When it comes to our dogs, we want to make sure they’re always happy and healthy. There are many ways to do this, such as feeding them fresh dog food and giving them daily exercise. However, if your dog has developed some unhealthy habits, for example eating too quickly or skipping meals altogether, it may be time to change your strategy.
That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you give your dog a better chance of success at mealtime. Whether you’re looking to switch up your dog’s diet completely or just make some small changes, this guide will show you everything you need to know.
Should I change my dog’s eating habits?
If your dog is prone to overeating, skipping meals, or snacking between meals, then yes, it’s definitely time to start making some changes to your dog’s lifestyle when it comes to your pup’s eating habits. Below we have some of our best training tips and advice from real dog owners who experience these types of issues with their dogs. Keep reading to find out if there is something you can change about your dog’s eating habits to get them on the right path to a long, energetic life.
Tip 1) Changing your dog’s diet
First, if you have talked with your vet and decided to go ahead and swap your dog’s food out for something new, remember to start by gradually changing your dog’s food over the span of a week or more.
Instead of making one big switch, try starting with 25% of something new and gradually moving towards 75%. Making the transition slowly can help ensure that they don’t experience any upset tummy due to the sudden change in diet.
You’ll also be setting your pup up for success by introducing flavors they already enjoy while simultaneously exploring the flavor of the new food. With this approach, soon enough you will have a four-legged foodie who loves their nutritional balance.
2) Incorporate more fresh food
Feeding your pup a nutritious diet is essential for them to maintain a happy, healthy life. To ensure that their diet is rich in vitamins and minerals, you can top their food with fresh, whole foods like vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins. You may also want to consider switching them over to a custom fresh food diet, as many veterinarians recommend a fresh diet for the essential benefits it has on a dog’s health.
Not only are these kinds of food sources packed with benefits and nutrients for your dog, but they can also often provide some much-needed variety from the same old dry kibble. Even if you serve your dog the most high-quality dog food available, they will still always enjoy variety and trying out new foods.
3) Avoid unhealthy food options
Try to avoid giving your dog human food, as certain unhealthy foods can cause health problems for your dog. Just like with humans, processed foods, artificial ingredients, and excessive amounts of salt or sugar can add more calories to your dog’s diet and cause them to become overweight, and in some cases, human food is even deadly to dogs.
Many dogs will begin to turn their nose up to their kibble and skip meals altogether waiting on something better to come along. As pet owners, we all want the best for our four-legged friends, and ensuring they have a delicious and healthy diet is essential to their well-being.
4) Avoid free feeding
Be sure to measure out proper portion sizes for your dog’s size and activity level, and to get your dog eating on a regular schedule. Feeding your pup the right amount of food tailored to their size and activity level helps them stay healthy, happy, and active.
It can be easy to spoil your furry friend with too many treats, and not pay attention to whether they ate a single bite of kibble throughout the day. Instead, measure and serve your dog the correct meal portion twice a day.
If your dog doesn’t eat all the food within 10 minutes then remove the food bowl and don’t offer any treats or human food until the next meal. This may take a few tries before your pup begins to get used to its new feeding routine, but consistency is important to make sure your pup stays at its ideal weight and has all its dietary needs met.
5) Don’t forget the importance of water
Keep your dog’s water bowl full at all times and encourage them to drink throughout the day if you believe they may be thirsty. It’s essential for pet parents to ensure their pup is adequately hydrated as it plays a major role in their overall health and well-being.
Keeping your dog’s water bowl full of fresh, clean water is a great way to ensure they are getting enough to drink throughout the day. Not only does this help keep them nicely hydrated, but it also provides them with the opportunity to rehydrate in-between meals and when engaging in an activity that makes them thirsty.
Most dogs will need water during physical exercise (especially on a warm day) so make sure you bring water along if you are going to the park for a game of fetch or on a long walk. Your canine companion will let you know they are thirsty by panting or stopping to rest while exercising.
6) Talk with your veterinarian about supplements
If you have just adopted a new puppy you may not be too worried about supplementing their regular diet too much, but if you have an adult dog you may want to take with your local vet about when supplements could benefit them.
Many breeds benefit from joint supplements, probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, and other vitamins included in their meal time. Providing high-quality supplements to your dog as a young adult can also help prevent future medical issues.
7) Other Considerations for your dog’s overall health
Your dog’s feeding routine is a key pillar in your dog’s overall health and happiness, once you and your pup have a routine that works be sure to stick to it for the long haul. Most dogs eat what is given to them, with little other option available to them, so be sure to pay attention to what they may be telling you about their diet through their eating habits. Once you and your veterinarian have everything figured out you can begin to focus on some other key areas that are important to your dog’s health. Some ideas for this include:
- Making sure your dog is meeting their daily exercise goals
- Providing daily canine enrichment for your dog’s mental health
- Taking care of your dog’s dental health daily
- Providing healthy supplements to your dogs
- Consider enrolling in dog training classes
- Work on building a life-long bond with your dog
Frequently Asked Questions: Dog Food
When should I switch my puppy’s food to adult food?
