Going hiking with a man’s best friend’ is every dog lover’s dream. So for people who have the means and discipline to take their dog hiking, it may seem that their furry companions might require additional attention and food, fearing that the physical strain can damage the dog.
However, it is important to keep in mind that dogs are resilient and function better if they are more hungry than the full majority of the time.
A proper and balanced meal that is consistent with their routine should not change. The rhythm and frequency of the feeding may vary depending on how often you go hiking, but the amount of food should stay the same.
Learning about proper feeding habits for dogs will help you decide on the appropriate amount of food it would be best for your dog to intake.
Table of Contents
Dogs and Their Nutrition
Dogs are carnivores by origin, their body structure, and the structure of the system for taking and digesting food are designed to function primarily based on a meat diet. However, the dog’s diet today is not only based on meat but also on nutrients of plant origin. Today, the dog has become an “omnivore” and factory-produced floury, granulated, briquette, and canned food are increasingly used in its diet. On the other hand, raw and homemade foods are less and less used.
On the market today, you can find a large selection of foods intended for specific types of dogs. Such nutrients should contain all the necessary substances for the proper growth and development of dogs. Concerning the need for nutrients, in specialized shops for dogs you can buy ready-made food for puppies, growing young dogs, pregnant and lactating bitches, working dogs, as well as for adults, then for sick animals, for convalescents, etc.
Dogs’ daily needs for nutrients relate to their needs for energy, protein, fat, minerals, and vitamins. The study of the necessary ingredients for the nutrition of dogs is quite complex, considering that there are large differences in the bodyweight of dogs, but also due to the necessity of paying attention to the breed as well. The dog’s diet, namely, depends on his breed as well as genetic origin.
Dog food can be prepared every day from the nutrients we have. Recently, in the diet of dogs, factory-produced nutrients with properly balanced ingredients are increasingly used. Namely, there are other types of food, with a domestic basis and an industrial supplement. Raising public awareness about the connection between diet and health in dogs will stimulate a larger number of people to take more care of pets.
A Balanced Meal Is Different for Each Dog
The purpose of feeding dogs in a modern way is to provide optimal nutrition adapted and differentiated depending on whether it refers to a specific dog condition, age, or breed. For example, a female canine during lactation or pregnancy, puppies, growing dogs, or dogs that do not engage in any activity. In all these cases, it is not necessary to increase the usual portions but to vary their composition by real needs.
If the meal is not properly balanced and if the animal lacks some food ingredients for a long time or there are too many of them in the meal, numerous disorders occur in the body and the development of the disease occurs.
As a consequence of an unadapted diet for dogs and the disproportionate presence of some substances, some specific diseases can develop as a result. The appearance of crystals in the urine and stones in the bladder (which can lead to the inability to urinate), hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases, problems with the pancreas, liver, are just some of the possible issues it can experience.
Vitamins for Dogs
Vitamins are organic substances that are necessary for metabolism and are catalysts of chemical reactions in the body.
- Vitamin A is important for the protection of the organism and growth.
- B vitamins play a significant role in the trade of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
- Vitamin E is important for reproduction,
- Vitamin K is important for blood coagulation, etc.
Some vitamins dogs get exclusively from food, and some through their own synthesis (vitamin C). Sufficient amounts of vitamins B and K must be provided to dogs through food. The microflora of the digestive tract is poor in dogs and does not synthesize vitamins B and K.
The method of food preparation affects the presence of certain vitamins in the meal because the heat treatment of food loses some vitamins. Today, special vitamin supplements (premixes) or ready-made mixtures that contain enough vitamins are recommended to be used in the dog’s diet. A great example of raw nutrients you can give to your pooch is the liver, as it is one of the best sources of vitamins for dogs.
How Many Times a Day Should a Dog Eat?
Good and quality food has a positive effect on the lifespan of pet dogs on one hand, on the other overfeeding, even with the highest quality food, will have negative repercussions on health, and thus the lifespan. An impacted quality of life can lead to discomfort and negative experiences that a reliable dog owner will try to prevent by all means.
The dog does not function completely like a human and its digestive tract is quite different from the human. While man has transformed into an “omnivore” over time, the dog is still a carnivore by nature.
Unlike humans, dogs are not used to eating several times a day, and in a wild habitat, dogs or wolves (as their closest relatives) can go hungry for several days until they come across a sufficient and proper food source.
Understanding that a dog’s breed and how old it is will impact the amount and quality of food is really important. By general knowledge, even the people with the least experience know that younger dogs and puppies eat several times a day. Younger adults and older dogs have a completely different diet and there are specific instructions for each case on how to feed them based on how old a dog is a breed and other specific traits for the pet itself.
How to Feed Puppies?
As for puppies, they are usually weaned after 40 days, after which they go to the new owners. The most intense growth of puppies is up to six months of age, which is why they must be given maximum attention, and it is necessary to feed them four to five times a day.
In the period after the 40th day of life, a puppy can already eat the food that you prepare for an adult dog. Unlike adult dogs, puppies must receive a much larger amount of protein, minerals, and vitamins than energy substances. Protein should make up about 50%, and even more of the total amount of daily food, including meat, dairy products, eggs, soybean meal.
Energy foods, such as fats, cornmeal, potatoes, pasta, rice, and more, should make up about half of the daily meal. You should give the puppy cooked energy food, while meat products, if possible, would be better to give in raw form. Keep in mind that the meat should come from healthy and veterinary inspected animals, and if you are not too keen on raw meat, you can add it in the last 15 minutes of cooking for the dog, leaving it more on the raw side.
The increased needs of a young dog for calcium and phosphorus are met by giving it large femurs (pork, beef) baked and finely ground, crushed eggshells, or a certain amount of calcium from the finished mixture. Be sure to add vitamin D to these mixtures because it affects the resorption of calcium and phosphorus.
How to Feed an Adult Dog?
Many breeders and trainers feed adult dogs either early in the morning or late in the evening. However, some of them claim that working dogs should be fed two or three times a day, with smaller meals. It is important to keep in mind that in reality there is no fixed formula and successful recipe for properly feeding dogs, as some dogs are working dogs (but for different assignments), while others are simple lazy pets.
Because of this, it is important to learn about their behavior and activity patterns, where you can estimate the energy needed for the dogs’ specific case. Also, consulting a breeder or veterinarian is the safest and best possible option.
The feeding time of working dogs should be adjusted to their “working hours“. In other words, working dogs or those in training should be fed at least one hour before the start of service or two hours before the start of training. Also, after the exercise, the dog should be fed only after half an hour. Working dogs, which include hunting dogs, racing dogs, load-bearing dogs, towing dogs, police, and military dogs, should always have fresh water available because they spend much more energy and water during their activities.
So Should I Feed My Dog More After a Long Hike?
Less active adult dogs, who do not go hunting or are not in full training, are quite enough to be fed once a day, possibly twice with smaller meals. For adults and healthy dogs, the portion must be nutritionally complete and balanced.
First of all, a balanced diet in adult dogs should enable their normal growth and development. By eating a balanced and complete diet of a healthy, adult dog, you will prevent the development of disease states associated with any deficiency or excess of one or more healthy components.
Inexperienced owners should do the research based on the type of breed, the average size of the dog, activity, and other factors. It is mostly recommended to ask veterinarians about some basic guidelines, and the internet and different support groups for dog lovers are always welcoming on such content where people can exchange opinions and provide insightful tips.
If you want to learn more about hiking and get some cool tips, check out our other hiking guides.