Building a Better Bowl

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Attribution: Nicole Kenedy

Big or small, hound or herder, each and every dog has unique nutritional needs. But regardless of breed, size, shape or activity level, the best way to keep any dog healthy is by feeding them a diet that is nutritionally balanced and complete.

Still, for your precious pup, that can leave a lot to be desired. Just like us, without a little variety dogs can miss nutrients they need and get bored with the same old, tired meals. While some owners have the option to go homemade, for those that don’t there are plenty of ways to make your dog’s meals healthier and more appealing.

Want to upgrade your dog’s diet and add a little excitement to mealtime? Here’s how you can build a better bowl.

The Essentials

A balanced bowl begins with the base where your dog gets 90% of their nutrition. Whether that comes in the form of kibble, raw food, wet canned or freeze-dried options can be determined by your dog’s preferences, your budget, and a number of other factors. The important thing is that you ensure that base is from a reputable source and nutritionally rock solid.

Mixing it Up

Once your base is established, there are a number of ways to take things up a notch to provide added health benefits and enjoyment.

Hydrators – Like their human counterparts, many dogs don’t drink enough water. Without a mobile app to remind them, it’s up to us to make sure they’ve got the hydrators they need to keep their diet from being too dry. Adding liquids such as bone broth or goat milk can help whet their whistle, add important nutrients and a little extra flavor, and aid digestion as well.

Mixers and Toppers – If your dog is getting enough from their base, but you really want to dial up certain benefits, mixers or toppers are a great way to go. Rich with nutrients, mixers and toppers are available in a number of formats like cans, packs, and pouches, and can help round out your dog’s diet with the ingredients they need to thrive.

Supplements – Prevent common issues and promote long-term health with the help of vitamins, herbs and superfoods. Without the proper intake, many dogs can suffer from digestive problems, hip and joint pain, anxiety, skin and coat complications, immune system shortfalls, allergies, heart trouble, and more.

Specific Selections

While most dogs’ diet needs are similar, every dog is different, and a number of factors can influence how you build your pup a better bowl. General dietary needs vary by breed and size, but there are other components to consider.

First, age. Overall, puppies require more food, can handle larger portions, and eat more frequently as their bodies grow. For senior dogs you may want to drop the portion size, but bump up the hydration with some options discussed earlier.

Second, fitness. Got an especially active dog? Consider hydrators and toppers to keep joints lubricated, curb fatigue, and bump up the energy gained from useful protein. Is your dog under weight? A high-calorie supplement could be the answer.

Third, condition. What other factors are affecting your dog’s well-being? From digestive issues to pesky allergies and frequent anxiety, you may need to address specifics when crafting your dog’s diet.

Additionally, there may be other factors that distinguish your dog’s health outlook from others. Things like geography (urban vs. rural) or climate (hot vs. cold) can impact activity, hydration, and more, and should be examined when building your bowl.

Finally, don’t forget to offer a change of pace. Think about your own diet: you’d get tired of even your favorite meal if you were forced to eat it every day. Feeding your dog the same thing can be boring. Plus, rotating ingredients can help you achieve a better dietary balance.

Helpful Guides

Going beyond a standard doggie diet to build a better bowl requires some extra effort, but it’s nothing that can’t be alleviated with the help of great resources.

Start by consulting your veterinarian for recommendations that will address your dog’s nutritional needs. Your vet has the expertise to suggest what’s required for your dog’s diet based on their life stage and lifestyle, and they know your pup almost as well as you do.

Then pay a visit to your local independent pet store to investigate your options. In addition to carrying great pet food selections that can establish your dog’s dietary base, well-informed employees can point you to the hydrators, mixers, toppers, and supplements that can help you build your dog a better bowl.

Author: Nicole Kenedy, a Store Manager at DOGPerfect. Nicole has over 10 years of experience in the pet industry and is an expert when it comes to helping pet parents choose the right food for their dog. DOGPerfect is a local, independently owned pet retail store with locations in Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch, and University Park. Learn more at

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