Dog Food Guide
What you feed your dog will have an impact on their overall health and wellbeing. Which is why knowing the nutritional needs of your dog is so important. A dog expects to receive all the nutrition necessary for a healthy body, energy and growth from their diet, for instance. So choosing the right dog food is vital.
It doesn't take much for a dog to develop an upset. This could be because they aren't getting enough of a nutrient, or if they are getting too much of one, for instance. Products can sometimes contain an ingredient that may be unsuitable for your dog and end up causing your dog problems. Ultimately, what you feed your dog will determine the quality and length of your dog's life.
Types of Dog Food
Browse the best selling dog food below and find out how to choose the right food for your for your pooch.
Choosing the Right Dog Food
All dog owners, at one time or another, will wonder what to feed their dog. There is no simple answer and there is no one diet which is suitable for all dogs. Therefore, finding the right food for your dog will involve a little trial and error, but it also depends on the needs and requirements of your dog.
A good place to start is by considering which types of food will suit your dog. For example, dry, wet raw, complementary or complete. The choice is ultimately yours and what you think is best for your dog.
Check the Ingredients
It is important to read the ingredients list carefully, so you know what you are giving your dog. Be wary of vague descriptions in the ingredients list for example '28% poultry', as it isn't clear exactly what the poultry is. It could consist of:
- duck; or
Moreover, this is an indication of lower food quality.
Check Quality & Cost
Generally speaking high-quality food will cost more but bear in mind, a higher price doesn't always equate with high-quality food. Some value brands will offer quality food for a more reasonable price. However, all dogs have different constitutions, some will do well eating lower quality food while others may struggle with high quality food. Therefore, instead of looking at price alone, look at your dog's health, as this a good indicator of how they react to the food.
What types of dog food are available?
Pet stores have many different brands of foods, all of which have different varieties under each brand. Hence, it can be confusing knowing what to buy. The main types of ood available are:
- Dry Foods - have a low moisture content and include flaked foods and cereals, biscuits and mixers as well as shaped foods such as pellets or kibbles, known as extruded food. These usually are packed in bags however biscuit treats are packed in smaller boxes. Dry foods do contain meat and can be given in their dry state, although some owners may wish to add water or gravy depending on the manufacturer's guidelines.
- Raw Foods - these are available frozen or freeze-dried and can be a complete food or complementary and consist of beef, chicken and liver. The type of food making up a raw food diet mimics a dog's natural diet i.e. what they would eat in the wild.
- Wet foods - these foods are usually available in cans, foil trays and pouches and have a high moisture content. The contents of which are meatloaf and meat chunks in gravy or jelly. This type of food is sometimes available chilled or frozen.
In addition to the above food can also be complementary or complete. Each type will have clear guidelines for feeding on them.
- Complete Dog Foods - this type of food provides your dog with all the nutrients needed in the proportions for your dog needs. Complete food can be fed to your dog every day without the need for anything else to be added to it. There is a wide of choice for complete dog food on the market all of which will be nutritionally complete for your dog.
- Complementary Dog Foods - must not be given alone as this type of food will not meet all the nutritional needs of your dog if given on its own. Complementary food should be given with something like mixer biscuits or other products to make a complete meal. Several complementary foods can be given to your dog as a treat, but these must be given in moderation.
How Much to Feed Your Dog
It is important to know how much food to give your dog. There are guidelines printed on all food packaging stating how much to feed your dog. This will give you an indication of how much you should give your dog according to your dog's weight.
A good indication of if you are feeding your dog the correct amount is their weight. After a settling in period check your dog's weight. Ideally you should be able to feel the last two or three ribs, but not necessarily see them. Another indication is if you can see your dog's waistline if looking down from above. If your dog is carrying extra weight you will need to reduce their calorie intake and/or get them more active, so they burn more calories. To help your dog lose a little weight, if that is required, reduce the amount of food you give by 10%. Avoid feeding high-fat treats and other treats should also be reduced in amount by 10%. If your dog needs to put some weight on, increase the amount of food by 10% or alternatively switch to a diet with more calories.
