One of the many scary aspects of getting a new puppy is the art of feeding him. The responsibility of giving the right foods at the right amounts and at the right times is huge. The puppy grows incredibly fast and if you do one wrong thing your puppy might end up with deformed legs. Or that is what we think in our worst nightmare scenarios.
But what is the reality? Is feeding your dog as hard as we make it to be? Let’s take a look at what the experts say and I will give you examples of how I have dealt with this matter myself.
What should the German Spitz eat for a healthy life?
The best way to ensure a balanced diet for your German Spitz is to feed him premium dog food. When you find a good one that meets all the requirements and your dog loves it, too, it is best to stick with it. There is no need to switch between brands all the time if you have found one that suits your dog and makes him feel good (digestion works as it should, the coat is shiny and healthy, ears and eyes look healthy).
My Mittel puppies have both started with Royal Canin puppy food because that is what they were eating at the breeder’s house. I quickly switched into Acana, though, because that is the brand I have been most happy with (they are not paying me anything to say this; it is merely my own opinion). Within the Acana brand, there are several options to choose from, but all of them meet the top quality standards.
What you should do when assessing the dog food is first and foremost the amount of meat there is. Meat should be the first ingredient on the list; that is what the dogs need. I have actually been on a vegan diet for years, but my dogs have not, nor will they ever be. I believe dogs should not be vegan, because their digestive system, their teeth, everything, differs greatly from ours. Therefore the food we eat should differ as well.
When you feed your dog high-quality premium pet food it covers the basics and you should not worry so much. You do not need to give any extra vitamins either; in fact extra vitamins can do more harm than good! You can, however, give your dog something else on top of the dry food. Try giving him extra meat, an egg, maybe a little bit of rice or cooked vegetables, and you will see that your dog swallows it down so fast!
When I was little there were no premium pet foods available and I believe there were no dry foods of any kind. Back in the day it was more common for dogs to eat what was left from the family dinner. Nowadays we look back at this in horror, but what if there was some truth in this as well? What if we should find some middle ground between the two feeding habits?
What I mean is that without knowing any scientific facts, just based on my own experiences I could say that dogs back in the day had fewer allergies than they have today. I keep thinking, what if it is the overly sanitized food we feed our dogs today that is causing it? I do think – and this is what the experts say as well – that the premium dry food should make up the majority of the food you give your dog. But I believe it is just as good to give them something extra besides the dry food. Small amounts, from time to time.
On top of all of this I have also given my dogs some type of oil in their food. This is to make sure they get their fatty acids, but it also makes their German Spitz coat look shiny and healthy. Skin issues will diminish as well. By using different types of oils from time to time you should be taking good care of your dog.
How often should you feed your German Spitz?
The German Spitz puppy eats 4 times a day. It is quite a bit of work to be present at all times to prepare the food, offer the food, and then take the puppy outside for a potty break after he has eaten. But, the puppy is just a baby and he needs all of his baby stuff like sleep and food to be able to grow up.
At around 12 weeks of age, you can start feeding the puppy 3 times a day, and at 6 months of age 2 times a day will do. An adult dog can be fed just once a day. Of course, this hasn’t really worked for us, so I will give you an example of what an alternate feeding pattern might look like.
All of my dogs have showed me at around the age of 5 months that they only wanted to eat twice a day. This happened naturally so I went by what they told me and everyone was happy. But what is even weirder now is that I feed my fully grown, adult Mittel 3 times a day!
The German Spitz Mittel that I have at the moment has always been extra active and sporty and he has always been very lean. Because he was so active I gave him bigger amounts of food than I did for my other Mittel, but eventually, the amounts became so big he could not eat them anymore. The food in itself was already Extra Energy type of food so there was no room for improvement in the quality of the food, either.
