What is a healthy diet?

Guide Dogs has found that the best way to meet the nutritional needs of its dogs is by feeding high quality complete dog food from a reputable manufacturer. Complete diets contain all the ingredients required to maintain your dog’s health and require no nutritional supplements. Other types of foods are available, such as tinned meat and mixer biscuits.

Varieties of complete diets are also available which have been formulated to suit the particular phase of the dog’s life so there are puppy foods, adult maintenance foods, and foods suitable for older dogs. Each of these has the correct balance of nutrients for that stage of the animal’s life.

Whatever food you are using, it is important to monitor the amount your dog is given. Do not feed titbits or home-cooked rations as this may lead to nutritional imbalances. We also recommend that you do not give bones to your guide dog due to the potential damage they can cause to the teeth and mouth. Bones can also cause minor stomach upsets and splinters can become stuck in the digestive tract. Many good toys are available which are far safer for your dog to chew and much more effective at maintaining oral health.

What is obesity?

Obesity is defined as 15% or more over optimum body weight and it is generally caused by eating more than is needed by the body. Obesity can cause many physical problems for your dog, including heart failure, joint pain and stiffness, diabetes mellitus, heat intolerance and skin disease.

The problem tends to develop gradually, so weighing your dog monthly will allow you to notice any weight gain and allow you to reduce your dog’s diet before it becomes a problem. If your dog begins to gain weight you can change to a light/lower calorie version of the food you are using. Most of the good-quality complete diets are available in ‘light’, which are especially formulated to meet all the dog's nutritional needs whilst providing fewer calories.

Where can I go for further information?

For guide dog owners: Should you have any further queries regarding vaccinations or any other aspects of your dogs health, please contact the Dog Care and Welfare Advisor.

For pet owners: Please contact your local veterinary surgeon.