Dinner TimeJust about anyone who owns a dog has shared some leftover food scraps with their canine companion. Giving a dog a “human food” treats once in a while is not the end of the world, but it should be kept in mind that some foods can be toxic and even deadly to a dog. Foods such as chocolate, macadamia nuts, onions and garlic, and avocados can cause bad reactions in a dog and should be avoided.

A healthy diet for a dog depends on a couple of factors; one being their age. During the growing stages of a puppy’s life they will require different types of food. They will start off with mother’s milk, and begin to eat puppy food at around 4 weeks old. When they are still a puppy the protein levels of their food should be greater, up to 30%.

Another factor to consider is the size of the dog; is it a small breed, medium-sized breed, or giant breed dog? Smaller dogs can be switched from puppy to dog food earlier than larger breeds can since their size difference is so great.

As a dog ages their nutritional needs will again change, since weight gain can sometimes be a problem in older dogs due to the change in metabolism. As with humans as we age, dogs need a low-calorie diet that is high in fiber to assist with gastrointestinal health. Large dogs will tend to age faster than smaller dogs, with small dogs most often living twice as long as large dogs.

A healthy diet for a dog can be purchased at the local pet store or made in the kitchen by their human companion. It all depends on how much time and energy you can manage. There are manufactures of dog food that include healthy ingredients such as whole deboned chicken and sweet potatoes, and even dog foods that are organic and gluten or grain-free.

If making the dog food at home is the best option for the family, the nutritional needs of the dog must be considered. Lean meats are best such as dark meat poultry, and boneless meat or fish. Eggs are another good source of protein. Some pets are lactose intolerant, so dairy needs to be given carefully if at all. Vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower can be given although must be cooked. If they are given raw they must be finely chopped for the dog to be able to digest them. Fruits are also good for dogs, with the exception of grapes and raisins which can cause kidney failure.

There are also many different supplements that must be added to make up all the nutrition a dog needs such as calcium, Omega-3’s, and various vitamins and minerals. Due to the complexity of dogs nutritional needs some owners prefer to feed their dog a mixture of crunchy, store bought food and homemade food.