What are the life stages of feeding my dog?

There are three life stages for feeding dogs: puppy, adult, and senior. Each stage has different nutritional requirements. A puppy diet is more energy-dense to meet the growing needs of a young dog.

Dr. Michael Geist
Green Dog Dental

How do I transition my dog from one stage to another or from one diet to another?

It's best to transition your dog's diet gradually over one to two weeks. Start by mixing 25% to 50% of the new diet with the old diet for a week or two, then increase to 75% of the new diet for another week or two. Abrupt diet changes can lead to upset stomachs or diarrhea.

How do I know if my pet's nutrition is lacking or suffering?

Assess your pet's weight and body condition. If you can feel their rib cage with a mild degree of pressure, they are in good body condition. Difficulty feeling the ribs indicates that they are overweight, while easily feeling the ribs may mean they are underweight.

What are the essential nutrients that my pet needs?

The basic fundamentals of nutrition are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. A balanced diet for your pet will contain varying proportions of these nutrients according to your pet's specific needs.

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

A veterinarian will assess your dog's overall health parameters, including weight, appetite, and any signs of illness like vomiting or diarrhea. They will also determine if your dog has any specific medical conditions that require a prescription diet.

When would my dog need a prescription diet?

A dog may need a prescription diet if they have a specific illness, such as pancreatitis or chronic kidney disease. These specialized diets can help improve your pet's health and longevity.

Can I feed my dog human food and table scraps?

Feeding your dog table scraps can lead to behavioral issues, weight gain, and gastrointestinal upset. It's best to stick to a nutritionally balanced, AAFCO-approved diet for your pet.

How do I know what types of food are toxic to my dog?

Look for reliable resources on the internet, such as university or veterinary hospital websites, to learn about toxic foods for dogs. Some common toxic foods include chocolate, garlic in large quantities, and avocado and peach pits.

How do I know if the food I'm giving my dog is making them sick?

Signs that a new food is making your dog sick include vomiting and diarrhea. Long-term diets can also cause issues like food allergies or intolerances, which can manifest as skin problems, ear infections, or gastrointestinal symptoms.

If I change my dog's diet suddenly, will it cause them harm?

An abrupt diet change may not necessarily harm your dog, but it can lead to changes in their bowel movements or gastrointestinal upset. It's best to consult with your veterinarian before making any sudden changes to your pet's diet.

How does an elimination diet work?

An elimination diet is both a treatment and a diagnostic tool for suspected food allergies or intolerances. Your veterinarian may recommend a strict new diet that eliminates all previous foods your dog has been exposed to. After a trial period, usually two months, you might reintroduce the previous diet to see if symptoms return.

How do I know if my dog has eaten something toxic to them?

Signs of toxicity in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and in severe cases, organ failure.

Can a dog live on a vegan diet?

Yes, there are prescription vegan and vegetarian diets available for dogs. However, it's important to ensure that these diets meet all of your dog's nutritional needs.

Is wet food more nutritious than dry dog food?

No, wet food simply has a higher water content than dry food. The nutritional value of wet and dry dog food is comparable, so choose the option that works best for your pet and your lifestyle.

Are prescription diets better for my dog?

That is managed on a case-by-case basis.

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

Eating grass is an evolutionary behavior. Usually, it means that something is bothering their tummy. They’ll do it to purge or bring something up. It may also be a sign that they have a chronic condition.

Will human food make my dog fat?

Overfeeding will cause weight gain in dogs, just like in humans. So if your dog is eating too much of the wrong food, they will get fat.

What foods do you recommend people avoid because it can be toxic to dogs?

In large quantities, garlic can be toxic to dogs, as it affects their red blood cells, although it is okay to feed in small quantities. Chocolate should always be avoided in dogs, and the pits of avocados and peaches should also be avoided, as they can get lodged in your dog’s body and may need to be removed with surgery.

If my dog consumes something toxic, what should my first step be?

Your first step is to call poison control and/or the SPCA hotline. They are available 24/7 to answer any poison-related questions and offer recommendations on therapy, supportive care, and potentially hospitalization.

How do I find the best diet for my dog?

Just find a balanced diet that fits within your budget. If your dog is healthy, of a stable weight, not vomiting, and having healthy bowel movements, a regular balanced diet should be sufficient.

How many times a day should I be feeding my dog?

There isn't a one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as some dogs require feeding once a day while others need two or three meals. Choose a feeding schedule that works best for your family and your dog's needs. Feeding them in the morning and in the evening usually works best for most pet owners.

Do I need to feed my dog a specific diet based on their breed or size?

While there are breed- and size-specific diets available, it's not a requirement to feed your dog these specialized diets. These recommendations are often based on nuances in size and breed, but a balanced, AAFCO-approved diet should suffice for most dogs.

How do you feel about supplements added to food?

Most commercially available, AAFCO-approved diets do not require additional supplementation. However, some pets with specific medical conditions may benefit from supplements such as B vitamins, vitamin D, or omega-3 fatty acids.

What is the most important information to look for on dog food labels?

Pay attention to the first few ingredients listed on the label, as these make up the majority of the food. Ensure that these ingredients align with your nutritional values and preferences for your pet.

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