What healthy dog nutrition looks like - simple tips for everyday life

Find out what can be considered as healthy dog food.

Your dog only eats reluctantly or refuses food altogether? Maybe it’s not the right food! Of course you want your dog to stay fit for as long as possible and his diet is the key to this. But what is a healthy diet for your dog? What should you look out for regarding puppy food and food for adult dogs? How much food does a dog actually need? You’ll find the answers to all of your questions in the following article:

What constitutes healthy dog food

New dog owners often don’t know which food they should buy. The market is huge, and you’ve also heard of things like vegan dog food or BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food). So, what is actually healthy for dogs? Here are a few basic rules:

1. An ingredients list in plain language

Dog food packaging always promises you the best for your dog. But what does it really contain? Reading the ingredients is definitely a challenge for new dog owners. High-quality ingredients are ideally named precisely, e.g. not “cereals” but wheat or oats. The term “animal by-products” usually refers to slaughterhouse waste such as cartilage or tendons. If you’re unsure, ask the manufacturer. If he refuses the information, this dog food is not recommended.

2. The right mix

Dogs need protein but also vitamins, trace elements and a small amount of carbohydrates. A good source of protein is usually lean meat, eggs or liver. Trace elements can also be found in meat, for example, and in certain types of cereals, legumes, yeast or nuts. The stomach draws vitamins mainly from plant products, carbohydrates, for example, from cooked potatoes or raw fruit.

3. The cereals issue

For a long time, cereals in dog food were generally considered to be bad or pathogenic. Today, we know that it depends on the right proportion. These should always be under the meat so that your dog can digest its food well. Some dogs have allergies against certain types of cereals, so you need to find this out and avoid them in future.

4. A vegan or vegetarian diet as an option

Some dog owners swear by this initially not very obvious way of feeding their dogs. In fact, your dog can draw all the essential ingredients from fruits, grains and vegetables. But for this, you must know your dog very well and have dealt extensively with meatless nutrition. It’s important that the dog doesn’t lack any nutrients.

5. The lowest possible amount of additives

If you buy the dog food yourself, how many additives it contains is a clear sign of quality. Manufacturers sometimes rely on flavour enhancers, preservatives and colourings, as with ready-made products for people, to make the food look more attractive to our eyes. Avoid these ingredients if possible!

6. The well-being of your dog

Food can be very individual. Good observation is essential in finding out what your dog should eat. If your dog has intolerances, he may develop diarrhoea, coat problems or allergies. Also pay attention to whether he eats regularly and with pleasure.

7. Healthy dog excrement

Ideally, your dog’s excrement is not peculiar in consistency, smell or colour. If this is the case, it may not be tolerating the current food so well. High-quality ingredients reduce the stench, for example.

8. BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) as an option

With BARF, you rely on mostly meat-based dog food from raw ingredients. The important thing is that you have researched it thoroughly. Without previous knowledge, this kind of diet is not possible. Here too, it’s important to avoid deficiency symptoms. Food allergies, e.g. to beef protein, can also become problematic. So, it’s a question of practice and knowledge as to whether BARF is healthy for your dog.

9. Avoiding certain foods

Some foods can be dangerous or unhealthy for your dog:

  • Sugar
  • Chocolate
  • Onions
  • Grapes or raisins
  • Potatoes (raw)
  • Avocados
  • Stone fruit seeds
  • Poultry bones
  • Pork (raw)

10. Variety

Dogs shouldn’t eat the same food all the time. Their bodies are just as happy as ours to get new sources of vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates and trace elements. If you cook the dog food yourself, variety is easier to incorporate. If you buy the dog food, mix it up a little, but don’t veer wildly back and forth between suppliers or wet and dry food - this disturbs the dog’s digestion. A balance between buying food and making it yourself can make sense.

The right puppy food

At first, puppies feed on their mother's milk. But from the 5th week, they start to be interested in dog food.

How long and how much puppy food?

From the 9th week, the supply of healthy breast milk ends for all breeds. After that, little dogs should get puppy food for 9 months, medium-sized and large dogs for up to 24 months.

The best thing to do is to consult with your vet and check regularly that your dog’s growth and weight gain are in line with the standard curve. Some puppy food packages indicate precisely the recommended amount of food.

What is healthy puppy food?

When feeding young dogs, it’s important to satisfy their energy requirements for growth. Therefore, puppy food contains a lot of raw protein and raw fat, as well as vitamins and minerals. Usually, puppies try wet food first as it’s easier to chew. With the puppy food available in shops, a high meat content is a matter of course. Some breeds require extra protein and therefore a special puppy food. These include, for example, the St. Bernard and Great Dane.

How much food does an adult dog need?

It’s not for nothing that dog food accounts for a share of anywhere from 20 to 150 euros in the cost of keeping dogs. With small dog breeds, you change over to adult nutrition after 6 months, with medium-sized dogs about 12 months, and with large dogs only after 24 months. The correct amount of food depends on the following factors:

  • Age
  • Health
  • Size
  • Activity

If a dog is healthy and moves around a normal amount, then he generally eats around 2.5% of his body weight per day. Older dogs eat less. If you have a particularly active or large dog, the optimal amount of food can be up to 5%. From time to time, check if your dog has enough weight “on his ribs”. To do this, just stroke his back. If his spine or ribs are clearly sticking out, then your dog is probably underweight. If you can’t feel these bones at all anymore, then he’s overweight. A healthy dog diet shouldn’t lead to either of these extremes.

When is it time for an age-appropriate change in diet?

Older dogs eat less. Because of age-related problems, they also need different food which helps against tartar, for example. You can support your dog with the right nutrition. You’ll notice yourself when your dog is getting older. The right time for a change in diet is usually around three quarters of the dog’s life expectancy. This is generally later for small dogs: for 7 - 10 years, your dog should ideally eat “normally”, after which, senior food is the order of the day.

How do I feed my dog healthily?

First, you ensure regularity: with adult dogs it’s sufficient to provide them with food once a day. The dog’s body gradually gets used to a certain daily and digestive routine. Fresh water is also a part of nutrition – especially if you decide on dry food. If you can, feed your dog when you’re eating, e.g. your midday meal. That way you avoid begging.

Healthy food is at room temperature and doesn’t come directly out of the fridge. In addition, you shouldn’t store the food for too long – don’t give bacteria or germs a chance. The amount should always be individually adapted to your dog according to the above factors. If there are any leftovers, empty the bowl. After eating, the body needs rest so wait until your dog has digested his food before playing or going for a walk. 

Something isn’t right? Your dog’s refusing to eat? Then you should always go to the vet. On the other hand, a fast day once a week, which you determine as the owner, is in keeping with your dog’s nature. This routine is healthy for him, as he will lose unnecessary reserves during this time.

If your dog has digestive problems…

Your dog couldn’t keep his food down and vomited all over your friend’s new sofa? He has diarrhoea and leaves a trail in your colleague’s car? Such annoyances, which occur due to the wrong diet or in case of illness, can become expensive for owners. But dog liability insurance can help. At Luko, property damage caused by your dog is covered up to your desired sum. Find out now, which cases are covered by dog liability insurance.

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