Normal healthy dogs that are not pregnant, nursing, or hardworking have relatively low nutritional requirements for maintaining an appropriate body condition.
The simplest way to mimic a dogs natural diet is to feed commercially prepared diets that meet a dogs nutritional requirement. Dietary protein is made up of amino acids. A dogs body utilizes 20 amino acids in various combinations. While each of these amino acids is important for growth, maintenance and health, some are considered essential while others are non-essential. Only 10 of the required 20 amino acids are regarded as essential for dogs and must be supplied in their diet since their bodies cannot manufacture these essential amino acids.
Unlike cats who are descended from carnivores, dogs are omnivorous animals, so they are not strict meat-eaters. Instead they get most of their energy from carbohydrates and fats. In commercial dog foods, carbohydrates come from cereals, legumes, and other plant food-stuffs.
How much variety does my dog need?
It is advisable to feed a single diet so your dogs digestive tract can settle on one food. Chopping and changing diets to provide variety is a human need and can cause tummy upsets, fussiness and food intolerances in dogs.
Most dogs love tit-bits, but try to limit these to no more than 10 percent of your dogs diet.
Many dogs love vegetables and some even like fruit. These provide fibre, vitamins and flavour.
How often should you feed a dog?
You should feed your dog at least twice a day, and ideally at set times.
Infrequent feeding can lead to a very slow metabolic rate, and turns food into fat deposits rather than converting it into energy.
Feeding only once a day can lead to vomiting up bile as the stomach craves something to digest.
Remember not to feed your pooch before strenuous exercise or late at night.
The rib check
A good body condition is one in which the animal is well proportioned, with an observable waist behind the ribcage, and ribs that can be felt with a slight fat covering over them.
Choosing the correct food
Feeding recommendations for adult dogs vary, depending on the breed, activity, and metabolism. As with humans, a dogs appetite may vary from day to day. This should not pose a problem unless the loss of appetite persists or the dog shows signs of illness or weight loss. Then you should take your dog to your local vet.
A dog's nutritional health depends on receiving the correct amounts and proportions of nutrients from the following six groups: water, protein, fat, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins.
Dogs drink a lot of water - they can replace six percent of their body weight in just one hour.
Commercial dry pet foods identified as 100 percent complete and balanced contain all of the required nutrients in the proper proportions, except for water. Pet owners must provide fresh, clean drinking water so all of your poochs nutritional needs are met. Even when feeding canned or wet commercial pet food, always ensure there is sufficient water available.
Water also reduces the risk of your dog becoming overheated. Ideally, you should actively offer your dog water during exercise that results in a loss of as little as 0.5 percent of his body weight. A dog's need for water increases in keeping with the amount of energy he expends during exercise, and this can more than double in warm conditions.
Dogs should only drink water since most adult dogs have lost the ability to digest dairy products. While some dogs may occasionally like a small bowl of milk, bear in mind that it is probably the biggest single cause of upset tummies.