Dog diet advice: what’s the best food to give my puppy or dog?
Just like us humans, your dog needs a balanced diet to help manage his weight and keep him fit and healthy. We look at some top tips to help you feed your dog a healthy diet.
Dog food that suits your pet… and your budget
Of course, while you want to give your pet pooch the best in life, ultimately, the food you buy will depend on your budget.
Prices of dog food range dramatically, from premium brands to budget options. Like most things in life, you get what you pay for, and the more expensive brands often contain carefully balanced vitamins and minerals, as well as benefiting from the science and research that go into the development of their premium dog food.
Cheaper dog food can be made from inexpensive ingredients that are harder for your dog to digest, and have less nutritional value. If you need any more persuading, cheap foods with poor nutritional value will result in more poo out the other end as less of the ingredients are being used by the dog! This will also mean you have to feed a lot more cheap food to achieve what a smaller amount of good food will.
“Choosing a dog food that has meat, fish or egg either first or second in the ingredients list means it’s likely to be a good source of protein.”
Every dog responds to food in his or her own way, so it’s impossible to recommend one type of food that’s best for your dog. Dry dog food – dog biscuits or dry kibbles – is popular and has the benefit of providing some abrasion to keep their teeth a little cleaner. Canned foods can also be a good choice but bear in mind wet foods can be up to 75% water and so this part is providing no nutritional value. Some dogs enjoy a combination of wet and dry food, and you’ll probably need to try out different brands and feeding schedules before settling on one that suits your dog.
As your dog matures, his dietary needs change. Puppies, with their immature digestive and immune systems, have different dietary needs to older dogs.
Young dogs typically need more calories to fuel their energetic lives, while older dogs – who are often less active – may need less food, or a senior dog food that’s easier for them to digest without putting on weight.
Also consider your dog’s health. If he has a chronic condition, such as arthritis or a sensitive stomach, it may that there is particular diet that will help him and his condition. Your vet will be able to advise you on this.
When you’re choosing a healthy dog food, always check the list of ingredients on the packet. It’s the law for pet food manufacturers to list their ingredients by weight, so choose a dog food that has meat, fish or egg either first or second on the list and you can be fairly sure you’re feeding your dog a protein-rich diet. If there are ingredients that don’t sound like foodstuffs then be wary of unnecessary additives and preservatives. Vitamin E and C are good natural preservatives.
If you plan to make changes to your dog’s diet, always do this gradually to allow his digestive system to adapt.
How do I know I’m feeding my dog well?
If your dog is energetic, has bright eyes, a shiny coat, and is neither over nor underweight, you can relax in the knowledge that you’re feeding him a good diet. It may not be nice, but also check your dog's stool – if the food is working for him then he should produce consistently well formed, firm stools.
If you have any concerns about your dog’s wellbeing, or if you suspect he has a health condition or a food intolerance, speak to your vet for advice on a diet to suit his needs.
Hydration, hydration, hydration
A constant supply of fresh water is vital to your dog’s health and wellbeing. Make sure you change his water daily, and keep his water bowl topped up throughout the day. You may want to consider a water fountain, which provides a fresh source of water all day long. Online pet stores and retailers such as amazon.co.uk have a selection of dog water fountains.
Need advice on choosing the right diet for your dog?
For help choosing the right food for your dog, speak to your local vet. To find your nearest recommended vet or pet clinic, use our Find a Vet page.