Proper dog nutrition

Feeding your dog properly is important for a healthier, longer life. It’s helpful to know what compounds are crucial for your dog’s health, to obtain the best possible results – from the bowl to the tummy!

What are the main nutritional requirements for dogs?

One thing to keep in mind is that every dog’s diet needs at least 6 main nutrients. These include fats, minerals, vitamins, carbs, protein and water. These essential ingredients are pivotal for your dog’s diet to fulfill the basic functions for his body.

With that said, studying the nutritional guidelines from the Association of American Feed Control Officials can assist you with the definition of each ingredient you view on Fido’s food bag. On their website, you’ll find a Consumer tab with a helpful guide: The Association of American Feed Control Officials > Consumers > What is in Pet Food (aafco.org)

This critical concept is further highlighted by the VCA Animal Hospital:

“As research into basic and applied nutrition has expanded the knowledge of canine nutrition, it is now known that a well-balanced diet must also include an appropriate amount of minerals, vitamins, certain essential amino acids (from proteins), and specific essential fatty acids (from fats). These components are needed to build and maintain tissue and carry out biological reactions, and the necessary amounts vary somewhat with the dog’s stage of life.”

Things to look for in dog food

Pampered pet care encompasses many facets of dog ownership including the right dog food; starting with the highest quality you can afford. While you may pay more for better quality, you are also providing longer-term health benefits. This includes fewer vet visits if not disease and illness prevention.

The best dog food has 20% or more protein. Ideally, you want to choose a diet that has whole food ingredients and real compounds. If the ingredients you see in that dog food are not recognizable, it’s better to just walk away! It’s also important to stick to a low calorie diet, especially if your dog is a senior.

From an earlier blog, provided by an unbiased research team at Reviews.com:

“Whole meats are expensive, and many manufacturers supplement their formulas with meat meal to ensure your dog is getting a balanced diet at an affordable cost. Although meat meal sounds gross if you’re not a dog, there’s nothing terrifying about it. It’s created through a high-pressure, high-temperature process called rendering: Fat and moisture are separated out from dried, solid protein by grinding everything up and steam cooking it all at extremely high temperatures. The dried solids make up the meal.

The FDA, which regulates pet food labeling, notes that meal can contain higher concentrations of protein, nutrients and minerals than whole meats. Meal is basically concentrated meat. But there are two reasons this ingredient is controversial.

First, manufacturers aren’t required to be transparent about how their meals are rendered.

The nutritional quality of meal can vary, since natural enzymes and proteins are sometimes destroyed during very high-temperature manufacturing processes. But there’s no way for consumers to monitor this since companies aren’t required to disclose their exact practices.

Second, the animal parts that meal is made out of are often low quality to begin with.

The American Association of Feed Control Officials, a group that helps the FDA establish labeling standards, allows anything that’s labeled “meat meal” to be sourced “from mammals other than cattle, pigs, sheep or goats without further description,” which means you can’t be sure exactly what’s in it. We were pretty grossed out to learn meat meal can also be sourced from stuff like restaurant grease, diseased livestock and expired supermarket meat.

How much food does your dog need?

Every dog has its own nutritional requirements. You must determine the lean weight of your pet, and feed accordingly. It’s crucial to monitor everything so you can feed your pet properly, and always incorporate exercise to keep your dog fit and healthy.

A good rule of thumb is to use this equation: 30 x dog weight in kilograms, and then you add 70. This is the number of calories needed by your pet. If your dog has 5 kilograms, that means your pet needs 220 calories per day. Stick to feeding your pet 2 times per day, in equally divided meals. Puppies in their early growth stages are often fed 3 x day. Dogs that free graze all day may not relegate their food consumption appropriately which can lead to weight gain and obesity.

Feed your dog based on what you can afford and what he likes! Notwithstanding food allergies (roughly 10% of dog allergies are food related) you know your dog best. Talking with your vet is crucial too, since they can offer guidance on how to choose the right food.

Resources: Nutrition – General Feeding Guidelines for Dogs | VCA Animal Hospital (vcahospitals.com)

The Best Dog Food by Reviews.com – Doolittle’s Doghouse (doolittlesdoghouse.com)

photo attribution: Cottonbro on Pexels