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March 15, 2016

How Do You Feed Your Dog?

I’m frequently asked, “What do you feed your dogs?” It’s an important question and it’s one I’m always happy to discuss. Eko and Penny think I should also discuss sharing my ice cream But  “How do you feed your dogs?” is an equally important question. Because I’ve learned
I’m frequently asked, “What do you feed your dogs?” It’s an important question and it’s one I’m always happy to discuss.

Eko and Penny think I should also discuss sharing my ice cream

But  “How do you feed your dogs?” is an equally important question. Because I’ve learned it really doesn’t matter what you feed your dog if you’re not actively engaged in how you feed that food. Over the years, the best way I’ve found to improve how my dogs are fed is to improve where the food goes before it gets to their mouths.

I’ll begin with an admission. I used to feed Eko directly from the bag, using an old travel mug as a scoop

For a multitude of reasons, the way I first fed Eko was not ideal. Food could fall out of the bag, he could potentially get into the bag and my scoop was in no way a standardized size.

I (slightly) upgraded my food storage to a plastic bin, but I still had many of the same issues

These days I have an airtight container and a scoop with clearly labeled measurements. The food is secure and I always know exactly how much food I’m portioning out for each pup

Speaking of portions, remember that dog food labels only offer guidelines/suggestions. Treat those numbers as a place to start, rather than the final word. Over time you will need to adjust those portions to your pup’s unique size/shape/age/activity level/etc.

Once you figure out the right portion of food, you still need to put that food somewhere for your dog to eat.

Like nearly all dogs, Eko first ate from a simple bowl

Basic dog bowls are so ubiquitous I never considered there might be a better way for my dogs to eat. Thankfully, I’ve learned about a number of great products which help Eko and Penny enjoy their meals safely.

Slobowls, Kong Wobblers and other feeding-toys prevent my two vacuums from dangerously sucking down their food too quickly. Whether you have a speed eater or you’re just looking to make mealtime more of a fun adventure for your pup, I highly recommend checking these options out

I take care of putting the right portions in the right places and the pups are happy to take care of the rest.

They’re also happy to help a sibling finish their portion too

When it comes to feeding your dogs, “How” is as equally important as “What.” But the most important question is always “Why?”

The answer we all share is that we want to have healthy and happy dogs. I used to have difficulty knowing exactly what “healthy” looked like, but I came across this chart which I think provides an easy to understand guideline.

Like food labels, the above notes are just a starting point. Your vet can help identify an ideal weight which factors in your pup’s unique profile

Just like there’s no single “best” dog food, there’s no “best” way to feed your dog. From free-feeding to multiple smaller meals, there are a number of different ways to get your pup the nutrition they need. The important thing to remember is that it’s a process, not just a single answer.

I’m putting together a video on this topic and I’d love your input. If you have any tips or suggestions about improving the “how” of feeding, be sure to pass them along. Thanks!

Comments for How Do You Feed Your Dog?

  1. I think your kiddos need the ice cream for dessert as a treat for solving their food puzzle dishes. 😉

  2. Emmadog says:

    We are always shocked at how many people just open a food bag and scoop out of it, don’t keep it sealed up or secured. Food loses so much once you open the bag, it needs to be in an airtight container and used within a few weeks. Katie and I have always been real slow eaters, and often picky, so the standard dog bowl is good for us, but Bailie can be a vacuum. Interactive feeders have really slowed her down and she doesn’t mind working for her meal. I like the PAW5 bowl, but the other ones I walk away because I have no desire to work for my meal. I usually sort out my kibble onto the floor as I eat anyway, creating my own food game I guess.

  3. meANXIETYme says:

    We go with the starmark bob-a-lot, which is slightly different from the kong because it allows you to change the size of the opening in two different places. That means it works for all size dog kibble AND it allows you to make the food come out more easily or less easily (for a better challenge). Both our dogs use the bob-a-lot at one meal and then the same slow food bowls you have (which we learned about from you!). For food storage, we use the Vittle Vault, which keeps the dog food really fresh and the size we have stores nicely in our pantry (they have lots of shapes and sizes). For “scoops” we actually ended up using scoops that our vet gave us with notations on how much to feed the dogs. The Vittle Vault comes with a scoop, but it was harder for us to measure properly with that scoop.
    We also use the IQ ball for treats (cheerios) as another way to challenge our dogs. It also has different ways to make the feeding more challenging. 🙂

  4. Victoria says:

    you are lucky your two love their food – Muffin is such a picky eater she would go a day or two and not eat (and yes took her to the vet -nothing wrong just a really picky eater). We finally found a food she will eat and its not a fancy, expensive one or one that is rated 4 stars but she likes it and eats it so we count ourselves very lucky on that.

  5. Kismet says:

    Our dogs also get a lot of produce. Pumpkin (not the pie filling), organic apples, kale, green beans, lettuce. The vet is all on board with this in addition to their dog food.

