It is no secret that wolves are close relatives of our canine friends. But unlike wolves (who are strict carnivores), your pet dog is an omnivore. This means their stomachs are capable of digesting a varied mix of plant and animal nutrients.
Think of it this way: your doggie’s diet is no different from your own nutritional requirements. Dogs require a balanced amount of protein, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and fiber in their meals to keep them healthy and strong.
Thinking about the type of foods to feed your dog? You have come to the right place. We will also discuss the do’s and don’ts of dog feeding to let you know which types of human food should not be given to your dog.
Remember that there are certain types of food that can possibly cause stomach upsets, health issues, or possibly death. It is good to know the types of food that your dog CAN and CANNOT eat.
As an added bonus, I have also included a couple of homemade dog food recipes that you can feed your dog. The recipes are cheap, easy to make, and packed with a balanced set of nutrients to keep your doggie in tiptop shape!
What types of food should I feed my dog?
It depends on the age and size of your dog. When buying premium quality dog food at the supermarket, make sure to check the label and determine if the food is meant for small or large breeds of dog. Kirkland and Victor dry food are some good options!
You should also check if the dog food is a puppy or adult formula. Similar to human babies, puppies need a different formula of food to meet the needs of their growing bodies.
Here are some facts you need to remember when buying commercially-made dog food:
- Commercial dog foods are usually sold in three types: canned, dry, and semi-moist. Dry feeding is preferred since it contains 90% dry matter and about 10% water. Dry dog food also has a higher caloric density than semi-moist or canned dog food, which basically means you need to feed your pet less dry food in order to fulfill his appetite.
- Dry dog food is also proven to lessen the occurrence of tartar buildup and gum disease. Dry dog food is also ideal if your pet is suffering from obesity problems.
- Canned dog food contains 68% to 78% water and around 23% dry matter and is most ideal for small to medium breeds of dog. If you have a large or giant breed of dog, dry dog food is ideal and is more economical in the long run.
- No matter which type of dog food you buy, make sure the product meets the guidelines of the National Research Institute on canine nutrition. Make sure the dog food is also certified by the Association of American Feed Control Officials.
- Still wondering about the differences in the nutritional requirements between puppies and adult doggies? You can ask your veterinarian. Better yet, why not consult the Merck Veterinary Manual to easily determine the recommended amount of food by weight and age.
How much should I feed my dog?
Remember that Fido will eat larger yet less frequent meals than a pet cat. You can feed a healthy adult dog once or twice daily. Puppies may need to be fed thrice or 4x a day albeit at lower amounts.
The dog food label is a bit confusing. What should I do?
The dog food labels are required to present eight pieces of necessary information, and these are:
- Product name. This name itself will tell you more about the product. Dog foods that are labeled as ‘beef’ will basically mean the feed contains at least 70% beef. If you come across ‘beef dinner’, beef platter’, or ‘beef entrée’, this will mean the dog food only contains at least 10% of beef. Labels with the term ‘beef flavor’ means there is only about 3% of beef in the product.
- Net weight of the product.
- Name and the address of the manufacturer.
- List of ingredients utilized in the manufacturing process.
- The guaranteed analysis of nutritional content. This will give you the percentage of each nutrient in the food.
- Product intent (whether the feed is ideal for dogs or cats).
- The statement of nutritional adequacy
- Feeding guidelines. This will give you an idea on how much of the dog food should be served per meal including the frequency of the feeding.
You can read more about the AAFCO labeling requirements here.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Feeding your Dog Human Food
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It is generally okay to feed your doggie table scraps or human food, especially when supplemented with premium quality dog food. However, there are certain Do’s and Don’ts you need to remember.
Do’s (what human treats dogs can eat)
- Natural foods such as human-grade raw meat (or lamb meat), vegetables, and raw meaty bones.
- Raw bones are also good for your canines. It is okay to feed your dog raw lamb ribs and raw chicken wings at least once a week.
- When serving bones, make sure the bone is raw since cooked bones can cause internal damage or intestinal obstruction. Cooked bones can turn to sharp splinters and cause a variety of medical conditions.
- Dogs can also eat fish like canned tuna or salmon. You can even feed your dog canned sardines! But remember to feed sparingly when serving fish. Salmon, in particular, contains omega-3 fatty acids that will give your doggie a shiny and soft coat. Salmon also contains a healthy dose of protein for muscle development.
- Cooked meat (beef, chicken, or lamb) is okay especially when served with cooked veggies like carrots, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes. These veggies are a good source of vitamin A and beta-carotene.
- Cooked pasta or rice is also ideal for dogs but feed sparingly. Rice and pasta are good sources of energy.
- Ever wondered why dog is eating grass? There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, giving your pooch regular access to fresh grass (avoid the chemically-treated variety) will provide him/her with a vital source of micronutrients and plant matter.
