Dog Food

All about Dog Food

I’m sure you’ve heard it all – dry dog food, wet dog food, organic dog food, raw dog food, organic wet dog food, kibble, hypoallergenic dog food, vegan dog food and then the same for puppy food! Wet puppy food, puppy kibble, etc. Also don’t forget all of the brands out there – big and small. And finally there’s homemade dog food. So how do you choose the best dog nutrition?

What should I feed my puppy?

The answer is actually not so simple! Let’s start at the beginning. Most breeders will give you a bag of puppy dry food (kibble) to take home. Chilli wasn’t too keen on his food, I thought Chihuahuas just ate very little. I was visiting a friend who then told me all about how he prepares homemade dog food and why he believes it is better for dogs. I liked the idea of the food being preservative free, so I spoke to my vet who said home-cooked puppy food would be great as it is easy to get the right nutritional balance of carbohydrates and protein, and to include vitamins and minerals essential for a small dog. For a larger dog this can be more tricky.

What do puppies eat? I soon discovered a scrambled egg was Chilli’s favourite breakfast meal! The egg is rich in protein and the yolk in nutrients so it’s a great choice. I also started cooking chicken with vegetables and rice which Chilli found very interesting, and ate with great enthusiasm. I also introduced bits of other meats such as beef, a tiny bit of ham, and cheese. He even loved eating bananas and apples! This also covers what human food can puppies eat.

What are the best times to feed a puppy? I began by feeding Chilli 5 times per day. That soon became a little difficult so I reduced it to 4 times, which suited him fine. Don’t forget the size of a puppy’s tummy is tiny so you don’t want to overfill it, while at the same time your puppy needs the energy and nutrition to grow. At what times should I feed my puppy? First thing in the morning, an early lunch, afternoon snack and then dinner.

What treats can I give my puppy? This depends on what your puppy finds attractive. I mean, what makes your puppy eager to do something with enthusiasm so that he or she can get a tasty reward? For example, I used tiny cubes of cheese which I cut up as treats. However, when Chilli and I went to puppy class, the cheese smell was not interesting enough compared to what the other dogs were having! So one of the trainers suggested I grill or boil some chicken and cut it up into tiny bits to use as treats. This was much more enticing for Chilli. You can also of course buy puppy treats. Using what I know now, I would suggest an organic treat made from 100% dried meat.

What to feed a puppy also comes down to the health of your puppy. If he or she has any allergic conditions or perhaps digestive problems, then a hypoallergenic food might be needed. Always speak to your vet before making any such decisions. It could be that the puppy is only reacting to one ingredient, so by trying foods individually perhaps you can eliminate any allergens.

 What to feed dogs

This is a question which is almost impossible to answer! There are so many types of dog food and brands on the market. What is the best food to feed my dog comes down to these considerations:

  • How much time do you have?  If you are planning to make home cooked meals for dogs you will need the time to prepare it. A tip: If you do this, cook it in larger batches and then freeze in portions. It’s the same effort, but you will have more home cooked dog food ready when you need it.
  • How big or small is your dog? Sometimes despite our best intentions, something we do is just physically impractical. You need to decide which type of dog food works for the size of your dog. If you are planning to feed wet dog food for example, imagine how many packets a Great Dane would wolf down per day. If you have a Chihuahua, some only need half a wet food packet per meal. If you go for dry dog food sold in large bags then it is much easier, and makes more sense if you have a big dog. You can always treat him or her with a steak or some chicken on top.
  • How much money can you spend each month on dog food? Unfortunately this is a major consideration. You need to be realistic as to how much your monthly dog food budget will be. A friend owns a giant Mastiff and feeds him raw minced beef every day. That adds up! If you go organic that too increases the cost.
  • Does your dog have any health issues? If your dog has any allergies, digestive issues or any other conditions, this will impact which type of dog food is best for your dog. You might find that raw dog food helps with some issues whilst others might require a hypoallergenic dog food. Sometimes our dogs need a mix and variation of foods. We also don’t eat the same thing every day.

