Feeding Your Dachshund: A Nutritional Overview

Why a Healthy Diet Is Important for Your Dachshund

Most Dachshunds can be convinced to do virtually anything within their abilities with the promise of food. This is where their love of food and small stature really start to undermine their health. All of the caution you take so that you don’t injure your dog’s back can be undermined by your pup getting too heavy for his small frame.

You need to be aware of roughly how many calories your dog eats a day, including treats. Get accustomed to regularly weighing your dog so that you are aware of his weight – that way you know when he is putting on the pounds. You can also establish regular weight checks at home because Dachshunds fit on home scales, though you may need to be a little creative (without picking up your pup) if your Dachshund is longer than your scale. This will key you in to when you should adjust how much food your Dachshund eats a day, or change his food to something with more nutritional value, but fewer calories.

Different Dietary Requirements for Different Life Stages

Different stages of a dog’s life have different nutritional needs:

  • Puppies
  • Adults
  • Senior dogs

Puppy Food

Dog food manufacturers produce a completely different type of food for puppies for a very good reason – their nutritional needs are much different than their adult counterparts. During roughly the first 12 months of their lives, puppies’ bodies are growing. To be healthy, they need more calories and have different nutritional needs to promote that growth.

Adult Dog Food

The primary difference between puppy food and adult dog food is that puppy food is higher in calories and nutrients that promote growth. Dog food manufacturers reduce these nutrients in food made for adult dogs as they no longer need to sustain growth. As a general rule, when a dog reaches about 90% of his predicted adult size, you should switch to adult dog food.

The size of your dog is key in determining how much to feed him. The following table is a general recommendation on how much to feed your adult Dachshund a day. Initially, you may want to focus on the calories as you try to find the right balance for your dog.

Dog Size Calories
10 lbs. 420 during hot months
630 during cold months
20 lbs. 700 during hot months
1,050 during cold months
30 lbs. 900 during hot months
1,400 during cold months

Notice that no Dachshund needs more than 900 calories in the hot months, and they all need less than 1,500 even when it is cold. This is not a lot of food, so you need to be very aware of how many calories you are giving your dog to ensure he maintains a healthy weight. This scale is for a dog’s ideal weight range. If your dog is overweight or obese, ask your vet about how much you should be feeding your dog per day.

Also keep in mind that these recommendations are per day, and not per meal. Whether you feed your dog once a day or several times per day, make sure that you carefully measure out how much food you give so that you do not exceed the daily recommendation.

If you plan to add wet food, pay attention to the total calorie intake and adjust how much you feed your dog between the kibble and wet food. In other words, the total calories in the kibble and wet food should balance out so as not to exceed your dog’s needs. The same is true if you give your dog a lot of treats over the course of the day. You should factor treat calorie counts into how much you feed your dog at mealtimes.

If you plan to feed your dog homemade food, you will need to learn more about nutrition, and you will need to pay close attention to calories, and not cup measurements.

Senior Dog Food

Senior dogs aren’t always capable of being as active as they were in their younger days. If you notice your dog slowing down or see that your dog isn’t able to take longer walks because of joint pain or a lack of stamina, that is a good sign that your dog is entering his senior years. Consult with your vet when you think it is time to change the type of food you give your dog.

The primary difference between adult and senior dog food is that senior dog food has less fat and more antioxidants to help fight weight gain. Senior dogs also need more protein, which will probably make your dog happy because that usually means more meat and meat flavors. Protein helps to maintain your dog’s aging muscles. He should be eating less phosphorous during his golden years to avoid the risk of developing hyperphosphatemia. This is a condition where dogs have excessive amounts of phosphorous in their bloodstream, and older dogs are at greater risk of developing it. Phosphorous is largely found in bones to help with muscle contractions and the nerves. The level of phosphorous in the body is controlled by the kidneys. As such, elevated levels of phosphorous are usually an indication of a problem with the kidneys.

Senior dog food has the right number of calories for the reduced activity, so you shouldn’t need to adjust how much food you give your dog, unless you notice that he is putting on weight. Consult your vet before you adjust the amount of food or if you notice that your dog is putting on weight. This could be a sign of a senior dog ailment.

Your Dachshunds Meal Options

You have three primary choices for what to feed your Dachshund, or you can use a combination of the three, depending on your situation and your dog’s specific needs:

  • Commercial food
  • Raw diet
  • Homemade diet

Commercial Food

Make sure that you are buying the best dog food that you can afford. Take the time to research each of your options, particularly the nutritional value of the food, and make this an annual task. You want to make sure that the food you are giving your dog is quality food. Always account for your dog’s size, energy levels, and age. Your puppy may not need puppy food as long as other breeds and dog food for seniors may not be the best option for your own senior Dachshund.

