What should I feed my dog?

The type and amount of food a dog needs depends on their breed, type, age, health and lifestyle. For example, a working sheepdog needs much more energy than a small dog who spends most of the day indoors.

Life-stage Feeding

‘Life-stage feeding’ matches your dog’s diet to what they need at different ages and stages of development. For example, puppies need different food from older dogs, because their bodies are still growing. Many companies make food especially for puppies, juniors, adults and seniors. Feeding your dog a complete commercial pet food is the easiest way to make sure they get all the nutrients they need.

It sounds obvious, but pets who eat too much get fat! If you feed your dog a lot of treats as well as their normal food, most of the extra calories will turn into fat. Dogs don’t need treats to know you love them: playing and spending time with you are what they enjoy most of all.

How much should I feed my dog?

How Often Should I Feed My Dog?

Dogs like routine. They’re happiest when they have regular mealtimes – it also helps you make sure they’re getting the right amount of food, and that they’re eating it all. Our vets recommend that you split your dog’s daily food into two equal-sized meals. This is because:

  • A shorter time between feeds (12 hours, not 24) means the dog will be less hungry, and less likely to gobble the food too quickly
  • A second meal gives the dog something to look forward to, so the day is less boring
  • Dogs often sleep after a meal – ideal if you need to leave them at home
  • Dogs on two meals a day usually get fewer treats and titbits
  • Two small meals are easier for dogs to digest than one large meal
  • For some small dogs, feeding more often – up to four times a day – can help prevent problems like low blood sugar

Remember that each meal is half your dog’s daily food: feeding twice a day doesn’t mean giving twice the amount!

Can I feed my dog bones?

Our vets recommend that you don’t feed bones to your dog. Bones can get stuck in your dog’s throat, and splinters can damage the stomach and intestines.

What about food scraps?

Our vets advise owners not to feed leftovers, bits of meat and other scraps, because:

  • Human food isn’t always good for dogs: some, like chocolate and grapes, are poisonous
  • Dogs who get scraps may refuse to eat their normal food without them
  • It unbalances the dog’s regular diet, and they often get overweight
  • Your dog may misbehave during your mealtimes, as they think they’re going to get food, too!
  • Too many vegetables can cause wind. Not a problem for your dog, but it could be for you!
    Fatty foods can cause tummy upsets, and contain lots of extra calories. To a medium-sized dog, eating a cube of cheese is like a person eating two scones - and a Christmas dinner would be the equivalent of 3,000 calories!

You can download our free guide to feeding your dog, including an example food diary to help your dog on their way.