Do you want to make sure that you are feeding your dog the best diet possible? If so, this article is right for you! Read below for some basics of dog nutrition and food, and how to ensure that you are giving your pup the very best, because we know that’s what you want for them.
Nutritional Necessities for a Dog’s Diet
First and foremost, every dog has basic nutritional needs that must be met in their diet. Barring any allergies, preexisting conditions, and other unusual circumstances, most dogs should be able to get these nutritional requirements in any high-quality commercial dog food. Dogs have 6 basic nutritional needs that are essential to their body maintenance and growth:
- Water: Water is the essential liquid of all living beings, and dogs are no different. Adult pets need constant access to fresh water as water deficiency can result in serious medical issues.
- Proteins: Proteins are the basic building blocks of a pet’s body and can be obtained from a wide variety of animal and plant-based products such as meat, cooked eggs, certain vegetables, and soy products.
- Fats: Fats are a concentrated form of food energy and are important for several facets of a pet’s body maintenance related to cell structure, hormones, and organs.
- Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates improve a pet’s energy levels, digestion, and reproduction. Fiber, specifically moderately fermentable fibers, are the most important type of carbohydrate to have in a dog’s diet.
- Vitamins: Vitamins are essential to a dog’s metabolic functioning. Dogs should receive all necessary vitamins from their food, so unless specifically recommended by your vet, vitamin supplements are not necessary and may even do more harm than good.
- Minerals: Minerals play an important role in the structure of bone and teeth.
Dog Food Labels
With this being said, these nutritional necessities are important to consider when picking out a food for your four-legged friend, so when choosing a dog food make sure to look at:
- Ingredients: This is arguably the most important thing to consider. When looking at an ingredients label, remember that ingredients are listed in order, by weight, so the first ingredient listed will always be the main ingredient in the food. All ingredients must also be individually listed by their common name on pet food labels, so what you see on that ingredients list is what you get.
- Guaranteed Analysis: This will give you a basic description of the present nutrients and their quantities in a specific dog food. There can sometimes be a lot to consider here, so focus on the amount of protein, fat, fiber, and water listed.
Consider What is Best for Your Pet
While there is a certain level of standardization in what is needed in a dog’s diet, no one dog is the same. Different dogs have different needs, so we recommend always consulting with your vet for what is best to feed your dog and to consider the following:
- Age: A dog’s diet may look different over the years, and a puppy most likely won’t have the same eating habits as an adult dog, so feed them accordingly. Dogs can also become pickier eaters in their older years so canned food or homemade meals might be a better option for them in their older age.
- Weight / Body Condition: If your dog is overweight or has a specific medical condition, it can be a good idea to put them on a specialized or home-cooked diet with your vet’s approval.
- Energy Level: Obviously, a dog who is more energetic or has a higher level of activity is going to require more food than a dog who is not as active and prefers their down time.
- What is Important to You: Lastly, you are your dog’s parent and therefore, you probably have a good idea for what is suited for your dog and their lifestyle. If it is important to you that you feed your dog the highest quality ingredients, look into natural, holistic, or homemade diets. Likewise, if money or time are factors, consider finding a quality midrange dog food. As long as your dog’s nutritional needs are being met and their diet is vet-approved, you are good to go!