Dry or Wet?
If your dog is healthy, either option is fine, says Campbell. Because of its high moisture content, wet food may be better for dogs with urinary problems or oral health conditions. Dry food is probably more convenient for you, and there are some prescription dry foods that help reduce tartar on your dog’s teeth, but Campbell says daily brushing is still necessary. Talk to your vet about which food is best, and know that your dog may also have a strong opinion.
Once you decide on a type and brand of food, you have to figure out how much to give to your pooch. “The average cat needs 180 to 200 calories per day, and a 20-pound dog should eat 350 to 400 calories,” says Campbell. Food labels include feeding recommendations, so give them a read. And keep an eye on the scale, says Campbell: “Regular vet checkups and monthly weigh-ins are the best way to refine the ‘real’ energy requirements of your dog.”
Dogs love schedules, so it’s important to feed them at the same time every day. (Twice a day—breakfast and dinner—is a good way to go, Campbell says.) If your dog eats so quickly that he gets sick afterward, get a slow-feeder, which has obstacles in the bowl to slow him down. If your dog eats too slowly, pick up whatever’s left after 20 minutes and don’t feed him again until the next mealtime so he learns to eat on schedule.
While you can find all sorts of feeding bowls for your pup, stainless steel options are best. “They’re unlikely to chip, crack, or form fissures,” says Campbell. “Stainless steel is also nonporous, which means it won’t absorb water, food, or bacteria.” Plastic can scratch and give bacteria a place to hide (it can also cause allergic reactions in some dogs!), and ceramic can break at inopportune times.
“Dog bowls can be a veritable repository of bacteria, viruses, and parasites,” says Campbell. (They rank as the fourth-germiest item in your house, behind the kitchen sponge, the kitchen sink, and the toothbrush holder.) “Food and water bowls should be cleaned with hot, soapy water after every meal,” the doc says. Fun fact: As long as you’re cleaning pet dishes daily and no one in your house is immunocompromised (that includes babies and the elderly), you can wash those bowls with your human dishes
Treat Yo' Pup
“The amount of treats your dog receives should not be more than 10 percent of his daily caloric intake,” says Campbell. If you’re worried about going overboard, he suggests low-cal snacks like baby carrots, a small piece of watermelon, canned green beans, rice cakes, and unbuttered popcorn.
This article originally appeared in our Harvest 2020 issue. Get the magazine here.