Your dog’s diet should support their growth and development through each stage of their life. With so many options to choose from, our team wants to ensure you understand your dog’s nutritional needs based on their age, breed, size, and lifestyle. Our team will assess your dog’s body composition at each wellness visit to determine their ideal weight and make feeding recommendations.
Nutritional Requirements for Dogs:
Dogs require a combination of protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water in their diet. Their nutritional requirements do vary depending on your dog’s life stage, breed, and activity level; and of course, a prescription diet may even be necessary depending on any diagnosed health conditions. It’s very important to discuss your pet’s diet with their veterinarian to identify any discrepancies in their nutrition.
When deciding what to feed your dog, our healthcare team recommends adhering to a few key standards:
- Does the diet meet AAFCO (the association of American Feed Control Officials) standards of nutrition?
- Was the diet formulated by a veterinary nutritionist?
- Are feeding trials done to ensure the health of the pet long term?
Diets such as Hill's Science Diet, Royal Canin, and Purina Pro Plan are recommended options as they meet all of the above standards.
Poor Nutrition in Dogs:
A poor diet can result in many healthy issues for your pet such as obesity or emaciation, which in turn will cause secondary health concerns. These disorders are typically due to either the amount or quality of food they are being fed. There are several symptoms that indicate your dog is receiving inadequate nutrition in one way or another. Some of the signs that their diet or digestion needs to be re-evaluated can include:
- Bad breath
- Body odor
- Dull coat
- Excessive shedding
- Hair loss
- Inconsistent or unusual bowel movements
- Increased allergies
- Skin disorders
- Weight loss
The problem with a grain-free diet:
Just like humans, dogs need a combination of carbs, protein, and fat for healthy development.
Diets made without wheat, corn, rice, or other types of grains that serve as the main source of carbohydrates actually deprive your dog of their nutritional needs. The veterinary community has started noticing a correlation between dogs being fed these diets and an increase in Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM), a heart condition that can be fatal. The concern was raised when this disease was being found in young dogs that did not have a breed disposition to it. Research is ongoing, but it is suspected the use of legumes used in replace of traditional grains play an important role.
Dog Nutrition Q & A
How many times a day should I be feeding my dog?
- Puppies under 12 weeks should be fed 3 times a day.
- Older puppies and adults can be fed twice a day.
Most dogs are very routine oriented, so feeding twice a day on a regular schedule can help your pet anticipate feeding time. Some dogs prefer to graze all day. If this is the case, I recommend measuring the food at least once a day to monitor appetite closely.
Do I need to feed a diet specific to my dog’s breed or size?
This is more important if you have a giant breed/large breed dog or small breed dog. Giant and large breeds have specific nutritional requirements that differ from very small dogs from puppies to adulthood.
If my dog eats grass, does that mean they are missing something in their diet?
Not necessarily, dogs may nibble at grass occasionally without issue. If your dog is eating lots of grass, this could indicate a digestive problem especially if followed by vomiting.
Can changing my dog’s diet suddenly cause harm?
An abrupt food change can trigger vomiting, diarrhea, and GI discomfort. A gradual transition to a new diet over at least 5 days is recommended to avoid any harm. Dogs with very sensitive stomachs may need a longer period of time to adjust.