Understanding Your Dog's Dietary Needs

Knowing what to feed your dog can be challenging because there are so many excellent options available for pet owners. Having a basic understanding of what your dog needs can help you determine which type of food would be the right choice for your furry friend. Our Pima County vet has some basic guidelines for choosing the ideal diet for your pet. Of course, every animal is unique, so talk to our team for more specific recommendations that could meet your pet's dietary needs.

What Does My Dog Need?

We recommend that dogs get three small meals per day or two larger portions at the beginning and end of the day. This frequency of meals can help regulate your pet's digestion and energy levels. Regardless of how often you feed your dog per day, it is more important to understand their daily caloric needs. The general rule for adult dogs who get light daily exercise is:

30 x weight in kg (or pounds divided by 2.2) + 70 = daily caloric needs

This can give you a good idea for how many calories your dog should be eating every day. Don't forget to account for treats as well as their regular food. Some treats can be high in calories and low in nutritional value, so make sure to check nutritional labels. Of course, everything is fine in moderation, but make sure you are not overfeeding your pup. It can be tempting to give into those puppy dog eyes, but an overweight dog can experience a wide range of health problems. Extra weight can slow your pet down, cause a worsening of arthritis, and lead to diabetes or another health issue. Talk to our team about your pet's diet and exercise so that we can make the perfect recommendation to meet all their nutritional needs and keep them at a lean weight.

Nutrition from Plants & Meat

Dogs are omnivores, which means that they require a diet that contains both meat-based protein and plants. Humans are omnivores as well, but dogs can not follow a diet of human food because they do not digest food the same way. Many foods that we can easily eat may actually cause stomach issues for your dog, so don't go sharing all of your table scraps with them. Certain foods that humans can eat are actually poisonous to dogs, like onions, garlic, raisins, chocolate, too much salt, and sugar substitutes. Just to be safe, avoid giving your dog too much human food and try to stick to pet-friendly treats as often as possible.

Dry vs. Wet Food

Nutritionally, there is not much of a difference between dry and wet dog food. Each type of food has different benefits that your dog may enjoy. Wet food can help keep your dog hydrated, whereas some dry food can help keep your dog's teeth and gums clean. Every dog is unique, so talk to our team to find out which type of diet would be preferable for your furry friend.

Food by Age

One of the main factors that dictates your pet's dietary needs is their age. Most healthy animals can follow a nutrition plan that simply meets the needs demanded by their age. Puppies should stay on puppy-specific food until they have reached about 90% of their adult size. This is because puppy food is specifically formulated to meet a growing dog's nutritional and caloric requirements. When a puppy has just about reached adult size, they should start to transition to adult food. Continuing to eat a high-calorie diet could cause them to gain weight. To transition your puppy to adult food, gradually start mixing adult food into their puppy food for about two weeks until they are eating exclusively adult food. Most food bags have instructions labeled to help transition your puppy's diet but ask our Pima County vet for more information if you have any questions.
As your dog ages in their adult years, their diet will be dictated by specific health requirements. Our Pima County vet will consider your pet's activity level, overall health, and body condition. We can make an appropriate recommendation that will help your pet thrive. Some adult pets may require additional supplementation or medication to help manage their weight while also meeting all their health requirements. All pets age at different rates, so ask our team before you decide to switch your pet over to a senior diet. Senior foods can vary greatly in calories and nutrition level, so you will want to talk to us before transitioning your pet. As pets age, their ability to digest protein and fat changes and their activity level may change as well. This could lead to your pet being underweight or overweight, so you will need to do some research to find out which type of diet will best suit them.

Don't Forget Exercise

Daily exercise is so important to help manage your pet's weight and energy, so try to provide them with two good walks per day. Light exercise can give your pet a chance to explore the world, releases excess energy, and it can cure boredom. Every healthy diet requires your dog to get some daily exercise, so dedicate some time to getting outdoors with your pet.
At the end of the day, every animal is different. There are so many amazing food brands out there, and it can be difficult to decide which brand would be right for your pet. Talk to our team to learn more about what we recommend and what our other clients have been successful with. We can give you personalized advice that is tailored around your pet's unique needs. To learn more about your pet's specific nutritional needs, schedule a wellness visit with our Pima County vet. Our team can help you understand which type of food would best suit your pet's unique needs. Call our Tucson vet at (520) 829-5166 to request an appointment. We look forward to seeing you and your furry friend, so call today!