Dogs are opportunistic carnivores! For most dogs that means a variety of food. Mostly meat, fish, and eggs, but also some fruits and vegetables. Good nutrition means a balanced diet over the course of the week. Remember, a lot of treats during a training session means a smaller dinner that night. Some dogs may need a little help with portion control, which is where you come in.
To practice portion control, use a standard measuring cup or a food scale for accuracy. Don't forget to factor in treats.
Want to determine your dog’s caloric needs? It's pretty easy. Here's a basic formula*:
Daily Calories = [Ideal Body Weight (kg) x 30] + 70
(divide weight by 2.2 to convert to kilograms)
Here's an example for a dog whose weight is 50 pounds:
Daily Calories = [(50/2.2) x 30] + 70
You’re probably wondering what the ideal weight is for your dog. The weight range for any size or breed of dog can vary widely, so it’s best to compare your dog with the standard body conditioning chart.
Read food and treat labels. There can be a big variance in calorie content in dog food even between different formulas of the same brand. While you’re reading that label check where the beef, turkey, or any other named meat falls in the list. The better quality foods list meat higher in the list. If label reading isn't for you, check out Dog Food Advisor. This searchable website is designed to help you make an informed decision when buying dog food. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the agency responsible for enforcing labeling regulations, provides some useful insights.
Oil supplements can be very beneficial. Omega-6 fatty acids are an essential component in a dog’s diet. These fatty acids are plentiful in vegetable oils like corn and olive, and dogs, unlike people, can manufacture needed omega-3 fatty acids from these foods.
Omega-3 fatty acids play a vital part in balanced nutrition. They have been shown to improve cardiovascular and nerve function, support the immune system, and reduce inflammation. Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids are egg yolks and fish.
The recommended ratio of omega 6:3 ranges from 2:1 to 10:1.
Conditions such as chronic inflammation arise when the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is out of balance. Although commercial dog foods start out with a proper ratio of fatty acids, omega-3s are easily damaged by processing, air, and sunlight. As the omega-3s become less bio-available, the ratio becomes unbalanced. Adding fish oils, like those from Nordic Naturals, helps to correct this.
Relatively new on the market for dogs is coconut oil. In addition to being an immediate source of fuel and energy, helping “lazy dogs” feel more energetic, coconut oil improves the skin and coat, digestion, and metabolic function. Applied topically, coconut oil promotes the healing of dry skin and hot spots. Integrative veterinarian Dr Karen Becker recommends adding 1/4 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight twice a day to a dog’s diet. Thanks to Dr. Bronner’s committment to fair trade and organic sourcing, we now have Dr. Bronner’s Organic Fair Trade Virgin Coconut Oil.
If your dog is severely overweight we recommend that you consult with your holistic vet before starting a severely reduced-calorie diet. You don’t want to cut back on vital fats, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients essential for good health. We suggest you check out some of the quality products from Flying Basset, Solid Gold, and Nordic Naturals, then consult your vet about what supplements might be appropriate.