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How to keep your dog healthy with their diet

  • 9, Sep 2020
  • Read time: 5 mins

Just like humans, it’s important that your dog has a balanced diet to help them lead a long and healthy life. Our vets have shared why your dog’s diet matters, helpful feeding tips and the impact of being overweight.

Dog carrying a feeding bowl.

Why does my dog’s diet matter?

Having an unhealthy diet can cause your dog to become overweight. This can bring lasting medical issues and can even be fatal for your furry companion. An overweight dog is unlikely to live as long and are more prone to the following conditions:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Arthritis
  • Heart problems
  • Diabetes

Is my dog overweight?

Every dog is different and there are specific weight ranges for each breed. For an accurate understanding of your dog’s weight, your vet can weigh them for you at a check-up. Your vet will be able to tell you what the healthy weight is for your breed of dog and whether your dog is overweight.

There is also a way that you can keep an eye on your dog’s weight at home between vet visits:

  • Look at your dog from the side – you’re checking to see if their tummy is tucked up from their chest and not level with or hanging below the chest
  • Look at your dog from above – you’re checking to see if your dog has a tucked in waist without their hipbones protruding too much
  • Feel your dog’s sides for the ribs – if you can’t feel your dog’s rib cages, your dog may be overweight. This is a useful step for dogs with thicker or fluffier fur, as their fur can often conceal their true weight.

Some dog breeds are more prone to being overweight than others, so being watchful with their diet is important. This includes:

  • Pugs
  • Bulldogs
  • Beagles
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Dachshunds
  • Basset Hounds

If you’re worried about your dog’s weight, your vet can offer specific help and support for your dog’s breed.

What should I feed my dog?

Chat with your vet to find out which type of food is best suited for your dog’s individual needs.

There is a variety of choice out there, including wet and dry food, depending on the age, breed and health of your dog.

Our vets say that a balanced diet for a dog includes protein, fat, carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins and minerals. This is important for larger breed puppies, such as German Shepherds, to help them grow at a controlled rate to prevent joint problems.

Another tip from our vet is to avoid raw food and bones where possible. They come with their own set of problems, including food poisoning bacteria, damaged teeth and digestive problems.

How much should I feed my dog?

As with the type of food to feed your dog, the amount is dependent on their breed, age, general health and lifestyle.

When you’ve found the right food for your dog, there will be guidelines on the packet as a good starting point.

If you’re not sure, don’t try and guess as this might mean you over or underfeed your dog. Call your vet and they can help you. 

How often does my dog need feeding?

Weigh out the daily food amount your dog needs and split it out into many meals. You could split them into two or more, depending on how active your dog is and if they have any medical conditions.

If your dog always seems to be hungry, remember that this is common. Try not to over feed them with treats between their normal daily meals.

Can I feed my dog human food?

Our vets recommend that you avoid feeding your dog human food where possible, as it can cause health and behavioural issues.

Not only are some foods poisonous, such as chocolate and grapes, but human food is often higher in calories. Eating it can cause stomach problems and obesity, both of which could be fatal for your dog.

Alongside health issues, your dog behaviour could change. They might refuse to eat their dog food or misbehave when you are eating.

How does this impact my insurance?

If your dog develops a health condition because of a poor diet, they may need more visits to the vet and special food. This can impact your insurance if they develop an ongoing condition and you need to claim for the costs.

MORE THAN pet insurance customers have a variety of cover to choose from for perfect pet protection. Our customers also have access to vetfone, a free advice line available day or night for expert veterinary advice.

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