*Authentic Dogs is reader-supported. We may earn commissions if you buy through our links.
What is the best food to feed my dog? Your guide to the ideal pooch diet!
Every dog owner would probably agree that proper nutrition is key to a dog’s health and happiness. However, not everyone may agree on the type of food and feeding schedule that works best for our canine friends. A lot of this has to do with the fact that each pooch is unique. Thus the question begs: what is the best food to feed my dog?
A dog’s nutritional needs will depend heavily on its specific breed, age, size and its overall health condition. For instance, the best dog food for Chihuahuas may be different from the best dog food for English bull dogs. The same can be said for French bulldogs with sensitive stomachs and pit bulls with skin allergies.
Ideally, you want to talk to your veterinarian on the best possible food for your pooch. However, there are some general guidelines that you can follow when it comes to the best food to feed your dog.
A Pooch’s Diet
Canine pets are mainly carnivorous and partly omnivorous. This means that you can either feed them entirely with meat or a combination of meat and plant based food. You should load your pet’s meal with essential vitamins and nutrients.
It’s perfectly fine to give your pooch a completely vegan diet. Just make sure that it includes protein sources such as beans. You also won’t go wrong with a raw diet and mixing meat (whether cooked or uncooked) with veggies, and grains in their regular meals.
There are those who prefer to feed their canine buddies with uncooked meat. This type of diet can be suitable for your dog. However, there are a few vital points that you should know:
- Ensure quality. Opt for good quality meat (preferably those that are suitable for human consumption). There are dog meat and bone products that have unhealthy additives in them.
- Be super clean. Make sure you are practicing proper hygiene and food handling practices when preparing raw meat. This helps ensure that you and your pooch won’t contract food related diseases like campylobacter or salmonella.
- Seek out professional help. Let your vet or a dog nutrition expert create the diet plan. A lot of uncooked meat diets in the market aren’t properly balanced for dogs given their current stage of life. These stages include: puppy, pregnant or nursing, or adult – and health condition.
So the best food to feed my dog should be of good quality, clean and preferably recommended by the vet.
Some Dietary Guidelines
A bit of cooked meat like poached chicken or beef is something that you can consider as well. Remember though, to never feed them with cooked bones or meat mixed with certain ingredients. Garlic and onions, for instance, are particularly lethal to dogs. You have the option to occasionally indulge your pooch with canned meat and fish. Just make sure that they are free from bones.
It is completely safe to include cooked pumpkin or pure chunks of carrots in your pet’s food. In fact, there are plenty of dogs that maintain diets with insufficient fiber. Adding cooked pumpkin or chopped carrots in their meals can help promote a healthy gut.
Always keep bones away from your pooch since they can bring about constipation when eaten. Ideally, a bone or two every week is enough to aid maintain good oral health and hygiene. However, you need to ensure that it is not small enough to be swallowed whole and must be raw. Cooked bones can break into tiny pieces, which can lead to internal injuries or blockages in your dog’s tummy.
The Ideal amount and Frequency
Experts recommend feeding puppies (half a year old and younger) 3 – 4 meals daily. Once they are half a year old, you can opt to feed them twice each day. When they reach adulthood, you can feed them once or twice daily. This will depend on the amount of physical activity they make. If you want to be sure on precisely how much and how often you should feed your dog, talk to your vet for recommendation.
You should also do the same on the amount of food that you give your pooch. While you can certainly follow the serving proportion guidelines included in most dog food products, a veterinarian can give you a more accurate and reliable answer. He can tell you exactly the ideal amount based on your dog’s particular age, breed, and level of activity. Labrador puppies who play fetch and run around a lot daily may require plenty of food to fuel their active lifestyles. However, an old pug who spends majority of its day lounging on the sofa may not require the same amount.
One of the most common mistakes that you should avoid is overfeeding your pooch. It is imperative that you give your pet just the right amount and types of food so it can maintain a healthy weight. So once you have found out what the best food to feed my dog is, be sure to follow the right amount and frequency.
List of Best Food to Feed My Dog
If you want to give your pooch the best nutrition it needs, here are some healthy foods that you can incorporate in its diet:
Adult dogs should be fed roughly the same amounts of meat and whole grains daily. If you are feeding your pooch with cooked meat, which can easily be chewed down and swallowed, it would be best to incorporate crispy cereal foods in his meal. Pooch pellets and crackers, cooked rice and oatmeal, and cereals are some of the whole grain foods that you can add to your dog’s diet.
Vegetables contain plenty of vitamins and nutrients that are beneficial to your dog’s health. They are also rich in fibre which helps regulate healthy bowel movement. You can incorporate almost any type of vegetable in your dog’s diet except for potatoes and turnips. If you want to feed your dog with raw veggies, make sure they are exceptionally minced or juiced:
Soups and stews
Soups and stews are great for your pooch especially if he is ill and can be used to moisten a dry meal as well. Just make sure that you are not putting salt, spices and artificial additives on them however, as they are bad for your dog’s health.
Meat and Eggs
Meat, whether cooked or uncooked, should be part of your dog’s diet although it would be best to stick to leaner variations as those that contain too much fat can be unhealthy. Eggs, on the other hand, are rich in easy-to-digest riboflavin and selenium making it a healthy and tasty snack for your dog.