  6. Ellen Quilty says:

    I almost never feed Nikki out of a regular dog bowl.I use puzzle bowls one of which I got at your suggestion.I have three and alternate them.I also often put some of her breakfast kibble in a treat dispenser and let her work on that while I fix my coffee and the rest of her breakfast which I put in one of her puzzle bowls.Sometimes I will put her kibble in an empty clamshell container from the supermarket and let her pop it open.If it’s a nice evening I might put her dinner in a Kong or in a puzzle bowl,take it outside and hide it so she has to find it.She loves that game!The only problem is that I have to shut her in the powder room so she can’t see where I put it or she cheats!I try to keep her slim and trim so I think that if she has to work for her food she feels she is getting more.I’m sure she wouldn’t agree with me though.

  7. Cooper has an acid reflux type issue, so he gets three meals a day to prevent his stomach from getting too empty. We were using a Kong at dinnertime for a while because he was a fast eater, but he’s slowed down a bit so we’re back to his regular bowl. I occasionally (just a few times a year, though maybe I should do it more) hold his bowl in my lap and hand-feed him one or two kibbles at a time to make sure he doesn’t get possessive about his food/bowl. I’d like to try one of the puzzle bowls sometime though!

  8. Abbie says:

    Great post, Will! I’ve still got to try those bowls…I’m just stuck in a habit and keep forgetting about it.

    My only tip would be to think outside the box (or bowl ). We have three different dogs, and they all eat in different ways. Keely (the Chihuahua/Papillion mix) prefers to eat one meal a day (blew my mind!), and she eats dry kibble. Admiral (the lab) starts to go crazy if his meals are late, but he eats twice a day, and we float his food in water (although I think the bowls like you have would work better, TBH). Bella (the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel) who is almost 12, has always had a rough journey with food, and the slightest thing will upset her digestive system and she will have diarrhea. What worked for her when she was younger stopped working as she aged, and we had to get really creative to figure out a way to make it work with her because she was losing weight she didn’t need to lose. We ended up adding a third meal (and are contemplating adding another, because she’s still a bit skinny), and soaking it ahead of time to make it easier for her to eat because she has almost no teeth left, so soaking it made it easier to digest. So yeah, keep experimenting. In our case, wet food wasn’t an option, but it may be for others! Just keep trying things, and think outside the box. 🙂

  9. I feed mine twice daily, I wouldn’t want to go 24 hours before my next meal lol
    I don’t feed a regular meal before training or car rides, just a small meal or a couple of large dog biscuits.
    I never use elevated dishes unless medically necessary as they have found it may contribute to bloat.
    Maybe add something about bloat GDV in your video here’s a nice chart http://omalmalamutes.com/omal/dogpages/images/bloat.jpg
    I have used slow feeders which are great for slowing dogs down, you can also add water to the food which will slow some dogs down at meal time.

  10. I used to have the slow-feeder bowl because of gobbling and vomiting. Now I do better, so I mostly eat from a regular bowl, unless Mom wants me to have some fun at dinner. Also, I have to sit nicely while Mom gets my food ready. No charging the kitchen, climbing her leg, or walking on 2 feet like a human to reach the bowl.

    Love and licks,

  11. Jo Rhodes says:

    Our trainer recommended that we never take the food out of the bag because:A. It will stay fresher longer (don’t think you have that problem and B: if there’s ever a recall you will have necessary information in your paws.
    Bottoms up! Sam and Dean

  12. we keep our food in a container with a scoop. I must try one of those “slow eating” bowls!

  13. Chris from Boise says:

    We feed a measured amount of kibble twice a day, usually doing a quick training session, then putting one dog in a stay and scattering kibble through the house. The other dog is crated. When dog 1 is done hunting down every piece, we release dog 2, who immediately checks the whole house. Then dog 1 goes into the crate, dog 2 has a quick training session, and practices stay while we scatter kibble. Both Habi and Obi LOVE mealtimes – I think equally for the food and for the fun of the hunt. We love the mental exercise it gives them. Occasionally we’ll use stuffed Kongs, frozen for determined Obi and unfrozen for anxious Habi who gets frustrated if she has to work at it too long. Right now pre-dinner training is learning to accept toenail-grinding. Pairing that with the prospect of dinner is working really well. 🙂

  14. Donna says:

    I took your advice and Ariel (my half golden retriever/half German Shgetman ) got a Slobowl for Christmas. She is obsessive over food and is like a vacuum cleaner. Well it was absolutely wonderful. ..for 3 days. She quickly figured out that she can slap her paw on the edge and flip all the food out….and proceed to vacuum it up. So I am back to scattering her kibble all over the carpet in an attempt to slow her down. She stills finishes before Axel. Any advice???

  15. We have a new dog – a 7 mo old Euro Great Dane pup. I haven’t even blogged about him! The horror! He’s on Instagram. Been doing that more since I am currently out of free space on WP. lol We need to get him one of those bowls! We’re getting his stomach tacked in a few weeks though to help with bloat. We’ve lost 2 dogs from it even though we were taking all precautions. Great post!

  16. I put my food in a recycle bin. Use a measuring scoop, use the kong wobbler, slow feeders and steel dishes.

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