All dogs need to be fed on a balanced, nutritious diet to stay healthy and in peak condition. Most commercial dog foods are quite sufficient for the average adult family dog with normal activity levels. However, depending on size, breed and life stage, a specialist diet might be required. Many pet food manufacturers produce different diets in their ranges for the changing needs of a dog throughout his lifetime.
Dogs can be fed on a complete dry diet, tinned food and a biscuit mixer or home prepared food. Types and brands of commercial dog food are easily obtained from pet shops and supermarkets as well as online.
Home prepared diets are difficult and time consuming. You must ensure your dog gets all the vital nutrients he needs. If you can’t put in the time, effort and expense, it would be better for you both to stick to commercial brands.
Which kinds of specialist diets are available?
You can buy specific food for:
- Pregnant and lactating bitches
- Dogs with sensitive stomachs, skin problems or behaviour problems (hypoallergenic)
- Overweight dogs (low calorie)
You might, therefore, change foods several times in a dog’s lifetime. When you need to do this, make sure it is a gradual process. Add more new food to the bowl and reduce the old food over at least five days to avoid stomach upsets.
Always provide clean, fresh drinking water, especially if you are using a complete dry diet.
- Bones can damage teeth and cause bowel obstructions. Raw carrots, rawhide chews and safe chew toys are better alternatives.
- Chocolate meant for humans is toxic to dogs and can prove fatal. Stick to healthy treats made especially for dogs.
- Treats should be counted as part of a dog's overall food intake for the day to avoid problems related to excess weight and obesity.