“You are what you eat”
This popular saying doesn’t just apply to us humans, but our beloved canine companions as well. Without good nutrition, it is impossible to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Contrary to what some may believe, simply feeding your dog scraps off your dinner table should not consist of their entire diet plan. They require more nourishing and sustaining food in the right amounts according to their breed, age, and size.
Since pups are not only our best friends but also our responsibilities, we must take the necessary steps to ensure they follow a nutritional diet to keep them healthy and happy!
Here’s a list of nutrients you must remember to check in dog food!
No diet is complete without the inclusion of water. It might sound basic but dehydration in dogs is more common than one would think. Some of the common symptoms of dehydration are dryness in their eyes, mouth and nose, drop in bodily fluids, and sunken eyes.
Water is so necessary that if dogs lose even 10% of it from their bodies, death could come knocking on their doors. On the other hand, if dogs lose their entire body fat or half their protein they could still survive.
It is required to regulate body temperature, eliminate waste, and transport nutrients.
While water can also be found in dry dog food or canned food, it is important to provide dogs with a separate clean and fresh source of water.
Like carbohydrates, proteins are a good source of energy and also build body tissues.
But not every protein contains the set of amino acids vital to create strong muscles in dogs. For example, both corn and soybean are individually inadequate but, in a combination, make the ideal source of protein as they complement one another.
Eggs which are a nutritional powerhouse are super-rich in protein and can be easily added to your pup’s diet.
When pocket pinching dog owners give their pets low-quality food with a high carbohydrate content like poor quality meat and waste cereal, their dogs could face insufficient protein intake issues.
Some owners tend to go overboard with feeding their dogs protein-rich food. Fortunately, canines have liver enzymes that allow them to adapt to an excess of protein but this can take a disastrous effect on their kidneys and lead to skeletal problems later in life.
If your dog is eating a high protein diet then don’t forget to also increase the amount of calcium and phosphorous they consume to maintain their skeletal structure.
The sound of the word ‘fats’ might instinctively make you think this is a nutrient to avoid but it is responsible for keeping your dog’s skin and hair healthy. They also give the food some much-needed taste and flavour along with assisting in the absorption of some specific vitamins.
Some of the important fatty acids are linoleic acid, omega-6, and omega-3. Dogs cannot produce these nutrients by themselves so owners must ensure that the dog food they provide, includes these.
Essential fats are found in both plants and animals.
Also, they are an incredible source of energy as they produce 2.5 times of it compared to proteins.
Chicken or pork fat, cottonseed oil, vegetable oil, soybean oil, fish oil, safflower oil are some sources of fat that you could give your dog. But it is crucial that there remains a balance between fatty food and exercise.
An excess of fat can lead to acute pancreatitis or cardiovascular disease and a deficiency of it can result in reduced physical ability and reproductive performance. So, a strict diet accompanied by physical exertion must be followed at all costs.
This is easily the most important food group because it acts as the main source of energy and fuels the dogs’ brain, kidneys, heart muscles, and central nervous system.
Dogs have a lively and active nature which calls for a carbohydrate-rich diet which will give them the required amount of sugars and starches necessary.
Being omnivores, they possess the capability to digest carbohydrates so they function well on a majority of commercial diets.
Kibbles in dog food has to be given some structure and texture. This can be done by processing them with cereal grains like wheat, rice, barley, corn, and oats. After this, it becomes easier for dogs to digest them.
The dog food industry rolls out such kibbles in vast quantities and is easily available for your purchase. Whenever you do buy commercial dog food, make sure that it has the “complete and balanced nutrition” label on its pack.
If you do not wish to opt for processed food, there are several natural options available as well such as regular grains and vegetables. They will keep your puppy’s intestines in good health.
Fibre is a kind of carbohydrate that is less digestible but is still beneficial in a nutritious diet. Its function is to prevent obesity by making dogs feel full longer so they are not tempted to overeat. This nutrient can be found in ‘beet pulps’.
Dogs require necessary compounds called vitamins to perform chemical reactions in their bodies, keep their bones strong, and sustain life.
Vitamin E supports a dog’s immunity system and vitamin A gives them glossy hair, clear skin, and great eyesight. They can be found in most fruits, vegetables, and dog food.
Vitamin D can be provided easily by simply taking your dog out for a walk in the sunshine. This vitamin will help support your dog’s body to balance out the minerals. It can also be found in fatty fish and egg yolks.
Also, you do not need to worry about giving your dog vitamin C rich food because it gets produced naturally in a dog’s body and acts as an antioxidant.
Bone broth helps with the absorption of minerals like calcium and zinc. Kelp seaweed is also really great for dogs because it is full of trace minerals (minerals required in smaller quantities).
These trace minerals generate impulses in a dog’s body so they can perform their everyday functions. They include,
- Selenium, an antioxidant, which is found in seafood and brown rice.
- Zinc which boosts their immunity and can be found in spinach and broccoli.
- Copper helps absorb iron. Seeds and nuts are some of its sources.
- Iron found in red meats and shellfish provided oxygen to organs and muscles.
- Manganese needed for bone strength can be obtained by feeding your pooch whole grains and leafy vegetables.
Legumes and meats also provide dogs with many important minerals.
Despite being nutrients of paramount importance, owners should not give their pets mineral supplements in addition to their regular diet as it could be detrimental to their health.
If all these nutrients are provided to your pooch in a balanced diet with exercise, they are sure to thrive and lead a happy, long life!
You may also visit a veterinarian to compile a more thorough diet plan and feeding schedule for your dog that can be customized according to your dog’s needs. To learn more, click here!
|Sr. No.||NUTRIENTS||PERCENTAGE REQUIRED|
|4)||Carbohydrates||50% (2.5-4.5% fibre)|
|6)||Vitamins||Varies according to the type of vitamin|