If you've ever wondered “what is the best food to feed my dog” or what's the “best diet for my dog”, then you're not alone. Every dog owner can relate. In this post, Felcana shed some light on how you can design a healthy balanced diet to keep your adult dog happy and healthy. This post explores the basics that make up a healthy balanced dog diet, how to keep your pet's dinners tasty and nutritious and making sure they don't become an overweight dog.
We will also look into the different types of commercial dog food and some key points to bear in mind when cooking up a homemade dog meal. We even have a homemade dog treat recipe instilled for you as part of the family fun!
So, what is the best food to feed my dog?
First and foremost, it is important to recognise that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. How much your dog needs completely depends on their eating habits, lifestyle and health.
"When a dog reaches 90% of its expected adult weight, it's considered an adult for feeding purposes, according to The Merck Veterinary Manual."
How much and how often?
Adult dogs should have one or two meals a day depending on their age, size, breed, and how much exercise they get. Although a dog can eat just once a day, giving two meals may help them digest the food better and control their hunger.
Start by looking at the feeding charts on dog food labels to find out the recommended meal size for your dog’s weight range. You then need to combine that information with your dog’s activity level. In general, lap dogs and less active breeds may need 10% less than the recommended amount as they get little exercise. On the other hand, an active dog who spends most time outdoors may need 20% to 40% more.
Keeping it nutritious
For humans, we know we're supposed to get our '5 fruit and veg a day', but most of us don't know what nutrients our pets require.
A healthy and balanced dog diet should include the following nutrients. When combined in the right rations, these should contribute certain amounts of dietary calories to your pet's daily meals, helping maintain a complete diet.
Protein: Protein should provide around 18% to 25% of your dog's daily calories. Chicken, egg, beef, turkey, lamb, and fish are all great sources!
Carbohydrates: These should contribute 50% of the calorie intake. Mix up your dog's carbohydrate intake with potatoes, sweet potatoes, and beans.
Fats: Fats are important for a healthy balanced diet and your dog needs about 5.5% of their calories to come from fats. Chicken or pork fat are great sources, as well as vegetables oil and coconut oil (which can also promote healthy skin and fur).
Fibre: Your dog needs at least 2.5% -5% fibre in their diet. Read more about the benefits of a high-fibre dog diet on
Vitamins: Your dog can get these from fruits and vegetables. Carrots are a great source of vitamins and help keep your dog's teeth clean and healthy.
Minerals: These are in beans, grains, meats, fruits and vegetables!
- Water: This is the most important yet often overlooked ingredient to a healthy balanced dog diet. Take a look at one of our earlier posts to make sure you understand the key signs of dehydration and how to get your dog drinking more water.
If you're concerned about your pet's diet, or just want some advice and reassurance, have a chat with your vet. They will be able to offer tailored advice based on your pet, their needs, and any existing health conditions.
Dry, canned, or semi-moist dog food?
Commercial dog foods are a safe and healthy option, according to The American College of Veterinary Nutrition. They are designed to meet all of a dog’s nutritional requirements as they contain meat, grains, vegetables, fruits, and vitamins.
It is important however to make sure you pick a food that’s right for your dog’s current life stage – puppy, pregnant, nursing, adult, or elderly etc. Always check on the packaging that the food is “complete and balanced.” Otherwise, you may have to supplement your dog's meals to create the optimum diet.
Deciding which type of food is best for your dog depends on you and your dog's preferences.
Dry Dog Food
Dry dog food provides the most nutrients per bite as it contains less moisture, so you won't need to feed as much to meet your dog's daily nutritional needs. It also costs the less per serving making it the most practical choice for larger breed dogs such as German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers. Dry dog food, often called kibble, can also be a good option if your dog has gum disease. Specially formulated food is helpful in decreasing gum diseases in dogs as it massages the dog's teeth and gums.
"Dry food is believed to be better for a dog's teeth. Wet food provides more moisture, which is especially helpful for those dogs that don't drink a lot of water" - Jerry Klein, DVM, Chief Veterinary Officer for the American Kennel Club (AKC).
Canned Dog Food
Canned dog food is another popular option. It can contain 68% to 78% water as it usually has more meat and seafood in it. If your dog likes to eat a lot but is overweight, then this could be a good option as canned food will fill him up less calories. Or, if your has urinary tract problems, wet dog food may be best because of the higher water content. However, unlike dry food which can be left in a dog's bowl all day, canned food will become stale quickly and should not be left standing for more that one hour. Once the can is opened, keep it in the fridge for no longer than 24 hours.
Semi-moist Dog Food
Last but not least, semi-moist dog food has 25% to 40% of water content. As this type of food is soft, it makes it easier for small dogs to eat and digest. However, semi-moist food tends to be higher in sugar and sale (and other substances like propylene and glycol) as the food manufacturers use these to preserve shelf life.
If you do decide to go with semi-moist dog food, make sure to pick one made with all natural ingredients. Many low quality semi-moist dog food is made with artifical colours and preservatives to make it more palatable and appealing to dogs.
At the end of the day, both wet or dry dog food can have different benefits for your dog. It's down to you and your dog to work out what they prefer, which option is best for their health, and which option suits your lifestyle.
Homemade Dog Food
It's become increasingly more popular for owners to prepare homemade dog food as people aremore conscious of and aware of their own, and their dogs, health.
However, getting homemade dog food to meet your dog’s daily nutritional requirements is an intricate task and takes a lot of work and dedication.
Be sure to do thorough research before you start your pooch on a new homemade dog diet - remember, dogs have different nutritional needs to us humans.
So, before you get your apron out, here are a few things you should keep in mind.
Find a good recipe. It is very difficult to get the balance right - many dog food recipes miss certain nutrients, especially iron, copper, calcium and zinc. It's best to choose a recipe created by a certified dog nutrionist or a PhD-trained animal nutritionist.
Follow the recipe. Cook all animal products to kill bacteria or it could make your dog sick. Cook grains, beans, and starchy vegetables so they are easier to digest.
Watch out for toxic foods! Some foods are poisonous to dogs. Avoid chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, avocados, and macadamia nuts.
Add the right supplements. This will depend on the recipe you are using and what nutrients are missing from the meals. A good recipe should include specific supplement instructions, but if not, chat with your vet or a certified pet nutritionist for their advice.
Make sure the diet is working! Take your dog to the vet before and after making any drastic changes to their diet. Your vet can make recommendations and examine your pet before the change. Take your dog back 2-3 weeks after switching diets to make sure he isn't gaining or losing too much weight. If your dog's weight does change, check again with the vet a few weeks later again.
Treats are OK, but sparingly!
40% of dog owners give their pets treats and snacks. There are a wide range of treats on the market, all of which vary largely in quality. As dog treats don’t have to follow standards in the same way food for a complete and balanced diet does, some commercial ones are high in sugar, colourings, milk products, and fat. Always check the ingredients label because even ‘low fat yoghurt drops’ can contain sugars or lactose.
In general, vets advice it’s best to limit dog treats. The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) recommends that treats should never be more than 5% of a dog’s daily calorie intake.
But we all have days where we want to pamper our pooches. If you are going to give dog treats, feed ones that are lower in calories and fat, and high in fibre. It's also important to include treats into your pet's total daily calorie intake, and not as an extra on top - this will help control your pet's weight.
Want to go the extra mile? Consider making fresh and healthy dog treats at home! Try these delicious healthy homemade banana & peanut butter dog biscuits with RSPCA’s easy recipe!
Well ... our pups think they're delicious!