Dogs love peanut butter making it a great treat for your canine pet. It not only provides your pooch with healthy protein, but likewise healthful fats, vitamin B and E, and niacin as well. Put it inside a Kong so your pooch will remain occupied for long durations. Opt with pure peanut butter without salt for best results. And ensure that you are not giving your dog “lite” peanut butter which contains synthetic sweeteners, such as xylitol, that are extremely poisonous to canine pets.
Similar to peanut butter, cheese can be an amazing treat for your four legged friend so long as his tummy is fine with it (some dogs are lactose intolerant). Just to be safe, observe your pooch’s reaction after eating cheese. Choose products that have minimal fat or control the serving amounts since a lot of cheese are fatty. Generally speaking, you won’t go wrong with cottage cheese.
Yogurt is rich in calcium and protein which help strengthen your dog’s bones and muscles. However, ensure that you are using yogurts that are free from synthetic sweeteners or sugars. Because yogurt contains live bacteria, it can serve as probiotics that promote good gut health for your dog.
Fish is rich in omega 3 fatty acid which gives your pooch that glossy, good looking coat and also helps boost his immune system. Give your pooch cooked fish, integrate fish oil in its meal, or those discarded salmon skin that you leave on your plate.
Apples can aid clear off unwanted food deposits on your pooch’s teeth, helping promote good oral health and hygiene. They are also rich in fibre, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Don’t forget to remove every seed as well as its core to avoid choking hazards.
Canned Dog Foods
Try incorporating a can of dog food (something that is loaded with meaty substances) to your pooch’s meal so he can enjoy a tremendous nutritional boost. You can include table scraps in the mix as long as they are safe and healthy for consumption. In addition, you can moisten the food using milk or soup, particularly for pups and smaller breeds.
Commercial Dog Foods
Commercial dog foods may appear a bit boring but they are, nevertheless, designed to cater every nutritional requirement vital for your pooch’s overall health and happiness. Majority of them contain meat, veggies, fruits, and vitamins which are exactly what your dog needs on a regular basis. The American College of Veterinary Nutrition also states that commercial dog foods are safe and beneficial choices for pets.
Remember to opt with products that are ideal for your pooch’s specific stage of life. Examine its packaging and look for something that says “complete and balanced” from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). A dog food labelled “complete” will satisfy all of your pet’s nutritional needs and one that is labelled “balanced” will give your pooch the ideal nutritional ratio.
Top 10 Toxic Foods for Dogs
Keep in mind that there are certain foods that are completely safe and healthy for humans but are harmful and at times even deadly to dogs. Now that you know what the best food to feed my dog are, you need to know what are the worst. Here are top 10 toxic foods for dogs that you should avoid:
Although pooches love the scent of chocolates, these delicious human treats are actually quite poisonous to them. If you’re a chocolate lover, make sure that your chocolates are always out of reach from your dog.
Pet nutrition experts typically discourage owners from feeding their dogs with popcorn and pretzels and a lot of this has to do with the fact that these snacks are loaded with salt. In fact, feeding your pooch with salty food can lead to sodium ion poisoning. It can also make him excessively thirsty and urinate abnormally. If your dog vomits, is suffering from diarrhoea, seizures, and bloating, then there’s a chance that he has consumed excessive amounts of salt.
Onions and garlic
These popular food spices are extremely poisonous to canine pets. Onions and garlic can trigger oxidative damage to your pooch’s cardio vascular system bringing about blood ruptures that cause anemia.
Citric acids present in certain fruits like lemons, limes, and oranges can bring about diarrhea and vomiting. In some cases, it can even make your dog depressed and mentally ill.
There are canine pets that are lactose intolerant which means that when they consume dairy products rich in lactose such as milk and cheese, their digestive system becomes distressed making them vomit and causing diarrhea. In the event that your pooch reacts negatively to dairy foods, you need to stop feeding it to them entirely.
Sugar loaded Foods
Too much sugar is bad for humans and the same can be said to canine pets. As a matter of fact, the potential health consequences from eating excessive amounts of sugar is the same for both humans and pooches. This means that if you feed your dog with sugary foods, it can become obese, diabetic and suffer from dental health problems. So never let your dog chow down on sugary foods as should you.
Grapes and Raisins
You may have already fed your dog with grapes and raisins in the past and saw no complications and negative reactions from your pooch. Never do it again though as it’s not worth the risk. These foods have been documented to trigger renal failures in canine pets.
Bacon And Fatty Meat
Yup, bacon is bad for your four legged friend. Extremely fatty foods such as bacon and ham can bring about pancreatitis canine pets – not to mention they are salty as well which can lead to stomach aches, and in worst instance, can lead to excessive drinking of water, causing stomach bloating, which can be deadly.
Candies, bubble games and pastries
The deadliest ingredient in these types of food is xylitol which is known to trigger the onset of insulin surge in your pooch that can bring about low blood sugar levels and liver damage. Your dog may be suffering from xylitol poisoning if it becomes lethargic, dizzy and goes into seizure.
Avocados have this notorious reputation as dog killers and this is mainly because of its component known as persin, which is present in its leaves, seeds, bark and fruit. When consumed in large quantities, persin can be lethal to dogs. Our canine buddies though, are quite resilient to persin which means that it would require plenty of avocados to actually do some real damage.
In case your pooch chows down on something that he is not supposed to and exhibits symptoms like vomiting, fatigue, etc., contact your veterinarian right away. Talk to your vet on what foods are considered safe and what are harmful to dogs before you decide on a particular type of diet for your pet. This way, you will know what’s the best food to feed your dog and what are those that you should avoid.