Dog Care: Dog Feeding & Dog Nutrition

Post Pic

As dog owners and people who care deeply for animals and wildlife, we wanted our Dog Encyclopedia to be a website that could empower pet owners to create the most positive, loving environment for their dogs. Dog Encyclopedia realizes that owning a dog is like adding a new member to your family.

If you are what you eat, then so is your dog! Your dog needs proper nutrition to live a long, healthy life. It is important to be educated about everything your dog eats, from daily meals to special treats. Help your dog thrive with the best nutrition possible. There's no denying that one of the most basic needs of dogs is proper nutrition. It is also one of the best ways to keep your dog healthy. Thousands of food options exist for dogs, so choosing one for your own dog can be quite a struggle. Opinions about canine nutrition vary among vets, breeders, trainers and other dog owners. Bottom line: experts don’t always agree on the best type of dog foods because there is not just one answer. Ultimately, you are the one who needs to decide what food best suits your dog. Do plenty of research so you can make an informed decision.

How Often to Feed Your Dog

Puppies should not be separated from their mother before they are 8 weeks old. At three to four weeks, puppies should begin eating some solid food. You can try mixing three parts food with one part water or puppy replacement milk . This will make the food easier for the puppy to digest. At 6-8 weeks of age you should Feed your puppy 3-4 times a day. Puppies have different nutritional needs than adult dogs. Choose a puppy food that provides the appropriate balance of nutrients your puppy needs. Be sure they are getting the right amount of protein and calcium, and the proper amount of calories. Check the label to determine if you are feeding your puppy a balanced diet. Meat should be the first ingredient on the label. Once the puppy is eight weeks old he should be fed twice a day. Continue with puppy food until the dog is a full year old. When dogs reach eight to nine months old feeding can be reduced to once a day. The correct amount to feed your dog depends upon the dogs size and should be listed on the dog food.

Nutrition Choices

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has developed profiles for dog and puppy nutrition. These standards are reflected on the dog food label. This information will give you an idea of the food's content, but beware - the labels can be misleading. Just because a food meets AAFCO requirements, it does not mean that is the best food for your dog. Look for food companies that exceed AAFCO guidelines and use high-quality ingredients that are human-grade if possible. Avoid foods that contain chemical preservatives and fillers like wheat, corn and soy. Many experts now recommend rotating diets every 2-6 months if you are feeding commercial dog food. This can mean changing formulas within the same food brand, or even changing food companies entirely. When feeding homemade diets, a variety of foods should be offered. As always, consult your veterinarian about the best food choices for your dog. In general, dog food choices boil down to the following categories:

Holistic / Natural Commercial Diets
-Natural and holistic dog food companies pledge to use high quality ingredients without fillers and by-products. They go the extra mile to add beneficial nutrients without adding unnecessary chemicals. Despite the higher cost of these foods, many dog owners attest to the benefits these diets have provided, such as shinier coats, increased energy, and better overall health.

Veterinary Prescription Diets
-Therapeutic diets for dogs have had a profound impact on the quality of life for the pets consuming these diets. Requiring a prescription from a veterinarian, therapeutic diet use is considered a form of specifically targeted therapy and assist in treating and preventing a wide variety of maladies.

Premium Dog Food
-Premium dog food companies often use higher quality ingredients than economy or generic dog foods and contain fewer chemical preservatives. Diets are typically formulated to meet or exceed AAFCO standards. Be aware that some companies have been known to change formulas from time to time.

Economy / Generic Dog Food
-Generic dog food can often be lower in nutrients and higher in fat products. Be sure to read the label carefully for nutritional information.

Homemade / Raw Diets
- Use cheaper cuts of meat, fresh vegetables, and cooked grains. Often you can use the same foods you cook for your family. This alternative will require some reading on your part before you start.

Dog Treats

We love to give our dogs treats, whether for reward training, general good behavior, or for no reason at all. Choosing the appropriate treat varieties can help keep our dogs healthy and happy. Treats can enhance a healthy diet and should never make up more than 10% of a dog’s daily food intake. Dental chews and bone-like treats are not made from animal bones. Some are made from corn starch or other digestible materials. Because of the degree of chewing required to consume these treats, some experts believe they promote dental health. Though safer than real bones, these treats can still cause gastrointestinal blockage if “gulped”. Always choose the appropriate size chew for your dog. Be sure your dog is supervised when consuming chews. Bones, pig ears, and hooves from animals should never be given to your dog. These can cause gastrointestinal perforation or blockage and chipping or breaking of teeth. Bones of any type are very dangerous for all types of dogs. Offer your dog dental chews and other digestible bone alternatives instead. Treats are useful during training due to their pleasing taste and texture. Use small sizes during training for immediate gratification. Choose a brand that meets the same standards as high-quality dog foods.

What Not to Give Your Dog
Some foods which are edible for humans, and even other species of animals, can pose hazards for dogs because of their different metabolism. Some may cause only mild digestive upsets, whereas, others can cause severe illness, and even death. Table scraps are not nutritionally balanced. They should never be more than 10% of the diet. Fat should be trimmed from meat; bones should not be fed. Items to avoid giving to your dog include chocolate, coffee, tea, and other caffeine, grapes, raisin, hops, macadamia nuts, baby food, onions, and sugary foods.



You can help provide a better life for dogs in need. Find out how to support canine rights and welfare. The United States is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, but our stray and feral animal overpopulation problem, in many areas of this country rivals that of some of the poorest countries of the world. 

Dog Breeds:

Dog Encyclopedia has added beautiful dog photographs on each of our Dog Breed pages to enhance your experience. Each section in Dog Encyclopedia helps to educate pet owners, enabling both the dog, and the owner to have a safe, high quality experience