Dogs are a special part of the family, and it’s natural to want them to get as much variety and enjoyment from their meals as we do from ours.
To overcome this, many of us like to feed our pets table scraps, or leftovers from the family meal. However, even though you may feel like you’re treating your dog, you may not be doing it any favours. In fact, human food can have imbalanced nutrients, or even ingredients which are potentially toxic to dogs. Extra snacking is also one of the most common causes of obesity in dogs.
Today, pets can get all the flavour and enjoyment they need from the pet food aisle in your local supermarket. We now have all kinds of varieties and options to choose from, including dry food, wet food and fresh meals in the pet fridge.
However, if you’re looking for ways to make your dog’s meals more exciting, the following tips can help.
Make meals fun with mixed feeding
Mixed feeding means adding a “topper” to your dog’s regular dry food. The topper can be wet food, or something fresh from the pet fridge. When introduced properly, mixed feeding is a great way to add taste and variety to your dog’s diet. It can also be a very helpful way to feed fussy eaters.
Your furry pal may also enjoy different types of food for different reasons. Wet food helps with hydration and has tantalising aromas to tempt the senses. Dry food is helpful at maintaining oral health and doesn’t spoil quickly so it can be left out during the day if your dog likes to eat more gradually. Fresh food is packed with nutrients and is the closest to the texture of raw meat.
Basically, mixed feeding lets you keep meals interesting and fun for your dog, while still ensuring that they are getting everything they need to keep them happy and healthy.
Dr Lisa Chimes' tips on introducing mixed feeding
We asked Nature’s Gift brand ambassador and veterinarian, Dr Lisa Chimes, for her advice on how best to introduce mixed feeding. Here are her tips:
The most common way to mix food is to use wet food as a “topper” on your dog’s existing dry food. Ideally, you should aim for a 90/10 split: 90% dry food and 10% wet or chilled food.
If, like most, your dog is already used to eating dry food, keep this as the larger percentage initially. If your dog enjoys the addition of wet or chilled food, you can reduce the percentage of dry food accordingly to prevent weight gain.
You may find that your dog will only eat the topper and leave the dry food behind. If this happens, I suggest thoroughly mixing the topper through the dry food so that the taste is evenly distributed.
When introducing your dog to new topper, it’s best to add it gradually over 7 days to avoid any digestive upsets. Start off by mixing in a very small amount of the wet or fresh topper into their dry food on the first day. Then gradually increase the amount of topper you add, while reducing the amount of dry food, over seven days. If you find your dog has a stomach upset from one particular topper, discontinue feeding it and gradually try an alternate flavour or texture that may be more suitable for your dog.
How do I avoid over-feeding my dog?
Always stick to the serving recommendations for your dog’s size and weight that are provided on the packet. If you’re replacing your dog’s typical dry food meal with wet food, for instance, be sure to serve the serving size that’s recommended on the wet food pack.
Always keep track of your dog’s body weight and ensure they are not gaining too much weight. If this is happening, you’re probably feeding your dog too much.
And of course, if at any stage your dog loses their appetite, appears lethargic, develops vomiting/diarrhoea, or appears unwell in any way, please contact your nearest vet as soon as possible.
About Dr Lisa Chimes
Dr Lisa Chimes is one of Australia’s most well-known vets and a proud ambassador for Nature’s Gift.
She has a Bachelor of Veterinary Science and extensive experience working as an emergency and critical-care veterinarian at Sydney’s Small Animal Specialist Hospital.
A familiar face in many Australian homes, Lisa starred alongside Dr Chris Brown in Bondi Vet, and her own TV program, Dr Lisa to the Rescue, in which she helps find forever homes for rescue dogs. She has also made appearances on Ready Steady Cook, The Project, Ten News, The Nine Network’s Mornings, Studio 10, Today Extra, Kyle and Jackie O, and is a regular contributor to Houzz.com and Mamamia.
Lisa is an accomplished MC and speaker, a supporter of Guide Dogs Australia and a favourite on the pet expo circuit, where she shares her knowledge and animal know-how with fellow animal lovers and industry experts at events such as The Dog Lovers Show.
After the birth of her first child, Lisa saw a need to educate young children on looking after their pets and signed with Penguin Group to release two children’s books: My First Puppy and My First Kitten.
She lives in Sydney with her husband Brad, their four children Hudson, Darcie, Spencer and Lottie and their two cavalier cross poodles, Nelson and Lucas.