Ideally, you should switch your puppy’s food to adult food around the one-year mark. Always talk to your veterinarian as they may have advice specific to your dog’s breed. New puppies need more calories for their growing bodies and feeding them high-quality puppy kibble will give them a strong start in life.
How can I get my picky dog to eat?
Though many dogs love their kibble and never lose interest in the flavor, some may become less interested in kibble around 6-8 months of age. Around this age dry dog food becomes boring and your picky eater may even stop eating their regular meals, causing dog owners to become concerned.
This is a very normal life stage that most dogs experience in their life, and your dog will eat again when their appetite returns. You should always schedule a checkup to ensure there isn’t an underlying medical issue and consult your veterinarian immediately if your dog’s loss of appetite is combined with an upset stomach, lethargy, or any other medical concerns.
Some dog owner’s found that transitioning their dog’s kibble to a new flavor, or adding some water to the kibble can help a dog regain interest in their meals again. As many dogs lose their puppy teeth around 6+ months of age and this makes them dislike chewing hard bits of dog kibble due to their sore gums and teeth.
What are the most nutritious dog food options?
Feeding your dog a nutritious meal shouldn’t be complicated, and there are some food options that stand out from the rest. Choose a diet of high-quality protein with fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid food with artificial colors, preservatives, and other chemical ingredients or by-products. Look for foods that are made with natural, organic ingredients to ensure your dog eats something healthy every day.
What to do when my dog has an upset stomach?
Even the least sensitive dogs get an upset stomach from time to time, and when this happens make sure you give your dog a bland meal or two to help them get their stomach back on track. There are recipes you can find online, but it usually includes giving your dog some white rice and plain chicken to help them get over an upset stomach. Make sure to have lots of water available as well because your dog can become dehydrated quickly when this happens.
How do I know if I am overfeeding my dog?
Some dogs eat every drop of food offered to them whether they are hungry or not, and some dogs stop eating halfway through a meal and walk away. The best way to prevent overfeeding your dog is to measure their meals out and only offer food only twice a day.
How can I slow down my dog’s eating?
Does your pup inhale its food before you can even blink an eye? Consider using a slow feeder dog bowl to help slow your pup down. Slow feeders have a maze-like design that forces your dog to sniff and lick more while they are having a meal.
If your dog is concerning you with how fast they eat or eating so quickly they get sick immediately after a meal, then try something even more challenging like a snuffle mat or kibble ball and stop using your dog’s bowl entirely. Dogs love to hunt, sniff, and play; and that is exactly what they get to do when you feed them with a fun dog bowl alternative.
How much food should my dog eat?
Feeding your dog the right amount of food daily is essential to keep them from becoming over or underweight. Although you can always check the recommended feeding guideline on the packaging of your dog’s food, just remember these guidelines are meant for very active dogs and are usually overstated. Again, it is always best to schedule a checkup with your local veterinarian if you have concerns about your dog’s weight.
Consider your dog’s physic and whether you can see your dog’s ribs or not. There should be some definition in the abdomen and you should be able to feel your dog’s ribs easily, but you shouldn’t be able to see them clearly. If your dog is too skinny then bump their food up a small amount each day, and if they are overweight then feed them slightly less and take them on some extra walks each week.
If you need help visualizing this concept check out the image below sourced from petobesity.org.
What are the best dog foods?
There is a lot of debate on which dog foods are the best. There is wet food, dry food, fresh food, homecooked meals, and even raw diets are becoming more popular today. On top of this, you also have to grain-free and grain-inclusive options too.
Dogs also go through many life stages that require different nutrients and vitamins in their diet. For example, the dietary needs of puppies are very different from that of a senior dog, and active dogs will need a higher percentage of protein to keep them healthy and muscular. The best way to determine the right food for your dog is to ask your veterinarian or research the best dog foods for your dog’s breed and age.
For additional advice check out: Dogfoodadvisor.com
Learn about the best dog dental treats: The 12 Best Dog Treats for Bad Breath [2023 Review]
Learn about popular fresh dog food options: The 7 Best Fresh Dog Food Brands [2023 Review]
New puppy tips and tricks: Preparing for a Puppy: The Ultimate New Puppy Checklist
Final thoughts on your dog’s eating
Healthy eating habits are essential for your dog’s long-term well-being and overall health. With that in mind, a gradual transition to healthier food choices, along with incorporating more fresh whole foods, avoiding processed ingredients, and measuring out proper portion sizes are all great places to start. And remember to keep your dog on a good feeding schedule to ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need.
Additionally, be sure to top it off with some fresh food and recommended supplements to keep your pup in optimal health. Encouraging them to drink water regularly throughout the day will also help keep them adequately hydrated. Start implementing these tips today and you will be on your way to happy, energetic doggie.