6 Do’s and Don’ts of Feeding Your Dog

silver bowl with dog food and 6 do's and don'ts of feeding your dog around the rim

In this day and age, most of us are pretty conscious about the food we put into our bodies. With the plethora of information out there about the different foods we eat, it’s hard not to be hyper-aware. But can we say the same thing about our dogs’ diets? We all love our dogs and want to select the best food for them to eat, but that is easier said than done. It’s important to be conscious about what our dogs eat, since they can’t make that choice for themselves. Here are 6 do’s and don’ts of feeding your dog a high quality diet.

Silver bowl half full of dog food

DON’T assume all dog foods are created equal.

One trip down the pet aisle at the store is all you need to realize there are a lot of options for what to feed your dog – and they all claim to be the best food you can feed Fido! However, they can’t all be the best. So what’s the good, bad, and ugly of dog food? It’s easy to assume that the people making food for our canine friends have their best interests at heart. Unfortunately, the truth is that some companies will opt to produce dog food in the cheapest way possible, which means skimping on real, whole food ingredients and packing it with unhealthy fillers and preservatives. In many cases, the old adage, “you get what you pay for,” applies heavily to dog food.

We love Taste of the Wild dog food.

DO know how to read the labels on your dog’s food.

Dog food labels are hard to read, not only because of the small print, but also because, unfortunately, these labels can be deceptive. For example, using the term “beef” on a product requires that beef be at least 70% of the total product. But adding a word after, such as “beef dinner” or “beef entree,” only requires that beef be at least 10% of the total product. And it doesn’t stop there. “Splitting” is the controversial practice of dividing an abundant ingredient into smaller portions to bump other ingredients up the list. For example, saying “corn meal,” “corn flour,” “flaked corn,” etc. instead of just “corn.”

Two brown puppies eating from purple bowl

DON’T feed your dog the same food throughout his whole life.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but puppies, adult dogs, and senior dogs all have different needs when it comes to nutrient profiles. Most dog food companies have different, specially-formulated foods for the different life stages, so be sure you’re checking your labels!

DO talk to your vet about how much food your dog should be eating.

Another important aspect of feeding your dog is making sure you’re feeding him enough, but not too much. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), approximately 54% of dogs can be classified as overweight or obese. Long term effects of excess weight include hypertension, liver disease, and damage to bones and joints. Your vet can be a great resource when it comes to planning your dog’s diet, and can also help you supplement or cut calories if your dog isn’t at an ideal weight.

DON’T store dog food improperly.

Dog food storage is simple once you get the hang of it, but there some mistakes you might be making without even knowing it! Allowing your dog’s food to be exposed to air can speed up the rate of food degradation and increase risks for bacterial contamination, so make sure you’re properly sealing the bag or box after you are done with it! Throwing away the original packaging may not be a good idea, since high quality dog food bags are specially made to keep out the elements and maintain freshness for as long as possible. Lastly, don’t keep your pet’s food past the expiration date. Expiration dates are there to protect your pet’s health.

Shihtzu with ice cream sandwich in it's mouth

DO know what human foods are okay to feed your dog.

The truth is, even though it can be a bit taboo, most of us feed our dogs “human food”. Some people even make their dogs’ food at home with whole food ingredients. Make sure you stay knowledgeable about what human foods are good and bad for your dog. This recipe for Summertime Dog Treats contains ingredients that are healthy for dogs.

Did you know that Xylitol is highly toxic for dogs? According to the Pet Poison Hotline, a 10-pound dog would only need to eat a single piece of sugar-free gum to reach a potentially toxic dose. Xylitol is also found in toothpaste and some peanut butters. Make sure you’re checking the ingredients before you feed your dog anything you’re not sure about. Another thing to avoid feeding your dog is grapes. They can cause kidney failure. Who knew?!

Feeding your dog a high quality, well balanced diet is pretty easy once you get the hang of it. The health of our beloved canine friends rests in our hands as pet owners. That means it is of the utmost importance to be educated and be a responsible dog owner.

Did you learn anything new from these tips? Let us know in the comments.

Don’t forget to check out our quiz, Are You A Responsible Dog Owner? And stay tuned for the rest of our Responsible Dog Ownership Month during the month of September.

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  1. I enjoyed the Dos & Donts of feeding your dog. Grapes surprised me greatly. The sugarfree sweetner is scary. There was no mention of chocolate….white vs milk vs. Dark. Any info on this?

    1. Good question, Mary!

      Chocolate contains theobromine, which is easily metabolized by humans, but is metabolized much more slowly by dogs, allowing it to build up to toxic levels! Chocolate also contains caffeine, which can speed up your dog’s heart rate and stimulate their nervous system. ALL chocolate contains theobromine, even white chocolate. Cocoa powder, baking chocolate, and dark chocolate are much more harmful than white or milk chocolate, but even small amounts of white or milk chocolate can cause ill effects. The toxicity of chocolate depends on the type consumed and the size of the dog. It’s not recommended to feed a dog any chocolate at all.

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