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Food and Water

by Dr. Shelby

Should I feed my adult dog dry food?

Dry food is less expensive, easier to store, and less messy.  Some dogs will limit their intake when you leave the food out at all times or you can control their calorie intake by feeding a high or low calorie food.  Unfortunately, most dogs will overeat if you have dry food always available.


Should I feed my adult dog canned food?

Canned wet food and soft moist pouches contain a lot of water, which makes them  more expensive and also subject to spoiling if the dog doesn't eat it all in one meal.  However, dogs seem to love it and once you start feeding it, your dog may insist on canned food after that!  You must decide which type of food is most convenient for you.

Does my dog need a diet labeled for adult dogs?

Growing dogs can continue to eat a puppy food until they are done growing.  If you are not sure when to switch to an adult food, you can consult with your veterinarian.  It is definitely time to switch if your dog starts going over his ideal weight.  

How much do I feed?

Your vet can tell you how much your dog weighs, and if she needs to gain or lose.  Look at the recommendations on the food bag or can and feed for what your dog should weigh and not necessarily what she actually weighs to keep her weight ideal .

  • Petmate Pet Cafe Feeder
    • this free feeder will provide food at all times for several days
  • Esky Electronic Portion Control Automatic Feeder
    • automatic feeders can be programmed to dispense just the right amount of food for dogs who tend to overeat, and you don't need to be home
  • Wonder Bowl Selective Feeder
    • This selective feeder keeps other pets out of your dog's food so it is perfect for dogs on a special diet for medical reasons.

How much water should my dog drink?

Fresh, clean water should be available to your dog at all times.  Dogs on wet food may drink less water compared to a dog on dry. Drinking more than one ounce of water per pound of body weight per day may be a sign of a health issue and warrants a visit to the vet.

  • Pet Safe Drinkwell Original Pet Fountain, or Aspen Pet Products Deluxe Fresh Flow pet fountain
    • fountains may encourage your dog to drink more water.
  • Bergan Elite Gourmet Waterer 3 gallon
    • large water containers will ensure that your dog never runs out  

What treats are best for my dog?

Treats should be tailored to your individual dog's needs, and taste buds! Remember, though, that treats contribute to your dog's overall caloric intake, so should be given in moderation.

  • Canine Greenies Dental Treats
    • Will help keep her mouth fresh
  • Wellness Wellbites Soft Natural salmon
    • Great for dry hair coats and dandruff
  • Smokehouse 100 percent natural duck and sweet potato
    • Ideal for dogs with food allergies

Are human foods safe for my dog?

Dogs are omnivorous like humans, but you should still avoid feeding them human food exclusively, unless you follow receipes made for senior dogs.  Small amounts of healthy human food is safe, but avoid foods that we humans know are not good for us, such as foods high in sodium, fat, calories, artificial ingredients, spices and red meat.   Dairy products ideally should be lactose free for better digestion. Be sure you know what foods are not safe, like chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, macadamia nuts,  garlic, yeast dough, coffee, salt and xylitol.

Where should I place the food and water?

Place the food and water bowls away from high traffic areas and on an easy to clean surface since dogs are messy eaters in general. 

  • Outward Hound 51005 Fun Feeder Slow Feed Interactive Bloat Stop Dog Bowl
    • makes large dogs eat slower and reduces risk of bloat
  • Petfusion Pet Food mat
    • Keeps the floor clean

What human food is ok to feed?

A begging dog is hard to resist, however, avoid feeding from the dinner table unless you want a demanding dog. If you wish to give him a treat, do so after you are away from the table. Many human foods can be dangerous for a dog however there are some that are safe and tasty treats. Not all dogs can tolerate even safe foods as their bodies react in different ways. Add new foods in small amounts, one at a time and discontinue if your dog gets an upset tummy. Human food should never be the main staple in your dog’s diet.

  • Peanut butter
    • Peanut butter is high in protein but also pretty high in fat. It is best given as a treat or to hide pills. If your pup gets sick, giving any prescribed medication in peanut butter is an easy way to ensure he will get it down. Try using peanut butter in a Kong or sterilized bone as a binder for treats or food to provide hours of sticky and hard-to-get distraction and fun!
  • Carrots
    • Carrots are crunchy, packed with vitamins and low in calories. They are relatively high in sugar so only give in small amounts. Too much of anything can cause an upset stomach.
  • Green Beans
    • Green beans are low calorie and a good source of fiber. They can be added to their diet as a filler if your puppy gets a little pudgy when older and you need to reduce the amount of food he is eating. Both canned and fresh are fine, however avoid canned beans that have added salt.
  • Chicken
    • Chicken is low in fat, high protein and easily digested. Be sure to remove any skin that may have seasonings as some can be toxic or cause an upset stomach. Make sure there are no bones that can cause obstructions or internal bleeding.

What human foods should I avoid?

Many human foods are toxic to dogs, even in small amounts. Avoid giving your puppy any of the foods below and call your veterinarian immediately if he happens to accidentally eat or drink any.

  • Alcohol
    • This includes any drinks, disinfectants and cleaning products containing alcohol as well as unbaked bread or yeast dough.
  • Apricots, peaches, plums and cherries
    • Leaves and stems of trees and pits/seeds all contain cyanide.
  • Avocados
    • The fruit, leaves, stems and pit/seed have the highest toxicity levels.
  • Caffeine
    • Coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, diet pills and chocolate all can cause toxicity depending on amounts ingested and there is no antidote available.
  • Chocolate
    • Dark and bitter chocolates (ex. bakers) are the most toxic, however milk chocolate is toxic as well.
  • Cinnamon
    • Powered sticks, decorations, essential oils and trees can cause systemic and topical toxic effects.
  • Currants
    • Depending on the type, toxic effects can be seen in any amount and some are small grapes which can cause kidney failure.
  • Decaying meat carcasses, garbage
    • Rotting food scraps and bones are toxic in any amount. Rotting meat can cause Botulism while bones pose a risk for obstruction and internal bleeding.
  • Garlic and onions
    • All types and forms of either can cause life-threatening anemia.   
  • Grapes and raisins
    • Grapes, either fresh, dried (raisins) or juice can cause kidney failure.
  • Hops
    • Hops are used for home brewing and the exact lethal amount is unknown, so all amounts are considered life-threatening
  • Macadamia nuts
    • Avoid giving the nuts or foods containing them.
  • Mushrooms
    • While the majority of mushrooms are not toxic they can be difficult to identify, therefore it is best to avoid them all.
  • Moldy foods
    • Avoid giving any food that has mold on it. Try and keep trash up so your dog does not ingest any potentially toxic leftovers.
  • Nutmeg
    • Nutmeg can be found in many baked goods and all forms can be toxic. When ingested in large amounts, it can cause neurological conditions and death.
  • Rhubarb
    • The leaves are the most toxic part of the plant, however the stems are toxic as well. Severe toxicity can cause low blood calcium levels and kidney failure.
  • Salt
    • Salt is found in many forms including any cooking salts, salt water, paint balls, homemade playdough, de-icers and enemas
  • Starfruit
    • Ingested in large amounts can cause low blood calcium and kidney failure.
  • Sugary or artificially sweetened foods.
    • Sugary sweets can cause hyperactivity. Artificial sweeteners such as Xylitol, the most toxic of this category are found in sugar free gums, candy, foods and medications

Why does my dog eat grass?

No one knows exactly why dogs eat grass, but one theory is that they are lacking something in their diet. Commercial diets are nutritionally complete, but senior dogs will often develop medical issues that might require vitamins or other supplements. You should discuss your dog’s grass eating habits with your veterinarian.