Feeding - from Puppy to Adult to Senior
There is no single menu that is correct for your Dachshund. You will find a huge variety of
foods in your local pet shop, pet superstore and from right across the web that all claim
to be 'the best', but here are some words of advice to guide you in your feeding regime.
Although dog food doesn't come in as many shapes, colours, sizes and flavours as human food, there are still a huge number of varieties to choose from. No matter which type you choose, the most important factor in your decision should be finding a food that meets all of your dog's nutritional needs and please make sure your dog has a bowl of, or access to clean, fresh water at all times.
How much to feed your dog and when?
Feed manufacturers and veterinary guidelines for feeding quantities are based on your dog's weight. Taking the general consensus view - 2 meals per day, morning and evening are considered best as the calorie load and therefore energy levels are more balanced throughout the day when your dogs are most active. Daily quantities are given in the chart below and, if you are feeding twice per day, must be divided in half.
There is a lot of discussion in forums regarding if it is good to always have a bowl full of food available to them all day and night, so they can graze when/if they get hungry. This is more controversial and depends very much on the individual dog. Some are able to self-regulate their calorie intake and remain fit and with a healthy weight for many years. Others stuff themselves silly and put on major weight gain, so this is something you must test out by trial-and-error with your own Dachshunds.
You should also chat with other owners on the many social media Dachshund sites and see what they would recommend and equally to find out if they have had any negative experiences with a particular brand or formula.
A raw diet, also known as BARF (biologically appropriate raw foods), consists of raw meat, preferably with some bones (never cooked bones, only raw) and organs mixed in. Bones are a natural source of phosphorus and calcium.
Raw foods must be completely fresh and from an assured source, so some homework on local suppliers is highly advisable here. Alternatively, there are several mainstream brands that supply pet shops and supermarkets in your area.
This type of diet works well for many dogs, as they are naturally able to consume and digest raw food, but it is for you to decide if this is the regime you wish your dog to follow.
Before transitioning your dog to a raw diet, talk to your veterinarian about the benefits and risks. Social media group friends will be able to advise regarding different manufactures/suppliers of raw foods and their own experiences with them.
Treats, Bones and Dog-safe Human Foods
There is today a huge selection of treats in every pet store and supermarket. The advice here is (as always) to read the ingredients labels and avoid highly processed, chemically derived foodstuffs. If in doubt - leave it out!
There are items on the NO list below, that are not strictly correct and have become 'urban myths' after repetition and copy/paste over many years of the interwebs. Garlic in small amounts is fine for your dog, so long as it is FRESH. The issue arises when DRIED garlic is used as an ingredient as the drying process destroys the active beneficial ingredient Allicin. There are long-time breeders that regularly give their dogs fresh garlic and also some species of mushrooms, which also have beneficial health effects. However, due diligence is essential, as some mushroom and fungi varieties can be deadly to both dogs and humans, if you are not well-versed in the subject.
Garlic and mushroom information from Dr Karen Becker, DVM at Mercola Healthy Pets:
and from Dr Deva Khalsa, DVM:
Puppies are often fed 3-4 times per day by the breeders, as they have very small stomach capacity and require an almost constant source of calories and nutrients when going through their busiest growing phase of life. Once they have graduated to solid food (although still taking their mother's milk) they are usually on a soft, meat patty variety up to 6+ weeks old.
At that stage they can be given a small size (puppy or junior) kibble, often with warm water and you should continue the breeders diet after collecting your puppy, until they are well-settled and comfortable in their new home, your home. Around 6 months to 1 year, many owners phase out the 3 meal-per-day plan for 2 meals, which tends to fit in better with a working lifestyle that takes you away from the home for a few hours.
It is not unusual to find that between 3 months and 1 year or so, that their desired tastes change and they may stop eating for a couple of days, or ignore or play with their food rather than wolfing it down as previously. This is nothing to worry about unless accompanied by other symptoms, but if they are as lively as usual, then try them on a different food variety. But it is wise to only buy a small amount at first, in case they decide after 2 days that this new food is also not to their taste!
Whenever you introduce new food, don't do it suddenly. It is best to give them, say, 90% of their known diet with 10% of the new food and increase the balance of new to old over 10 days (Day 1 - 90/10, Day 2 - 80/20, Day 3 - 70/30, etc.) This will make the transition easier for both your dog and for you. Sudden dietary changes are often the cause of diarrhea, constipation or excessive wind.
Puppies - birth to 1 year
Adults - 1 year to 7 years
At this point we should talk about the choices available and what exactly each consists of, plus advantages / disadvantages in terms of nutrition and cost
There are five main types of dog food, each with pros and cons depending on your own circumstances:
Dry (Kibble), Canned, Semi-Moist, Home Cooked and Raw.
Dry food is the most economical type of pet-food and a lot of dachshund owners select it for their dog. It can be stored in a cool, dry place for a long time and doesn't need to be refrigerated.
Dry food is good at keeping your dog’s teeth healthy, since chewing dry food rubs against the teeth and helps to reduce tartar buildup. If you are looking at all the dry foods in a pet superstore and are feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the huge choice, have a look at the ingredients list and select a kibble that uses wholesome ingredients with as little processing as possible.
Most dogs love canned, or wet, food. It has a long shelf life and is easy to find at any supermarket, but it can be expensive. For some owners it’s definitely worth the expense, but not every brand of commercial canned food provides the protein that your dog needs.
