There is much to recommend feeding your dog homemade dog food if you have the time to prepare it, and make sure you have recipes that give the correct ratio of nutrients, as well as the vitamins and supplements you'll need to add. These can be mixed up in a bag, stored, and sprinkled in every meal.
Dogs should have a minimum of 18% protein for maintenance when they are adults, and 22% for reproduction and growth. Fat should be a minimum of 5% for adult dogs, and 8% for reproduction and growth. But the more fat that is in the diet, the more protein there should be. Fat makes dogs, as well as people, eat less by making them feel fuller. If they eat less, and there are less of other essential nutrients like protein and vitamins and minerals, the dog will not get the nourishment it needs.
Generally, commercial pet food is made according to the appropriate guidelines, but care should be taken if significant amounts of other food is added to the diet, and it is high in fat.
But whether you're feeding your dog commercial dog food, or home made dog food, there are a few things to keep in mind so you don't end up with a fussy dog:
* dogs should be fed once a day once they are no longer puppies, or two small meals, no more. Feeding your dog too frequently when he is older can turn him appear like a fussy eater, when he is actually full.
* feeding your dog too regularly can get him into the routine of expecting to eat at those times, too, and may lead to weight gain. Letting him get hungry, and feeding sensibly, will not harm him. In the wild, dogs would eat for once a day until they were completely full.
* Don't stand and stare at your dog waiting for him to eat. He will likely think something is wrong, or something else is coming, and won't eat.
* Don't give into your dog and give him something else straight away if he refuses his meal, as he's effectively training you and not the other way around!
* There's nothing wrong with feeding your dog a varied diet, but don't keep changing the food because he seems fussy and won't eat it. Make sure nothing is wrong with him physically first, then if he is healthy, take charge of the situation. Put his food down, leave him to it, and then 30 minutes later go and check to see whether it's been eaten. If it hasn't, take it away, then at the end of the day put down some fresh food. Repeat the process, and take it away 30 minutes later if it still isn't eaten. This way you'll train your dog to eat his food, and not reinforce his behaviour.
Brian Kilcommons has a very interesting method for teaching dogs to eat their food. When the above fails, he prepared the dog food in front of the dog, making lots of 'yummy' noises whilst he did it. He made it slowly, and when the dog still wasn't interested, he put it down in front of his face, then took it straight away and threw it out. He did this first at breakfast, then at dinner. At dinner, the dog in question was more interested, but he still threw it out after putting it in front of him. The next morning, the dog was jumping up and down whilst the food was being prepared. He put it down, pulled it away, then looked at him for about a minute, then left it for him to eat. That dog now eats anything put down for him.
* If your dog suddenly goes off his food, it could be because he has dental problems, or a stomach problem. Get him checked out by the vet.
* Some dogs do actually prefer a certain type of food, just as people do. Try your dog with a variety of foods, and if he only eats one type, and will starve himself if he doesn't get it, the best solution can simply be to feed him that type of food.
* Don't feed your dog a high fat diet, or junk food, including chocolate. It's not good for them.
References: Brian Kilcommons, Good Owners, Great Dogs
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