What do I feed my Havanese? Correct Havanese Nutrition starts here

The following is an excerpt from "The Complete Guide to Havanese Dogs" by David Anderson. For more information visit the books Amazon Page.

Author Credit: David Anderson

You have heard about the importance of nutrition your entire life, and you know that nutrition is just as important for your dog. Most people want to take good care of their dogs. However, it is just as easy to fall into the habit of offering food that is decidedly unhealthy for canines. From letting them have scraps from your plate to providing far too many treats, many pets end up getting too many calories for their activity levels. As your dog ages, this could become a serious issue for the canine’s health. Ensuring your Havanese gets the right nutritional balance is critical for a long, happy life.

Why a Healthy Diet Is Important

Though they have a considerable amount of energy, Havanese are a very small breed. Overfeeding them is incredibly easy because they do not need a whole lot of food before they reach their caloric needs for the day. Many of the tricks and activities can expend a good bit of energy, but that does not mean that they need a lot of food. If you have a very busy schedule, it will be entirely too easy to have substantial lapses in activities levels while you are home. Your Havanese is still going to expect the same amount of food, regardless of activity level. This means they are likely to start putting on weight, which will be detrimental to their health.

You need to not only be careful of how much you feed your Havanese during meal time, but how many treats you offer over the course of the day. All food needs to be accounted for when you consider both nutritional and caloric intake. With those tiny little bodies, you need to be aware of roughly how many calories your dog eats a day. If you notice that your dog is putting on weight, you will be able to adjust how much food the Havanese eats each day or change food to something with more nutritional value.

Commercial Food

Though it is convenient, commercial dog food is a very flawed product. There is nothing natural about those little bits of food you are feeding your dog, and ultimately, it is far less healthy than making your dog’s meals. However, for most people it is the option that will be chosen because preparing every meal is an incredibly lengthy process. For some, there simply isn’t enough time in the day to make every meal.

If you are part of the majority of puppy parents buying commercial food, make sure that you are buying the best that you can. Take the time to research each of your options, particularly the nutritional value of the food. Always account for your dog’s small stature, energy levels, and age. Your puppy may not need puppy food for as long as other breeds (or even other Havanese), and dog food for seniors may not be the best option for your senior Havanese. To provide more nutrition, you can mix some food into the processed food. This can help supplement any nutrients, as well as being a healthy addition to an otherwise entirely processed meal. The addition of a little bit of home-cooked food with each meal will make your Havanese excited to eat.

Preparing Your Food Naturally at Home

If you want to provide the healthiest meals possible, you should plan to spend an extra five to ten minutes in the kitchen per meal you prepare for your Havanese. If you regularly make your own food (from scratch, not with a microwave or boxed meal), it really isn’t that much more time to provide an equally healthy meal for your little companion.

havanese collar
Photo Courtesy – Judie Fahy

Keeping in mind the foods that your Havanese absolutely should not eat, you can mix some of the food you make for yourself into your Havanese’s meal. Just make sure to add a bit more of what your Havanese needs to the puppy food bowl. Though you and your Havanese have distinctly different dietary needs, you can tailor your foods to include nutrients that your dog needs. It won’t really take that much longer to tailor a meal for you and a slightly different version for your dog. Read through Chapter 5 to make sure that you never give your Havanese food that could be harmful or deadly.

Do not feed your Havanese from your plate. Split the food, placing your dog’s meal into a bowl so that your canine understands that your food is just for you. The best home-cooked meals should be planned in advance so that your Havanese is getting the right nutritional balance.

Typically, 50% of your dog’s food should be animal protein (fish, poultry, and organ meats). About 25% should be complex carbohydrates. The remaining 25% should be from fruits and vegetables, particularly things like pumpkin, apples, bananas, and green beans. These provide additional flavor that your Havanese will likely love while making the little pup feel fully faster so that overeating is less likely.

Puppy Food vs. People Food

It is true that puppies need more calories than adults, with their small size, Havanese puppies do not need nearly as much as you may think to meet caloric needs for their energy levels. If you are bringing a Havanese puppy into your home and know that you aren’t going to have the time to cook, you should get food designed for puppies. This will ensure that your puppy gets the necessary calories for growth. Do not feed the puppy people food under the belief that you can switch to dog food later – because that is going to be virtually impossible by then. Once your Havanese becomes an adult, it is nearly impossible to convince your canine that those unappetizing pellets are food, particularly when your dog knows what the food on your plate tastes like. Do not set a precedence that will create significant problems for you later. If you feed your puppy home-made food, you are going to have to keep making food for your dog once the puppy stage is a memory.

It is best to make your puppy’s food if you can. There really isn’t going to be that much of a difference in amount of food between the puppy and adult stages. Their little bodies have special needs, and the first few months are critical. If you can make your puppy’s meals (and know that you can keep it up when your Havanese is an adult), this will be a lot healthier for your dog.

If you find that you have to start buying commercial food, you will need to start slowly mixing it into your adult dog’s meal. Do not be surprised if you find the pellets uneaten for a while. It will be a difficult process convincing your dog that is food, but if you mix it with other things (and know that you are always going to need to mix at least a little real food in with the commercial food), your dog will be more likely to start eating it since it will smell like the food.

Dieting, Exercise, and Obesity

havanese apple
Photo Courtesy – Alyssa Pawlowksi

Your Havanese is not going to diet the way you may choose to diet. This means you have to keep a regular eating schedule for your dog – their day is going to be based largely on the times of the day that are designated to eating. If treats and snacks are something you establish as normal early on, your dog is going to believe that is also a part of the routine and will expect it. Obviously, this can be a terrible habit to establish with your Havanese, especially if it is food that you are sharing because you are snacking and feel guilty. You will need to make sure to be active after snacking so that your Havanese doesn’t get too many calories. An extra round of play or another walk can go a long way to helping keep your Havanese at a healthy weight.

There needs to be a healthy balance of diet and exercise to keep your Havanese from getting overweight, certainly to avoid your dog getting obese. Exercise is an absolute must. While you are helping your Havanese develop healthy eating and exercise habits, you are probably helping yourself. Being more aware of your dog’s diet and exercise levels will also make you more aware of your own. Obesity is something that you will need to actively avoid with such a small dog. Get used to exercising and playing as a reward system.

Warning about Overfeeding and the Right Caloric Requirement

You have to be careful of your Havanese weight, so you need to get used to monitoring it, particularly once your dog is an adult. Those snacks you share are not healthy, and your dog will pick up weight a lot faster than you will eating the same foods with less exercise. This is not really a reward for your Havanese – it’s a hazard. Keep your dog on a diet that is healthy instead of indulging the little cutie. This will keep you both a lot happier in the long run.

Weighing your Havanese will be incredibly helpful to ensuring that the pooch is staying at a healthy weight. Because they are really toy-sized, you can use your own scale to weigh them. Gently pick up your canine and step on the scale. Subtract your weight from the total, and that is how much your Havanese weighs. Be honest about your weight. That does mean weighing yourself just before weighing your Havanese and being accurate with the number. Counting calories is incredibly time consuming, but you should also know roughly how many calories your Havanese eats in a day because it really does not take much to meet the needs of such a small dog.

To read more from "The Complete Guide to Havanese Dogs" by David Anderson, or purchase on Amazon, visit the link below:

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