Dog Nutrition - Getting Your Dog on the Path to Good Nutrition

What is the right food to feed my dog?

It depends on the life stage, from puppy to adult to geriatric dog. They’re ideally they're still nursing from their mom when they’re puppies. We may have to transition to a liquid, if not a wet food diet. Here, we have some. It's calorie-rich, and that's what's really important in puppies if they're not nursing. Then this is a great canned food diet to transition to if need be.

Dr. Lander
Advanced Animal Care in Richmond

What are the life stages of feeding my dog?

Like I said earlier, I kind of jumped the gun there a little bit, but puppy, adult, and geriatric. There are certain things to consider long-term after that.

How do I wean my puppy and get them on regular food?

By the time puppies are four or five weeks old, they can start weaning off of their mother's milk. If they still need to be on a liquid diet, that's not necessarily ideal. The ideal is transitioning to a wet food diet, which still has a lot of moisture in it and is easy to eat.

Should I feed my dog on a schedule? And how do I know if my dog's nutrition is suffering?

Feeding them on a schedule is probably what's the most common. You can free-feed some dogs. Sometimes they just gorge themselves and they eat entirely too much and then we run into conditions like bloat and obesity. As a whole, dogs should eat about twice a day, just like we eat on a schedule.

As for whether your dog’s nutrition is suffering, your veterinarian is probably the best one to determine that. Your vet can decide if they are obese or whether they're having joint issues. Is their fur dry? A dry coat really tells us they are not getting the right oils and minerals in their diet. Those are really good indicators.

How do I know if I'm feeding my dog too much?

Again, it's really good to be assessed by the veterinarian based on what's called body condition score, so we'll feel their hips and their ribs, and overall just how they're doing at home. Are they really lethargic? Do they get winded really fast? Those things may tell us they're a little overweight. On the other han, if we can feel the ribs really prominently and/or their hips stick out, they might not be getting enough food.

What are the essential nutrients my dog needs?

Proteins, carbs, vitamins, and minerals are really important. Especially right now, you may hear about grain-free diets. Those grains, or carbohydrates, are actually a really important part of their diet.

How will a veterinarian be able to assess if my dog is getting proper nutrition?

As a veterinarian, I'd look at the fur and making sure that the coat's really shiny and clean. I'd also take a look at heir teeth. They might be on a wet food diet but need to transition to kibble or a dry food diet to help break up that tartar.

There are so many brands of dog food. How do I know what is the best one for my dog?

All of them have components that are beneficial. Certain companies do more research and make sure that their diets are formulated appropriately, giving them advantages. There are some that also offer prescription diets that are formulated specifically for a certain dog and this dog’s conditions. As a whole, my preferences are Purina, Hills, and Royal Canin. They do the most research in my opinion.

When would my dog need a prescription diet?

A prescription diet is used when conditions arise. Honestly, we can even sometimes use it as a preventative measure in some dogs, but we usually suggest them when something's diagnosed. For example, if we have joint issues, we might suggest a diet that has certain things like glucosamine and chondroitin in it to lubricate the joints. This is weight management. It just helps them feel full, but we worry about calories a little more for that, so maybe our diabetic or overweight patients. And I already discussed the need for calorie-rich diets for puppies.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (859) 202-3641, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.

Dog Nutrition - FAQs

Dr. Lander
Advanced Animal Care in Richmond

Is a dog able to live on a vegan diet?

There are some vegetarian options, for example, hydrolyzed protein. Because a lot of times, it's the protein source that animals can be allergic to if they have food allergies. The bottom line is protein sources need to be there somehow. So in dealing with a strictly vegan diet, even vegans necessarily need their protein. We just have to be sure it's there.

Is wet food more nutritious than dry foods?

I wouldn't say it's necessarily more nutritious. It may offer certain things that dry food doesn't. Wet food, for example, is really good if we're worried about moisture and ensuring that they get enough water throughout their day. Whereas dry may be better for their teeth. Kibble breaks up the tartar on the teeth. Each one plays their own role.

Are prescription diets better for my dog?

Prescription diets may be better for your dog if your dog has certain conditions that require that prescription. So as a whole, happy, healthy dogs don't necessarily need prescription diets, but it’s not going to hurt your dog. But unless certain things come up, whether they have osteoarthritis and we want to make sure that they get lubrication of their joints, you probably want to avoid a prescription diet due to cost.

If my dog eats grass, does that mean they're missing something in their diet?

Not necessarily. I think that's a myth going around. I've heard that a lot. "They must be sick or they have an upset stomach." I think dogs sometimes just eat grass. They're bored. They like the taste of it. I mean, the point I'll hit later on is just making sure that they get carbs, proteins, and grains in their diet. That's something they've eaten in the wild, whether or not they're eating a wild animal, etc.

Will human food make my dog overweight?

Human food has a tendency to make your dog overweight. They're already getting their normal diet. We probably aren't taking into account the calories that the extra human food adds, let alone that our food is sometimes really fatty and can cause things like pancreatitis.

Will free-choice feeding make my dog overweight?

Free-choice feeding could make your dog overweight. Some dogs can manage themselves well. They eat enough to be full. But as a whole, I would say most dogs need to be fed on a schedule.

What are some other myths about dog nutrition that you hear as a veterinarian?

This is my favorite point. So grain-free diets right now have been going around as the big fad—that's really important in people's opinions. And maybe at one point, it was for certain things, but I think it's getting overused. Unless your dog has been diagnosed with a food allergy by a dermatologist or they're having skin issues or they've seen an internist for GI upsets, we should not be giving dogs these grain-free diets. It's actually correlated to a horrible heart condition called DCM, and that's oftentimes fatal. So let's prevent that by not starting a grain-free diet unless it's been prescribed.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (859) 202-3641, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.

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