometimes individual dogs have particular nutritional needs because of a medical condition or a food intolerance or allergy. Bohle Veterinary Clinic stocks and sources a large range of diets for specific medical needs.
Raw bones are great for dental care for some dogs. But if your dog can’t have bones for whatever reason, then consider dental chews, tooth brushing, or dental hygiene liquid supplements to add to drinking water.
For dogs and cats that can have bones: eating raw bones cleans and massages your pet’s teeth and gums as the pet chews the meat off the bone and then chews up the bone itself.
Bones should be of an appropriate size for your pet: For cats and small dogs feed chicken necks or wings, while for bigger dogs consider turkey or lamb necks, brisket bones or lamb or beef neck bones. When feeding bones as a treat trim as much excess fat off as possible.
Always feed bones raw, as cooking dries out the bone and make it more likely to splinter or form a compaction.
If you have more than one pet, take care that feeding bones doesn’t create a harmful fight between them – for example you may need to feed two dogs two bones separately and then take away any leftovers.