- Green beans and peas. Peas contain a healthy amount of potassium while beans are a good source of vitamin C and vitamin K.
- Apples. Shiny red apples contain a heaping dose of vitamins A and C and is an ideal snack when you’re walking or playing with your dog outdoors!
- Yoghurt. Greek yogurt, in particular, is a great source of micronutrients and probiotics that promote stellar digestive health. Probiotics or good bacteria are found in many yogurts. When feeding your doggie some yogurt, make sure to avoid varieties that contain a lot of sugar and preservatives.
- Peanut butter. This is an all-time doggie favorite! Peanut butter is a good source of protein and fiber. However, stay away from peanut butter that is made with xylitol. Xylitol is hazardous for your pet.
Don’ts (what human treats dogs can NOT eat)
- Chocolate and cocoa. Processed chocolate or cocoa contains theobromine, which is a toxic agent when digested by dogs. This can lead to vomiting or diarrhea as well as abnormal heart rhythms, seizures, tremors, or even death.
- Avocados. This fruit is great for humans but can be toxic for dogs. Avocados can cause vomiting or diarrhea since it contains persin.
- Milk or dairy products. It wouldn’t hurt to give your dog a small slice of cheese but milk, in general, might disrupt the digestive system of your pooch.
- Coffee. Large doses of coffee or caffeine might be fatal to dogs. Even just a small sip of delicious coffee might cause heart palpitations, bleeding, or restlessness.
- Alcohol. However tempting it might be, do NOT give your doggie beer or wine. Alcohol can cause diarrhea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, or death to canines, especially smaller dogs or toy breeds.
- Garlic and onions. While these are necessary ingredients to any home-cooked meal, you should avoid giving your dog food that contains either raw or cooked onions and garlic. These flavor enhancers can cause red blood cell damage and gastrointestinal irritation which will often lead to anemia.
- Grapes and/or raisins. This fruit should not be given to dogs, most especially to pets who are approaching their senior years or are sick. Grapes are touted to cause kidney disease when eaten regularly by your dog.
- Bubblegum or chewing gum. Gum usually contains Xylitol and might cause liver failure and hypoglycemia when taken in large doses. Your doggie’s digestive system is not equipped to break down swallowed gum. This can cause sudden death.
DIY Homemade Dog Food Recipes
Here are a couple of nutritious homemade dog food recipes that will pooch will surely love.
Meat and Vegetable Delight
- 1 cup or 1 ½ cups of brown rice
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 2 to 3 pounds of ground lamb, beef, or turkey meat
- ½ cup of green peas
- 1 shredded zucchini
- 2 shredded carrots
- 3 cups chopped baby spinach
- Step 1: Cook the brown rice in 3 cups of water until done. Let cool and set aside.
- Step 2: Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the ground beef/lamb/turkey and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until golden brown.
- Step 3: Add in the carrots, green peas, zucchini, and baby spinach and cook at low heat for 2 to 4 minutes.
- Step 4: Stir in the cooked rice and cook for another 2 minutes until everything is mixed properly.
- Step 5: Remove from heat and let cool before serving.
This simple homemade dog food recipe is good for multiple feedings. Simply divide equally into single servings, pack the each serving in a freezer bag, and freeze. When it’s time to feed your pooch, allow the dog food to thaw before placing it in the microwave for 10 to 25 seconds!
Doggie Beef or Lamb Stew
This recipe is way better than canned dog food. Like the previous recipe above, this can also be stored in the refrigerator or freezer for future consumption.
- 1 pound of beef or lamb meat
- ½ cup diced carrots
- ½ cup diced green beans
- ½ cup of flour
- 1 diced sweet potato
- ½ cup of water
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- Slice the beef or lamb meat into small, bite-size pieces.
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the meat over medium heat for 12 minutes or until well-done.
- Remove the meat from the pan and set aside. Leave the drippings in the pan.
- Place the pan with the drippings over low to medium heat and cook the diced sweet potato until tender.
- Remove the sweet potato from the pan and set aside. Add water and flour into the pan and whisk to create a thick consistency.
- Put the meat, carrots, sweet potatoes, and green beans into the pan and stir.
- Cook for another 10 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Allow to cool before serving.
This recipe is enough for up to 4 servings. When it all adds up, this recipe is cheaper than most canned dog foods and is more nutritious as well.
Take note that no seasonings were added in both recipes.
There are many types of food that you can feed your dog. When buying dog food in the supermarket or pet center, make sure to check the label to ensure the food contains the right amount of nutrients for your dog’s size and age. It is also a good idea to check the expiration date when buying canned dog food.
But if you really love your dog, why not give him a nutritionally-balanced home cooked meal from time to time? The great thing about DIY dog foods is you are well aware of what goes in the food of your pet, unlike the gooey stuff that you can find in commercially available canned dog food.