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What is the best food to my dog?
How much should I feed my dog?
How should I pick a good diet for my dog?
I’m sure you would like to find some answers about your dog’s nutrition.
A balanced and complete nutrition is essential to your dog’s health maintenance and growth.
A dog must obtain 37 different specific nutrients from his food.
Your dog’s nutritional requirements depend on his breed, age, lifestyle, and health.
It’s not surprising that a growing, energetic puppy needs different nutrient balance in his diet than a less active senior dog.
Additionally, some specific medical conditions also influence nutritional needs.
Table of Contents
- Is my dog a carnivore or an omnivore?
- Why is it important to offer my dog a balanced food?
- What are the best ingredients listed on a dog food label?
- What are the nutrients included in a balanced dog food?
- Why is water important for my dog’s health?
- What are the best sources of quality protein in dog food?
- Why is fat an important ingredient for dogs?
- Why are carbohydrates important for my dog’s nutrition?
- What are the best sources of carbohydrates in dog food?
- Are grains bad for my dog’s health?
- Why are vitamins important for my dog?
- Which foods are good sources of vitamins?
- Why are minerals important for dogs?
- What are chelated minerals? Are they bad for my dog?
- What is the best food to feed my dog?
- What is a rotational diet?
Is my dog a carnivore or an omnivore?
Dogs belong to the family Canidae and the order Carnivora, but this doesn’t reflect their behavior, anatomy or diet preferences.
Dogs are omnivores, which means they need a combination of meats, cereals, and vegetables in the correct quantities to obtain a nutritionally balanced diet. They are able to eat and remain healthy with both animal and plant foodstuffs just like wolves and coyotes.
Dog’s nutritional, behavioral and physical omnivore’s characteristics are:
- Molars with flat surfaces aimed to chew bones and fibrous plant material
- Digestion of nearly 100% of the carbohydrates they ingest
- Small intestine
- Ability to produce vitamin A from beta-carotene found in plants
Why is it important to offer my dog a balanced food?
Dogs need a complete and balanced diet to maintain health. Too much or too little of a certain ingredient can have an adverse effect.
For example, an excess of protein and phosphorus may aggravate kidney disease. It’s essential that veterinary nutritionists select proper ingredients and find the balance for optimal healthy diet.
What are the best ingredients listed on a dog food label?
You should found in the top of the ingredient list one or two quality protein sources (meats), one or more source of carbohydrates (whole grain), and a quality fat or oil source.
What are the nutrients included in a balanced dog food?
Your dog’s diet needs correct amounts and proportions of the six major groups of nutrients:
Why is water important for my dog’s health?
Water is a vital nutrient for all living beings and dogs are no exception. Water is important in helping regulate body’s internal temperature, hydration of body tissues and as a fluid medium for the blood. A loss of 15 % of body water can lead to death.
Water intake depends on:
- Metabolic activity (exercise, pregnancy, lactation, growth)
- Environment (temperature, humidity)
You should always make sure your dog has access to uncontaminated, fresh drinking water at all times, preferably in a large ceramic bowl.
Your dog will need more water if:
- He is fed exclusively dry diet
- The weather is warm
- After exercise
What are the best sources of quality protein in dog food?
Premium proteins for use in dog foods are animal-based sources such as chicken, lamb, turkey, venison, duck, pork, beef, fish, and eggs.
Protein are essential nutrients for dogs. They are vital to:
- Muscle growth
- Tissue repair
- Skin and hair health
- Hormone synthesis
- Oxygen transport in the blood
- Immune function
Dogs need to obtain specific proteins from their food because they include essential amino acid that can’t be produced fast enough or in sufficient quantity to meet the necessities for growth and maintenance. Therefore, they must be supplied in the diet. An example of essential amino acids for dogs is arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.
In manufactured dog food, proteins are derived from animal and plant sources. Most protein ingredients contain inadequate amounts of one or more amino acids and are thus ineffective if used as the sole source for meeting protein needs. These inefficiencies can be defeat by careful selection and mixture of different protein sources.
A protein deficient diet can lead to:
- Poor growth
- Decreased appetite
- Weight loss
- Lower reproductive performance
- Loss of muscle bulk
- Poor coat condition
- Increased risk of infection (impaired immunity)
Why is fat an important ingredient for dogs?
Fat provides the most concentrated form of energy in the diet. Fats, made from small units called fatty acids, supply “fuel” for your dog to stay full of life.
Fats are also vital for:
- Improving the flavor of food.
- Aid absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K).
Good fats, and essential fatty acids (EFA’s) such as linoleic acid, linolenic acid, and arachidonic acid, are critical for healthy coat and skin condition.
Linoleic acid is the source of omega-6 and linolenic acid is the source of omega-3.
Dietary deficiency in fats can lead to:
- Poor skin and coat condition
- Reproductive problems
- Clinical obesity and associated medical problems (e.g. diabetes, cardiac problems, and osteoarthritis).
Why are carbohydrates important for my dog’s nutrition?
Carbohydrates provide an excellent and readily available energy source. Fibers help to maintain a healthy gut by promoting intestinal flora growth and ensuring normal intestinal function.
What are the best sources of carbohydrates in dog food?
Whole grains are the greatest sources of carbohydrates because they have higher levels of fiber that keep your dog feeling full longer, keep blood sugar levels stable, and support digestion.
