First and foremost, let me say that feeding twice daily versus free feeding I have found to be the healthiest for my dogs. Many veterinarians recommend feeding twice a day as well. This is called meal feeding.
“Free feeding is where a bowl of food is left out all day.”
Here are some advantages of meal feeding of whatever product you have chosen:
1 - You will know how much you're feeding. (Yes, measure it or use a measuring scoop each time. Don't just pour.)
2- You will know how much your dog is actually eating. (This can alert you to a decline in appetite or not eating at all, which can alert you that a trip to the vet might be necessary.)
3 - Dogs seem to be healthier, and they don’t have that “I’m starving” once-a-day feeding behavior. (Some dogs seem happy with once a day. Your call.)
Note: The behavior of dogs who “wolf” their food down usually has little to do with meal or free feeding. (Something for another post.)
SHOULD I FOLLOW THE CHART ON THE DOG FOOD BAG?
Not, necessarily. That chart is merely a guide, not a written-in-stone must-be-fed-this-much declaration. Just like us, each dog’s metabolism is different. Some might require more, some less. And then there are the growth spurts in puppies and young dogs that need to be considered.
Age can have a lot to do with how much you feed as well. Puppies need a puppy food that is designed to support their growing needs, which should change when they near adulthood. That’s when it’s time to consider switching to a good adult maintenance formula. And, of course, our geriatric friends should be on a senior food.
There is also a growing trend to feed a raw diet or to prepare meals from scratch (not necessarily a raw diet). There are some sound ideas out there. However, before you set off to explore that avenue, do your homework. There are prepared raw foods you can purchase, as well as tons of recipes out there, and don't forget the support groups. Again, do your homework and don't try to reinvent the wheel, so to speak.
For Freya each morning, I start with a base amount of kibble, then add her supplements, which for her are diatomaceous earth, salmon oil mixed with a bit of water. However, some days, I’ll pop open a tin of sardines and give her one each day. If I have leftover salmon, she’ll get a bit of that, or whatever I have as a leftover. Unfortunately, we’ve discovered she is allergic to chicken, so for us it’s always label reading before we buy any commercial food.
Not a bad idea for you to do, too. Read those ingredient labels and learn the country of origin, as well. The simpler the formula, the better. Made in USA is a good choice, as well, I’ve found.
Also, don’t constantly switch brands. Doing so can create a fussy dog, which can lead to a lot of frustration on your part over your dog’s life.
And last but not least, should you need/want to change brands or types of dog food, make the transition over at least a couple of weeks. Sudden changes can lead to a dietary indiscretion no one wants.
Do not attempt to turn your dog into a vegetarian because you are or you think he or she should be. Dogs need MEAT. They are born carnivores. It's in their genes. They are what they are and you can make them ill trying. Don't take my word for it . . . . Talk to your veterinarian.