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Feeding

Feeding a Poodle

Poodle with food
Overview

Offering the proper food to your Poodle is one of the most important elements to keep your Poodle healthy, happy and to live as long as possible. Everything that your puppy (and then dog) ingests will directly impact his health. Some owners make the huge mistake of simply picking up a bag of commercial dog food while food shopping, without giving it much thought.

There are many elements to understand and then consider:

How often should you offer meals? How much should you feed your Poodle? What should you be offering to your amazing canine family member? All of these topics and more will be discussed.

New Puppies - The Importance of Switching Foods Properly

Before you even bring your Poodle home, it is very important to discuss with the breeder (or shelter worker if you are adopting a rescue) exactly which brand of food they have been feeding to your Poodle. A fast change in food can cause upset stomach and digestive problems.

Breeders and shelters are buying food in bulk and have to feed many dogs which is a factor in which brand they choose; there is a good chance that you will want to offer your Poodle something different.

Have both the current food and the new food on hand and make a gradual switch over the course of four weeks. You can do this the following way, mixing the “old” food with the new food:

Week 1: ¾ old food, ¼ new food
Week 2: ½ old food, ½ new food
Week 3: ¼ old food, ¾ new food
Week 4: Complete switch to new food

How Often to Feed a Poodle

Under 3 months: While your goal will be to have your Poodle on a feeding schedule, very young puppies under the age of 3 months do best when free fed. Though you will be leaving food out at all times, it is important that the food is fresh. Do not just top it off throughout the day, rinse and clean the bowl as necessary so that old food is not stuck at the bottom of the dish.

Puppy: Starting at just about the 3 month mark, all sized Poodles should be eating 3 meals per day.

Adult: When a pup matures into an adult, this does not necessarily mean that he should suddenly be given only one meal a day. Smaller dogs such as Toy Poodles and Miniatures often do best with two meals each day. Standards have a bit more tolerance to the single dinnertime feeding, however many can also benefit from having food split up into two servings.

For dogs that are left home alone during the day, the morning allotment of food can be placed into treat release toys as this does help keeping a dog busy and less focused on the isolation.

Snacks - Treats are also an important part of a dog's diet. They can account for up to 20% of what a dog consumes. These should be factored in with regard to how much to feed a dog (see below). Snacks should be reserved as reward for puppies that are learning housebreaking and/or commands and adult Poodles should be given little tidbits of food as positive reinforcement for good behavior.

How Much to Feed a Poodle

This is the #1 question that owners have and the answer is that it really does depend on the particular food that you are offering. With the factors of wet VS dry, high quality to lower quality and actual ingredients, the amount that you offer can vary by up to 1/2 cup since some foods are calorie dense and other are not. In addition, the exact age of a Poodle, his or her health status, activity level and individual metabolism are all factors that combine in regard to how much a particular dog needs to eat.

The more accurate method is to go by calorie count, however this has a range as well and it is overly time consuming for owners to attempt to count the calories in both meals and treats. With this said, puppies need more calories per pound of body weight then adults (anywhere from 40 to 55 compared to adult dogs at 35 to 45) and seniors that will have slowing metabolisms will need a bit less (in the 40 calorie per pound range). These numbers can vary up or down by 20%.

The simplest method of feeding your Poodle the right amount is to read the feeding instructions on the brand that you have chosen, being sure to factor in what you will offer as treats during the day. It should be noted that many brands also give a range rather than an exact amount since a dog's activity level and other factors really do affect the number.

If you are home cooking or if the instructions are vague, you can start with a small amount (perhaps a 1/4 cup) and see if that is eaten in one sitting. You can adjust portions as needed until a Poodle seems satisfied and is either steadily growing (puppies) or maintaining (adult and seniors).

Food amounts may need to be adjusted. Canines in general eat more in the winter and less in the summer, dogs with health issues may have a decreased appetite or those in recovery may require a bit more food to gain energy to heal.

What to Feed Your Poodle

Many breeds, the Poodle included, have a sensitivity to food additives that are found in many commercial brands. This includes artificial flavoring, artificial coloring and preservatives. These chemicals can cause a range of issues including allergies and digestive upset. 

