Dog owners take pride in the type of care they give to their pets. One of the ways pet owners show their affection is by providing their dogs with food, but a lot of them don’t always know what to do. Some think that the type of food they eat and how often they eat is also applicable to their dogs’ diet. Some think that any kind of pet food is fine for their dog. Some think that giving their dog treats or food would stop its barking, begging and whining. Not only these are wrong, but it can also be dangerous for a dog’s health.
Here are the common mistakes you have to avoid when feeding your dog:
1. Giving inappropriate human foods
There are a lot of dog owners that give human food to their pets on a regular basis. Some even cook extra of their own food to give some to their dog. While it may seem endearing, not all food that is good enough for you is also good enough for your dogs. Some of the food we eat contains excess amounts of salt, sugar, spices, fat, colorants and artificial sweeteners that can be harmful to animals.
Also, a lot of foods that are considered healthy for humans are very toxic to dogs. These foods include grapes, avocados, peach, mushrooms, garlic, onions, raisins, and dark chocolate (or any kind of chocolate). Any type of sweets is harmful to your dog’s liver; while salty food might cause sodium poisoning for your dog. Spicy foods can ruin your dog’s digestive system as well as their sense of smell. Tea, caffeine, and alcohol are forbidden for dogs – they have the same negative effect on the dog’s health as on humans, but only much stronger.
2. Feeding dogs with only leftovers
Other pet owners keep on feeding their dogs with table scraps, but it just leads to a very unbalanced diet and health problems. Our meals typically contain some of the foods and flavorings that are unsafe for dogs. But this doesn’t mean that feeding your dog with leftovers is bad – just choose those that are safe for them, and do this only occasionally.
3. Feeding dogs with milk
While milk is good for most humans of all ages (obviously, except lactose-intolerant individuals), it is not always great for dogs. Milk is safe for puppies only. Adult dogs may get upset stomach and diarrhea if given milk. And while we’re on it, puppies must only be given milk from their mother or other mother dogs. If there is no available dog breast milk, owners must only consider formulas specially made for puppies. Cow’s milk and other milk sold for human consumption are not advisable for them.
4. Giving too many treats
For some dog owners, showering a dog with treats is like showering it with kisses. Sure, rewarding them with treats are a great way to keep them following you while commanding or training them, but be mindful of how much you give. When training a dog, try giving food rewards in small pieces only, or give non-food rewards more often, like petting or doggy play. Treats must be used wisely – save the tasty treat for important, first-time milestones, like learning not to pee indoors or learning to behave when there are guests around. Over-treating dogs can cause them to lose appetite for their regular, nutritious meal, and can actually lead to dog obesity.
5. Not feeding according to age and lifestyle
Just like human babies, children, adults and elderly differ in the food they eat, dogs must be fed according to their life stage and lifestyle as well. As your pet grows older, his nutritional needs also change. Puppies must be fed several times a day to support their growth spurt, but meals should be gradually lessened as they age. Newborn puppies up to two months of age need to be fed 5-6 times a day, while puppies of four to seven months of age need to be fed 3-4 times daily. When dogs reach adulthood, they only need two meals – one in the morning and one in the evening. Older dogs must be fed two to three times a day, and some special foods may be required. Dogs with medical conditions need a special diet to help manage their sickness. Also, active dogs or working dogs would have different dietary needs than house dogs or sedentary dogs. It’s best to consult a veterinarian for a proper diet for your dog.
6. Free-feeding the dog
Free-feeding is the practice of keeping dry food in a bowl at all times, letting your pet eat it whenever he wanted, and then filling it again when it’s empty. Dog owners do this to make sure their pets don’t get hungry, especially when they are not around and they can’t go back in time to feed the dog properly. The problem with this is that it causes a dog to overeat, leading to weight gain and obesity. Dogs won’t control their food consumption when there is food constantly at sight. Also, it won’t help dogs that are hardwired to eat as much and as fast as they can.
7. Not measuring the dog’s food
As the dog owner, you are the one who must be in control of how much your dog eats, not him. Don’t keep filling your dog’s bowl just because you have a lot of food to feed, or because your dog kept pleading for more. If you know you fed your dog at the right time on its last meal, this pleading might cause your dog to overeat. Also, you must talk to your veterinarian to find out exactly how much food to feed your dog and how many times it must eat based on its age and lifestyle.
8. Giving the dog a bone
While dog love bones, it doesn’t mean that it’s good to feed your dogs with bones. Whether they’re from beef, poultry, pork or fish, bones – especially cooked ones – can pose choking hazards and internal injuries. When dogs chew up a bone, it can splinter and puncture his digestive tract or become lodged into the throat.
9. Suddenly changing a dog’s diet
If you suddenly change your dog’ food for reasons like cost-cutting or unavailability of old pet food, it might cause digestive problems to your dog. The best way to change a pet’s diet is by mixing a small portion of the new food type with the old, then gradually increasing the amount of new food. This will give the dog enough time to adapt to the new food.
10. Interchanging pet foods
Pet foods are specifically formulated for the kind of pet for which it is made. Dog foods offer a specific nutritional need for dogs, and cat foods offer the same for cats. If you own other pets besides dogs, don’t mix up their food and give them to your dog as well. Some pet owners think pet foods are interchangeable. It might be convenient for you to serve just one type of food for all your pets to eat, but this is unhealthy for them and may result in health issues like kidney problems and obesity.