7 Ways You’re Feeding Your Dog Wrong

It's been estimated that more than 50 percent of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese — and how they're being fed may be to blame. Despite your dog’s begging, whining and adorable puppy-dog eyes, you’re in control of what and how much he eats. So changing some of your feeding habits can help him trim down or maintain a healthy weight.

From giving too many treats to not measuring your dog’s food, we rounded up common mistakes you could be making when you feed your dog — and how to fix them.

Feeding Mistakes You May Be Making

Man pouring dog food

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You leave your dog's kibble out all the time.

Free feeding is the practice of pouring dry food into a bowl and letting your canine eat it whenever he wants, then filling his bowl when it’s empty. It may seem harmless, but it’s actually a problem. Most dogs are scavengers and are hardwired to eat as much and as fast as they can. So you really can’t expect your canine to control how much kibble he consumes when he’s given an endless supply of food. And all that overeating could lead to weight gain and obesity. Dr. Marty Becker explains why scheduled mealtimes and food puzzles are better ways to feed your pet.

Dog getting a treat

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You give him too many treats.

We all want our pets to know how special and loved they are, but showering them with treats is not the way to do it. Simply put, dog treats are extra calories your pup doesn’t need. Sure, food rewards are a great way to motivate him to do tricks and follow commands, but you need to be mindful of how many treats he’s earning for good behavior. Those little biscuits and chewies add up quick. To reduce your dog’s treat intake, try phasing out food with other reward options like petting, games, going outside, doggy play and food puzzles.

Measuring dog food

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You don't measure his food.

Despite your dog’s pleading eyes and wagging tail when you scoop out his kibble, you are in control of how much he eats, not him. You’re not doing him any favors by filling his bowl to the brim or estimating how much he needs to eat. Talk to your veterinarian to find out exactly how much food to measure out and how many times a day your pup needs to eat.

Dog begging for human food

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You feed your dog from the table.

So you give Fido a few scraps from the table here and there — not a big deal, right? Unfortunately, those extra morsels could lead to weight gain and obesity. Not to mention there are a lot of toxic human foods dogs should never eat, such as grapes, raisins, garlic and chocolate. No matter how much your pup begs for leftovers, it’s up to you — and everyone else in your household — to have the willpower not to give in. If he’s still begging, you should try redirecting the behavior. Trainer Mikkel Becker shows you how it’s done.

Puppy by food bowl

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You're not giving him the right food for his life stage and lifestyle.

As your pet gets older, his nutritional needs change. A puppy’s diet is probably going to be quite different from a senior dog’s. Sedentary canines typically don’t have the same nutritional needs as active or working dogs. It’s important to talk to your veterinarian to find out what to feed your canine. He’ll evaluate your pet’s weight, health and activity level to recommend a diet. Find out more about life stage and lifestyle nutrition here.

Dog eating bone

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You give him real bones.

Whether they’re from poultry, beef, pork or fish, real bones are dangerous for dogs. A number of bad things can happen if a dog eats one: The bone can splinter and puncture his digestive tract, it can become lodged in your dog’s throat or digestive tract, it can cause bloody mouth or tongue injuries, and more. Next time you serve meat or fish, make sure you follow these precautions, so your dog doesn’t accidentally ingest a bone.

Dog eating from food bowl

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You let your dog wolf down his food.

As we mentioned, dogs tend to devour their food, and certain breeds like Labs, Beagles, Bassets, Cocker Spaniels, Corgis and Pugs are even more likely to eat as quickly as possible. Besides overeating, some dogs who wolf down their food are also prone to gas and bloating, a potentially life-threatening condition. From food puzzles to special bowls, here are a few ways to prevent your dog from inhaling his food.

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