Dog Nutrition Basics

We can say that the only reason why any living organism feeds itself is to get the nutrients in a form that it can use in order to grow, have the energy to move and repair the muscles and organs within its body. All organisms whether plants or animals are composed of nutrients that other organisms can consume to get the same required nutrients for the same purposes. Each dog has its own medical history, and activity and stress levels that require different dietary solutions. For energy, dogs need fats and proteins which are spent in various ways according to the demands of the dog’s conditions and location. Cold weather, for example, can cause dogs to use more energy for body temperature regulation. If you let your dogs outdoors a lot of times for exercises and other activities with you, they are more likely to need an increased supply of fat and protein for energy. Dogs that spend most of their time indoors will not need as many nutrients.

A. Benefits of Good Diet

There is no doubt that a good diet promotes many good things for your dog and all of them can be obtained by giving your dog a raw food diet. But first, let us look at the major benefits of providing the right nutrition for your dog. Good nutrition is indispensable and essential to keep your dog happy and healthy. The feeding method you use, the schedule you follow and your food choices have direct effects on the health of your dog. It is only through good nutrition that your dog can fight disease and grow properly. You have to remember however that each dog has different requirements based on breed, age, size, coat type, medical history, and even personalities. Providing a good diet to your dog will ensure that he has healthy skin and coat, bright clear eyes, well-developed bones and muscle tone, healthy gums and teeth, no bad odor, fewer problems in the digestive system all of which translates to fewer trips to the veterinarian. In addition, your dog will be full of vitality, energy and be generally healthy and well-behaved.

B. Effects of Poor Diet

Feeding your dog with food that lacks the necessary and essential nutrients will not only weaken him and cause sluggish behavior but also lead to increased risks of serious diseases such as cancer, liver failure, impaired heart and kidney functions, diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, and many allergies. In addition, an improper diet can also cause your dog to have a dull coat, ear infections, bad breath, bowel disease, and cataracts. A poor diet can also weaken his bones and stunt his growth.

C. Essential Nutrients,

Vitamins and Minerals Required by Your Dog All mammals require food to survive and reproduce. It doesn’t matter where they are – whether domesticated or in the wild – they still need to have fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals in the food they consume in order to ensure the continuity of their species. They also need water through which the nutrients and energy are absorbed by the body tissues. Your dog requires an adequate supply of these nutrients to be happy, healthy and continue being a good companion.

1. Protein

Protein helps build muscles, bones, blood, and skin. It is made up of amino acids. Some amino acids can be manufactured in the body of dogs and some have to be supplied by foods they eat. Protein can be found in meat, poultry, fish, dairy products and other plant sources. However, protein derived from animal sources are more complete. Meat proteins are also easier to extract and digest compared to plant proteins. Proteins are the nutrients responsible for the formation of enzymes that helps convert food into energy. Poultry, lamb, beef, and organs such as liver, kidney, and heart are excellent sources of easily
digestible protein for your dogs. Working dogs and puppies need high protein feeds although care should be taken in giving the right amounts since too much protein has been linked to kidney problems and some issues involving dog temperament. There used to be a myth (more about myths later) that too much protein can cause kidney damage. This is not true as dogs can actually consume plenty of proteins without any complications. Earlier researches supposedly about the effects of proteins on dogs were actually done on lab rats and not dogs!

2. Fats

Fats have been blamed for obesity both in humans and in dogs. This is true but they are essential requirements for overall good health. Fats make food more palatable for dogs and can affect how food is stored. They are also necessary for metabolizing fat-soluble vitamins. Dogs need them for healthy skin and coat, kidney function and reproductive health. Good sources of fats include poultry, pork, beef, lamb and fish oils. Plant fats from flaxseed, soybean, and safflower oils can help complete and balance your dog’s food intake. Fats and cholesterol do not affect the cardiovascular condition of dogs so there is a need for you to worry about egg yolks, and fats from meat sources such as chicken, pork beef or lamb being present in the list of ingredients for dog food.

3. Vitamins and Minerals

Dogs need the right amount of vitamins to properly absorb fat and carbohydrates so they can remain in excellent health. It is important to make sure that they are balanced and in the right amount since not being so can give many health problems to your dog. To give an example, calcium and phosphorus must be balanced because if they are,  neither can be effectively used or absorbed by the dog and this, in turn, can make way for the development of muscle or bone problems.  Vitamin E is good for dogs with dry skin and dogs under stress may be helped by Vitamin B-complex and Vitamin C, which the dog can manufacture. Vitamins are of two types, namely: fat-soluble and water-soluble. If not used by the body, water-soluble vitamins are excreted while fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body as fatty tissue.  Water-soluble vitamins include the B-complex, such as riboflavin, thiamine, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, niacin, biotin, choline, folic acid,  and B12; and C, ascorbic acid. B-vitamins help in metabolizing food into energy.  Fat-soluble vitamins are involved in several body functions, including bone formation, eyesight, blood coagulation, and cell stability. These are vitamins A, D, E, and K. Bacteria present in the dog’s intestines can manufacture vitamin K. Lack of vitamin E can lead to reproductive failure, breakdown of muscle tissues, and compromised the immune response. Deficiency in vitamin A can lead to eye problems such as corneal ulcerations, dryness, and conjunctival inflammation. As in humans lack of vitamin D can cause rickets in dogs.  Dogs need minerals that are essential for muscle metabolism, bone formation, nervous system function, and fluid balance. There are two classifications of minerals, namely: major and trace concentrations.  Minerals include calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and magnesium. Trace elements include copper, iron, zinc, manganese,  selenium, cobalt and iodine. Dogs need very small amounts of these trace elements but still, they are very essential to having overall good health.

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