Who doesn’t like the idea of a happy and healthy dog? Let’s face it, they are our canine companions, our fur babies and our best friends. Keeping them fit and healthy will not only help them to lead a long and happy life, but it will mean we can enjoy every day to the most.

Just like humans, happy, healthy dogs are a reflection of what they eat, how active they are and how mentally stimulated they are. And, just like humans, dogs require proper nutrition to thrive and live a long, active life. Crafting a diet plan that not only meets your dog’s nutritional needs but also satisfies their taste buds is the key to success – especially for foodie dogs or fussy eaters.

So in this article, we’ll explore ten tips for creating a healthy diet plan your dog will love.

1. Consult Your Veterinarian
Before making any significant changes or embarking on a new diet plan for your dog, it’s advisable to consult your veterinarian, especially if your dog has underlying health conditions (such as kidney disease or pancreatitis) or if they are significantly overweight.

Your vet can ensure they take all factors into account and consider their specific dietary requirements such as breed, age, size, and, as already mentioned, any underlying health conditions.

While it is not 100% necessary, a personalised approach will help to ensure your dog still receives the right balance of nutrients for their optimal health.

2. Quality Matters: Choose Premium Dog Food
While pennies might be tight and you may be tempted by a super low-cost food option, when looking at your dog’s health, it is important to adopt the adage of “Feed the best quality food you can afford, not necessarily the cheapest.”

Cheaper foods are kept at a lower cost by filling them with lots of cheap bulking products and, almost always, have a particularly low meat content. Because of these high levels of fillers, they are very carbohydrate-heavy and offer little nutrition compared to the high volume of calories they put in. This is why we see greater levels of obesity in dogs who are fed on cheaper diets.

By investing in a high-quality dog food, you will find that they use wholesome ingredients and avoid fillers and artificial additives. When looking at ingredients, look for options that feature real meat as the primary ingredient, providing essential proteins for muscle development and overall wellbeing. Foods that list the meat/protein source as the 3rd or 4th ingredient are generally lower quality and should be avoided.

However, we appreciate not everyone can afford to feed their dogs premium standard foods all of the time and you need to look for wallet-friendly alternatives that still offer good nutritional value. Autarky is a great option for people who want affordable but good-quality food for their dog.

3. Balance the Nutrients: Proteins, Carbs, and Fats
It’s pretty standard as far as nutrition goes, but a well-rounded diet includes a balanced mix of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Proteins are vital for muscle development, while carbohydrates provide energy. Healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, support coat health and cognitive function. Our dogs need to receive a good balance of nutrients to maintain optimal health. Excesses of protein can see high drive working breeds such as Collies and Spaniels display behavioural issues such as excessive energy, while too many fats will almost certainly contribute to weight issues.

When choosing a food, read the nutritional labels to ensure they meet these requirements and consider natural sources like lean meats, wholegrains, and fish.

4. Portion Control: Maintain a Healthy Weight
You know what they say, eat more, weigh more. It’s a balance between what goes in and what is burned off – just as in us humans.

However, maintaining an optimal weight is crucial for your dog’s health. Obesity can lead to various health issues, including joint problems and a shortened lifespan. Dogs can’t easily tell us when they feel lethargic, joint pain or general unwellness. These early symptoms only become more obvious when conditions worsen.

We recommend you follow the feeding guidelines provided on the dog food packaging, adjusting portions based on your dog’s activity level, age, and metabolism. For example, if you and your pooch are walking 5km a day up hills and across fields then they might require slightly more food than a dog who has a 10-15 minute road walk once a day.

Regularly monitoring their weight and overall health will allow you to make adjustments that will help keep your dog at a happy and healthy weight.

5. Incorporate Fresh Fruits and Vegetables: Nature’s Treats
Don’t underestimate the importance of adding fresh fruits and vegetables to your dog’s bowl. Not only do they love them, but these natural treats are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

However, be cautious about which fruits and vegetables you add to their bowl as not all of them are safe for dogs to consume. Avoid grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, leeks and potato skins as they can be toxic. Popular choices however include apples, carrots, blueberries, green beans and sweet potatoes.

6. Hydration is Key: Provide Fresh Water
Proper hydration is just as important as proper nutrition. Always ensure your dog has access to fresh, clean water. Hydration is crucial for digestion, nutrient absorption, and temperature regulation. We recommend you monitor their water intake especially in warmer weather or if your dog is particularly active. It’s also worth considering that “kibble” or dry food fed dogs generally require more water than those fed on a wet or raw diet.

7. Consider Special Dietary Needs: Allergies and Sensitivities
It’s not uncommon for some dogs to have allergies or sensitivities to certain ingredients. If you notice signs of allergies, such as itching, digestive issues, or skin problems, consult your veterinarian. They can help identify potential allergens and recommend specialised diets or hypoallergenic dog foods to help get them back to comfort.  Arden Grange Sensitive range is very popular among customers whose dogs suffer with itchy skin and sensitive digestion.

8. Rotate Protein Sources: Keep it Interesting
Dogs can get bored with the same food every day. To keep mealtime exciting, rotate protein sources by switching between different meats, such as chicken, beef, and fish. Not only does this provide a variety of nutrients, but it also prevents dietary monotony.

However, if you do plan to keep the variety, it is worth remembering those special dietary needs. It is not uncommon for dogs to develop sensitivities or intolerances to different protein sources; chicken and salmon most commonly. So keep an eye on your dog to see if any protein sources upset them more than others so you can avoid them if necessary.

9. Homemade Dog Treats: A Healthy Indulgence
Consider making homemade treats for your dog to add an extra layer of love to their diet. This allows you to control the ingredients and avoid preservatives or additives commonly found in commercial treats. There are numerous recipes available that use dog-friendly ingredients like peanut butter, oats, and sweet potatoes.

If you don’t have the time to whip up a storm in the kitchen, Rooke’s stock some great natural treats from Anco including Bully Paddywack which is also good for dental health.

10. Regular Exercise Complements a Healthy Diet
It goes without saying that a healthy diet goes hand-in-hand with regular exercise. Physical activity is essential for maintaining a healthy weight, promoting cardiovascular health, and preventing behavioural issues – a bored dog is often a naughty dog. Take your dog for daily walks, engage in playtime, and provide mentally stimulating activities to keep them active and happy. Not only does it keep them happy and healthy, but it will strengthen your bond too. Need some inspiration, why not take a look at our article on ways to keep your dog active?

Crafting a healthy diet plan for your dog is a great balance of quality food, fresh ingredients, and personalised considerations. By consulting your veterinarian or local pet shop, focusing on nutrient balance and incorporating variety into your dog’s meals, you can ensure they not only receive the necessary nutrients but also enjoy their meal times. Remember, a healthy diet, along with regular exercise and proper veterinary care, lays the foundation for a joyful and vibrant life for your furry friend.

And of course, if you need any advice, help or guidance, the Rooke’s team is always on hand! Pop in to see us in store or browse our range of over 7,000 products online.

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