DOG CARE

FEEDING YOUR DOG


With proper nutrition and care, your can live a healthy active life. The proper food that your dog requires must contain proteins, vitamins and fiber. Proper nutritious food increases the life span of your dog and also keeps him healthy, fit and energetic.

If your dog is very active, such as a working or hunting dog not yet in "retirement", or is neither under or overweight for his sex and breed, you will not have to make any dietary changes. Just keep a careful eye on any variations in personality, weight, stool changes or yellowed grass where your dog urinates, which could (but not always!) be a sign he is consuming too much protein and other nutrients or has other medical problems.

However, the "yellow grass" warning signal is not always an indication of too much dietary protein. If your dog belongs to the Greyhound or a few other breeds or if he always urinates in the same place day after day, "yellow grass" could be normal. Always consult your vet to be sure.

Commercial pet food manufacturers take into consideration the reduced activity level and slower pancreatic, heart and kidney functions of the typical older dog and they have created low caloric, easily digestible foods for them. These foods have more vitamins, carbohydrates, fiber, fewer minerals, less protein and fat. They are made appealing and appetizing.

Sometimes these foods are so appetizing that dogs overeat and become obese. Obesity is a serious medical problem that can drastically shorten your dog's life. If your dog has this tendency, you must be firm and limit the amount of food he eats. Definitely do not allow him to free feed or give him snacks without decreasing the same amount from his normal meal. If you need to decrease the amount of food or make changes of any kind, do so gradually.

Both studs and bitches tend to lose weight when breeding. Increase their food intake slightly, if necessary, or feed them slightly more caloric foods than usual. Remember, however, that obesity is not good for any animal. When a bitch is pregnant, her appetite will start to increase slowly and then dramatically. For the first four weeks after being bred, she should be fed her normal, high quality "maintenance" diet.

At five to six weeks she needs about 25% more food energy than normal and the quantity should accommodate this increase. Be sure to feed her puppy growth food, to compensate for her increased protein, energy and mineral requirements. As gestation proceeds, she will need to eat 3-4 and even five times a day, due to the fact that as her puppies grow the space in her abdomen becomes more limited for food. Make sure she gets enough to eat, sufficient time to eat and does not have to compete for food with other pets.

By the eighth week of pregnancy through the first week post-whelping, her food should be increased by 50% above normal. Feed her as much as she likes (unless she is obese and your veterinarian suggests otherwise). Once her puppies are born, they will quickly deplete any extra reserves she may have.

Once she has had her puppies and is lactating, her appetite will increase from 2-4 times more than for normal maintenance. Make sure that her puppies are not interfering with her eating. Never let a nursing bitch go for 24 hours without eating, especially if other symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea or listlessness is present.

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