What are the life stages of feeding my dog?

The different life stages when you're feeding your dog are set by AAFCO, and essentially that is set with puppy or growth and development. Then we have adult or maintenance, and then the last one is senior. Our very last category is all life stages.

Dr. Meagan Darby
Hebron Animal Hospital

How do I wean my puppy and get them onto regular food?

Whenever you're making the decision to wean your puppy and put them on regular food, which usually happens around a year of age, it is a fun decision. You can stick with the same brand, but whenever you put them on adult food, you should still mix it in slowly, even if it's the same flavor and brand that you were using previously.

Should I feed my dog on a set schedule or free feed?

You should definitely have your dog on a set schedule. Some dogs will only free feed, but in order to maintain health and know how much they're eating, it's best for them to be on a set schedule and to have an idea of how much and when they're eating.

Other than a set schedule, how do I know if I'm feeding my dog too much?

Usually you can look at your dog. You can do something by evaluating their body condition score. You need to actually touch your dog, feel their ribs, feel their waist, and that'll let you know if you're overfeeding your pet.

There are so many brands of dog food, but how do I know which one is best for my dog?

The brands that you're looking for are ones that follow the AAFCO recommendations. You also look for brands that do good quality control and have someone working with an animal nutritionist to develop their plans.

When would my dog need a prescription diet?

Your veterinarian may make recommendations for prescription diets based on any health problems your dog may have. We're usually looking for disease processes, like bladder stones. Sometimes we'll actually use prescription diets to help your dog lose weight.

At times, my dog will eat grass, does that mean that she's missing something in her diet?

Not always. Some dogs do like to just eat grass. Sometimes it can be a sign of nausea, but some dogs just eat grass on a daily basis.

Would human food make my dog overweight?

A lot of times human food does make your pet overweight, mostly because of portion sizes. It is not a balanced diet. Dog food is designed to be balanced, so that way your dog in every bite is getting all the minerals and nutrients they need.

What are some myths that you hear about as a veterinarian that you can clear up for us?

Probably the most common myth that we hear is that dogs are allergic to grains. That's very, very rare. About 1% of dogs with food allergies have been allergic to grain. Usually it's the protein that's in the food. So grain-free doesn't have as much benefit. Some dogs do well on it. The vast majority don't need it.

Is dry, wet food, or a combination of both best for dogs?

You have the flexibility to choose the feeding approach that best fits your lifestyle, as long as the diet is well-formulated. Both options can be excellent for your pet. The key is to select a method that aligns well with your and your family's routine and preferences.

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