Nutrition is something we tend to neglect, even when it comes to ourselves. This is grossly evident in the global pandemic that is obesity and the growing incursion of processed junk into our diets. Overfeeding is as much a problem with dogs as it is with us humans and leads to repercussions, just as serious.
Contrary to times past, there are multiple schools of thought on what constitutes a good doggie diet. Movements that encourage raw food, organic food and homemade food have sprung up and are quite popular with dog owners. Therefore, this will aim to emphasise more on the when and how much. If you’re an uninitiated dog owner and want to know how much and how often to feed your pooch during different stages of it’s life, the following table will help give you an insight into things:
|The first 8 weeks||Puppies should not be separated from their mother before they are 8 weeks old. Puppies that leave their mothers sooner have a rougher time adjusting and a higher incidence of illnesses. I do not know if it is due to weakened immunity or mourning the premature loss of their family. Their mother’s milk provides them with the nutrition and antibodies they need to become healthy dogs. At three to four weeks, puppies should begin eating some solid food. You can try mixing three parts food with one part water or puppy replacement milk. This will make the food easier for the puppy to digest. If your puppy begins eating a little solid food before it leave its mother it will have an easier time adjusting when you bring it home. One way to tell if a puppy is ready to come home with you is if it prefers human company over its mom or siblings.|
|6 to 8 weeks||Feed your puppy 3-4 times a day. Puppies have different nutritional needs than adult dogs. Choose a puppy food that provides the appropriate balance of nutrients your puppy needs. Be sure it is getting the right amount of protein and calcium, and the proper amount of calories. Check the label to determine if you are feeding your puppy a balanced diet. A specified meat should be the first ingredient on the label.|
|After 8 weeks||Feed your puppy twice a day.|
|3 to 6 months||Your puppy will be teething. He may become a finicky eater or lose his appetite. Keep feeding him nutritious food twice a day. If he has an upset stomach for more than one or two days, take him to the veterinarian.|
|6 months to 1 year||Your puppy may look all grown up but he is still a puppy. He should still be fed a highquality food for the added nutrition. Note, in some very high quality foods the company does not make a separate food for puppies because the food is of such a high quality that it provides for both puppy and adult equally. For example, a real human grade chicken is what it is for all ages. If you are feeding a puppy food ask your veterinarian when you should switch to adult food. Make sure the adult food you switch to is still a balanced high quality diet with the first ingredient being a specified meat that is not a by-product.|
|8 to 9 months||Feeding should be twice a day.|
|1 year||In most breeds feeding should be twice a day.|
In most breeds, the twice a day feeding scheme works best throughout adulthood.
The following chart is a basic adult dog feeding guide:
|Typical Breed||Weight as an Adult Dog||Dry Food||Dry Food Mixed with Can Food|
|Chihuahua, Yorkshire Terrier, Toy Poodle||Up to 10 pounds||1/4 to 3/4 cup||Cut dry up to ½ the amount and substitute the same volume with a can|
|Miniature Poodle, Scottish Terrier||10-25 pounds||3/4 to 1 cup||Cut dry up to ½ the amount & substitute the same volume with a can|
|Cocker Spaniel, Beagle, Springer Spaniel||25-50 pounds||1-2 cups||Cut dry up to ½ the amount and substitute the same volume with a can|
|Collie, Boxer, Labrador, Golden Retriever||50-75 pounds||2-2 ½ cups||Cut dry up to ½ the amount and substitute the same volume with a can|
|Great Dane, Malamute, St. Bernard, Mastiff||Over 75 pounds||2-4 cups||Cut dry up to ½ the amount and substitute the same volume with a can|
Tossing the odd scrap of food to our pet is something we’ve all definitely done. While this isn’t wrong in itself, coupled with a calorie-rich diet or a sedentary lifestyle, it can lead to obesity very quickly. Also, your dog’s GI tract can’t withstand surprises as well as yours and responds with diarrhoea and indigestion to new foods.
The infographic below might give you a better idea of the impact of the occasional scrap of food on your dog’s weight/health: