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Starting Off On The Right Paw: Feeding Tips


Doggie_AYou have brought your new little or big friend home and he or she is getting settled in.
One of the first things now that you need to do is consider feeding times. There is no set plan that works for all dogs or breeds. You may know friends and family that always leave food out for their dog. The other option is meal time feeding. What is best? There are some considerations when deciding.

The terms for the two options are, free-choice feeding and timed feeding. I personally believe in timed feeding, having two times a day and giving a portioned sized meal. This belief and practice comes from our little Beagles, Rocky and Daisey. They are very aggressive eaters which is probably not the best thing. It is like a competition who can eat faster.

Free-choice feeding is more suited to a laid back dog or less active breed. It is not likely to work if you have several dogs in the home. This is definitely the case in our home. Timed feeding sets a healthy routine for your dog. It is also recommended for larger breeds, for dogs that tend to overeat, or over-weight dogs. Now I have to admit, we do not always get their meals to them at the same times each day. I can however attest to it working for portion control.

Look at the information provided on whichever brand you have chosen. In almost all well known brands the manufacturer indicate portion size to weight range. I recommend you follow this closely. The guide is there and is meant to help you keep your new friend at their optimal weight for the dog’s particular size and age. Check the websites too; these food companies put time and work into providing helpful information.

On a related note, it is recommended that you avoid giving your dog table scraps. Some foods can upset your dog’s digestion, and some human foods can actually harm your dog’s health. Why else should you avoid scraps? If it is established as okay in your family that means any family member may give food. A large family means many opportunities for the dog to get extra treats you may not be aware of. The obvious result is an over-weight little/big friend. My wife could relate to this; her little Rocky grew up and got “tid-bits” from family members. When I first was getting to know Catherine her little guy was on the heavy side. Through a strict diet of weight loss and then weight maintenance, Catherine brought an aging doggy down to a healthy manageable weight. Literally the best shape of his life. We just celebrated his twelfth birthday in August of 2014 and he seems like he has the energy of a two-year old.

Another good reason for maintaining a set feeding pattern is to limit food aggression. It is possible that your dog might interpret random feeding times as a sign that food is scarce and eat what he or she can and as much as they can when it is there. Now guarding food from other animals and pets is normal behavior for dogs. It is good practice to give your dog an area of privacy from other animals or as much space as possible to reduce possible aggression. As much as our two Beagles get along, we have learned a set space apart at meal time is a good thing.

I will close with this. Sometimes it feels like your dog is needing more food, or I should say your dog makes you feel like they are still hungry for more. Try not to give into their attempts at pulling on your heartstrings to give them more. If you want to give them between meal snacks do a little research first. There are many dog treats out there. Look for ones that are low in fat or cholesterol and that are more helpful to your dog. Things like breath freshener snacks or teeth cleaning chews. There are so many options a person could write a full article on dog treats.

Consider the food you are giving your new friend. You want them to grow up to be healthy and be in your life for a long time. Feeding your new friend well now could mean less vet bills later. So do your research. Get a good brand not just the cheapest. Check carefully the age appropriate range on the packaging. If for any reason your dog does not take to a particular brand, find which one your dog does like and stick to it for as long as your dog does well with it.

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