Dog Nutrition Essentials
Dog nutrition isn’t necessarily a topic we think of everyday, but if you want your dog to live the longest, healthiest life possible your dog’s balanced nutrition is essential. It’s critical in maintaining the growth and health of your dog. So what does this mean?
First of all, what are nutrients? Nutrients are substances obtained in food and used by an animal as a source of energy, maintenance and growth. There are 6 types of nutrients dogs need to optimize their health.
All dogs needs water to survive. More than half of an adult dog’s body weight is water. While some food may help with your dog’s water needs, it still is not enough. There should always be fresh clean water available to them.
Proteins are a source of energy that are essential for growth, maintenance, reproduction, and repair. They can be animal-based meats, vegetables, cereals and soy. As long as the type of diet contains sufficient protein, it does not matter if you choose a meat based diet or a vegetarian based diet.
Fats provide your dog with the most energy and are the most concentrated form of food energy. They also play a vital role in the structure of cells and help maintain healthy skin and a glossy hair coat.
In addition to providing energy, carbohydrates are beneficial for reproduction and the healthy maintenance of the intestine. The major sources of carbohydrates in commercial dog foods are cereals, legumes, and other plant foodstuffs.
Vitamins cannot be synthesized in the body, therefore they are important to obtain in the diet. Only tiny amounts of vitamins are needed and if you are feeding your dog a complete and balanced diet, vitamin supplements are unnecessary unless specified by a veterinarian.
Overall, there are twelve minerals known to be vital nutrients for dogs. For example, calcium and phosphorus are essential for strong bones and teeth. See the National Research Council guideline for a complete list.
GUIDELINES WHEN PURCHASING COMMERICAL DOG FOOD:
*High quality named animal proteins should be the first ingredient, and preferably appear more than once as a top item on the ingredient list.
*Pick foods that include the whole fruit, vegetable, or grain. For example, rice rather than rice flour.
*Select ingredients with natural preservatives (like Vitamin C) or antioxidants (like rosemary extract).
*Avoid foods that use generic descriptions. For example, “meat” meal or “animal” fat. The actual type of meat or fat needs to be named.
*Avoid all by-products, added sweeteners, artificial preservatives and artificial flavors/colors.
The amount you feed your dog should be based on size, age, and energy productivity. For example, puppies require the most calories per day and inactive adult dogs require the least caloric intake per day. Treats should be given in moderation and should represent a small percentage of the dog’s daily intake. Use the same food guidelines when choosing your dog’s treats. It is recommended dogs be fed twice daily, but you should always consult with your veterinarian to determine the best feeding schedule and the best types of foods for your dog. Using a proper balance of the 6 nutrients discussed will enable your dog to live the healthiest life.