What do I feed Chilli? I am biased, I am a big advocate of home-cooked dog food. However, I have also grown to appreciate dry dog food and raw dog food. The dry dog food (kibble) I sometimes give Chilli mainly as an in-between snack is a special digestive balanced kibble to help if he gets an upset tummy. I have also tried raw dog food and Chilli absolutely loves it! It makes a big change for him to have new tastes. As it is a frozen dog food I like that this means it is preservative free, and very nutritional. I can see the benefit of this in his coat. The only downside to raw dog food is that it’s more complicated to take with you if you’re out and about all day long with your pooch. But hey, exceptions make the rule! Have a look at some online dog raw food diet plan! UPDATE: Have a look here at Chilli’s new Hypoallergenic Diet!

Dog Treats

We all like to have a little something special, and our dogs are no different! Just like the massive variety available in dog food, dog treats also have many forms of their own, ranging from homemade dog treats to dog biscuits to rawhide chews and dental sticks. And then there are high reward dog training treats and fish treats for dogs including cod skin. So where to begin? Here is my opinion on some good bets!

Rawhide for dogs

Not only are they a never-ending source of chewing fun, but they will make your dog want to chew a bit more, and then a bit more, and they find it hard to put down. They also love chewing in groups and end up motivating each other to keep going. The amazing side effect of rawhide bones is that it cleans their teeth! Tartar and plaque are scraped away and gums become stronger. Let’s just say that rawhide and dogs are a good combination!

Natural dog treats

There are a lot of processed treats on the market and sometimes those are great (just like we enjoy our processed treats), but I have found that natural organic dog treats are easier on the digestion and probably better for your dog in the long term. There are companies which produce dried meats, which are great for chopping up into pieces for training or just as snacks every once in a while. It’s kind of like us having 80% organic chocolate vs sugar filled candy bars. I can’t knock either!

Dog training treats

To properly train a dog you can use different levels of treats to help you and encourage your dog to work hard. If you use the same treats on a daily basis in an intense hour dog training session, your dog may become less motivated. For your dog there is no longer anything special about the reward. However, if you use a high value treat which is rich in meat and very tasty (and often smelly!), your dog will understand that this is a special occasion and work for it. Ideally you want a few different types of high value treats.

Homemade dog biscuits

Then there’s the healthy dog treats option. There are so many recipes online to make the best dog treats using dog safe natural ingredients. LINK to blog post. There are also several dog bakery businesses online which even make a dog birthday cake, dog cake and dog biscuits, even donuts!

Dog vitamins and dog supplements

Just like people, dogs can benefit greatly from vitamins and supplements ranging from multivitamins to omega fish oils to probiotics. Here are some dog supplements Chilli and I have tried:

  • Dog multivitamin – Pet Tabs recommended by my vet. They are great to break into pieces to adjust the dosage for your dog’s size. They are also chewable, which helps.
  • Probiotics for dogs – We have tried various probiotics as different types do different things.
  • Omega 3 for dogs – This is a great dog anti inflammatory and hence joint supplements for dogs. It also has the added benefit of reducing fur shedding! As it relaxes and decreases inflammation in the body, dogs who shed a lot tend to shed less after about a month of omega 3 capsules. Of course you will need to continuously administer it.
  • B12 for dogs – when dogs have digestive problems this can be due to a lack of vitamin B12. Your vet will have to do a blood test to confirm this as B12 is stored in the body and not flushed out. 
  • Milk thistle for dogs – this is a great natural anti inflammatory for dogs especially for those with joint problems. The only downside is it has a strong unique taste that you will have to introduce slowly for your dog to get accustomed to.
  • Nutricalm for dogs – this is a great L-tryptophan product which really works to help reduce anxiety in dogs, especially when it is circumstantial. Preparing a dog in advance by giving him or her Nutricalm allows the dog to better handle a given situation.