Dog owners usually spend more money on dog food than any other pet related expenses.
Knowing the basics of canine nutrition, how to read a dog food label, and what your dog really needs for good health is important.
Without good nutrition, your dog can get allergies, malnutrition, skin and coat problems, and obesity.
Perhaps the most significant problem is obesity which is caused by too many calories and not enough exercise. More than 40% of dogs in North America are overweight.
Dog food labels usually display charts showing how much to give your dog based on age and weight. However, these instructions are based on averages that may not apply to your dog. Your dog may not need as much food as indicated on the dog food label, particularly if your dog doesn't get enough exercise.
A good rule of thumb is to start with the minimum amount of food listed on the package for your dog's weight.
For instance, the label says to 2 3/4 to 3 1/2 cips of food to a dog that weighs 40 to 60 pounds. Your dog is 50 pounds. So start feeding 2 3/4 cups per day to your dog, preferably divided into two meals per day. This means that you give your dog a little less than one and a half cups in the morning and again in the evening.
Many dogs become overweight because they receive too many treats in addition to their regular food. Treats should make up no more than 10% of a dog's daily calories!
You can help your dog lose weight by limiting dog food portion size, cutting back on treats and increasing the daily walk and exercise.
Avoid the following foods when giving your dog treats or a homemade diet:
- Onions and garlic
- Raisins and grapes