Dog Nutrition - Everything You Need To Know About Dog Nutrition

What is the right food to feed my dog?

A well-balanced diet is really important. It can be dry or wet. Most commercially prepared diets have AAFCO studies done on them, which means that it meets the daily requirements of your pet.

Dr. Catherine MacLean
Sugar River Animal Hospital

What are the life stages of feeding my dog?

Puppy, adult, and senior are the three main life stages, and each requires different things. Puppies need more calories because they're growing. Adults need fewer calories than a puppy but still need a fair amount of calories, especially if you have active dogs. Geriatric patients will need more fat and protein in their diet but fewer calories.

How do I wean my puppy and get them on regular food?

Hopefully, when you get your puppy, they're already weaned, but I usually start with gruel, which is a really moist, sloppy mix, and then slowly transition them over the course of a week or so to something harder, which they can chew on, like a kibble.

Should I feed my dog on a schedule, and how do I know if my dog's nutrition is suffering?

Usually, most dogs are fed twice a day. Puppies are often fed three times a day for the first four to six months of life. Don't worry if you try to go off schedule. Your dog will probably let you know exactly what time it is. But usually, most people feed breakfast and an evening meal.

How do I know if I'm feeding my dog too much?

You know you're feeding your dog too much when you look down at it, and it has like a sausage figure and not like a tucked-in waist. That's a really good indicator. It's not good for your pet to be overweight because then they have a short lifespan, and they can have a host of different medical issues like diabetes, arthritis, etc.

How will a veterinarian be able to assess if my dog is getting proper nutrition?

At every exam, we do a body condition score here, which grades them on a scale of one to five: are they too thin. Are they too fat? Then we can make recommendations based on that regarding their feeding schedule. Also, if you know you have specific concerns, we can answer them.

There are so many brands of dog foods. How will I know the best one for my dog?

That's a really great question because even I'm overwhelmed when I go into the pet food store. The main thing is there's a lot of advertising, propaganda, and misinformation out there. The big things to consider are where is my food made? Is it made in the United States, in Canada, or is it made somewhere overseas? Also, is there a veterinarian nutritionist on staff? This way, it's not just you and me going out and making a brand of food. There's actually some science behind it. The other thing to look for, as I mentioned earlier, is the AAFCO statement. It's pretty small somewhere on that bag, but it basically says this diet is approved for either growth, maintenance, or geriatrics. It doesn't mean that it's been studied. It just means it meets the minimal nutritional requirements. So it is at least better than something that hasn't been submitted to be analyzed.

When would my dog need to be put on a prescription diet?

We usually do prescription diets for specific health issues. Not every cat will go on a prescription diet. For instance, my cat has urinary crystal issues, so he is on a prescription diet, but my dog is just on an over-the-counter diet.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (603) 865-5532, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.