Making sure your dog has a balanced diet is extremely important. Your dog’s diet is what makes them healthy, strong and disease-free. There are lots of food choices out in the marketplace for dog owners, but no matter which brand or type you go for they all stress the importance of a balanced diet!
This article sets out to give you some top tips for how to check your dog has a balanced diet, keeping them healthy and happy.
- Water – the traditional staple to anyone and everyone’s diet. Always make sure they have constant access to clean drinking water at all times. How much your dog will drink may vary depending on the weather but their food choice can also impact this. Dogs on a dry based diet will drink more. Without water to drink, your dog may become seriously ill within hours.
- Make sure your dog eats a diet suitable for their age, lifestyle and health needs. Feed your dog at least once each day. They are best fed twice a day or up to 3 times a day but make sure that with every type of food you feed your dog that you ensure that you stick to the guidance on portion sizes and frequency relevant to your dogs breed, weight and age. Don’t forget to make adjustments as your dog ages.
- Human grade meals do not provide dogs with the nutrition they need. Some human foods, such as grapes, chocolate and onions, can even be poisonous to dogs. A lot of human-based food carry large amounts of salts and sugars which is not healthy for your dogs. Ensure that you fully understand the importance of the right types of food for your dog – there is lots of choice for all budgets and lifestyles, so keep it simple and make healthy choices.
“Don’t be afraid to check your dog’s poop as this can be a great indicator of whether their diet is right."
- Make sure you understand the different options that are available. The dog food industry has come a long way with healthy based complete meals and options from raw to dried pressed feeds and there is now an abundance of options available. Always consult a nutritionist if you are struggling to make a choice for your dog and if for any reason your dog’s eating habits change or you see them drop weight suddenly consult your vet for advice.
- Treats – there are lots of treats in the marketplace, some which are healthy and some which are considered as being dangerous for your dog. Our recommendation is to buy natural-based treats, or why not make your own? There are some delicious recipes for healthy and nutritional treats with easy to follow instructions. Remember, however, they are called treats for a reason so try not to overfeed your dogs with treats. Check out some of the recipes we have on the K9 Nation website: Dog Popcorn, Homemade Dog Biscuit, and Dog Pie.
- Check labels carefully. Some dog food might contain ingredients that can do more harm than good, especially if your dog has specific dietary requirements Some manufacturing methods also impact the nutritional value of the food. Take the time to read about what you are feeding your dog, do your research, and ask for advice before making a choice. A dog’s best form of nutrition is an all-natural, balanced food.
- Don’t be afraid to check your dog’s poop as this can be a great indicator of whether their diet is right. For example, does it leave a mark on the pavement? If so, that tells you if there’s a bit too much moisture in there. On the other hand, If it’s more like dehydrated pebbles then there isn’t enough moisture in their diet.
- Your dog’s reaction to their food can be an early indicator of when their diet needs to change. There are a few reasons why your dog might suddenly go off their food. It could be that their preferences have changed. Other reasons might be revealed through a home health check.
- Be aware of changes in your dog’s appearance and behaviour. For example, if your dog’s body weight travels up or down, it can be a reminder to look at what they are eating, and how much they’re getting. If muscle drops away, we wonder if they are getting the amino acids and proteins, or ingredients like meat, that drive maintenance of lean muscle mass. Similarly, if you notice a change in their energy levels or their coat texture or appearance these can often be indicators that something isn’t right. You know your dog better than anyone and if in doubt always consult your vet first.
Changes to your dog's diet
If at any stage realise that you do need to adjust your dog’s diet, then you must do it gradually.
If you do decide to shift your dog’s diet to one that’s more balanced or tailored, it’s best to have a transition period. A dog’s gastrointestinal system will go haywire if you change their diet without a gradual process. A rule of thumb is: if you’re feeding a chicken-based diet, stick to a chicken-based diet. If you have a nutrition profile or ingredient list that’s vastly different, that’s where the transition process comes in. Day by day, increase the proportion of new versus old food to be gentle on their guts. That slow transition usually takes five to seven days, but can potentially take up to a couple of months for extremely sensitive individuals.