Pawster provides several great articles about which commercial dog foods are good for Dachshunds. Since new foods frequently come on the market, check back occasionally to see if there are newer, better foods available. Since you have to be careful of your Dachshund’s weight, it is well worth verifying that you are giving him the best food available.

If you aren’t sure about which brand of food is best, talk with the breeder about what foods they recommend. Breeders are really the best guides for you here, as they are experts on the breed, but you can ask your vet as odds are they have worked with Dachshunds.

Some dogs may be picky, and they can certainly get tired of having the same food repeatedly. Just as you switch up your meals, you can change what your Dachshund eats. While you shouldn’t frequently change the brand of food, you can get foods that have different flavors. You can also change the taste by adding a bit of wet (canned) food. This is an easy change to make, giving your dog a different canned food (usually just about 1/4 to 1/3 of the can for a meal, depending on your dog’s size) with each meal.

For more details on commercial options, check out Dog Food Advisor. They provide reviews on the different brands, as well as providing information on recalls and contamination issues.

Commercial Dry Food

Dry dog food often comes in bags, and it is what the vast majority of people feed their dogs.

Pros of dry dog food:

  • Convenience
  • Variety
  • Availability
  • Affordability
  • Manufacturers follow nutritional recommendations (not all of them follow this, so do your brand research before you buy)
  • Specially formulated for different canine life stages
  • Can be used for training
  • Easy to store

Cons of dry dog food:

  • Requires research to ensure you don’t buy doggie junk food
  • Packaging is not always honest
  • Recalls for food contamination
  • Loose FDA nutritional regulations
  • Low quality food may have questionable ingredients

The convenience and ease on your budget means that you are almost certainly going to buy kibble for your dog. This is perfectly fine, and most dogs will be more than happy to eat kibble. Just know what brand you are currently feeding your dog, and pay attention to kibble recalls to ensure you stop feeding your dog a particular food if necessary. Check out the following sites regularly to make sure your dog’s food has not been recalled:

Commercial Wet Food

Most dogs prefer wet dog food to kibble, but it is also more expensive. Wet dog food can be purchased in larger packs that can be very easy to store.

Pros of wet dog food:

  • Helps keep dogs hydrated
  • Has a richer scent and flavor
  • Easier to eat for dogs with dental problems (particularly those missing teeth) or if a dog has been ill
  • Convenient and easy to serve
  • Unopened, it can last between 1 and 3 years
  • Balanced based on current pet nutrition recommendations

Cons of wet dog food:

  • Dog bowls must be washed after every meal
  • Can soften bowel movements
  • Can be messier than kibble
  • Once opened, it has a very short shelf life, and should be covered and refrigerated
  • More expensive than dry dog food, and comes in small quantities
  • Packaging is not always honest
  • Recalls for food contamination
  • Loose FDA regulations

Like dry dog food, wet dog food is convenient, and picky dogs are much more likely to eat it than kibble. When your dog gets sick, it is best to use wet dog food to ensure that he is eating so that he gets the necessary nutrition each day. It may be a bit harder to switch back to kibble once he is healthy, but you can always continue to add a little wet food to make each meal more appetizing to your dog.

Scheduling Meals

Your Dachshund will likely expect you to stick to a schedule, and that definitely includes mealtimes. This is a breed that will have no problem with letting you know you are late with the food. If treats and snacks are something you establish as normal early on, your dog will believe that treats are also a part of the routine and will expect them.

Food Allergies and Intolerance

Whenever you start your dog on a new type of dog food (even if it is the same brand that your dog is accustomed to, but a different flavor), you need to monitor him as he becomes accustomed to it. Food allergies are fairly common, so you will need to be aware of the symptoms. Food allergies in dogs tend to manifest themselves as hot spots, which are similar to rashes in humans. Your dog may start scratching or chewing specific spots on his body. His fur could start falling out around those spots.

Some dogs don’t have a single hot spot, but the allergy shows up on their entire coat. If your Dachshund seems to be shedding more fur than normal, take your dog to the vet to have him checked for food allergies.

If you do give your dog something that his stomach cannot handle, it will probably be obvious when your dog is unable to hold his bowels. If he is already housetrained, he will probably either pant at you or whimper to let you know that he needs to go outside. Don’t ignore either of these pleas. Get him outside as quickly as you can so that he does not have an accident. Flatulence will probably occur more often if your Dachshund has a food intolerance.

Since the symptoms of food allergies and tolerances can be similar to a dog’s reaction to nutritional deficiencies (particularly a lack of fats in a dog’s diet), you should visit your vet if you notice any problems with your dog’s coat or skin.