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Feeding Your Adult Dog FAQ

WebMD veterinary experts answer commonly asked questions about creating a food and nutrition plan for your adult dog.
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How often should my adult dog eat?

Most pet owners prefer feeding an adult dog twice a day, although a dog can eat just once daily. Giving two meals a day may make it easier for the dog to digest the food and helps control hunger.

How much protein and fat does my dog need?

An adult dog needs at least 10% of its daily calories from protein and a minimum of 5.5% from fats. An adult dog’s diet can contain up to 50% carbohydrates, including 2.5% to 4.5% percent fiber.

Are treats OK for dogs, and if so, what are healthy options?

Some 40% of dog owners give treats and snacks. Dog treats don’t have to follow AAFCO standards for a complete and balanced diet, so veterinarians say it’s best to limit them. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends that no more than 5% of a dog’s calories should come from treats. Wakshlag says, though, that up to 20% is OK.

If you’re going to feed treats, look for ones that are lower in calories or low-fat, high-fiber to help guard against weight gain. Small pieces of raw vegetables also make good treats. Try green beans, bell peppers, or thin pieces of carrot.

Is table food appropriate for dogs?

An occasional nibble is OK. But, giving big chunks of steak fat, poultry skin, and other greasy leftovers isn’t a good idea, Wakshlag tells WebMD. A sudden change in diet, especially one involving a large amount of fat, could cause pancreatitis. If your dog is overweight, stay away from table scraps. Also, if you don’t want your dog hanging around the table at mealtimes, don't feed it scraps.

What do I need to know about dry, canned, and semi-moist dog foods?

Deciding which food is best for your dog depends on your pet and your preferences. Dry dog food provides more nutrients per bite than other types of food because it contains less moisture. That means you won’t have to feed as much to satisfy a dog’s nutritional needs, making it the most practical choice for a large dog.

Dry dog food also costs less per serving and can be left in a pet’s feeding dish all day, unlike canned. Dogs with dental problems may benefit from specially formulated dry food made for dental health, which can help decrease periodontal disease by massaging the teeth and gums.

Canned food contains 68% to 78% water. Because of the high moisture content, such foods usually contain more meat, seafood, or poultry than dry foods. They also may contain textured proteins from such grains as wheat and soy.

Dogs with urinary tract problems may do better on canned food because of the higher moisture content. And if your dog likes to eat a lot but is overweight, canned food will help fill him up with fewer calories. However, canned food will become stale quickly if left uneaten.

Semi-moist foods contain 25% to 40% water. To help the food stay soft and preserve shelf life, manufacturers add substances that preserve moisture such as sugar, propylene, glycol, and salts.

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Reviewed on May 01, 2010
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