Dog Nutrition: Smart Meal Tips
How much should I feed my dog?
The calories listed on our meal plans are averages based on recommended feeding guidelines for a range of body weights. Your dog’s actual food requirement can vary 25-50% from these guidelines! Factors such as age, activity level, and your dog’s own metabolism can cause a wide variation in the amount of calories needed to maintain an ideal body weight. The only reliable method to keep your dog at a healthy body weight is to first ask your veterinarian what is considered an ideal body weight for your dog. If your dog is overweight, reduce your dog’s food intake by 25% and check his weight each month by using the same scale at home or at your vet’s office. Plan to also increase your dog’s daily exercise routine and feed cooked veggies in place of treats. Your dog should experience safe weight loss at an average of ½ to 1 lb per week or 2-4 lbs per month.
Whenever making changes in the diet, you must check your dog’s body weight at least once a month. This will insure that you are feeding the proper amount of food. Food intake is then adjusted up or down depending on what is needed to maintain your dog’s ideal body weight. It is also a good general practice to check your dog’s body weight often. Do not depend on your judgment alone. There is no substitute for the numbers on a scale!
How should I feed a new diet to my dog?
Make food changes slowly for your dog to adapt. It is always a good idea to mix new foods in with the old diet to decrease the chances for some initial upset--usually just some loose stools that tend to correct with a little time and patience. A general rule of thumb is to add between 25-50% of the new diet to the same diet you have been feeding for the first week or two. After the first couple of weeks, if your dog continues to experience abnormal changes in bowel habits, you may need to be more selective. Start by feeding a single source of carbohydrate (rice or potatoes) and a single source of protein (cottage cheese or chicken). When the stool becomes normal, add only one new food item every 2 weeks and take notes! Watch your dog’s stools to determine which foods agree with him. Be aware that occasional changes in the stool do not necessarily mean you need to change what you are feeding. Other factors such as travel, stress, and illness can affect your dog’s digestive system. Consult your veterinarian if your dog suffers from chronic vomiting or diarrhea.
Why do I need to add supplements?
It is very important to provide your dog with adequate amounts of calcium when preparing homemade meals. Prepared meals do not supply enough calcium since skeletal bones are not typically added. In the wild, dogs ate the bones of prey animals which supplied them with a natural source of calcium. Pet food manufactures are required to add calcium and other vital mineral and vitamins to their products to avoid deficiencies. The Balance IT® supplement we recommend was specifically designed to supply an optimum of all the essential nutrients when diets are homemade. Our recipes were formulated to fed with Balance IT® to ensure optimum nutrition.
What if I prefer to use my own supplements?
You must be sure that you provide your dog with a good calcium source like human grade bone meal, approximately ¼ tsp. per 10 lbs daily. Then ask your vet to recommend a quality vitamin/mineral supplement. Whole food supplements such as the Missing Link can also be tried. Note: These supplements do NOT provide adequate amounts of calcium. You must use general supplements in conjunction with a calculated daily dose of calcium. Only the Balance IT® supplement contains pre-measured amounts of calcium and other essential nutrients based on your dogs body weight and diet you are feeding.