Diet is a core component of a healthy lifestyle for both humans and pets. It’s not just as simple as tossing a cup of kibble into Fido’s bowl every morning and night. A healthy dog diet plan will look different for every dog, depending on breed, lifestyle, size, and other factors.
To create a healthy dog diet plan for your canine companion, you need to know first how this looks. A healthy dog diet includes consistent meal times, appropriate portion sizes (and no table scraps!), and any supportive additions like CBD oil for dogs. The core of a healthy dog diet plan is high-quality pet food with nutritious ingredients and nothing unnecessary or toxic.
What Is a Healthy Dog Diet?
A healthy dog diet supports your pet and keeps them happy and full of energy. With the proper food support, your pet can maintain its active lifestyle, ensuring that you and your best friend have many adventures ahead.
A healthy dog diet will be made up of consistent meal times, appropriate portion sizes, and avoiding table scraps, no matter how cute they may look while you’re eating dinner! Carefully consider anything else you choose to give your dog, like treats.
Consistent Meal Times
Most people construct their pet’s diet around their own feeding times, with many pet owners feeding their dogs twice a day: in the morning and at night. It’s widely accepted that dogs should eat at least two meals a day, twelve hours apart. Very few veterinarians would recommend free-feeding your dog, because it leaves you with less awareness about and control over your dog’s caloric intake.
Create a mealtime schedule that works for you and your family, but be consistent about it. Your pet should know when to expect their meals. Stability in a feeding schedule also makes your pet feel safe and loved.
Appropriate Portion Sizes
If your pet overeats, they run the risk of becoming overweight. Eating too little can leave them tired and weak.
The amount of food you give your dog will depend on many different factors, including their breed, size, and activity level. Weight, of course, will also be a major factor in determining portion sizes for your pet. Larger dogs who weigh between 50 and 150 pounds will obviously need more food to keep their bodies going than smaller dogs who weigh under 20 pounds. But even similar-sized dogs of different breeds might have different caloric needs.
Consult your veterinarian about how much pet food to give your dog at mealtimes. They can offer detailed information about how your pet’s weight, breed, and lifestyle work together and what amount of daily food will work best for them. It’s important for pet owners to be rigorous about their pet’s serving size, no matter how many sweet puppy-dog eyes they flash at you.
The Truth About Table Scraps
When it comes to a healthy dog diet plan, many pet parents are probably wondering, “Is it okay to feed my dog table scraps?” When Sparky is sitting patiently beside you at the dinner table, gazing up at you with his sweet, droopy eyes, it probably feels unfair not to share with him. But not sharing is often the best course of action.
Even if you know exactly what human foods are safe for your dog and what foods are not, feeding them table scraps can throw off their healthy dog diet plan. It might cause them to take in too many calories in a day or encourage them to hold out and not eat their dog food in the hopes of getting tossed something tasty under the table. It can also promote negative behaviors like barking or whining during meal times. It’s best to keep to your dog’s eating routine and avoid giving them table scraps if you can.
More Than Just Dog Food
A healthy dog diet is about more than just dog food and not feeding them table scraps. While dog food is the major component of your dog’s daily intake, it’s also important to take a holistic look at all of the things your dog might ingest in a day and how that consumption can support their overall wellness.
Consider other wellness resources to help your dog maintain a healthy lifestyle, keep their energy levels steady, and carry on a solid sleep schedule. CBD oil for dogs can be a useful tool in a dog’s overall wellness plan, especially when combined with other resources like glucosamine HCL for hip and joint support or melatonin for relaxation.
For both mental and physical health, dog treats are key! Treats can not only help your pet feel loved and provide a special moment of interaction during the day, but they can also deliver wellness support. CBD treats for dogs offer a sweet little addition to your pet’s day and can also support your pet’s comfort and contentment.
How to Choose a High-Quality Dog Food
You’ll need to consider a lot of factors when choosing dog food for your healthy dog diet plan. Beyond the type of food you want to use, what works for your budget, and your dog’s personal flavor preferences, you’ll need to look for foods that feature high-quality ingredients and don’t include anything unhealthy or toxic.
Dry Kibble, Wet Food, or Homemade Food?
Most dog parents choose between dry kibble or wet food. Dry kibble can be easy to store and less messy to serve, but wet food might be more appealing to some pets and is a great option for senior dogs or smaller canines with sensitive teeth – the same pets that would love our CBD soft chews for dogs!
Deciding between dry kibble and wet food options will narrow down your search for the perfect dog food. Some people also choose to make their own dog food at home rather than buying pre-made food. While this gives you the confidence to know exactly what is going into your pet's body, it can also be expensive and time-consuming.
If you choose the homemade dog food approach, it’s important to know exactly what human foods are healthy for dogs. Some healthy foods for humans, like macadamia nuts, almonds, and cinnamon, are really difficult for dogs to digest and possibly even toxic. Many dogs are also lactose intolerant, so items like cheese and yogurt are a bad idea.
If you choose to use homemade dog food, do plenty of research, find an effective recipe online, and approve it with your veterinarian.
Quality Ingredients to Look For in a Pet Food
Your dog’s food should contain as many natural ingredients as possible. Here’s a list of nutritious things to be on the lookout for in the ingredient label of high-quality pet food:
- Specifically identified protein. This should be the primary component in your pet’s food; therefore, the first ingredient listed. This is usually meat, and specifically organ meat like liver is very healthy for dogs. Specificity is important here – look for words like salmon or chicken.
- Quality carbohydrates. This includes foods like berries, pumpkin, and squash.
- Good grains. This might appear in the ingredient list as barley, oats, and oatmeal.
- Essential fats. This component often appears on the label as an oil: sunflower, coconut, olive, etc.
Unhealthy Ingredients to Avoid
General terms like “made with meat” should be avoided. Look for labels that are specific and clear about the ingredients. Low-quality pet foods might include ingredients like:
- “Meat.” An ingredient label that just lists the word “meat” without identifying what kind of meat (i.e., salmon, chicken, beef) is suspicious. Even general, all-encompassing words like “fish” instead of “salmon” or “poultry” instead of “chicken” can be a loophole for putting unhealthy ingredients into your pet’s food.
- Low-quality carbohydrates, like soy or corn. These are hard for your dog to digest.
- Artificial fillers, colors, or flavors. If your pet food is made using high-quality ingredients, it won’t need any of these ingredients to look and taste good to your pet.
- BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin. These artificial preservatives can be dangerous to pets. Ethoxyquin is not permitted in human food because it is potentially carcinogenic.
Support Your Pet with a Healthy Dog Diet Plan
Food is a love language, and how we feed our pets is one way we show them love. While it’s tempting to give them all the tasty treats whenever they want, the best thing we can do for our canine companions is to create and maintain a healthy dog diet plan. By setting a routine with appropriate portion sizes, supporting their diet with additions like CBD oil for dogs, and choosing high-quality dog food, we can help them stay happy and active for years to come.