Dogs are carnivorous by nature, although they do show considerable flexibility in their diet and in the wild they may also eat plant materials, such as grass and berries. Although the means by which domestic dogs obtain their food is rather different from their wild ancestors, the underlying behavioural mechanisms on which food selection is based may still be intact, if somewhat modified by the process of domestication.

Although some dogs appear to be largely indiscriminate in their choice of food, others, especially dogs of the smallest and the largest breeds, can be selective feeders. Dogs prefer a meat to a cereal-based diet although they may prefer one type, such as beef, over another. They enjoy a wide range of tastes and are often partial to sweet foods, as well as foods with a salty or sharp taste. The smell of the food is also important and has a considerable effect on its palatability.

Most dogs will quite happily eat the same type of food every day. This is perfectly reasonable provided that it is a balanced diet and contains all the essential nutrients. However, many dogs enjoy some variety in their diet, although unfamiliar foods may be rejected at first or can result in a bout of diarrhoea. An alternative variety of their usual brand is the best option.

Although in the wild it is common for several days to elapse between meals, most dogs would prefer to receive their food ration in more than one meal per day. Whatever regime you follow, problems may be avoided if you match your dog’s total food consumption to his energy requirement and, of course, ensure that the overall diet is nutritionally complete and balanced.

Most dogs will tend to overeat if allowed unlimited access to food, although there is considerable variation between breeds and between individuals. This may be related to the tendency to gorge-feed in the wild, when they may have to last several days between kills. They are protective about their food and will even fend off more dominant individuals while eating. In the home, your dog must be trained from an early age to relinquish his food to you if requested. However, children should be taught not to approach a dog who is eating or chewing a bone.

This information is referenced from the Waltham website which can be located at www.waltham.com

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