What to do, I wondered. Then I thought what if I took the amount of food he should eat in a day and divided it into three instead of two. I tried it with hesitation at first but it worked out perfectly! It sounds crazy to feed an adult dog three times a day and I usually do not even mention this to anyone, but the thing is what works for one dog doesn’t necessarily work for another. I have found a way to feed my dog that fits well with our lifestyle and makes my dog feel and look good. I think that’s what matters the most.
How should you feed your German Spitz?
Think about how much trouble the animals in the wild need to go through in order to get their supper, and how much of their mental capabilities they need to use in order to get it! Dogs in today’s society get their food delivered to them on a silver platter. And that is way too easy for them.
Over the years I have found out that the dogs’ dinner time is actually a good time to be practicing old tricks on one hand and learning new tricks on the other. The dogs know that they are about to get the grand prize – a plate full of food – so they are eager to give their attention to you. At the very least you should teach your dogs to wait first, and then with a cue word they would know that they are allowed to start eating. This teaches them patience, is a great way to teach the dogs not to eat anything from outside without permission, and it certainly gives them the type of mental stimulation they need. It is not cruel to make them work for their supper a bit, quite the opposite.
I mentioned in a previous chapter that once you have found a good, premium pet food for your dog there is no need to switch it into something else. If, however, you want to switch the food for some reason or another, you should not switch it all at once. Instead you should switch it little by little within a few days slowly increasing the amount of new food. This way we ensure that our beloved pet’s tummy can handle the switch and there will not be any digestive issues.
This applies to switching from puppy food to adult food, too. I would not worry so much when to make the shift from puppy to adult food. The same applies to giving senior food. Some people will never switch the dog’s diet into senior; it depends on so many things whether it is a good idea or not, the dog’s activity level being one of them.
What foods should not be given to a dog?
Even though it probably is a good idea to be adding some “human foods” to the dog’s diet, there are certain foods that are good for us but are downright dangerous for dogs. Here is a short list of foods that should not be given to a dog at any circumstances:
Chocolate and cacao: they are bad for dogs even in small amounts and can be lethal even in small doses. All chocolate is poisonous but the dark type is the worst.
Xylitol: human toothpaste, sweets, gum, and any food that is sweetened by xylitol is toxic to dogs. They can cause the dog’s blood sugar level to drop and it can quickly become a life-threatening situation. Xylitol can cause liver failure as well. So, be aware that your dog does not get to the kid’s xylitol gum because even one single piece of gum can be toxic to a small dog.
Onion and garlic: these foods can cause anemia for dogs. (My dogs have never wanted to eat onion or garlic anyway, so there has never been any problem.)
Raisins and grapes: can cause kidney failure.
Cooked bones: even though it may sound like a good idea, leftover bones from your food are not good for your dog. They can, in fact, cause blocks and cuts in the dog’s digestive system. Raw bones are better, at least in small amounts.
Liver in large doses: liver can be good food for dogs and I give them little liver treats all the time (they are super good while training in a place where they really need to concentrate!) However, liver in larger amounts can cause vitamin A toxicity as there are great amounts of vitamin A in the liver.
Coffee, tea, Cola drinks, sugar, sweets and alcohol
Also, dairy products can be harmful for dogs because most dogs are lactose intolerant. (Lactose-free dairy products, however, are fine.)
To give some kind of a conclusion to this complicated topic I would say that as long as the majority of the dog food you feed your dog is made of premium, high-quality dog food there really is nothing to worry about. You can and probably should give small amounts of other foods as well, but you should not have to worry about giving any extra vitamins. Rather, you should not give any extra vitamins at all. Everything will be covered by premium-quality dog food.
It is important to pay attention to the dog’s weight so that the dog gets enough fuel in his body but not too much. Carrying extra weight is always really dangerous for the health of the dog and especially so when he is just a puppy growing up. If there is one thing to remember it is never to overfeed the dog. You can read more about this on my blog post: How Do I Know If My German Spitz Is Overweight?
Otherwise, I would not worry so much. The dog food business has made this out to be such a difficult matter, but the truth is, it is not rocket science. If in any doubt consult your veterinarian. Otherwise, use your common sense.