Most dogs are not fussy eaters and many happily live on table scraps, offcuts and the occasional dig in the bin. But this may not add up to the most nutritious diet. If you want to give your pet the nutrition she needs, it’s time to rethink her meal plan.
Most dog food products you’ll find in the supermarket and pet stores are safe and reasonably nutritious, but not all pet food is created equal. Your main options are dry food, tinned meals or those fresh meat rolls.
So should you go for wet or dry? It depends on your dog. Older dogs that have trouble chewing might struggle with dry food, whereas younger pets will be fine with dry – in fact, chewing the dry food can also benefit their teeth. Just make sure their water bowls are full if you feed your pets dry food.
If you go for tinned or those meat rolls, take a look at the ingredients to ensure you are getting one that is a complete food. While the main ingredient you will probably want to look for is meat, don’t be turned off by a list that includes animal by-products – these include bones and organs – which are really nutritious for your pet. And most grains are fine too. In fact, you want this variety, as meat alone isn’t going to provide enough nutrition. Look out for labels that say the product is ‘balanced’ or ‘complete’ and you’ll be on the right track.
- When it comes to pet treats, the RSPCA recommends you limit the number of commercial pet treats to one or two a week, as some have been linked to kidney problems in dogs.
- If you’re concerned about other ingredients that crop up in the lists on pet food labels, check with your vet about what to look out for and avoid.
- Also remember, while you might be tempted to go for ‘gluten-free’ or ‘low-allergy’ products, you are probably wasting your money unless your pet has a vet-diagnosed sensitivity.
- Premium pet foods aren’t necessarily better. Again, unless your vet recommends a premium pet food, stick with the cheaper options.
- Of course, with many dogs the trick isn’t getting them to eat, but getting them to stop. So portion control is important no matter what you feed your pet. Check the label for serving size suggestions. If you’re preparing your own food for your pet, ask the vet or other pet owners what an appropriate serving size is.
- Some pet owners like the convenience of putting lots of dried food in the bowl so the dog can graze throughout the day, but this isn’t a good idea as most dogs will overeat.
- While cats need animal protein, dogs can live as vegetarians, so if you are squeamish about meat or you’re a vegetarian yourself, it is possible to raise a healthy vegetarian dog. It will be tricky ensuring your pet gets the right nutrients, though, so speak to your vet about the best diet for your dog.