Contrary to what most first-time dog owners might think, not all dog food is created equal. Just as there exist multiple dog breeds, with America alone having over 100 distinct dog breeds, dog food will also have different specifications. This means considering factors such as your dog’s body type, shape, and individual tastes. With this in mind, choosing the right kind of dog food will be an essential part of your dog ownership journey. Below, we tackle the most commonly asked questions when it comes to dog food.
Can You Feed a Medium-Sized Dog Large Breed Food?
Medium-sized breeds fall into the most common dog feeding category due to this group’s wide range of weight standards. This means dogs defined as small or large breeds will often fall into this group, meaning there lies no harm in feeding your medium-sized dog large breed food. This will mainly be common for owners with mixed breeds, with examples of these being pugs, basset hounds, and beagles.
Golden retrievers are another exception, with this breed often benefiting from food formulated for large breed dogs. Such dog breeds have high energy, with large breed dog food usually designed for this purpose.
But even with this, medium-sized dogs will still need the right amount of calories and nutrients for their size, age and health. Ensure that they get enough proteins, vitamins, and omega 3s to help with their energy needs.
Can I Feed Large Breed Dog Food to My Small Dog?
Small dogs may not look like much, but are among the breed sizes that require specific dog food. While the occasional large breed dog food may not cause any problem, your dog will likely not get the necessary nutritional benefit out of their food. Small dogs pack a lot of energy than big dogs and have faster rates of metabolism. This will require you to feed them more than just the usual small bite sizes of food.
Due to their small body frames, they will require more nutrients, specifically calories, to help with their energy needs. Take note that more calories do not necessarily equal larger portions but rather food designed with higher calorie contents per serving in mind.
If your small dog breed also falls under the senior dog bracket, getting the right food will also be essential in helping it get the proper support for its advanced age. For this, ensure you get senior dog food that contains the right amount of fiber. Fiber will be essential in helping your dog ease any digestive issues brought about by age, allowing them to live a healthier life.
Senior dogs also require digestible protein sources, which come in handy in relieving stress on the liver. Due to this, ensure that your list of dog food ingredients contains enough protein to prevent any muscle mass loss.
Since smaller dog breeds also tend to live longer in their senior stages, make it a point to additional supplements for your pet. These can be food with added antioxidants and omega 3s. Lastly, you can also purchase small dog food that is softer in texture to prevent any strain on your dog’s teeth and food formulated to fight dental diseases.
Tips To Help You Get the Right Small Breed Dog Food
Due to the above specifications for small breed dog food, consider using the following tips for your next food purchase:
Be on the lookout for grains in your dog’s food. Small dogs are at risk of getting hypoglycaemia due to their low sugar and body fat reserve, not to mention their high metabolism. Due to this, grains can help keep their glucose levels stable as they are slowly digested into their bodies, avoiding any spikes or falls in the glucose levels. This will especially be important for puppies until their glucose levels become more stable as they mature.
Fat will be another essential ingredient to include in your small dog breed food. Fats will be crucial in helping your dog get healthy skin, a coat, and enough energy supply to keep its energy at the proper levels. Ensure that the dog food contains a healthy amount of omega 6 and omega 3.
Choose kibble that comes in smaller sizes as it will be easier to chew, allowing your dog to avoid any choking incidents.
Look for food with quality meat protein. Some examples of these include chicken and beef meat.
Can I Feed My Puppy Small Breed Dog Food?
While every breed of puppy will start small, not all puppies should be fed small breed dog food. The recommended food will be puppy food that is formulated for their breed type. Puppy food for large breeds should, for instance, be lower in calories than other formulas created for other dog breeds. By sticking to this food, your puppies can keep up with their recommended growth rate, allowing them to get enough nutritional support for their joints.
In addition to this, puppy food for large breeds contains the right amount of calcium needed for healthy bone development. It will also include a proper mix of lean proteins, vitamins, and minerals designed to keep their weight in check. Getting the right food for your puppy also means sticking to the correct rates to avoid larger food portions that could lead to obesity in their later stages.
Other problems related to overfeeding your puppy include inflammation in the cartilage and bone, hip dysplasia, and the development of long leg bones. Avoiding hip dysplasia in larger dogs also means getting the proper calcium to the phosphorous ratio when they are still young, allowing them to prevent excessive weight gain.
