Feeding Tips, Ingredients and Labels

Feeding Tips

  • Dogs should be fed at the same time every day. Providing a consistent feeding schedule with the same amount, is what you dog desires and truly wants from “his master”.

Feeding at the same time will keep your dog on a bathroom schedule. Do not free-feed your dog, i.e., allowing the dog to have access to food all day long. Place the proper amount in the bowl, allow your dog to eat, then pick up the bowl after 5 minutes, even if the dog doesn’t eat it all.

  • Don’t overfeed your dog; read the guidelines on the dog food package for recommended feeding amounts.

Cockers weighing approx 30 pounds, who are eating a healthy diet, should get no more than 2/3 cups twice a day, less than 1.5 cups a day – total! Monitor your dog’s weight and activity level, and make feeding adjustments as necessary. If you are mixing water into dry food you should mix 4 parts dry food to 1 part water.

  • Feed your dog the same type and brand of food every day.

Sudden food changes can cause upset stomach and diarrhea. Unlike humans, a dog’s digestive system cannot handle changes in food.  When switching to a new food, gradually transition the dog to the new food by mixing portions of both foods until you slowly phase out the old food, approx one week. Your dog may experience diarrhea if the food is suddenly changed with no transition. If your dog has loose stool, try feeding sweet potatoes as it is a natural stool hardener. Unlike some medicines, giving too many will not make them constipated. They sell sweet potato chips for dogs in a lot of pet supply stores.

  • Keep food and water bowls clean.

Keep fresh drinking water available at all times. Change the water at least once a day, more for dogs who drool.

Important Dog Food Ingredient Info

  • AVOID animal-by-products which may contain heads, feet, and other animal parts.
  • “meal” should follow an actual animal type/meat source, e.g., chicken-meal or salmon meal, NOT poultry-meal or fish-meal. The words poultry and fish are too generic and may contain skin, bones, feathers, heads, feet, etc.
  • The source of the meat should be clear, e.g., lamb or chicken, NOT lamb-by-products or chicken-by-products.
  • AVOID any dry dog food that lists any grain as the primary ingredient.
  • AVOID any dog food that lists more than one source of grain in the first three ingredients. Dogs should get their protein from meat, NOT GRAIN!
  • AVOID preservatives and additives,e.g., artificial coloring or flavoring – they have been shown to cause health problems in dogs.
  • AVOID corn, cornmeal, soy and wheat. These are difficult for dogs to digest and can cause allergies.
  • Look for Vitamin E, Vitamin C or Citric Acid; they are natural, healthful supplements.
  • Look for Omega-3; it is good for your dog’s coat.
  • “Human-grade” simply means the food is purchased from human-grade food facilities. Don’t be fooled by this phrase.
  • “Natural” stamped on the dog food package means nothing – there is no regulation to define this. Look for natural and/or organic on the list of ingredients.
  • A blend of fruits and vegetables provides natural antioxidants.
  • Check the digestibility of the protein source. For instance, fish is more digestible than muscle and organ meats.


Dog Food Labels and Ingredients

The first ingredient on the label should represent what the dog food is most made out of, but beware, as this is not always the case. Using chicken as an example, when a dog food lists a meat in the ingredients such as “chicken” it is going by the weight in the meat’s raw state, before it was cooked. Chicken in its raw state weighs about 80% more than it does once it is cooked and processed into a dry pellet. Once it is processed you are left with only 20% of the actual meat.

The word “meal” in an ingredient is something that was weighed after the water was taken out. For example “chicken meal” is chicken which is weighed after it has been cooked and the water has already been taken out, giving you more meat and protein per weight volume.

Therefore be aware if the ingredients read “chicken” first and “corn meal” second, the food may contain more corn than chicken. Corn is a filler that a dog’s body does not utilize well, if at all. The corn gets pooped out and the dog must eat more food in order to get enough protein and nutrients that their bodies can use from the other ingredients in the food. Corn can also cause many issues. Dogs were not meant to eat corn or other grains. Corn has been linked to skin allergies, joint swelling and bloat in dogs, among other things.

It is best to feed dogs a grain-free diet. Dogs have pointy canines for ripping into meat. They do not have the proper teeth to grind up grains.  A lot of dogs develop skin problems and other health issues, including bloat, due to the grains in dog food. Avoid corn, cornmeal, soy and wheat. These are difficult for dogs to digest and can cause allergies. Many grain free diets include potatoes in replace of grains. This is fine, but if your dog has yeast problems, then starch should be avoided.

While better quality dog food may cost more, the dog can eat less of it since their bodies use more of what they are eating, producing less waste. Not to mention the vet bill if your dog develops issues from consuming a low quality food. Be sure to read the ingredients label of the dog food you are using.

A poor diet can also cause a dog to shed more, have a dull coat and have body odor. Some have actually described their dog’s coat as smelling like a corn chip. This is not a normal smell for a dog and is a sign that something else is wrong.

Interesting bits of info…

  • Dogs have about 1,700 taste buds. Humans have about 9000 taste buds, and cats have about 470.
  • Dogs have water taste buds, something humans do not have.
  • Dogs do not crave salt the way humans do.



References: Dog Breed Info Center, Dog Food Advisor, Dogster Magazine, FDA.org,