(This is the first in a 3 part series covering basic dog nutrition all dog owners must know.)
Just as humans require diet applicable to their body and their needs, so do dogs. Many dog owners think they can feed their pet whatever table scraps and it is no problem, that dogs can eat anything, but that is not the case.
In general, your dog should be able to get all his nutrients from his regular, high-quality commercial pet food. These are specially formulated to provide the nutrients your dog needs to live a happy and healthy life. It goes without saying that there are certain circumstances requiring supplements or special cases, such as special needs, illness-related deficiencies, or a specific direction from your veterinarian.
Just as in humans there are certain basic nutritional requirements dogs require. Here are the 6 basic nutritional requirements that pet owners need to know in feeding their dog.
The 6 basic nutritional requirements your dog needs
Just as in humans water makes up the majority of the weight of your dog, accounting for between 60-70% of your pet’s body weight. Providing clean, fresh water for your pet goes a long way to maintaining proper health. Ever heard your doctor or nutritionist tell you to drink more water and list off the benefits of doing so? Well, the same goes for your dog. Water helps just about every function of your dog work better, so provide ample clean, fresh water for your pet and it will go better.
Takeaway tip: At home have a bowl of clean fresh water always available for your dog to drink from, and change/refill with clean water frequently. When taking your dog for a walk or a hike anything longer than 1/2 hour plan to bring water to give to your dog. Some dogs can drink from a bottle (pretty tricky for them!), whereas others may need a bowl to be able to easily drink from (there are many travel bowls available which are collapsable and lightweight, easy to store in a backpack).
Proteins are the basic building block for all cells, tissues, organs, hormones, antibodies, etc. They are essential for growth and maintenance of your dog’s body. Proteins can be obtained from meats such as beef, pork, chicken, fish, eggs, etc, as well as vegetables and grains (which may not provide a complete protein requirement depending on what you feed him), or a combination of the two. The pet food available tends to have the proteins your dog needs, but it never hurts to supplement your pet’s diet with extra protein! It has even been shown that feeding overweight dogs with extra protein can help to burn fat and calories and help with weight loss.
Takeaway tip: Feed your dog high quality pet food and reward him with dog treats that are high-protein without extra high calorie fillers. When choosing treats, avoid processed foods with unrecognizable ingredients or extra unneeded calories, and instead look for protein packed treats. Best are single-ingredient meats/animal products, such as our all-natural pig ear treats, that are packed with protein and are fantastic treats dogs love!
Yes, fats are required for a healthy nutrition. No, they are not unhealthy, provided you choose healthy fats. Aside from being the most concentrated form of food energy (providing more than twice the energy of proteins or carbohydrates), fats provide numerous healthy benefits for your dog. Such benefits involve providing essential structure for cells, aid brain development and maintenance, production of some hormones, and are required to absorb certain vitamins and nutrients into the cells. Fats also provide insulation and protection for internal organs. Have too little fatty acids, and your dog may have reduced growth or increased skin problems.
Takeaway tip: Its a good idea to add some fats to your dogs diet. While your dog’s kibble does contain fat, adding some healthy fats, like our Brutus and Barnaby Omega-3 Fish Oil, can provide a very healthy fat that increases cell production, better vitamin absorption, brain development, and numerous other healthy benefits. Stay away from bacon grease or vegetable oil, and stick to healthy, veterinarian recommended fats, which are unsaturated fats & fats with Omega-3 and/or Omega-6 fatty acids.
Carbohydrates provide energy, play a vital role in the health of the intestines, and are important for reproduction. There is no minimum carbohydrate level (your dog’s energy can be obtained from proteins and fats), but giving a diet with an adequate amount of carbohydrates can provide your dog with the energy levels to be happy and active. Here’s the catch: your dog doesn’t need much carbohydrates, and most dog food on the market contains grains/rice as a main ingredient, which is loaded with carbohydrates. The result? Your dog can be getting too much carbohydrates, which your dog’s body just stores as fat. There are debates over how much of your dog’s diet should consist of carbohydrates, since they evolved mostly carnivorous, but the some recent data shows they tend to need 14% of their diet to consist of carbs. Most dog foods, especially cheaper versions with filler grains, tend to range 40-50% carbs!
Takeaway tip: Avoid feeding your dog table scraps, as human foods can contain a lot of bread or sugars and so can have an unnecessarily higher level of carbohydrates for your dog. Stick to your dog’s kibble, your dog will meet all his carbohydrate needs with his regular dog food. And choose dog food that is high quality, even if it costs a bit more, with high protein content. When giving your dogs snacks or treats, avoid high carb treats, and stick to protein packed treats, such as our USA raised chicken jerky treats, which are lean meat, protein packed, with no carbs, and dogs go crazy for.
Just as humans need vitamins, so do dogs. Some vitamins can be synthesized in your dogs body, but most have to be gotten from the diet in order to maintain proper health. Most commercial pet food diets are fortified to meet your dog’s vitamin requirements, so supplementation is generally not required.
Takeaway tip: Look for the label stating “complete and balanced nutrition” and a high quality brand on your dog’s food, and also look for the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) certification on the labeling, and you can be fairly certain the food is fortified with the essential vitamins your dog needs. If you are concerned that your dog is not getting his required vitamins, or if your dog begins to develop health issues, consult your veterinarian, and ask if your dog should be taking any vitamin supplements.
Minerals are nutrients that cannot be synthesized by animals and must be gotten from the diet. Minerals are important structural components of bones and teeth, maintaining fluid balance, and for metabolic reactions. Some key minerals required are calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, sodium, chloride, potassium, and sulfur, as well as trace minerals. Calcium and phosphorous are necessary for maintenance of bones and teeth.
Takeaway tip: Just as in vitamins, a complete and balanced dog food that is high quality is formulated to provide the mineral requirements for your dog. Don’t buy an unverified or low quality dog food, opt for one you can be certain will provide your dog with healthy nutrients he needs.
Hope you enjoy this data, and stay tuned for the next in this series of dog nutrition facts and tips.
PS: As an added bonus to the above, we are providing a special deal for the dog owner who just loves rewarding his dog with healthy treats. We have extra stock of pig ears we are selling at a 37.5% discount for a 5 lbs bag. We are selling these at a large discount because they are either smaller than our standard large ears, or the pig's ears were tattooed by the farm they came from. This is a combination of both - therefore we are selling it by weight. Dog's love them, and they are completely healthy, full of protein and good fats. You can buy them here (while supplies last!).