Many of us tend to stick to the same dog food for our four-legged friends throughout their lifetime, and the decision about which food we choose is often heavily influenced by professionals such as dog breeders, rescue centres & vets. It’s no surprise then, that as a nation of dog lovers we tend to stick to the same food unless advised otherwise – but it’s important to recognise when your dog is displaying symptoms which could mean that their diet could do with a change.
We've pulled together some advice for dog owners on the sypmtoms to look for which may help you identify when a change in diet is needed, along with our top tipe for how to go about it.
signs that you may need to change your dog's diet:
- Dull coat
It’s important that your dog is getting plenty of essential fatty acids from their diet to help keep your pets skin and coat in great condition. Look for meals which are high in protein and contain good quality meat, rather than meat derivatives as these don’t always deliver the nutrition promised.
If your dog is feeling a little lethargic then look for a diet high in anti-oxidants – this will also help to boost the immune system and help to fight off any illnesses that could be lurking. If your pet seems unusually lethargic though, make sure you get them checked out by a vet just to be on the safe side!
- Itchy skin
Allergies are very common in dogs, and food is just one of many possible causes. If your dog suffers from allergies (regardless of what it is), they may benefit from a low-allergen diet that reduces the overall number of allergens your four-legged friend is exposed to. We recommend a grain free diet Allergies are common in pets, and food is just one of several possible causes. Regardless of the cause, though, allergic pets may benefit from a low-allergen diet that reduces the amount of potential allergens they are exposed to. Your veterinarian can recommend either a prescription diet or an over the counter sensitive skin diet, depending on your pet’s particular needs.
- Gaining weight
This is often the most noticeable sign that your dog could do with a diet spruce-up. It doesn’t take much for our canine companions to end up with a little excess weight on their frame – look for a naturally nutritionally balanced diet which is low in calories, and delivers the essential nutrients needed.
- GI Upset
Excess wind, loose stool, or rumbly stomachs can be the result of food intolerance. Some pets simply don’t tolerate certain diets or ingredients as well as other ones. GI upset is an inconvenience to owners as well as being uncomfortable for your pet. If this is an ongoing problem for you, ask your vet to diagnose the problem. The solution may be as easy as switching to a better quality food or food designed for sensitive tummies.
What type of food should I feed my dog?
- Wet food
At Forthglade we firmly believe that there’s nothing better for your dog than a 100% natural wet food diet, free from artificial colours, flavours & preservatives to make sure that they’re getting all the nutrition they need to stay happy and healthy. Wet foods generally contain more meat and retain more of the goodness than dry dog foods because they need less ‘processing’ before they reach your dog’s bowl.
For us humans, there are a few drawbacks to feeding wet food. Wet food can be messier (if you’ve ever watched a cavalier king spaniel eating a bowl of wet food, you’ll know what we mean!), once opened the food must be eaten within a couple of days – and with wet food generally being of a better quality to dry, it can work out more expensive too.
Wet food diets are particularly good for older dogs, those who are not feeling 100% or are recovering from illness, as well as for dogs with missing teeth, smaller mouths or poorly aligned jaws. Wet food naturally contains water too, so if you’ve got a fussy pup who isn’t drinking enough then wet food is a good way to help get some extra hydration in each day.
- Dry food
Dry food is often favoured by pet owners because of its convenience – it is easy to store, easy to measure, and can be easily transported when travelling. Although dry dog foods are traditionally made using poor quality ingredients cooked at a high temperature and don’t always deliver the nutrition promised – there are more and more healthy alternatives moving into this space. If you’re considering a dry food – look for natural recipes, free from anything artificial and free from fillers. If you’re not sure what to look out for you can check out our handy #DumpTheJunk page for more information on pet food ‘nasties’ to avoid.
- Raw food
Raw food is favoured by some dog owners due to it’s closeness to nature. The most common raw food diet for dogs is the BARF (Biologically appropriate raw feeding) diet which consists primarily of raw, meaty bones as well as a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, muscle meat and organ meats. Feeding a raw diet gives owners complete control over what their dog eats and total confidence that their dog’s diet is free from ‘nasties’. Although raw feeding is a very healthy option for your dog, it does require a lot of commitment and you must be careful to ensure that your dog is getting all of the nutrients they need to stay happy & healthy.
- Tailored mealtimes
For those who like to make sure their four-legged friend is having some variety at mealtimes mixing different types of food together – or moving between different types of food is another favoured approach. By far the most popular way to mix up mealtimes is using wet & dry food, and we think this is a great way of adding variety too! If you choose to tailor mealtimes then be sure to keep an eye on the quantities you’re feeding to make sure that your pup is getting the nutrition they need, and that you don’t accidentally over-feed them. Changing your dog’s diet can cause unnecessary tummy upset, so we recommend sticking to similar types of food and not changing your pups diet dramatically too often.
How to introduce new food to your dog’s diet
Although it can be tempting to simply jump in with both feet when it comes to a new diet, It’s important to switch over to the new food slowly to avoid any unnecessary tummy-upset.
- Begin with a proportion of about 25% new food to 75% previous food
- Gradually increase the amount of new food and decrease the amount of previous food until you are feeding only the new diet
- Stick to your normal feeding pattern and aim to feed your dog at a similar time each day
- Digestion creates a significant amount of body heat, so for dogs who are prone to heat stress you may want to consider feeding your pet in the early morning or evening when it’s cooler to help prevent them over-heating