Fresh water and the right food in the right amount improve the chances of a long, healthy life for your puppy. But sometimes, choosing the correct diet for your dog takes more consideration than simply grabbing a bag of kibble off the shelf and pouring it into a bowl. Consult your vet and consider your dog's age, weight and breed before deciding on a direction for your dog's diet.
Commercial dog foods are designed to provide the correct nutrition for dogs at different times of life. Puppy chow will contain a mix of ingredients for a growing dog, while adult dogs need a maintenance diet. Dogs that are pregnant, nursing or ill may need to eat more than at other times of life. Follow the guidelines on the pet food package and feed your dog according to her weight. If your dog is not getting enough nutrition, her ribs, spine and pelvis will become noticeable and you will need to put more meat on her bones.
Raw Food Diet
Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurst suggested a raw food diet for dogs in 1993, according to WebMD. Sometimes called the BARF (Bones and Raw Food) diet, this meal plan suggests that dogs should eat as their canine ancestors did in the wild. A diet of raw meat, bones and eggs, along with uncooked vegetables and fruits, should supply dogs with more energy and healthier coats, teeth and skin. The plan has risks as well, as it may be too rich for dogs that sleep more than they hunt. Bacteria in the raw meat can pose a health risk to humans as well as dogs, and bones can cause a dog to choke or break a tooth.
Skip food from the can or bag; this diet boasts that homemade is best. Using high-quality ingredients fit for the human table, the homemade diet consists of recipes that combine raw and cooked foods, including meats, grains, legumes and vegetables. Homemade dog treats, veggie burgers and other recipes can be cooked while you prepare your own food for one big, happy family. This plan recommends that you provide your dog with vitamin and fatty acid supplements for a well-balanced diet.
About 40 percent of American dogs are overweight because their owners feed them more food than they need, according to the Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook. An active adult dog will need more to eat than a senior dog or lap puppy, but you should be able to feel the ribs of your dog if she has a healthy, moderate weight. If your dog is too chubby, talk to your vet about reducing her food intake or switching to a lower-calorie product. Paws off the treats, lay off the table food and start a regular exercise routine.
- Science-Based Medicine: Raw Meat and Bone Diets for Dogs
- WebMd: Raw Dog Food: Dietary Concerns, Benefits and Risks
- WebMd: Feeding Your Adult Dog FAQ
- Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook; Debra M. Eldredge, DVM, et al
- Dr. Pitcairn's New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats; Richard H. Pitcairn
Based in Los Angeles, Mary Helen Berg has been writing about pets, travel, families and parenting since 1989. Her work has appeared in publications such as "The Los Angeles Times" and "Newsweek." Berg holds a Master of Science from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.