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Does it Really Matter What You Feed Your Dog?

Joseph M Sabol

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Recently, there has been talk and questions about what is the best thing to feed your dog? Some people advocate the BARF or bones and raw food diet. Some feel that raw bones should be fed as a supplement to the dogs regular diet, and some believe an all meat diet is best. The simple truth is, a meat based, high quality dry food is the best solution. The cheap grocery store brands of dry dog food are made up mostly of grain, usually corn. Read the ingredients on the bag and look for protein, fat and Omega-3 fatty acid content. There should be at least 30% protein and at least 18% fat, as well as the Omega-3 fatty acids for immune system health, cell function, energy production and metabolism. These fatty acids also aid neurological development. Calcium and phosphorous are needed for teeth and bone development.

Some specific ingredients to look for when choosing a dry food for your dog or puppy include, lamb meal, which is better than just lamb because the lamb includes moisture content, which is not as optimal. Also, poultry meal, usually chicken, but not poultry by-product. Fat content is also important, but look for poultry tallow as the fat source as it is more easily digested than animal fat, which could come from anywhere or anything. Keep in mind that if you feed your dog a cheap, grain-based food, you will need to feed him twice as much to satisfy his hunger and you still would not provide the nutritional balance he needs.

If you dog develops a food allergy, it will be due to a specific ingredient, no matter which brand you feed your dog. Your vet will help you pinpoint the problem and decide the best food for your dogs particular allergy. Some indications of food allergy include, coat and skin problems (hotspots) and digestive or even respiratory symptoms. A change of food will take at least 8 weeks before you see an improvement.

What about treats? Are they part of a balanced diet for your dog? The answer is yes. In moderation treats are good for your pet. Try to get treats that do not contain a high amount of soybean and artificial color. Fruit, except for grapes and raisins are a good choice, as they are toxic to dogs. My 3 Dobermans like apples, watermelon and bananas. They can also have bits of cooked beef or chicken. In addition to treats, it is a good idea to provide your dog or puppy with a high quality, human grade pet vitamin. These supplements provide antioxidants, which fight cancer causing free radicals, as well as digestive enzymes needed for digestion that are lost in processing of dry dog food.

The older or senior dog requires some special feeding care. How do you know when your dog should be considered a senior? It actually depends on the size of the dog. Because large dogs do not tend to live as long as small dogs, a dog weighing 91 pounds can be feed a senior formula. Up to 90 pounds, a dog can be considered senior at age 6. Some of the health changes older dogs face are dental problems, obesity and failing eyesight. They require fewer calories but not decreased protein.

I just want to say a word here about nutrition for large breed puppies. The quality dog food brands have developed a special formula for puppies that will grow to be over 65 pounds. This is important because too much development too quickly can cause bone and joint problems as the puppy grows. The puppy should be well fed, but not overweight. The balance of nutrition in the large breed formulas is designed to prevent puppies growing too big too fast. I hope this helps answer some of the questions about what and how to feed your dog or puppy.

Joseph M. Sabol is a world class Doberman breeder. Please go to or to for further information


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