Q: I have a male Miniature Schnauzer who is 3 years old. He weighs about 30lbs. How often and how much should I be feeding him? He has a heart arrhythmia. The vet does not have him on any medication yet.
A: Adult dogs can be fed once or twice each day as you choose. Any good quality and balanced diet is fine. However, it is important to make sure that you do not give him too much food. When fed a proper amount, he will go to his food eagerly and eat it all without stopping and coming back later in order to finish it. He may even lick the empty bowl and look at you as though he would like to have more. This is O.K. I always tell people that when they give their dogs the correct amount of food they may feel a little guilty as though they may not have given enough.
In general, dry food is much more likely to result in an overweight dog than is canned food as the calories in dry food are highly compressed. I mention this to you because, although I do not know how big your Miniature Schnauzer is, 30lbs seems a bit high for most Miniature Schnauzers. This also concerns me as Schnauzers as a breed are predisposed to having elevated fat levels (cholesterol and triglycerides) in their blood due to an enzyme deficiency. You may not see any symptoms, but these elevated lipids are a risk factor for the development of pancreatitis and diabetes mellitus.
If your dog is overweight, there are a variety of low-fat weight management foods including Hill's Prescription Diet® w/d® and ROYAL CANIN Veterinary Diet® Calorie Control CC High Fiber™. Your vet can recommend the best food for your dog. As an aside, if you do end up using a canned food I just want to tell you that, despite the fact that many people think dry kibble is better for dogs’ teeth, there is very little relationship between using wet food and having increased dental problems. However, because Schnauzers are also predisposed to dental problems, you should make sure you are practicing good dental hygiene for your dog. You can learn more about taking care of your dog’s teeth by clicking here.
You also mentioned that your dog has a heart arrhythmia. There are no arrhythmia-specific diets that I know of. However, if clinical heart disease develops there are low salt and other diets to help address this problem nutritionally.
Finally, don't tell anyone, but Miniature Schnauzers may be my favorite breed to see in the exam room! They are always so pleasant, friendly, and willing to cooperate fully in their care.
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