Nutrition & Grooming

Choosing what to feed your puppy, when and how much can be hard for a new pet owner. In this section we've given you some tips and advice on feeding schedules, good foods for dogs and food you should avoid.

We've also outlined some important grooming tips to ensure that your dog is not only healthy on the inside, but on the outside as well. Grooming helps remove dead hair and stimulate skin circulation and turnover. Not to mention doing wonders for stress and blood pressure!

Puppy

Expert Q&A

Our expert vet team regularly takes questions from PawClub members and posts answers to the more common ones online.

Some questions you may be interested in are:

  • There are many different brands of tinned food, some are better than others. As a vet, I generally recommend that dogs are given dry food as the tinned food tends to get stuck between their teeth and cause dental disease. I don’t generally recommend specific dry food brands, but the premium brands do have better nutritional value.

  • Weight loss is a simple equation of calories going in and calories being used with exercise. If she is eating too much and/or not exercising enough then she is putting on weight. The simple solution is to feed her less (including treats, tidbits and leftovers) and start exercising her more. When decreasing her food, you can bulk it up with fibre such as pumpkin or carrots so she does not feel hungry. Sometimes buying a smaller bowl can help with portion size. Some people like to continue to give treats etc. which is fine. What I recommend doing is putting all the food she is allowed at the start of the day into a bowl in the fridge and any treats she gets comes out of this. Once the bowl is empty she doesn't get anymore. Finally, there are prescription diets and often weight loss clubs run by your veterinarian that can assist greatly.

  • This is a very common question. How much to feed your dog depends on the type of food you are feeding! As humans if we eat salad everyday we could probably eat a lot without putting on much weight. If we ate the same amount of hamburgers then obviously we would put on weight. It is no different in dogs. Every brand and range of dog food has a different number of calories per cup. This can be even more complicated if you are cooking your own meals for your dog. Even if you are feeding exclusively dog food, there are usually treats and table scraps as well which can complicate the calculations. Some brands of food do have a guide on the side of their packets, others do not. This can further be complicated by how active or inactive your dog is. The best guide is to see if you can feel your dogs ribs. If it is difficult to feel them then possibly your dog is  overweight. This can take some experience so it is often best to visit your veterinarian (or veterinary nurse) for their opinion. 

  • Bones are actually not recommended to feed to dogs anymore! From a vet perspective there are several concerns: There is a high risk of a dog catching "food poisoning" bacteria or germs, such as salmonella or campylobacter, from raw meat. There is also the possibility of the humans in the household catching these diseases.  The bones can cause injuries, tears or blockages in the intestinal tract from anywhere from the mouth to the anus, leading to bleeding, severe diarrhoea or constipation. Sometimes the blockages can be so serious and that  require urgent surgery is required. Bones are also known to fracture teeth. You are much better off using dental chews, stick and dental dry foods.

  • The most common reason dogs eat grass is because they like it. A common misconception is that they have a nutrient deficiency or are trying to make themselves sick. Grass is an irritant to the stomach in large amounts and can cause vomiting. Large amounts of grass eating can also cause blockages in the stomach and intestine as they form a clump during digestion. It is best to keep your dog away from long grass to eat but keep them on a lead during walks or by keeping gardens well manicured. This will also prevent any problems with grass seeds during the spring/summer seasons. If you feel your dog is vomiting/eating grass excessively please visit your local vet for a check up.

  • The best diet you can give your puppy is actually premium brand puppy food and water only, once they have been weaned fully. Once your puppy has been fully weaned, they no longer require milk, so you do not have to give them puppy milk at all. The dry form of puppy and dog food is the most economical and is also better for your dog's teeth, compared to the canned foods.
    As much as we love to spoil our puppies with table scraps, treats and snacks, and make our own home-cooked meals for them, the nutritional balance in such diets is often not very good and it may lead to nutritional deficiencies in your puppy.
    All premium brands of pet foods have been carefully and scientifically prepared to ensure the best nutrition for your puppy, and it may seem bland to eat the same thing day-in and day-out, but rest assured that you are really doing the best for your puppy.
    Moreover, if you don't ever feed them human foods, they will not develop a taste for them, and thus may prevent future begging behaviour, obesity, vomiting and diarrhoea, anal gland problems etc. And they will be very happy with their dog food for the rest of their lives!

  • Dogs are believed to be non-obligate carnivores, meaning that a dog is not dependent on meat-specific protein in order to fulfil its basic dietary requirements. Dogs are able to healthily digest a variety of foods, including vegetables and grains, and in fact dogs can consume a large proportion of these in their diet. In the wild, dogs not only eat available plants to obtain essential amino acids, but also obtain nutrients from vegetable matter from the stomach and intestinal contents of their herbivorous prey, which they usually consume.

    As such, I do not think there should be much harm in your dog eating small amounts of bird seed that your cage birds flick onto the floor. (It also saves you having to sweep it up!)

     

  • Whilst heart disease is usually not curable, as a pet owner you can incorporate some simple dietary changes that when used in combination with medical therapies can ensure your dog has a good quality of life.
    Sodium restriction is usually the first dietary change that is recommended for patients with heart failure because the condition tends to lead to salt and water retention. Typically, many commercial brands of pet food have relatively high salt levels. Pet treats can also be high in salt and should be avoided. Other minerals important for heart health include potassium and magnesium. It is important to supply the correct levels of these essential nutrients in the diet for optimal effect.
    Protein should not be overly restricted in dogs with heart disease and the kilojoules content of the food needs to be appropriate to maintain your pet's ideal body weight. Excess body weight results in increased work requirements for the heart, while too little energy is also deleterious.
    Omega-3 fatty acids may be useful in some patients with heart disease as they may help to reduce inflammation which may ultimately reduce the risk of muscle wasting and heart rhythm abnormalities.
    Whilst there are some important dietary changes you can make for your pet suffering heart disease, it is important that such changes are done in the context of providing an overall palatable and nutritionally balanced food. There are a variety of commercially available therapeutic diets available through your veterinarian, which are specifically formulated to meet all the nutritionally requirements of particular medical conditions. Speak to your vet about any specific dietary changes you may need to undertake to maintain your pet's health.

  • Most dogs love food, so when a dog isn't eating, it usually indicates that they are not well. Veterinary attention should be sought.

  • It could be a number of reasons. It may be due to eating too many doggy treats, feeding by a friendly neighbour, a change in diet, not enough exercise, part of growing or, they could be pregnant.

  • Common symptoms of food allergy are tummy upsets and diarrhoea, and/or skin problems with rashes and itchiness. You might notice that these signs occur when your dog eats a certain food; but then avoiding this food, the signs might not return. If you are concerned that your dog has food allergy and can't work out why, consult your veterinarian.

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