At times giving your dog too much food, may not result in additional weight, but can lead to digestive or other health problems. The effect on your dog may be diarrhoea which can lead to weight loss. If this happens please take your dog to a vet.
How Often Should You Feed Your Dog?
When you've figured out how much to feed your dog, the next question is when to feed your dog? Adult dogs can have a flexible feeding schedule and be fed between 1-3 times a day, or more frequently if required depending on the age and size of the dog. So, what you would have given to your dog in one sitting is basically divided into as many meals as your dog needs throughout the day.
Some owners prefer to leave food in the bowl and let the dog pick and choose when they want to eat. The food still needs to be measured out with room for a small top-up later if needed.
For dogs that are always hungry, splitting their meals into several small meals throughout the day will keep them going.
If your dog goes to the toilet during the night, in the house, it is a good idea to feed your dog in the morning and/or early afternoon. Early feeds ensure the food has been digested and passed through the system before bedtime.
If your dog has a health condition such as diabetes, you will need to give some thought to what time your dog should be fed.
How to Mix Dog Foods?
Mixing different foods is a good way of keeping your dog's food varied, providing you get the quantities right.
Different brands of complete dog food tend to have the similar levels of recommended micro-nutrients, this makes it easier to swap out a percentage of one for another. When mixing foods, it is best to do so in percentages for example, 50% of the recommended amount of food 1 with 50% of the recommended amount of food 2, or 60:40, 70:30, 80:20 and so on.
When mixing different foods, bear in mind that it will take a dog some time to adjust to the change. Give your dog the new mix for each meal instead of alternating them.
Changing Your Dog's Food
Your dog may take to their new food and like it. However, their body and digestive system will require a period of adjustment. To make the transition as smooth as possible you should try introducing the new food over a period of at least a week. Try giving your dog a mix of 75% of the existing feed and 25% of the recommended feeding amount of the new food for a couple of days. For the next two days give your dog a mix of 50% of old and new foods, then for the last two days the mix should be 25% of the old feed and 75% of the new one. This method of introducing a new diet is especially good for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
Ensure you consult the feeding guidelines on the food packs when changing your dogs food, to avoid the risk of over-feeding or under-feeding your dog, which can lead to health issues.
How to Store Dog Food?
There are different ways of storing food, which is dependent on the type of food it is. But one of the best ways is to use airtight containers to keep the food fresh and edible. This prevents air and moisture from getting into the food and spoiling it. Another factor that can affect stored food is temperature. It is therefore, important to store the food in a cool and dry place with a constant temperature such as a cupboard or pantry.
- Canned food - if unopened, the food will keep for a long while (check the date on the tin) providing it is stored in a cool and dry place. If the tin has been opened, this can be store in a fridge providing the tin has a secure cover over the top. An open tin of dog food must be used between five and seven days of opening. When buying tinned food, you will need to ensure that older tins are not getting left behind at the back of the cupboard. It is therefore important to keep tins with a shorter expiry date at the front and ones with a longer expiry at the back.
- Dry food - this is best stored in an airtight container. It is preferable to leave the kibble in the original packaging and put it all in an airtight container. The packaging helps to keep the food fresh for longer and so it retains it's fat content and flavours. If you prefer to store the dry food in its original packaging, make sure it is kept out of your dog's reach and in a cool, dry place (preferably in an airtight container.)
- Raw food - you need to be careful with raw food and ensure that it is consumed within one or two days of opening or defrosting as it won't keep for long. If kept in the freezer, the raw food will keep for six months providing all the seals are intact. At the time of using the food, ensure you maintain high hygiene standards to avoid the transfer of bacteria that may make your dog unwell.
Bear in mind also that food packaging will provide relevant information about the best way to store the product.