Diet and Nutrition
Water serves two primary purposes for dogs. First, it is important to keep dogs hydrated, which supports the healthy operations of its internal systems. Second, water acts as a cooling mechanism for dogs, because they don't perspire (except on their feet). To cool down and prevent overheating, dogs pant, which requires plenty of moisture in the respiratory system.
Because your dog can't tell you when it is thirsty, you need to keep a bowl of water available at all times. Change the water about three times a day to keep it fresh and prevent bacterial build-up. If you have more than one dog, put out one bowl for each dog so that there is always enough for each. Do not limit your dog's water intake, particularly for puppies when you are housetraining. Water is critical for normal kidney function and its absence can affect the gastrointestinal system.
In the heat of summer, you can use water outdoors to help cool off your dog or take it swimming. (For more information about how to manage the heat, click here.)
Food and Nutrition
Commercial dog food is designed to balance the protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals dogs need to live a long and healthy life. Specific food regimens are available for the changing needs of your dog at different life stages as well. Generally, these are the best solutions for feeding your pet and eliminates any need for supplements. If you do choose to offer your pet human food, be sure to limit it to no more than 10% of its daily intake to make sure it gets a correct balance of nutrients.
For puppies, a premium quality dry dog food is recommended. It is particularly important not to give puppies much, if any, human food to make sure they get the vitamins and minerals for proper development of bones, muscles and organs. Adult dogs can be offered dry dog food mixed with water, broth or canned food. You can also provide your adult dog with cooked eggs, cottage cheese, fruits and vegetables on a limited basis.
From day one, it is important to establish a policy preventing anyone from feeding your dog real food at the table. In addition to throwing off your dog's diet, this leads to begging behavior that can become a bad habit — one that is difficult to overcome later on.