March is National Nutrition Month and while this is a good time for people to take a look at their health and diet, it’s also a good time to look at your pet’s nutrition too!
Today, the market has a wide variety of pet food products and it could be difficult to choose which ones to feed your pet. Here are some tips to keep in mind to keep your dog healthy and well-nourished:
Choose foods that meet your pet’s requirements
Just like with human food, one of the first things to consider when choosing dog food is the quality and unfortunately, not all dog foods are created equal so there’s really no “one size fits all”. You need to make sure your dog’s diet includes all the necessary nutrients appropriate for his size and level of activity. Always check the nutrition facts listed at the back or side of the bag to make sure that brand of dog food meets the nutrition standards you’re seeking. Also, confirm that the “Nutritional Adequacy Statement” indicates the product has been approved by the AAFCO for the purposes you’re seeking.
Make sure your dog gets age-appropriate food
The nutritional needs of dogs change depending on their age. Keep in mind older dogs expend less energy and will need a lower-calorie diet to avoid gaining extra weight while puppies require higher calorie foods to help them grow bigger. Also, younger dogs still have puppy teeth which will require a different size and shape of kibble.
Know the difference between wet and dry foods
Dry and wet foods have their own advantages and disadvantages. Dry foods are more packed with nutrients compared to wet foods and as a result, you may feed your dog less. However, wet foods are the perfect choice for dogs with medical conditions and those with sensitive teeth. You can serve your dog both but because of their nutritional content, it’s best to feed them dry food as their main meal and wet food as a treat.
Learn to quantify your dog’s meals
How much and how often a dog should be fed also depends on a dog’s size, age, and level of daily exercise. You can gauge if you’re feeding your dog the right amount of food by the appearance of his ribs. As a general rule, you should be able to feel the back ribs of your dog protruding slightly. Talk to your vet about your dog’s ideal weight and follow the recommended guidelines on the back of dog food bags. Don’t forget to monitor the treats you’re giving your dog as well. Too many can add significant calories to your pet’s diet and contribute to obesity.
Learn how to switch to a different kind of dog food
You might decide your current brand of dog food isn’t the best option for your dog but are you having second thoughts about switching and the possible effects on your dog’s digestive system? You can prevent nausea or upset stomachs by starting the transition with ¼ new food, ¾ current food for the first two days. If your dog can tolerate this, switch to one half of each for the next two days followed by ¾ new food and ¼ current food in the last two days.
Hydration is important
Just like in humans, dehydration can cause improper food digestion, kidney disorders, and different illnesses. To minimize the risks of these illnesses, make sure your dog has access to fresh water at all times and pay extra attention to your pooch after exercise or periods of heat. Fun fact: dogs tend to forget they’re thirsty so make sure you remind them to drink more.
Never feed your dog junk
There are certain foods and beverages which are non-threatening to humans yet dangerous for dogs. Some of these are chocolate, alcohol, nuts, and onions. To find out more about potentially dog-harmful human foods, consult your veterinarian.
There’s no better way to celebrate nutrition month than to make sure you and your dog are getting the right kind of nutrition and exercise. Make sure your dog gets the best quality dog food there is by visiting your nearest Central Bark’s Market where you can find everything from vet-recommended dog foods to training aids to help keep your dog healthy and happy!
Go to our office locator to find a Central Bark location near you!