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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Pet Care Library > Articles > Proper Nutrition For Your New Dog

Proper Nutrition for Your New Dog

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Your new family member deserves optimal nutrition
Just like humans, dogs have different nutritional needs at different stages of their lives. And just as you would provide good nutrition for someone you love, you will also want to do everything you can to ensure that your dog has a complete, balanced, and tasty menu that provides him with optimal nutrition. This guide will help you select the proper food for your new dog.

Feeding time

Your new family member deserves optimal nutrition
Just like humans, dogs have different nutritional needs at different stages of their lives. And just as you would provide good nutrition for someone you love, you will also want to do everything you can to ensure that your dog has a complete, balanced, and tasty menu that provides him with optimal nutrition. This guide will help you select the proper food for your new dog.

Feeding time
Young, growing dogs should be fed two or three times a day. Feed newly weaned puppies three times a day and older growing puppies two times a day. Adult dogs can be fed once or twice a day, depending upon your preference as a pet parent.

Dog food facts

  • Unopened, dry dog food remains fresh for approximately one year from the date of manufacture.
  • Unopened, wet dog food stays fresh for approximately two to three years from the date of manufacture.
  • If a dog food can has a bulge or is swollen, bacteria is growing inside. At PetSmart, our associates are constantly checking shelves to ensure that we don't sell any flawed products.

Premium food
The quality of the ingredients is what separates average pet food from premium foods. Simply said, premium foods provide superior nutrition, and food quality is probably the most important factor in promoting good health for your dog. Choosing from the myriad of choices on store shelves can be a daunting task, but there are a few simple considerations that can help simplify the process.

Advantage of premium foods
Generally, dog food manufacturers identify their brands within two broad categories: premium and basic. Pet parents who want to provide their dog with the best quality nutrition plan should consider buying premium brands, because these brands tend to have higher quality proteins and grains and lower crude fat values. The benefits include:

  • Better digestion
  • Less backyard clean-up
  • Shinier/healthier coat

When all things are considered, premium foods also end up being the most cost-effective choice. They are made from higher quality, more expensive and more digestible ingredients, which provide more nutritional value per serving. Thus, your dog will require smaller quantities of food to obtain the full amount of nutrients he needs.

Premium foods also include the latest nutritional advances, provide specific lifestage nutrition, and do not change recipes if and when the costs of ingredients go up. What does all this mean? The lesson to be learned is that premium brands deliver optimal nutritional value for both your dog and your pocketbook.

Your dog's lifestage should determine his appropriate diet
There are many different lifestage formulas available for your dog: puppy, adult, senior, and overweight. There are even special-need formulas for highly active dogs. To determine your dog's lifestage nutritional needs, talk to a PetSmart associate, or visit PetSmart.com and use our pet food calculator.

Transitioning your dog from one food to another
When it comes time to transition your dog's food (because of a lifestage change, for example), you'll need to start when you have about a one-week supply of his current food. Since some dogs will refuse unfamiliar foods and others will suffer digestive upsets if food is switched too quickly, you should transition your dog slowly into his new nutrition plan. Gradually mix in portions of the new food with the current food, adding more new food each day. In about 10 days, you should be able to successfully transition your dog from one formula to another.

The dish on dog food
Dogs require a minimum of 36 nutrients, all in the correct proportion, to maintain their optimal health. These nutrients include amino acids, fats, vitamins and minerals, and they must be in a form that can be processed by dogs. Your dog's food must also be palatable, so your dog will enthusiastically anticipate mealtime! No matter what kind of food you choose to feed your dog, any dog food that is labeled complete and balanced as regulated by AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials) must, by definition, contain all the vitamins and minerals required for good health. Check the label to make sure the food you are feeding your dog meets these standards. These nutrients are carefully balanced to provide a healthy diet for your dog. Lastly, don't forget the most important nutrient: water. Your dog should always have access to clean, fresh water.

Dry, semi-moist or wet
When buying dog food, you'll have a choice of three basic types: dry, semi-moist and wet. One advantage of dry food is that it can be left out in your dog's dish for him to graze upon throughout the day. Dry dog food also helps a dog "brush his teeth." Because of its strong aroma, feeding wet food is a great way to encourage young or very old dogs to eat their food, and it also provides part of their daily water requirement. Wet food can also be a good option for dogs with sensitive mouths.

The hybrid of dry and wet foods is semi-moist food, which may include a variety of nutritional supplements, some dairy products and come in a wide range of flavors.

Easy on the table scraps
While an occasional piece of popcorn certainly won't hurt your dog, feeding your dog table scraps is generally not recommended for the following reasons. First, too many table scraps can add nutrients to your dog's diet, which could upset the perfect balance of the commercial diet you are using. Second, your dog may assume he should always have human food, and he may not eat his dog food. Finally, feeding table scraps encourages a dog to beg for food.

Also, softer bones - such as those from pork or poultry - should never be given to your dog because they can severely damage his intestines. However, PetSmart carries a wide variety of basted and natural rawhide, which provides a tasty alternative!

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