There’s a lot of information out there, and confusion about the best diet for your dog is common. Dr Simone Maher, Chief Veterinarian at Animal Welfare League NSW and Michael Zajac, Purina PetCare Expert look at the common mistakes owners make when feeding their pooch.
Mistake 1: Underestimating the kilojoule content in all those little snacks and treats
“We all find it hard to resist those puppy-dog eyes, but it’s important if we’re treating them, we take it out of their daily allocation (keep a little aside in a container for treats!) to avoid overfeeding. If you really can’t resist sharing, make sure you account for this and feed a little less at meal times,” says Dr Maher.
"A good rule of thumb is that treats should not make up any more than 10 per cent of your dog's total daily diet as they are not complete and balanced nutrition. Alternatively, by offering your dog a non-food-related treat (playing with their favourite toy), you can strengthen the dog and human bond, along with keeping your dog fit and active. Another good way to help manage your dog's waistline is by keeping an eye on their body condition; run your hands along the side of your dog. Their ribs should be easily palpable, with minimal fat covering followed by an easily noticeable tapering of the waist” says Mr Zajac.
Mistake 2: Not educating yourself with what foods are toxic to canines
Dr Maher says: "Many people don’t realise that onions are highly toxic to dogs and cause destruction of red blood cells. This is dose-related, so people rarely notice the effects if it is a tiny amount in a Bolognaise for instance – but a pile of leftover onions after a barbeque can be deadly. Play it safe and avoid feeding your dog any onion at all."
Mistake 3: Attempting to meet nutrient needs through a home-cooked diet
“If you’re lucky and pay very careful attention to every essential nutrient your dog requires (and have time on your side!) you may be able to pull this off. But for most of us, meeting the criteria for micronutrients, amino acids and fatty acids – and ensuring we get this consistently correct – is a time-consuming and exhausting process,” says Dr Maher.
Mistake 4: Feeding cooked bones is a no-no
“I have many people tell me that they’ve always done it, and never have a problem – but I get to see the dogs that DO have a problem, and it’s not pretty,” says Dr Maher, adding, “Shards of bone get lodged between teeth or in the upper arcade of the mouth, or the bones get ground down and set like cement in the intestinal system. Be kind to your dog – and your vet – the severe, often surgical constipation that results from this, is not nice for anyone!"
Mr Zajac adds: "Some of the reasons why pet owners give their dogs cooked or raw bones is for a treat or a way to clean their dog's teeth. Some other safer options for a shinier smile and fresher breath are to get into a regular habit of brushing your dog's teeth with a tooth brush, or even offering your dog a dental chew treat - these are often low in calories and double as a treat."