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Common Dog Feeding Mistakes to Avoid

Avoid these common feeding mistakes for your dog.

There are many areas of dog care that can be murky or confusing. Feeding is mostly straight-forward, but there are some pitfalls you should be aware of.

Giving Dangerous Human Foods

Many foods, some you might be surprised about, are actually toxic to dogs. That's because their bodies work differently than ours, and some substances cause problems for them but not us. So before you feed your dog any human food, be sure you know which ones are dangerous.

Some of the ones that surprise some people include grapes and raisins, onions and garlic, and xylitol. Xylitol is a natural sweetener that's being used more and more in many human products. In fact, peanut butter, which is otherwise safe and well-loved by dogs, is increasingly containing xylitol. That transforms the peanut butter or anything else it's in into a life-threatening food for dogs.

Giving too Many Treats

Dogs love treats, and people love making their dogs happy by giving them treats. And, generally, there's nothing wrong with that. But if you give too many treats, it can cause your dog health problems. First, you must always remember that treats contain calories, and it may surprise you how few calories your dog actually needs per day. So it's easy to provide too many calories and risk your dog becoming overweight if you overdo it with treats. Also, if a dog is eating too many calories in the form of treats, he may not eat his regular dog food well, and that can cause malnutrition.

Choose dog treats that don't have added sugar and are limited to a few calories or break them into smaller pieces. You can also make your own dog treats or use some of his regular kibble as treats. After all, dogs are usually most interested in interacting with and feeling excitement and praise from you.

Allowing Begging

Begging is a bad habit that dogs can quickly get into if you feed them human food from your hand or plate. While it might not bother you, begging can annoy guests or be dangerous to your dog if something that is toxic to them should fall from your plate and, because he's always right there, get scarfed up by your dog.

To avoid begging, never give your dog human food from your hand or plate. Always deliver it to his dog bowl if you give it to him at all. You can also feed your dog his food when you eat yours, which will help him feel like a valued pack member while not encouraging begging.

Free-Feeding without Measuring

Some dogs can keep themselves at a good weight when they are free-fed, but most of them can't. And those that do often lose that ability as they age or develop medical problems. It's much healthier for your dog to be meal-fed with measured food. That way, you can adjust the amount as your dog becomes more or less active and control his calorie intake precisely.

Giving Bones and Fatty Foods

Dogs' systems don't handle fat the same way as humans' do, and fatty foods can trigger life-threatening pancreatitis. And bones can become stuck in a dog's jaws, throat, or GI tract or splinter and cause perforations in the gut.

Changing Dog Food Frequently

Our domesticated dogs' gastrointestinal tracts do best when their food isn't changed often. In fact, abrupt change can cause vomiting and diarrhea. If you do change your dog's diet, do so slowly by gradually mixing in new food, increasing it daily until you've gotten it completely changed over.

Feeding an Improper Life Stage Diet

Dog food is specially formulated for a dog's life stage, and if you're giving the wrong one, it might not support your dog's health in the best possible way. Puppies need a different nutrient profile, for example, than senior dogs. Large breed puppies need different support than small breeds. Ask your veterinarian which life stage food your dog should be getting and when to think about a change.

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