Expert advice on the best diet for your dog

Vet Luke Mangion discusses quality, quantity & the occasional treat.

There is so much information about what you should feed your dog that making a decision can feel overwhelming at times. The truth is that there’s no single diet that’s ‘the best’. The most important thing is to find a diet that your pet is happy with and provides a good balance of proteins, carbohydrates and fats.

Most available pet foods are formulated to meet your pet’s requirements and you can easily find foods designed for your growing puppy or for your more elderly, but of course distinguished, best friend.

There is no harm in trying out different food options for your dog, but it can take a bit of time for their gastrointestinal tract to adjust to a new diet.

If your dog develops diarrhoea during this transition, it’s likely you’ve changed the diet too quickly. As long as you introduce new foods gradually over a few days – reducing the amount of the old food, while increasing the amount of the new food – the transition should be stress free.


How much should you feed your dog?

1. Most food products include information about how much to feed, based on the breed and current weight of your dog.

2. Dogs that work or take part in high-intensity activities, such as agility or fly ball, will have higher energy requirements.

3. After your dog is neutered, their metabolism alters and they will put on weight more easily. Many food brands offer special diets to help with this.

Some pets have specific requirements that require extra care and attention. They might be allergic to certain foods (chicken, lamb, beef and pork being the most common) or they might have been given a specialised diet due to an underlying illness, such as diabetes or kidney disease.

Luckily, there are plenty of helpful options available. Some of these diets can be found on the shelves at your local pet stores (for example, hypoallergenic food for pets with allergies), while others are available on prescription direct from your vet.

If your dog has any underlying disease, talk to your vet about special diets, as they can make a big difference to your pet’s health.


Giving treats to your dog

Who isn’t guilty of feeding their pet some leftover Sunday roast or giving them the occasional biscuit? Who can resist when they sit there staring at you lovingly while you enjoy your meal?

Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with giving your dog treats in moderation, even a single biscuit can be the equivalent of a burger or a bar of chocolate for your dog. So, if you want to treat your dog, but don’t want them gaining excess weight, you can get low calorie treats from your local pet stores. These are also great to use for training.

Another option is to use some of their regular kibble as treats; just reduce the amount you use in their main meal accordingly. You can even get dog chocolate treats for those special occasions.


Get some advice from your local vet practice

If you are still finding it difficult to decide on a diet for your dog, many vet practices will have nurse clinics available to talk through any diet-related questions. They are always happy to help and are a fantastic resource to ensure your dog is happy and healthy.

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