Q: My dog will only eat his food (wet and dry-I have tried them all) when it is mixed with dog snacks or fresh meat. Should I be worried that he will gain weight?

Your doggie sure likes his snacks! It is very common that canines prefer their treats and snacks to their staple diet of dry kibbles or wet food. This is often a habit that is cultivated from a very young age and when we often pamper them with loads of treats. Hence, they learn to pick and choose treats over their main staple diet. Snacks are often tastier as they contain more colourings, flavourings, and preservatives. However, I am not a great fan of giving them to our furkids or mixing them into their food. If given in excessive amounts, the salt and preservatives in these snacks may not be beneficial to their health. It is especially so for older dogs that have weaker digestive system and kidney and liver health.

Fresh meat, however, is a much healthier option. I am not surprised that your pooch loves it as it is certainly more tender and juicier than dry kibble or canned food. When prepared correctly, meats are generally more acceptable than the snacks. Ensure that you steam or boil the non-fat cuts of the protein. Avoid adding oil, salt or butter as this will add on to the calories. I would prefer lean cuts of pork or chicken breast. Add in some steamed carrots, broccoli or celery to enhance the taste and freshness. Do make sure you cook the meats and vegetables properly to avoid staleness or bacterial contamination.

Feeding your dog the correct proportions is important for good health and weight maintenance. Depending on the amount of fresh food you add, you will need to reduce the amount of dry or wet commercial foods by 50 to 60 percent. It is also important to maintain a regular exercise regime for your pet to ensure good blood circulation and healthy body condition. Bring your doggie for regular health checks approximately every six to 12 months. During the health check, a physical examination can be done and the vet will record the body weight and assess the body condition score (range from 1 to 9) for your pet.