One cup for Jasmine and one cup and a half of kibble for Frisco. That’s how much my dogs eat every morning. The same portion is then served in the evening with snacks in-between.
A friend of mine who’s never owned a dog recently told me I was mean for measuring dog food portions. He also pointed out I was silly for buying dog food made from quality ingredients.
He said, “You don’t fill their bowls to the top? That’s messed up! Do these ingredients even help dogs?” – laughs.
He also wondered why there were no carbohydrates. “There are no carbs in this thing for energy,” he said.
He witnessed my dogs gobble down their food within seconds and continues with, “You also don’t keep their food bowl full all day?”
“Dude?!” (Dude in this context means I’m screwing something up big time.)
All this was said genuinely and it got to me, because it’s the shear innocence of passionate dog ownership that leads to bad habits. Or in his case, what he would probably do if he ever owned a dog. That’s scary, because there aren’t prerequisites for owning a dog.
My friend eats relatively healthy. So do his kids. So I couldn’t understand his reason for thinking I was ridiculous for feeding my dogs real food. Maybe he thinks dogs are an alien race who need corn and chemicals to survive on Earth? That must be it. Little does he know, Chihuahuas, are the only aliens we know of to date. Still, he and millions of other humans are innocently clueless about dogs.
He was also under the impression that dogs can decide when they’ve had enough to eat (pure comedy).
He really bought into how companies with nice looking websites and mind-blowing commercials toward dog owners are the most widely tested and proven pet products in the market. I don’t blame him for believing so. That’s what effective marketing does. This is especially true for audiences who are not interested in a particular subject being marketed to them.
Have you also noticed the towering bowls of dog food in commercials? The way kibble avalanches onto the floor. I guess that looks cool from a marketing perspective. Seriously though, I’m starting to think people actually do everything they see on TV.
Much like the American epidemic of human obesity, it is now all too common with pets as well. Dog parks are filled with fat dogs. Yes, I said it. Dogs being overweight is just plain sad.
Dogs are like children to many of us. With that, comes the side effects of spoiling them. It’s not a bad thing, but many dog owners are doing more harm than good. Especially when they forget they’re dogs.
Some dogs believe it or not, can and will eat all day if you allow it. Dog’s most certainly never shy from table scraps or sugary human foods either. Also, keeping a dog’s food bowl filled every second of the day is the leading reason why dogs are overweight. Overfeeding, even on a schedule, can still lead to obesity if the food isn’t being converted into energy.
Think about athletes who run and play every day; they require a high quality balanced diet to burn into energy. However, even those high quality calories they consume can cause athletes to gain weight if they’re not being burned.
The same thing goes for dogs. The average dog is more active than the average human being. They run around the house and play indoors–all the while we sit for just about everything these days. If your dog is an active dog, meaning, they engage in heavy physical activity on a regular basis, then they’ll require a higher quality diet–plus a larger serving to stay in full drive. However, if your dog hangs around the house and plays fetch every once in a while like a normal dog, then it’s wise to stick to the recommended calorie serving for energy.
Now, the big question:
How much should I feed my dog? And if my dog is an active dog, how much more do I feed?
The secret to that question is literally in the food you feed. Ever heard the expression, “You are what you eat?” Well, that applies to dogs too.
The recommended serving label is printed on the food packaging itself. Companies who manufacture dog food have taken the liberty of mathematically suggesting how much dog owners should feed their dog; according to the
quality ingredients that went into their formula.
Every brand of dog food is different. Even flavors within the same formula of dog food will have different nutritional values. Chicken, lamb, and beef are the most common formulas, while bison, water fowl, venison, amongst other exotic meats have also made their stamp in the kibble industry.
High quality kibble will have a lower serving size for dogs while cheaper quality foods require a higher serving size. The reason for that is quality kibble provides your dog with the required nutrients and supplements in a concentrated form. This usually means it’s grain free, focuses around a high quality protein, and contains highly absorbent vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables. For active dogs, it’s always recommended to feed a higher quality food than to overfeed with a cheaper formula.
Cheap kibble has a lot of cheap fillers like corn and grain. There are no true proteins or vitamin sources in the ingredients; sometimes only animal by-products and powder vitamin sources. Bulking a formula with potato, grain, or corn makes nutrients much more spread out, thus requiring a larger serving size to absorb the daily nutrition.
Active dogs – talk with your vet about feeding highly active or working dogs because every dog is an individual. What I mean here is dogs, even those of the same breed, will be slightly different in build from one another. There are online dog food calculators, but these don’t take the dogs anatomy into consideration. So for good measure, educate yourself by talking with your veterinarian about a dog’s proper build. In working and active dogs, it’s OK for ribs to ever so slightly protrude, but never the hip bones. There should always be mass around the hip bones.
Don’t be shocked: dog owners who convert from cheap dog food to quality dog food always raise an eyebrow at the lower serving amount for their dog’s weight category.
This is a whole topic on its own. It doesn’t hurt to learn the difference between cheap and high quality dog food.
My oldest dog, Frisco, is ten years old. Aside from the old man face, his body conditioning and soul is that of a one year old. Sure genetics probably play a huge role (he’s a Pit Bull mix), but it doesn’t take from the fact that he is 10 going on 11.
For Frisco, that’s ten years of hiking, jumping over creeks in a single bound, running in the backcountry, and swimming in lakes. Add in all the normal guy stuff like ACL injury, sprained ankles, multiple tail sprains, cuts and lacerations, fox tails and you have a dog that is still ready for any adventure at hand.
I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary but give him quality food and exercise. He isn’t a purebred dog that came from health tested lines; he was born under a house, infested with fleas, and was the runt of the litter.
Why am I rambling about my dog? I’m just fascinated at the fact that he hasn’t peaked yet. His mind, his body, his drive, it’s still there.
Feeding your dog appropriately will benefit your dog in so many ways. A healthy lifestyle is the key component in a happy and long life free of environmental illnesses. As dog owners, we owe it to our furry friends. After all, they do help relieve our stress so we can live longer and happier lives.
I would love to hear everyone’s life experience on the matter.
How many of you have healthy and active senior dogs?
Do you have a friend that feeds their dog(s) as soon as their bowl goes empty? Having a hard time bringing it to their attention? All I can say is if you decide to help, do it from an educational standpoint. Dogs are like kids. It can get sour pretty quick.
Lead by example. People listen when they see the impossible.