Dog Feeding Tips

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The following items represent some of The Dog Food Advisor’s most frequently asked questions about how to feed a dog.

How much do I feed my dog?

Since each dog food contains a different number of calories per serving, follow the feeding instructions on each package. If your dog is fully grown (and no longer a puppy), you can try using our dog food calculator.

When does a puppy become an adult?

In general, small to medium breeds may be considered adults after about six months of age.

But large and giant breeds shouldn’t be fed as adults until they reach about one to two years (depending upon the breed).1

When is a dog considered a senior?

As a rule, small to medium dogs are considered seniors at about seven years of age. But larger breeds reach senior status much sooner… some as early as five.2

Can you recommend a good food for senior dogs?

Most senior dog foods are terrible. These recipes are designed to reduce calories by reducing meat content.

Unfortunately, this same design makes these products notably high in carbohydrates, too.

Today, most experts recommend dog foods for seniors that are higher in protein content (but also lower in fat, carbs and calories).

Aren’t high protein diets dangerous for senior dogs?

Recent studies confirm high protein dog foods make just as much sense for healthy senior dogs as they do for younger pets.3 To learn more, be sure to visit FAQ page about dog food protein.

What’s the best way to transition to a new dog food?

Most experts recommend transitioning to a new food gradually… starting with about 20-25% “new” and slowly increasing that amount to a full 100% over a 7 to 10 day period.

Be patient and don’t rush the transitioning process. Take your time to minimize the chance of GI upset.

While switching to a new dog food, my pet developed gas, soft stools or diarrhea. What should I do?

If you’ve transitioned slowly (and with patience) and your dog still develops problems, he may be allergic or intolerant to one of the ingredients in the new recipe.

In that case, you may need to cut back on the percentage of new food or stop feeding it altogether. If symptoms continue, it may be necessary to contact your vet.

Is it OK to change a dog’s food on a routine basis?

Since there’s no such thing as a perfect dog food, it’s reasonable to assume every product is deficient or excessive in some way.

Too much of one nutrient… or too little of another. And many can contain traces of dangerous toxins. So, built-in flaws are magnified when the same food is fed continuously… day-in and day-out… for a lifetime.

By periodically switching dog foods (diet rotation), the unhealthy consequences of these defects can be minimized.

Is it OK to feed my dog table food?

That depends on what you mean by table food. After all, there’s a notable difference between table scraps and leftovers. Leftovers usually include good quality (but surplus) food remaining after a human meal.

Table scraps tend to include the fatty trimmings from whole meat. In most cases, fat is a very normal part of most any meaty meal. But table scraps tend to include only the fatty trimmings from whole meat.

When you serve fatty waste, you’re feeding an above-average concentration of animal fat… which can lead to a painful condition known as acute pancreatitis.

What’s better… canned or dry dog food?

Both canned and dry dog foods each has its own unique benefits and disadvantages. For more information, be sure to read our article, What’s Better… Canned or Dry Dog Food.

How long does dry dog food stay fresh?

With proper storage, dry food can be safely used until it reaches its “Best By” date. That date can be found printed on the package and is commonly about one year from the date of manufacturer.

But the freshness of any dry dog food is unstable and gradually deteriorates over time. So, avoid purchasing or using products as they get closer to their “Best By” dates.

What’s the best way to store a dry dog food?

Air and moisture are the enemies of dry dog food. Be sure to store all kibbles in a cool, dry location. Squeeze out any excess air as you seal the open bag.

If you prefer to use a resealable container, try to leave the food in its original package inside that container. Or save the bag in a safe location.

That’s because the packaging contains critical information needed to identify the product in case of a recall.

How long does a canned dog food remain usable?

Depending on the brand, canned dog foods are usually good for about three years from the date of manufacturer (and sometimes longer). However, once opened, canned products must be tightly sealed and immediately refrigerated.

Opened wet foods can last up to about 3 days in the refrigerator. Any uneaten canned food should be taken away from your pet and discarded no more than 30 minutes after serving.

Footnotes

  1. Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition (1999), Canine Life Stages and Lifestyles, The Waltham Course on Dog and Cat Nutrition, p. 4
  2. Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition (1999), Canine Life Stages and Lifestyles, The Waltham Course on Dog and Cat Nutrition, p. 16
  3. Finco DR, Brown SA, Crowell WA, et al, Effects of aging and dietary protein intake on uninephrectomized geriatric dogs, Am J Vet Res 1994; 55:1282
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