Every dedicated dog lover wants to do the best for their pet to make sure they are as healthy, happy, and well cared for as they can be. And there’s no better place to start than by looking at their diet, because this is a key factor in maintaining a dog’s health and well-being.
James Wellbeloved, who have been producing a range of tasty, natural dog food for more than 25 years, have some tips to help you make the best choices for you and your dog.
Feed your dog a healthy dog food
With so many products on the market, finding the ideal healthy dog food for your pet is no easy task. You need to take many things into consideration, including your dog’s age, breed, size, and fitness. Ask yourself does the food contain easily digestible, quality ingredients? Is it complete and balanced with all essential minerals and vitamins? And — very importantly — does your dog think it’s delicious?
Many pet owners like to go for a natural option. But what exactly does the term ‘natural’ mean in this context? Generally, it refers to the food containing ingredients derived from plants, animals, micro-organisms, or minerals to which nothing has been added. Many natural foods also exclude artificial ingredients, preservatives, and colours.
A natural dog food range may contain animal protein sources such as turkey, lamb, duck, and fish, whole grains like barley and rice, starches like potato, and vegetables and herbs.
Feeding your dog a good, healthy diet brings lots of benefits — a glossy coat, nourished skin, support for the immune system, a healthy digestive system, and good energy levels — and a happy, healthy four-legged friend who can enjoy life to the full.
Sadly, around half of the UK’s canine population is either overweight or obese, so ensuring your dog gets plenty of exercise and isn’t overfed is vital for his health and well-being. Each dog is an individual, and their dietary needs vary depending on several factors. Feeding guides on dog food packaging can help when deciding how much to feed your dog, but if you have concerns about their weight, seek advice from your vet. It’s best practice to weigh each meal so that you know that you are consistently feeding the same/right amount each time.
Keeping a food diary, detailing everything your dog eats each day, is a useful tip —sometimes owners are amazed to discover exactly how many treats their dogs are having on a daily basis!
Try not to give treats ad hoc (no more than 10 per cent of their daily food allowance); use them for training and to reward good behaviour, and remember to adjust your dog’s mealtime portions accordingly. Dogs are great manipulators and they’ve mastered the art of persuading us to treat them by using those irresistible puppy dog eyes to full effect. Be strong and don’t give in — you can always offer a healthy treat such as a chopped carrot rather than the crust off your toast!
A balanced, complete, commercially produced diet should provide all your dog needs to stay healthy and happy, but feeding them a small amount of human food (no more than 10 per cent of their daily allowance) can add a bit of variety, or provide a healthy, low-calorie alternative to commercial treats. Small amounts of lean meat or fish, and many vegetables and fruits won’t do your pet any harm and most dogs love them.
Bear in mind, however, that not all human foods are good for dogs; some are toxic. Common ones include grapes, raisins, onions, and chocolate. When it comes to human food, it’s best to always play safe and not leave items lying around within reaching distance of your dog.
Unlike us, dogs don’t need great variety in their diet, so it makes sense that once you find a food your dog enjoys, you stick with it. Routine is key to maintaining your dog’s digestive health. However, there may be occasions when you need to change your pet’s food, either because you want to try a new brand or type, or because of veterinary advice. Remember, you must change food gradually, usually over a period of around two weeks, unless advised otherwise by your vet. Failure to do this can lead to tummy upsets and diarrhoea, so begin by adding a small amount of the new food to your dog’s existing diet, and gradually increase this over the two-week period until you have phased out the old food completely.