This is part one of a two part series….the next blog will be on weight in pugs.
Things you need to know about my perspective on feeding dogs:
* There is no one perfect food for every dog. What works for my dogs may not work for yours.
* Dog food is a HOT topic. I’ve seen more civil discussions about the death penalty and abortion.
* Approach resources on dog food with skepticism. Not all research is the same or as rooted in solid principles.
* Vet diets are not the work of Satan.
* Unless you are a credentialed animal nutritionist, then you should not be designing your dog’s food
What to Look For
I will be talking about feeding healthy dogs and only barely scratching the surface of specific medical issues.
While I do not feel vet diets are all necessarily bad, I don’t generally use them for my healthy dogs. I have fed a wide range of foods over the last 40 years….kibble, raw, home cooked, etc. What I want to see in a dog food is a recognizable protein (assuming the dog is NOT on a low protein diet due to health issues). I want to see more specificity than “animal by-products”. I prefer for a meat protein to be in the first 3 listed ingredients. I prefer not to feed foods that are pea/legume heavy or corn/wheat/soy heavy.
I have active dogs….we do sports and hikes so I prefer a higher protein and am not opposed to a somewhat higher fat content, because my dogs ARE active. I will say that I have tended to feed my seniors a fairly high protein diet (assuming no kidney issues) because I have found that it did help with geriatric wasting. Most diets specifically for seniors have tended to have a lower protein than I like…but again, my dogs are active throughout their lives.
I like a food that has a variety of formulas. Many of my older dogs, that I adopted as older dogs, had food allergies/sensitivities which seriously limited what I could feed them so when I do find foods they can eat, I strive to find more than one protein they can consume and I rotate them. My current two (one pug aged 9 and one mutt aged 4) have had their foods rotated since coming to me…both came to me as puppies. They get a rotation of kibble, dehydrated/freeze dried raw and “true” raw.
I also am not stingy with treats and tend to focus on single ingredient treats, most of which I make myself. But there are very good commercial treats out there. I want to see that the food I’m feeding has met standards…..this is easier with kibble and harder with raw food.
Amount to Feed and How Often
I generally ignore whatever amounts are written on the bag. It is often more than my dogs need. Appropriate amounts can also vary based on age, activity of the dog, fat/carb/protein content of the food.
As a general rule, with my two dog who are both between 6.8 and 7 kgs, I feed no more than 1/3 cup twice a day….and most often feed ¼ cup. I vary between 1/3 and ¼ based on their activity, how much training we are doing (cause they get a lot of treats during training) and weather. In the heat of the summer, we are not as active….so smaller amounts.
I have fed some of my seniors 3 or 4 meals a day as I have found a few of them needed to have more frequent meals and one small meal in the evening to avoid morning nausea….again, I didn’t give them MORE, I just divided up what would have been in two meals into 3 or 4.
I am not going to wade into these waters too deeply except to say that there are any number of medical issues that may require a veterinary diet. We have seen this many times in the rescue with diabetes, protein losing enteropathy, liver disease, kidney disease and certain kind of uroliths (urinary crystals and stones) to name just a few. Dogs with medical issues like the ones mentioned DO need specific diets and generally the BEST diets are the veterinary ones. You might be able to find alternative diets, but that would require a consultation with an animal nutritionist/veterinary nutritionist. This is not something you can freelance.
Calculating Food Amounts
There are a variety of food calculations. This is the one I prefer because I’m mathematically challenged and this one does most of the hard work for me:
Evaluation of Canadian raw diets: