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What to Feed a Dog
Dogs are very adaptable when it comes to diet, because they have thrived in such a variety of different environments, and on a wide variety of diets. Because of this they are less likely to suffer dietary problems than many other animals. However, while a dog may survive on a less than adequate diet, this is obviously not ideal and there are some important general rules to keep your dog in the best condition. Most importantly, a dog should only be fed once a day; it should not be given treats every time it begs, or the owner eats. By sticking to top quality commercial dog food you should meet all your dogs nutritional requirements. If you purchase your pet from a breeder, ask them what food they recommend. As a rough guide, an adult dog requires daily around 15gms of food per 450gms of body weight. Around 65-70% should be protein rich food (eg. meat), while the remainder can be dry dog food or table scraps. Treats like chocolate can be toxic for dogs and rich food scraps can cause digestive problems or obesity. A diet comprised of mainly human food scraps or dry food will lead to malnutrition.
• Excessive feeding - will result in obesity and this is an increasing problem amongst pet dogs as many owner love to indulge and treat their dogs. This ‘love’ can be very dangerous as the complications from obesity include heart problems, metabolic problems, inability to exercise properly and a variety of other physical diseases such as arthritis, due to the strain on the dog’s body to carry the extra weight. Obesity will shorten a dogs lifespan.
• Inadequate feeding is not uncommon, particularly with breeders who are trying to get animals into "Show Condition". If an animal is thin but still healthy, there are two possibilities: lack of opportunity to eat, or lack of motivation to eat. However, chronic limiting of food is neglect, and it is in many areas a criminal offence, or at least punishable by a fine. A starving dog can become more aggressive, and can suffer skin conditions, metabolic problems, muscle wasting and will generally be more susceptible to illnesses.
The ideal diet for a dog is one that supplies daily all the elements needed for the dogs bodily development and functions. It should be balanced and palatable with varying textures (dry food and soft meat or tinned food). The amount of water contained in the food can influence its spoilage. As a general rule the higher the percentage of water, the poorer the stability of the food. Do not feed a dog spoilt food as it will be unpalatable and may contain bacteria or toxic products of spoilage.
Bones are rich as a source of nutrients. They also exercise the dogs jaw and keep its teeth clean. Raw bones should be supplied regularly, however avoid small chicken bones and other cooked bones as they have a tendency to shatter into small pieces, causing injuries to the mouth and palate, or digestive tract. There are a variety of chewable treats designed especially for dogs, including pigs ears and biscuits that are designed to freshen the breath and keep the teeth and gums healthy. If your dog has bad breath, most likely it is due to poor diet. If your dog also suffers from flatulence you are probably giving them either poor quality food, or too much cooked meat.
Especially for active dogs, you must always provide fresh, clean water, and keep it in a shady place to avoid evaporation, or the water becoming too hot. In summer you may need to refresh water at least twice a day. Consider having at least two water bowls in case one gets knocked over, especially in hot weather and when you are away from home for the day. Ensure you give your dog access to adequate amounts of water after strenuous exercise or work to avoid dehydration.