The real question is how much digestible versus indigestible protein it provides. Indigestible protein will pass through your dog’s system without being broken down into absorbable nutrients, so it's pretty much useless to them.
Most canned food is about 75 percent water. The higher the water content, the less nutrient content, so the more food your dog must consume in order to get the nutritional value their body needs.
If you decide to feed your dog canned food, it's best to go with a kind that's labeled "100% nutritionally complete", but again, always check the ingredients list first.
Commercial dog foods shaped like pork chops, burgers, or other meaty foods are called semi-moist foods. These kinds of foods are the least nutritional of all dog foods and contain many artificial flavours and colourings.
They can be given to your dog as an occasional treat, but they should not be considered a diet in themselves, as they do not provide the nutrition that your dog requires.
Some sources of information say that kibble is a semi-moist food, but in this instance we are referring specifically to the formed/extruded chews and treats available in any petfood section of a supermarket.
Some dog owners value the ability to be in complete control of their dog’s diet. A home-cooked diet allows you to know for certain, exactly what is in everything your dog eats and to be absolutely sure that their nutritional needs are being met.
Feeding your dog a home-cooked diet can be time consuming and expensive, but it doesn't have to be and many owners think the extra effort is worth the peace of mind they gain. If you decide to feed your dog a home-cooked diet, get well acquainted with canine nutrition so you can be sure your dog is not missing out on any vital nutrients.
Our own dachshund, Twiglet, is now 3 years old and has had home cooked food since 7 months of age. When we are cooking food for the family, a small saucepan goes on the hob with wild rice, green vegetables and carrots chopped up small and off-cuts of meat or white fish (depending on what we humans are eating) and simply boiled up until the rice is just cooked firm. It is very little effort and we make enough for 2 days and store it in a sealed plastic box in the fridge.
Always remember that your dogs are not small humans. They have a much shorter gut length and stronger stomach acid and their nutritional needs are very different to us. All dogs are historically domesticated from the wild wolf, so they are naturally hunters/meat eaters and require a much higher proportion of animal/fish protein and much less vegetable protein and carbohydrates. Try and avoid foods that have been bulked-out with rice or soy protein. This is a regular trick by feed manufacturers to sell you more volume and logically, has less usable nutrient content for your dog.
This site has some very good advice on nutrition values:
and also this page:
Some of the best treats are right in your kitchen. Dogs love treats like apple slices or carrot sticks and there are several very good recipes for home-made treats available, if you are a cook. Liver paste and dried meat off-cuts are great for training rewards.
This site has a great selection of treat recipes as a starting point:
Bones are a great way to give your insatiable chewer something to gnaw on—other than the furniture and shoes. So what kind of bones are safe for dogs? Your local butcher and many supermarket meat sections sell large soup bones. Dogs love to eat the marrow inside and chewing on the bone is great for his teeth and gums. Be careful, however, because these bones will eventually splinter, so a bone like this should be thrown away when it begins to get very brittle.
A wide variety of artificial bones are available today in most supermarkets and pet stores. They come in so many different shapes and sizes and some are flavoured. These “bones” are almost impossible for most dogs to destroy, so they can provide your dog with hours of pleasure without the fear of choking, but do be wary of the hard, white, plastic bones as pieces have been seen to break off.
Beware all chews made of processed hide. These products tend to go through a manufacturing process that strips all nutritional value from the hide and even bleaches it, before gluing it into bone shapes, pigs ears, fig rolls and others. Rawhide can also pose a choking hazard, especially to small and medium size breeds
This site explains how rawhide is processed:
As usual, if you have any doubts about the suitability of food items, then do your due-diligence starting with Google and if necessary, speak to your local vet, but be aware that your vet is paid to promote certain brands, so his advice is likely to be biased.
Finally, just before you buy the food of your choice; it's worth reading this article Best Dog Food:
And also check it against this extensive and detailed list:
Ingredients Labelling - especially regarding 'Grain Free' foods
Be very aware of ingredients labelling on foods, as many are misleading (some deliberately so).
Read up on how and why this occurs:
Seniors - 8 years and upwards
As your dachshund ages, their teeth and joints become worn and digestive systems change. They become less active and tend towards a more sedentary life, much like humans and so their nutritional needs also change. Their immune systems, which have been very robust during their active life stages, start to become compromised and so extra support is needed.
Senior dogs tend to have a slower metabolism and you might notice your pet putting on a bit of weight as they get older. Changing to a lower calorie diet can be a good idea. Most senior dog food recipes will contain lower calorie levels and a careful balance of other nutrients, such as essential fatty acids and antioxidants to support their ageing joints and immune system.
Whilst veterinary advice can be useful at this stage in their lives, you may find that some vets are keen to promote foods that they stock in their surgeries and that they make a profit from. Ask questions of your friends in social media groups and read all ingredients labels thoroughly.
Good information on nutrition requirements of senior dogs here:
Last but Not Least
If you have managed to get this far, then you can congratulate yourself on now knowing more about feeding your dog than 95%+ of pet owners. However, we have one last recommendation and that is to spend 20 minutes viewing this video by Dr Karen Becker DVM, of Mercola Healthy Pets, in which she talks you through vitally important aspects of nutritional balance. Getting this correct in your dachshunds diet means far less risk of future health issues: