More than 3.2 million shelter animals are adopted annually, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and that number only increased in 2020 during pandemic stay-at-home orders. So many were adopted, Time magazine named Rescue Animals the 2020 Pet of the Year.
Dog adoptions made up the majority of those rescues, with millions of canines finding forever homes across the country. For new dog owners, now comes the important part: keeping those rescues healthy and happy. Owners can get a headstart by following these six healthy feeding tips:
1. Watch What Your Dog Eats
This goes beyond making sure your pet doesn’t eat the wrong thing. Most important to a dog’s general health is how much they eat. Talk to your vet about how much food your pet should have daily to maintain a healthy weight and then stick to that recommendation. More than half of American dogs are obese, and, just like humans, that extra weight can cause myriad health problems, from cardiovascular disease to mobility challenges. If you are looking for the right food to feed your pup, reading online reviews can be a boon. Some cat owners, for example, rely on Nutra Thrive for Cats reviews to find recommendations.
2. Secure Your Trash
Like most animals, dogs are hardwired to find food and eat it. That includes rooting through your trash if they can gain access to it. Beyond the aggravation of cleaning up the trash, there is a good chance you might have to deal with the worry that comes from not knowing if what your dog ate is dangerous. Did you throw out spoiled food or kitchen cleaner remnants? Avoid concern and costly vet trips by securing your trash.
3. Put Away Poisons
Similar to securing your trash, safeguard household chemicals, too. Attractive smells might coax a dog to consume material that could prove toxic, like simple kitchen cleaners or scented sponges. In many ways, young dogs and new dogs are like curious toddlers. Baby proof locks can help keep dangerous products out of reach.
4. Be Aware of Dangerous Human Foods
It is often difficult to resist slipping your dog a scrap of food, especially when they look up at you with those big puppy dog eyes. Owners must be careful, however, since there are several human foods that can prove dangerous to canines. Chocolate, for example, is toxic to dogs if they consume a certain amount. Onions and avocado can be dangerous, as well. Check for xylitol as an ingredient if your dog gets a piece of candy or a pack of gum. Fine for humans, xylitol can be a poison to canines.
5. Slow Things Down
Sticking with the food theme, keep an eye on how fast your dog eats. If your new best friend finishes a bowl of food too quickly, the habit could create stomach problems and stimulate overeating. Experts suggest slowing down the process by simply adding a tennis ball to the food bowl. Your dog will have to work around the ball to eat, effectively keeping him from eating too fast.
6. Stand By the Bowl
One way you can build a closer bond with your new puppy is by sticking around while they eat. As pack animals, dogs enjoy having people (or fellow canines) around while they eat. This may seem counterintuitive if your dog likes to growl when you get too close to him while he has his head in a bowl. That vocalization has more to do with establishing dominance and pack order, however. Simply move away to show that you know where you stand in the pack.
Remember to keep communication lines open with your dog’s vet as well, so you know how best to adjust habits as your dog grows. Doing so, along with following these six simple tips when feeding your new pup, will help keep him happy and healthy for years to come.