Good nutrition is important for dogs. It keeps them healthy and happy. But there’s no set formula for how often you feed your dog or what you put in their bowl.
When it comes to wet or dry food, both can have benefits.
“Nutritional requirements for dogs vary by breed, size, age, and health,” says Jerry Klein, DVM, chief veterinary officer for the American Kennel Club (AKC).
Ask your vet to recommend the best food for your pup. But you can also keep several general guidelines in mind when you’re filling your dog’s dish. “It’s important to feed the right amount and right forms of food to keep the animal at a wholesome weight. Most products have meat, grains, vegetables, fruit, and vitamins. The American College of Veterinary Nutrition says commercial foods are safe and healthful choices for feeding pets.
Be sure to pick the food that’s right for your dog’s stage of life -- puppy, pregnant or nursing, or even adult. There are also foods which are approved for all stages.
Check the package for a statement from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) that the food is “complete and balanced.” “Complete” means the meals has all the nutrients that dogs of this life stage require, and “balanced” indicates the nutrients come in the correct ratios. That’s because each pooch differs.
“Dry food is believed to be better for a dog’s teeth. Wet food provides more moisture, which is especially helpful for those dogs that don’t drink plenty of water,” Klein says.
Most vets say it’s really a toss-up -- both are nutritious.
How Much, How Often?
According to the AKC, puppies 6 months and younger should eat three to four times a day. At six months, they can eat twice daily. Once pups become adults, they can get a couple of meals a day, depending on how much exercise they get. The best way to know what’s right for the dog? Check with your vet.
The same goes for how much you devote their bowls. Klein says you can start by following a serving size guidelines on the package of your dog’s food. However your vet can get specific about the best amount for their age, breed, and degree of activity. A young border collie who plays and runs for most of the day may need a lot of food to help keep them going, especially when it’s hot or cold outside. But an elderly Chihuahua who mostly lounges in your lap probably won’t.
“The biggest thing we see pet owners do wrong when it comes to feeding dogs would be to overfeed them,” Klein says.
Commercial Dog Food
It may not look like much, but commercial dog food is designed to meet most of a dog’s nutritional needs.”
Can a Dog Be Vegetarian?
Because not all vegetables are safe, it will take some work to create your doggie a vegetarian. Dogs need a balanced diet, just like humans, so you’re likely to have to look for resources of proteins, other than meat, to provide them.
“To feed a dog the vegetarian diet takes a lot of research, planning, and work to make it a diet that provides the nutrition and balance that a dog needs to thrive,” Klein says. “It could be difficult to create a vegetarian diet plan that delivers a dog with the nutrition it needs.”
If it’s important to you, ask your vet how exactly to do it right.
Although there are some foods from your own plate that you could give a dog, you’ve got to be careful. The FDA warns that chocolate, fatty foods, chicken bones, moldy food items, salty snacks, and raw meat aren't good for pets. Also, you need to avoid foods like grapes, raisins, and onions.
If you do treat your pup from the table, monitor how much you’re giving -- extras outside of their performg food should only be about 10% of these daily diet.