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How to choose the right food for your dog, according to a veterinarian

By CAMILLE SANTIAGO Published Mar 10, 2021 10:46 pm

“You are what you eat”—this statement couldn’t be any more true, not only for humans, but for animals, too. Like us, our pets also need to receive proper nutrition to be able to grow healthily.

“I've always believed that a dog's diet—what they eat—is very, very important to their health,” said Kitsie Torres, DVM during a webinar with pet food company Royal Canin.

She added that a proper puppy diet is essential for growth, optimal digestion, and overall health. “When your puppy is eating healthily, you’ll have more energy, a good appetite, their poop will be well formed, and they won't have any tummy troubles,” Dr. Torres said. Plus, if your puppy gets proper nutrition, their immune system and defenses actually becomes stronger.

“When choosing a diet for dogs, we should really take into account their needs, but also respect their nature,” the veterinarian said. 

Fun fact: Dogs choose their food according to smell, not taste! Yup, no matter how tasty the food you prepared for your dog is, it would still depend on its smell. That is because “dogs have very highly developed sense of smell over 200 million cell receptors. Unlike us, humans, we only have eight million. And also with dogs, you have very few taste buds. It only has 1,700, compared to 9,000 In humans,” explained Dr. Torres.

Continue reading below to know more about what we learned from the Royal Canin webinar. Find out how you can keep your dog healthy and happy through proper diet and nutrition.

Know what your dog needs

The types of dog food you read on the labels are there for a reason. That is because the food that you give to your pet should be based on their needs.

For puppies, they require more energy. “Puppies need more calories to support their growth. They actually put on weight almost every day, and they acquire twice more energy than adult dogs,” said Dr. Torres. 

Since puppies are more susceptible to viruses and bacteria, you should give them food that will support their immune system. Dr. Torres suggests that you give them a diet with antioxidants like vitamin D, E, and Taurine to name a few.

Also consider their weight and size

Choose foods or diet that are tailored to your puppy’s size. “Just because they're big, doesn't mean that they need more calories; they actually need moderate calories to avoid excess weight,” said Dr. Torres.

For mini dogs, which are less than 10 kilos, give them puppy diet until their tenth month of age because this is when their growth period stop. For medium dogs like beagles, give them a puppy diet up until 12 months.

Maxi dogs get the puppy diet until they're 15 months of age—that’s when they reach adulthood. And for giant breeds like St. Bernards, the growth period lasts even longer—some of them grow up until 18 months of age or even 24 months. 

Never give too much or too less

Like humans, dogs can become obese, too, so it’s important that we know how much food we should give our pets. Luckily, most store-bought dog foods include a feeding guide at the back of its packaging. This guide will also show you when to transition your puppy’s diet to an adult diet.

Never stick to just puppy diet

Your dog likes puppy food, we understand, but they now have to get proper nutrients fit for their adult bodies. “We have to transition diet to prevent tummy troubles, you know, tummy aches. And also transition is very easy. You can do it within just one week,” explained Dr. Torres. She suggests that for the first few days, you add 25% of the amount to your dog’s food. “And then by day three and four, they have adjusted. And then day five until day seven, you transition. So you also do this with adult dogs. And also, whenever, whenever you're changing your dog's diet,” Dr. Torres said.

More tips on how to feed your puppy from Dr. Kitsie Torres:

  • Feed them at the same time and place, and make sure it's a calm environment to prevent anxiety. 
  • Always have fresh water available. Their bowl should be always clean.
  • Feed them three meals a day until six months of age. After that, you can reduce it to two meals a day. 
  • Avoid exercise after mealtimes, especially with large breed puppies.
  • Do not pre-feed. Meaning you shouldn’t leave your dog’s bowl with food in the area all day.
  • If your pet is refusing to eat, give them time to adapt to the environment. But “if they don’t really like their food, you can try other types of puppy food,” said Dr. Torres.
  • Limit your treats because “it can lead to weight gain,” the veterinarian said. Instead, pet them, encourage them, or give them attention if you want to reward your dog.