Feeding Your Pet Dog

 

Feeding a pet dog comes down to three questions: what, when, and where.

The three things you have to keep in mind when feeding your dog are what you are going to feed him, at what time of day you are going to do it, and where.

Your choice of food is the most important decision you can take for him and is a vital part of dog health care. Like humans, dogs need to have a good diet in order live a long and healthy life. But their nutritional needs are different from those of humans. Dogs require high-protein diets that contain a mix of carbohydrate, fat, vitamins and minerals. By choosing nutritionally well-balanced dog food these requirements can easily be met.

The best way to do this is by feeding your dog a combination of semi-moist and/or canned dog food and dry food. It’s not a good idea to only feed your dog canned food. His teeth need exercise, which he will not get in a diet consisting exclusively of canned dog food. As well, this kind of food contains additives that are hard to digest and contain a lot of water, so you are not getting the best value for your money. Plus it will make your dog urinate frequently, thus difficult to housetrain, something you will certainly want to keep in mind in taking care of a dog. You can feed your dog some canned food, but it should not represent more than about 25% of his daily intake. We recommend purchasing canned food that is specially formulated according to the age and type of each dog.

Semi-moist dog food is better than canned food, because its water content is lower so you are getting more for your money, but once again, it should not be the only thing your dog eats. You need to provide dry food to in order to ensure your dog has good digestion, and healthy teeth and gums. The labels on dog food products will help you figure out the best ratio of dry to semi-moist or canned food for your dog, and your veterinarian or pet care center can also give you valuable dog care advice.

Your dog’s age will determine how often to feed him and when. Like babies, young puppies need to eat often, but they should be small meals, four or five times a day. When your puppy reaches the age of four months, you can cut this down to three daily meals, and you can time them to coincide with your family meals, which will make things easier. When he is nine months old cut the times down further, to just two meals a day, morning and evening, plus a morning snack of kibble.

Labradors tend to eat up everything you give them so watch how much you give your dog and don’t over-feed him. Calorie requirements will depend on how old and how active he is. A very active dog will not have the same calorie requirements as a less active dog of the same age. You may need to resort to a bit of trial and error until you discover what’s best for your particular dog. It is easy to recognise a dog that is correctly-fed: he will be well toned, his coat will be shiny and he will not be overweight but have the right amount of flesh over the ribs and hips.

You should choose the place where you are going to feed your dog and always feed him there. Dogs like to eat alone and undisturbed. Having people around them makes them nervous because they think their food is going to be suddenly taken from them, so they may eat in a hurry and then not digest the food well. Sometimes this can cause them to vomit up the food and eat it again. This should not be cause for alarm as it is normal, although it is not a pleasant sight. So make sure your Labrador retriever has his own quiet eating corner and avoid feeding him right next to your family dining table at mealtimes.

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