In manufactured pet foods, most dietary carbohydrates are cereal grains or flour, such as:
The bran or hulls from grains and other vegetable products provide sources of dietary fiber in pet foods, such as:
- Soybean hulls
- Wheat bran
- Beet pulp
- Rice bran
- Oat bran
- Pea fiber
A dietary insufficiency in carbohydrate can lead to:
- Reduced energy
- Poor coat condition for example. This occurs because dietary fat and protein is used to ensure sufficient energy and there is therefore less protein to spare for non-essential functions such as healthy, glossy fur.
- Glycogen in muscles and liver
- Fat in the adipose tissue
Are grains bad for my dog’s health?
Whole grains contain healthy nutrients including vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and fiber. As omnivores, dogs are efficient at digesting and utilizing nutrients from grains. Some dogs are allergic to specific grains. However, these allergies are no more common than allergies to animal proteins such as chicken.
Why are vitamins important for my dog?
Vitamins are required in small amounts through the diet to help your dog to maintain:
- Normal vision
- Healthy skin and coat
- Normal wound healing
- Normal functioning of the nervous system
- Fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K), which are stored in your dog’s adipose tissues
- Water-soluble vitamins (B complex and C), which are excreted in urine. Dogs don’t have an essential necessity for vitamin C as they can make it themselves.
Which foods are good sources of vitamins?
|Vitamin A||Plants (beta-carotenes): Carrots, Spinach, Pumpkin||Normal vision, growth, immune system function, and reproduction; Antioxidant|
|Vitamin D||Produced in the skin following exposure to UV lightDiet: salmon, eggs, fish liver oils, tuna||Regulation of calcium in the body, helps mineralization of the bone, increases the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from intestine|
|Vitamin E||Tocopherols found in plant oils (soybean oil, safflower, wheat germ)||Important for reproductionAntioxidantProtection of cell membranes|
|Vitamin K||Green, leafy plants and vegetables||Clotting agent in the blood|
|Complex B (B1, B2, B6, B12, …)||Fish,
liver, meat, poultry, lean beef, legumes, yeast, broccoli and other vegetables, eggs
|Crucial in the metabolism of protein, carbohydrate, and fat which results in energy body processes|
|Vitamin C||Citrus fruits, berries, tomatoes, cauliflower, potatoes, green leafy vegetables, green peppers||Synthesis and production of collagen (protein, fibrous in nature, that connects and supports body tissues, such as skin, bone, tendons, muscles, and cartilage)|
Why are minerals important for dogs?
Minerals are inorganic nutrients that make up less than 1 % of a dog body’s weight. Minerals carry out diverse functions in the body such as:
- Bone and cartilage formation
- Enzymatic reactions
- Maintain fluid balance
- Oxygen transport in the blood
- Normal muscle and nerve function
- Hormone production
Other minerals that are essential for normal body function are sodium, chloride, magnesium and potassium, as well as zinc, copper, and iron.
All dietary minerals must be carefully balanced and always will be in a good quality complete manufactured dog food. Supplementation of any one mineral to an already balanced diet can create imbalances and potentially disrupt an animal’s nutritional health.
Minerals are usually grouped into:
- Macro-minerals: needed in greater amounts in the diet and found in larger amounts in the body
- Micro-minerals: needed in minor amounts in the diet and found in smaller amounts in the body
|Calcium and phosphorus||Confer rigidity to the teeth and bones, aid in blood coagulation, important for nerve excitability|
|Sodium and chloride||Fluid regulating minerals, help to preserve the balance between fluids inside and outside the cells|
|Potassium||Normal enzyme, muscle and nerve functionsMaintenance of fluid balance|
|Magnesium||Structural component of both bone and musclePlay a role in enzymatic reactions|
|Iron||Combines with hemoglobin, the oxygen carrying compound in red blood cells
Important component of enzymes (proteins that speed up the velocity of a chemical reaction in a living being)
|Zinc||Involved in production of proteins
Important for normal immune system function
Crucial for DNA and cellular turnoverAntioxidant properties
|Maganese||Enzymatic activator involved in the production of energy, fatty acid synthesis, and amino acid metabolism|
|Copper||Collagen and elastic connective tissue formation
Development and maturation of red blood cells
AntioxidantProvide pigmentation for hair
|Selenium||AntioxidantContribute for normal immune function|
|Iodine||Production of thyroid hormones in the thyroid gland
Thyroid hormones regulate basal metabolic rates
What are chelated minerals? Are they bad for my dog?
A chelated mineral is a mineral chemically bonded with a protein. This combination generally improves the absorption of the mineral in the digestive tract.
Natural forms of minerals are always more biologically valuable than synthetic forms, but that doesn’t mean that chelated minerals are bad for your dog’s health.
What is the best food to feed my dog?
There is a multiplicity of dog foods available – recipes, formats, and formulas, wet and dry. Every dog is unique. Each has their own special personality, likes, dislikes and needs. Always choose a diet that is nutritionally balanced and complete. The quality of ingredients can vary greatly from product to product, influencing intake requirements and nutritional delivery.
Most manufactured pet diets now offer a rising range of individual recipes, designed to meet the precise and varying needs of different dogs. So you can be certain you’re getting the balance right for your dog.
What is a Rotational Diet?
Rotational diet is a nutritional philosophy that offers your dog a diet varying both food protein sources and food types (e.g. raw, wet, and dry). This diet implies to vary your dog’s food on a periodic basis. For example, if you usually give your dog dry kibble, you can gradually rotate to a raw dog food or to a different kibble.
I hope this article answer to some of your questions about your dog’s nutrition. An informed owner will be able to pick a healthier and balanced dog food. Feel free to post comments and suggestions.
Remember GOOD DOG NUTRITION = LONG & HEALTHY LIFE!