Just like for humans, a balanced and nutritious diet is an important part in keeping our canine friends active and healthy. Excess weight can endanger a dog's heart, lungs and joints.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) offers the following feeding tips to make sure your dog is looking and feeling his best: DAILY CALORIC INTAKE: Knowing the correct serving size to give your dog is key. Daily caloric intake differs depending on what life stage your dog is in (from puppyhood to senior citizenship). Puppies require more calories and essential nutrients. If you have a puppy, you should get dog food specially formulated for puppies. Adult dogs should be fed according to their size and energy needs. Older dogs may require special diets and are usually less active. Use a measuring cup to avoid over-serving. Be sure to consult your vet if you are considering changing your dog's diet or have questions about his nutrition.
ESTABLISH REGULAR MEAL TIMES: It's important to set regular meal times for your dog each day. An irregular eating schedule can affect your dog's digestive system. Your dog only needs one or two meals daily if fed on well-balanced diet. However, puppies under six months should get three to four meals a day. All dogs should have their own food dishes and have clean water available at all times.
HEALTHY SNACKS: Too many treats will lead to your pup gaining weight. To keep your dog trim, you may want to try healthier snack options. Low-calorie treats can include vegetables such as carrots. You can also feed your canine friend fruits such as bananas, apples and melon. Be sure you include treats in to your dog's allotted daily calories.
WHAT NOT TO FEED YOUR DOG: Certain foods can be dangerous to your dog. Grapes, onions, chocolate, macadamia nuts and raisins can be very harmful to dogs. Excessive fat in meats or dairy products can cause digestive distress. Be sure not to feed your dog bones that have sharp edges or can splinter or extra table scraps.
For more information on responsible dog ownership, visit the AKC website at www.akc.org.