It’s a wonderful experience to bring a new best friend to their forever home. To make it a success for everyone, it is important for us to understand the best way to feed their new family member. The following guidelines will help to make this transition easy for both you and your pet. Congratulations on your new dog!

Questions to ask before adopting

Ask about the current diet being fed to the pet. If it is a high quality and appropriate food, you may continue feeding the same diet so that no transition is needed. If the pet has a medical condition or food sensitivity that requires a special diet, it may already be eating an appropriate food. If this is the case, a diet change is not generally recommended. “It is also important to ask about any medical records that may exist on your new pet.  This can help you get off to the right start with your new family member” says Dr. Elizabeth Shines.

When your dog is ready to come home

Decide where to put the food and water bowls and show your new dog upon arrival to the house. Make sure that the water dish is always full of fresh water and available at all times. “Stainless steel and ceramic bowls without paint on the inside are a safe choice,” Elizabeth Shines, DVM notes. They are typically easier to clean and they won’t absorb odors. It is also important to try to feed your pet twice daily and at the same time each day.  For young small breed puppies their exact feeding schedule should be discussed with their veterinarian.”If you have other pets, you may choose to feed the new pet separately until all the pets are acclimated to each other and you can be sure that no bullying is taking place. Some dogs can have aggression issues surrounding food and thus should not be left unsupervised with other pets while food is present. When it comes to training, pet specific treats, affection and toys are all good rewards. Each dog is unique and may respond best to one type of reward. Experiment with different types of reward to learn what works best for your pet. Avoid feeding human food as a treat as it often has too many calories. Dental chew toys are a great distraction, they keep your dog busy and support their oral health And last, but not least -- make sure to take your new pet out to a designated area to use the bathroom on a frequent basis until they are fully housebroken. Getting new pets on a routine quickly will often aide in the housebreaking process.

Switching to a new diet

If you plan to switch up your new dog’s meal plan, use a gradual transition. Introduce the new food over four days by mixing it with your dog’s previous diet. Try to begin with a proportion of about 25 percent new food to 75 percent previous food, this will help your new family member to slowly adjust to new smells and tastes. Then, gradually increase the amount of new food and decrease the amount of old food.  This will help to avoid side effects such as vomiting and diarrhea which can occur any time a new food is used. If your dog seems to be adversely affected  by the new diet, please consult a veterinarian as dietary intolerance, other health conditions, or the need for a slower transition could be the cause Stick to the same meal times each day, feed your pup in the same area and by using the same bowl. If your dog tends to be finicky about new foods, they may be more difficult to transition to a new diet. Some things that can help to make the diet change easier can be to institute a slower and more gradual diet change, hand feeding the new food, and encouraging the pet to try the new diet by using a pleasant tone of voice and offering affection. With holding treats may also help until the new diet is accepted. If switching from moist food to dry food, adding a bit of warm water may help to make it more appealing. Make sure to discard any uneaten portion of the moistened dry food after 20 minutes to prevent spoilage.  Once the dog has become accustomed to that, gradually reduce the amount of water added.

Why feed your dog a breed-specific diet

No two dogs are alike and differences might be characteristics of the dog’s breed. Different dog breeds are not only unique in their physical traits or in the way they behave, but also when it comes to nutritional needs.Some present higher energy requirements, while others will gain weight more easily. A few are known for their long silky coats, while others are dense, waterproof furry friends. The biggest benefit of feeding your pet a breed-specific formula customized to support bone and joint health, muzzle structure and eating habits, digestive sensitivities or coat attributes is that it addresses the individual needs of the dog, from the kibble shape to the nutrient profile. These diets help to ensure optimum health specific to the breed of the dog. Benefits of different kibble shapes.The shape of the muzzle can greatly affect how pets eat. Some breeds like the Bulldog have a short muzzle, with an under bite and heavy lips. This is in stark contrast to the long, thin, tight lipped muzzle of a Collie. The anatomy influences how each breed picks up their food and even how it chews. An adjusted kibble shape and size helps to ensure that pets with unique facial shapes are able to easily grasp and chew the kibble.Here are a few popular dog breeds and some specific dietary needs of the breed:

Avoiding the overweight Labrador

The Labrador Retriever is the most popular breed in the United States. They tend to eat their food very quickly and in some cases, they gulp their food rather than chew it. A balanced diet that can maintain a healthy body weight, muscle mass and good joint health is essential for the breed.

Feeding the sensitive German shepherd dog

German shepherd dogs tend to do best on food with highly digestible proteins and balanced fiber content as they can be prone to intestinal upset. They can also have sensitive skin so a diet containing fatty acids can also help maintain coat health.

Healthy bones and joints for the Golden retriever

Golden retrievers need nutrition that supports healthy bones and joints as well as a silky coat. A diet containing appropriate ratios of vitamins and minerals as well as nutrients specific to joint health is essential for the breed.

Feeding the well muscled French bulldog

The French bulldog is known for it’s stout, well muscled body and for their flat muzzles. Due to their unique facial structure, the kibble should be shaped in a fashion for easy grasping and chewing. These dogs also need an appropriate protein content to support muscle mass.

From puppy to senior: why your dog needs an age-specific diet

Is your dog still a puppy, already an adult or do you have a senior? Dogs nutritional and caloric needs change as their bodies mature and age. Age specific diets support your best friend throughout their whole life.

What puppies eat - Good puppy food provides a balanced nutrition as well as the essential vitamins and minerals they need to become healthy grown-ups.

Puppies from different breeds also grow at different rates, therefore have a diet that keeps into account how fast your puppy matures. While small breed puppies can become adults in as little as nine months, giants may continue to grow for up to two years. Puppy food is different from adult dog food in many aspects. Aside from growing quickly, they are also developing their central nervous systems and immune systems as well. Docosahexaenoicacid, also known as DHA, should be an essential part of a young dog’s diet. This fatty acid is key to the growth of neural pathways in the brain, certain aspects of the central nervous system and the development of the eyes. Puppy food needs to be tailored to the specific growth requirements of each puppy based on estimated adult size.  This helps to ensure an appropriate growth rate and can help to avoid skeletal abnormalities as an adult.

Switching to an Adult Formula

Puppies are transitioned to adult dog food based upon growth patterns and adult body weight. Please consult a veterinarian as to the best age to make this transition. Adult dog food will generally have different calorie, protein, calcium and phosphorus levels as adult dogs are no longer growing. Adult dogs need appropriate nutrition to maintain healthy muscle mass, a normal metabolism and bone and joint health.

Switching to a Senior Formula

As dogs age, activity levels may decrease, metabolisms may change and aliments such as arthritis can plague some dogs. Due to the decreased activity and a slowed metabolism, weight gain may become an issue. The American Veterinary Medical Association suggests that weight gain in seniors also increases the risk for health issues. “That’s why their meals usually contain fewer calories,” Elizabeth Shines, DVM says. “Senior dogs ideally receive smaller but more frequent feedings,” she adds. While a veterinarian should be consulted if senior pets show signs of arthritis, the American Veterinary Medical Association says that over-the-counter treatments, such as tablets or food containing glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, as well as Omega fatty acids may help to relieves symptoms. Other treatments may also be indicated and can be discussed with your veterinarian.  Never give your pet human pain medications.Remember to always consult a veterinarian if your pet seems ill or is not eating as this can indicate a more serious health condition.