What food should I feed my dog?
Updated: Feb 26
Choosing a food suitable for your dog is one of the first decisions you will have to make. Unsurprisingly, as your dog ages, their needs will alter. Making sure you are always feeding food that is right for your dog is an important part of supporting their health, and this may mean changing their diet several times throughout their life.
The nutrition demands of your dog are affected by:
Should I feed my dog wet or dry food?
What are the benefits of wet food?
Wet food, by definition, contains water. This means it can be a good source of extra hydration in animals that are reluctant to drink themselves, and the soft texture can be easier to eat for animals with any mouth pain, or difficulty eating due to conformation or dental issues. Wet food also tends to smell stronger, which can make it more appealing to unwell animals. Like us, being ill can affect sense of smell and appetite, so stronger smelling foods may be more suitable for animals who need tempting to eat.
What are the benefits of dry food?
Dry food is very economical, and can be very handy to leave out for dogs that eat slowly as it will not spoil over a day. It is clean, and although harder than wet food, kibble from breed-size specific foods will be small or large enough to be appropriate for your dog’s mouth. Dry food is generally better for dental health, can be used as treats, and stores well. If you like the idea of dry but are worried about water, many dry foods can have a little water added on top.
How much food should I feed my dog?
How much you will need to feed will depend on the nutritional requirements of your dog, as well as the quality of food. High quality commercial diets tend to have more nutritional value, and hence you may need to feed less per day. This is especially important for dogs that may struggle to get enough nutrition, such as growing puppies, and high activity or elderly dogs, and also means the cost per day of premium foods is often less than you might expect.
High quality dog foods will state a suggested daily amount to feed your dog per day. This is a useful start point, but is not suitable for every animal – a working husky, for example, would need more calories than a pet greyhound of the same weight. With this in mind, monitoring your dog’s condition is the best way to manage feeding your dog, and making sure you are always giving enough to keep your dog’s weight stable at their optimum size.
Irrespective of type of diet and type of dog, weighing the food you give should always be part of the daily routine. This is much more accurate than feeding by eye, keeps the diet stable, and means that diet can be adjusted more easily.
Can my dog's diet help with health conditions?
As nutritional intake affects all parts of your dog, and processing and distributing nutrition is a procedure touched by many body systems, using nutrition to affect health is a clear step to supporting health care.
Therapeutic diets can be used in a wide range of conditions including:
Do I need to change my dogs diet as they get older?
As the lifespan of different breeds of dog has such variety, it is impossible to say a specific time at which every dog will become 'senior'.
However, on average, dogs will be considered senior when they are over 7 years old. This doesn’t automatically mean their nutritional needs will change overnight, but being older does mean that there is a higher chance of health conditions developing that will need support. ‘Senior’ diets work to nutritionally support areas that commonly cause problems in older dogs.
For dogs who have already developed health conditions, therapeutic diets can be a great way to provide extra help to affected areas.