Small breed dog food will, on the other hand, come in handy for puppies that fall in the small dog category. Due to their high energy needs, small dogs will have their food formulated with a higher calorie intake. They will also have higher amounts of protein and fat ratios to help them keep track of their blood sugar. With these ingredients on hand, your puppies can keep any low blood sugar symptoms away, on top of which include seizures, weakness, lethargy, and muscle tremors.
Can You Feed Large Dogs Small Dog Food?
While every dog breed requires food formulated for its size, you will likely find yourself without the proper food once in a while. If you have several dog breeds, that may mean feeding your large dogs small dog food. Giving your dog the occasional wrong dog food poses no harm, though it should be a practice that should be avoided.
Having large dogs also increases your risk of overfeeding, with most owners inclined to think that big breeds require more food due to their size. Before purchasing any dog food, consider working with your veterinarian to get the right meal plan for your pet.
This will mean constantly monitoring your dog’s calories and nutritional intake, since big dog breeds will be prone to risks such as obesity that other dogs are not typically prone to getting.
Can I Feed My Large Dog Small Breed Food?
Like previously mentioned, large dogs will require specific food for their nutritional needs. Large dogs often weigh more than 50 pounds, meaning they are likely to need food that supports healthy joints. Glucosamine is one ingredient that such dogs need that is usually found in food formulated for large dogs. Failure to get these nutritional ingredients may leave your dog with painful joints that are common for larger dogs as they age. Getting the right food will also ensure that your dog gets the right amount of fiber blends and prebiotics to help in proper digestion, items that often lack in small dog breed food.
Reading Dog Food Labels
With the above information on hand, you are one step closer to getting your dog food purchase right. Reading your dog’s food labels will be the last thing to consider educating yourself on. For help with this, here are a few pointers to keep in mind:
Pay attention to the first 5 ingredients
Your dog’s food ingredients will often be made up of the first 5 ingredients, with these often differentiating high-quality foods from substandard products. That means that if you are interested in buying food for larger breeds, ensure that components such as fiber and glucosamine are present in the food.
Consider the weight of each ingredient
In addition to looking at the individual ingredients present, consider the weight of each component. The first 5 ingredients will often carry at least 80% of the total weight of your food, with the position of your ingredient helping you determine its approximate weight. Since dogs require a high amount of protein, meat should always be the first in your choice of dog food.
Be on the lookout for by-products
Numerous labels will also contain by-products, some of which may cause concern for dog owners. Meat by-products are the parts that are left over after quality meat has been extracted from the source animal. These can be the liver, kidney, lungs, feet, brain, and intestines. While these are not generally a concern, the handling of these by-products is often a problem.
By-products that are not appropriately stored after slaughtering can still legally be used in your pet’s food, raising safety concerns. Dog food companies have the go-ahead to use these ingredients in their food even when animals have died from causes such as roadkill and any other unnamed sources.
Some by-products will also be named and labeled, such as turkey by-products or beef by-products, while others will be generic. Generic by-products could be labeled as generic meat meals, bone meals, and meat by-product meals, meaning you have no way of ascertaining their source. Unlike named by-products that are safer for your dog to consume, generic by-products cause may cause more safety risks for your dog.
Can You Include Raw Food in Your Dog’s Diet?
The debate of whether to include raw food in your dog’s diet is far from over, with the majority of dog owners torn over this argument. Before giving your dog any raw food, it is worth noting that dogs are susceptible to the salmonella and parasite infection that most raw food contains.
The benefits of adding foods such as raw meat, dairy, vegetables, and crushed or whole bones have been linked to improved skin and coat, making this a personal decision for every dog owner. Keep in mind that fresh raw food will be the best alternative as these typically eliminate any contamination in your dog’s raw food.
Homemade Food for Your Dog
If you are looking for alternatives to commercially made dog food, your pet can still benefit from homemade food. To get it right, remember to keep in mind factors such as your dog’s age, health, size, and breed.
Generally, your food should have at least 30-40% of proteins, such as animal meat, eggs, dairy, and seafood. 40% should also be inclusive of vegetable nutrients, with 10% dedicated to carbohydrates. In addition to this, ensure your portion also contains fat, fatty acids, and calcium.