A balanced diet is a basis for long and healthy life. This also applies to our four-legged friends. But food is not just food: In order for a dog to be supplied with all the essential nutrients, minerals, trace elements, and vitamins, its individual needs must be taken into account when choosing the food. This is where nutritional advice for dogs can help. In this article, you will find how to find good nutritional advice and some basics when it comes to dog feeding.
Nutritional advice for dogs: when is it useful?
Basically, dogs are well cared for with a balanced and age-appropriate complete feed. However, if you have a four-legged friend with special requirements (chronic illness, old age) or you decide on a different type of feeding (e.g. BARF), you should seek advice from a dog nutritionist.
Specialist veterinarians for animal nutrition offer particularly high-quality feed advice. If you are looking for nutritional advice for dogs in your area, feel free to ask your veterinarian as well. There is now also nutritional advice for dogs online.
But be sure to pay attention to the qualifications of the advisor: There are many self-proclaimed “dog nutritionists”. Some of them actually have profound knowledge, others unfortunately not at all. At the vet, on the other hand, you are on the safe side. And when it comes to diseases and adapted feeding, this should always be your very first point of contact!
Depending on the consultant, the costs for a dog nutritional consultation also vary. Veterinarians are bound by the scale of fees for veterinarians, which stipulates tiered billing rates for such consulting services. You can ask for a budget in advance, even with non-veterinary consultants, of course.
Dog nutrition at a glance: What do dogs eat?
If you decide to feed your dog food from a pet shop, you have the choice between dry and wet food. Both variants undoubtedly have their advantages. In many cases, dry dog food is simply more practical: it is easier to dose, does not spoil as quickly in summer, smells less, and produces no can waste. As the name suggests, wet dog food contains significantly more moisture and thus supports the dogs in drinking water. You can find more information about the advantages and disadvantages of wet and dry feeding here.
In addition to choosing a complete feed, you can also cook for your dog yourself, BARF (raw feeding) or Preyen (feeding whole prey). However, these forms of nutrition require a high level of knowledge about correct dog nutrition and require some time. If you are planning this feeding for your dog, be sure to seek dog nutritional advice from your vet! Otherwise, you run the risk of feeding your darling the wrong food over and over again and harming him.
This is how you determine the right amount of food
On the packaging of every complete feed, you will find a feeding recommendation, which is usually based on the weight and often also on the size of the dog. These recommendations are always based on a “normal” dog. They are therefore optimal for an animal with an ideal weight and average activity. If your dog is overweight or underweight and/or its activity level deviates from the average, you must correct the recommended amounts upwards or downwards accordingly.
Feeding the dog: how many times a day?
When should you feed dogs, in the morning or in the evening? How long should the break be after feeding? And should the dog be fed once or several times a day? As so often in canine nutritional advice, the answer is: It depends.
If healthy, adult dogs are given a complete feed, you can usually choose between feeding them once or multiple times. The dog feeding time can also be based on your and your dog’s preferences. Remember that immediately after the big feeding, there will be a rest and then a walk.
Puppies, older dogs, or those with metabolic diseases need to be fed several times a day. It relieves the digestive tract and is also readily accepted by healthy dogs. It builds up fewer cravings and can thus help overweight dogs lose weight. Not having a fixed feeding time gives you more flexibility when you travel a lot.
If the dog is fed BARF or Preyen, it is advisable to feed it once a day: These rations require aggressive gastric acid that is as concentrated as possible in order to be able to break down the raw components and digest them well. Cooking, on the other hand, massively increases digestibility, so that home-cooked dog food can be given several times a day.
Feed recommendation dog: Which dry or wet food is best for dogs?
No matter which form of food you choose: It is important that the offer is tailored to your needs, for example junior, adult, or senior dog food. You also have to make sure that the product is labeled as a “complete feed”. This is the only way to guarantee that your dog’s energy and nutrient requirements are reliably covered.
In addition to these so-called complete feeds, there are supplementary feeds, which are not suitable as sole nutrition for the dog.
Snacks: how often can you give them?
Every dog is individual and has its own energy requirements. And as a pet owner, you don’t always have to keep an eye on the weight of your dog. But you should, because often the small “sins” of the day are forgotten like treats when calculating the daily ratio. The well-intentioned snacks, in particular, can be pure hip gold, as they often contain a high proportion of carbohydrates and fats. So be sparing with food outside of meals.
With dogs, love doesn’t go through the stomach! Attention and cuddles are a healthy alternative.
Freshwater – a must
Your four-legged friend should always have enough fresh water freely available. Fill the bowls fresh every day and clean them regularly. This is not only important in summer!
If your dog eats wet or fresh food, he will drink less than with dry feeding. If he’s not drinking enough water, a little meat juice can make him drink more. Alternatively, the feed can also be mixed to make it “soupy”.
Feeding at a glance:
- deciding on a type of feed (dry, wet, or mixed feeding)
- BARFen – “Biologically appropriate raw feeding” – as an alternative to dry or wet food
- avoid frequent feed changes
- only change the feed-in in small steps
- pay attention to high-quality forage
- provide sufficient rest breaks after eating
- always provide plenty of water.