Another issue with manufactured brands is that many offer questionable ingredients. You will want to carefully read the label. Meat by-products are parts of slaughtered animals that are considered 'waste' for human standards; this includes lungs, stomach lining, kidney, bone and intestines of animals. Rendered meats are 'cleaned' meats that can legally be from diseased animals, those that die on route to facilities and even road kill.

Finally, fillers are often added to these foods which have no nutritional value, only serving to plump up the food. And binders have no value other than to bind food together. Some of these are wheat gluten, corn gluten, brewers rice (a cheap version of actual rice), grain fermentation solubles and potato product (a stripped down version of whole potatoes).

For these reasons, it is important to carefully choose what you wish to feed your Poodle. If you opt for a manufactured brand, we would suggest Orijen. A second good choice is Whole Earth Farms. Orijen is a premium food that contains real meats such as chicken meal (this is a condensed meat that is high in protein), turkey, herring, real potato, peas, eggs, carrots and other healthy ingredients such as fruits that have probiotic qualities.

Another good option is to home cooking. With this feeding method, you have control over every ingredient and the most beneficial aspect is the complete elimination of any chemicals (flavoring, coloring and preservatives). Feeding a Poodle a diet of wholesome, homemade food can often resolve food allergies.

What to Feed Your Poodle if Home Cooking

You will want to have a mix of protein, healthy grains, vegetables and fruits.
  • Organs – Dogs love organs and these are extremely healthy. Liver, kidney and brain fit into this group.
  • Lean meats- White chicken breast, turkey, fish and lean hamburg offer great protein and are wholesome, real foods that Poodles love
  • Vegetables – Meals can include baby carrots (raw carrots are good for their teeth and steamed or boiled carrots are perfects for meals), spinach, string beans, peas and zucchini. It is recommended to not use corn kernels
  • Starch/grains– There are some dogs that have a sensitivity to this ,though many do not. In either case, good choices would be regular and/or sweet potato, quinoa, barley, and pasta.
  • Fruits - Packed with vitamins and antioxidant qualities, dogs do need some fruit added to meals such as raspberries, blueberries, banana and melon
  • Extras - Eggs including the shell if ground into a fine sand, whole white yogurt and cottage cheese are some foods that can be added in small amounts to round out home cooked meals.
Note: Dogs can have garlic salt in low concentration. While whole garlic can be toxic in large enough amounts, garlic salt is not unsafe for dogs and even acts as a natural flea repellent. 
Supplements

Offering a daily vitamin and mineral supplement can ensure that your Poodle is receiving enough vitamins; though this cannot make up for a low-quality food's lack of it. We recommend offering this no matter which brand you ar feeding your Poodle or whether or not you home cook for your dog. Those that contain Omega fatty acids will aid in keeping both skin and coat healthy.  

If a Poodle has a specific health issue such as luxating patella or hip dysplasia, a supplement that promotes joint health will be beneficial both now and in the future since these issues lead to arthritis. Glucosamine is also an effective supplement.  

Begging

It is highly recommended to not give into begging behavior. Human bodies have adjusted to the additives, color preservatives, high levels of sodium and other ingredients in human food. Even so, millions of people die from heart disease, diabetes and other illness that can be linked to bad eating habits. Imagine what this food can do to your Poodle. In addition, some foods may contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs. For example, pizza and pasta may have sauce that has onions in it. It is best to choose your Poodle's diet and stick with that. 

Finicky Eaters

If a Poodle has a sudden disinterest in food, this can point to a health issue and should be brought to the attention of the veterinarian. 
In other cases, a Poodle may decide that a particular food no longer holds his interest. It can help to change the main protein, switching from fish to chicken or vice-versa.

Dogs that balk at kibble may need a bit of encouragement and this can be achieved by drizzling a small amount of low sodium chicken or beef broth over meals and/or warming the food. 

Do keep in mind that if your Poodle does not appear to be eating a lot but is growing as expected (puppy) or is maintaining weight (adult or senior) than this is just a case of the Poodle needing to eat a smaller amount than you expect. 
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