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What should I feed my dog?

Article ID: 263
Last updated: 27 Jun, 2014
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Domesticated dogs are largely carnivores that eat some omnivorous foods. Wild dogs eat a variety of food which consists mainly of prey animals. Prey animals are composed of raw meat, raw bones, organs, other tissue and digested vegetable matter. While dogs are carnivores they do consume a small amount of the vegetable matter contained in the stomach and intestines of their prey. Dogs have evolved over thousands of years to eat this type of diet.

Basic dog feeding guide:

  • Talk to your veterinarian for advice
  • Feed high quality balanced premium commercial food that is appropriate for the life stage and health status of your dog. Check that it complies with the Australian Standard: Manufacturing and Marketing Pet Food AS 5812:2011
  • You can offer some natural foods to provide some variety
  • Natural foods include fresh human-grade raw meat (e.g. raw lamb), raw meaty bones and vegetables
  • Always check with your vet first that raw meaty bones are suitable for your particular dog (e.g. some dogs with misshapen jaws or dental disease may find chewing on raw bones difficult)
  • Choose human-grade raw meat and raw meaty bones because some pet meat/pet mince/pet rolls/pet meat and bone products can contain preservatives that can be detrimental to the dog's health (e.g. sulphite preservative induced thiamine deficiency which can be fatal). However avoid sausages, sausage meat and cooked manufactured meats as they can contain sulphites.
  • Bones must be raw
  • Raw meaty bones such as raw lamb ribs (not lamb chops though), raw lamb flaps and raw chicken wings provide several important health benefits including keeping teeth and gums healthy
  • Too many raw bones may lead to constipation. Generally 1-2 raw bones may be offered per week with a few days in between each serving
  • The bone must be large enough so that the dog cannot fit the whole bone in its mouth or swallow the bone whole
  • Never feed cooked bones as these can splinter and cause internal damage or become an intestinal obstruction
  • Always supervise dogs when they are eating raw bones
  • Dogs ‘like’ bones very much and sometimes become protective. Do take care and discourage young children and others from approaching dogs that are eating.
  • Avoid large marrow bones (these have very thick outer rims), T-bones, 'chop' bones e.g. lamb cutlets, large knuckle bones and bones sawn lengthwise (as done by some butchers) as dogs may crack their teeth on these
  • Dogs may be offered fish such as tinned sardines in springwater, tinned tuna and tinned salmon as a treat occasionally (care with any fish bones). Please avoid feeding fish constantly
  • Dogs may also be offered a small amount of cooked vegetables e.g. pumpkin, carrots etc
  • Cooked meat such as boiled chicken or lamb may also be offered but ensure there are no cooked bones; onions/onion sauces or other toxic substances present (see below)
  • A small amount of cooked plain pasta/rice may be offered but again ensure there are no onions/onion sauces or other toxic substances present (see below)
  • Provide access to grass (avoid chemically treated grass and toxic plants) - dogs will sometimes eat grass which may provide a source of vegetable matter and micronutrients
  • The amount of food required will depend on the dog's size, breed, age and level of exercise, but take care not to overfeed or underfeed. Your vet will be able to weigh your dog, assess your dog's body condition score and provide advice
  • Adults dogs should be fed at least twice a day to help avoid bloat which can be fatal. Also, dogs should not be exercised immediately before or after eating, to avoid bloat, particularly deep-chested dogs.  
  • Fresh water must be available at all times
  • Do not feed the following (note this is not an exhaustive list): onions, garlic, chocolate, coffee or caffeine products, avocado, bread dough, grapes, raisins, sultanas, currants, nuts including macadamia nuts, fruit stones (pits) e.g. mango seeds, apricot stones, avocado stones; fruit seeds, corncobs; green unripe tomatoes, mushrooms; fish constantly, cooked bones; small pieces of raw bone, fatty trimmings, Xylitol (sugar substitute found in some products such as some types of sugarfree chewing gum, lollies, baking goods, toothpaste)

This website provides general information which must not be relied upon or regarded as a substitute for specific professional advice, including veterinary advice. We make no warranties that the website is accurate or suitable for a person’s unique circumstances and provide the website on the basis that all persons accessing the website responsibly assess the relevance and accuracy of its content.
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