Feeding My Dog
Dog feeding and can have a significant impact on your pet. Just like humans, dogs thrive on a healthy, balanced diet. And just like us, a poor diet can make them slow down mentally as well as physically. It can even bring on depression. It’s really important to feed your dog the right type of foods in the correct amounts, at the right times, and go easy on the treats. Here’s what you need to know about dog feeding.
Types of dog food and their benefits
Dog feeding can involve wet dog food only, dry dog food only or mixed dog food, combining the two.
Wet dog food – Dogs are carnivores, natural meat eaters. Their digestive systems are designed for eating meat and they find it easy to digest. The best wet foods contain more meat protein than dry foods as well as fewer carbohydrates, and because it smells, looks and tastes more like real meat than dry foods, some dogs prefer it. Older dogs often find wet food easier to chew.
Benefits of wet dog feeding
- Dogs are carnivores, natural meat eaters and their digestive systems are designed for eating meat
- We believe meat is best and a great source of balanced and complete protein to meets your dog’s needs
- Easier to eat. Don’t be shocked when your dog wolfs it down. They can’t get enough of the meaty goodness
- Different exciting, meaty textures
- Great taste that dogs love
- Easier to digest
See Meat is Best for more information on why feeding meat is an essential part of a dog’s diet.
Dry dog food – Dry foods promote good dental health, reducing plaque and tartar. Dogs enjoy the crunchiness, which probably reminds them of crunching on a tasty bone.
Benefits of dry dog feeding
- Low odour
- Convenient. It’s easy to serve and you can manage portion control with your measuring scoop.
- Promotes good dental health
- A complete meal
Mixed feeding – Many dogs love a mix of dry and wet food, simply for the variety of textures and flavours.
The benefits of mixed dog feeding
If you can’t decide, why not feed wet and dry dog food? You are giving them the best of both worlds. A mix of textures, meaty goodness with an extra crunch.
Complete v complementary – Complete dog food can be either wet or dry. It provides your pooch with everything they need to stay healthy. If all you feed your dog is complete dog food, you’re giving them the right levels of nutrients and goodness. Complementary dog food doesn’t provide a complete, balanced meal. Whether it’s wet or dry, it only provides some of the nutrients your dog needs.
Treats – Treats are great for training purposes, but it isn’t a good idea to feed a dog endless treats all day long. It’s just as bad as feeding yourself chocolate all day long! Take notice of the feeding instructions on the treats packaging and don’t overdo it. It’s also important not to habitually feed your dog snacks between meals, or let them clear up the leftovers from human meals. If you give your dog treats throughout the day, reduce the amount of food you give them at mealtimes by around 10% to stop them piling on the pounds
How to feed a dog
When feeding dogs, it is important to remember that they appreciate a regular dinnertime routine. The best time to feed your dog is after its morning and evening walks. If you feed your dog before exercise it can cause a twisted gut or bloating. Feeding a dog after their morning exercise acts as a reward for when they return, and encourages them to rest and sleep during the day. Here’s a link to our dedicated page about how to feed a dog.
How often to feed a dog
How much and how often you feed depends on their age, breed and activity levels. The dog feeding guidelines on the packaging are only a guide, something to adjust depending on your dog’s needs. For more details, see our special Dog Feeding Guide.
- Puppy – at 8-12 weeks old your puppy is probably eating small meals between 3-5 times day. Once they reach six months old, switch to two feeds a day. You should move to adult dog food when the pup has finished growing. That’s usually 12 months for small dogs and twice as long for very big dogs
- Adult – You can feed your dog once or twice a day, ideally 8-12 hours apart. Smaller dogs might prefer to be fed more frequently. You shouldn’t need to change their diet until they’re a senior, at around 6 or 7 years of age
- Senior – Senior dogs are usually less active thanks to a slower metabolism, which means changing to a lower calorie diet can be a good idea. You can still feed them twice a day, but you might want to reduce the portions to account for them running about less
How much to feed a dog
There are four main areas to consider when looking at dog feeding; these are:
- Age – The older a dog, the less exercise it usually needs. To ensure they stay fit and well, gradually cut down the quantity of food when your dog becomes a senior at 6-7 years old
- Size – Big dogs sometimes like to wolf their food down, which can cause health issues, so it makes sense to split their daily recommended intake into two meals per day. Small dogs often prefer more frequent meals, so you might want to test splitting their recommended daily intake into three portions. Whatever your dog’s size, stick to the recommended daily amounts on the packaging
- Metabolism – Smaller dogs tend to have faster metabolisms, and often need more calories in the form of fats than big dogs. Large dogs might have slower metabolisms but they also have bigger appetites, enjoying bigger portions of food with less fats and more protein
For more details, check out our page about how much to feed your dog.
Dog feeding tips
- When feeding your dog, give them their own special place to eat, somewhere quiet and peaceful where they won’t get disturbed
- Successful dog feeding is about routines. Stick to mealtimes, giving treats rarely or when training but not as a matter of course
- If you treat your dog often, reduce the amount of dog food they get accordingly
- Always buy the best quality food you can afford
- If your dog tends to gobble their food, buy a special ‘slow feeding’ bowl
- If you change your dog’s diet, do it gradually to prevent stomach problems
- It is best not to feed your dog table scraps – human food isn’t dog food
- If your dog doesn’t eat all their food in one go, you might be giving them too much
- Medium to large breeds benefit from a raised bowl to prevent them swallowing air while they eat
Dog feeding FAQs
How to store dog food? Always feed your dog food at room temperature, not straight from the fridge. You can gently microwave it if you like. As a rule, wet food needs to be refrigerated and dry can be stored in a sealed container in a cupboard.
Does size affect how you feed a dog? Yes. The bigger the dog, the slower the metabolism and the bigger the appetite.
Is it OK to leave food out for a dog? Wet food goes off very fast, so never leave it out for more than an hour. If the can is open, use it within 24 hours whether or not it has been stored in the fridge. You can leave dry food out for longer.
How do you stop a dog eating another dog’s food? Give your dog’s different food areas, with their own bowls. You can also feed them separately, one after the other, or use a barrier like a child gate to stop them eating each other’s food.
Do dogs need a varied diet? Not really. A dog can live perfectly happily and healthily on a complete dog food, wet or dry. If you change their diet, do it gradually since a sudden or drastic change in diet can bring about stomach problems.
Should I feed my dog treats? Only as a treat. Treats are ideal for training but, like humans, dogs don’t fare well if they eat nothing but treats or are given treats too often.
What not to feed a dog? Dogs are allergic to a wide range of foods humans can eat safely. These include chocolate – which is deadly – raisins and grapes, avocado, cooked bones (raw bones are fine), cat food, sweets and chewing gum, citrus, coffee, corn on the cob, macadamia nuts, onions, peaches and plums, sugar, salt, raw fish, and yeast.
Can dogs eat human foods? Yes, but it’s rarely a good idea. Dogs need 37 different nutrients to thrive, and no human food contains all of them. It’s best to stick with proper dog food.
How do I know if my dog is the correct weight? To find out if your dog is getting fat, try to feel their ribs. If the ribs are covered with flesh and you can’t easily feel them, your dog is overweight.