Like us, dogs require a balanced and wholesome diet to lead happy, healthy lives. If you are here wanting to learn about balancing dog nutrition, it shows your care and devotion for your furry friend. So stay here as we will walk you through an essential guide to ensuring a balanced diet for your dogs.
Understanding the Basics
Just like us, dogs require a well-balanced diet to thrive. The key to achieving this lies in understanding the fundamental components of canine nutrition. Dogs need a combination of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals to maintain optimal health. In addition, water is also an important part of a dog’s nutritious diet.
However, enlisting the key ingredients in a dog’s diet is easy. However, understanding how each nutrient should go in your dog’s body is complex. Many dog owners question how to ensure their dog gets the right food. You can go with breed-specific food for purebreds. But what if you have a cross-breed? You might not find breed-specific food for crossbreeds, so understanding a dog's nutritional needs is crucial to finding the right food. You can follow AAFCO’s guidelines while picking commercial dog food.
Guidelines for a Complete and Balanced Dog Food
Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is a private, non-profit organization that has set some guidelines for the nutritional needs of pets. AAFCO recommends that animal feed and pet food products undergo a detailed assessment to ensure they contain the necessary nutrients. The nutritional adequacy statement by AAFCO assists pet parents in identifying products that meet the daily nutrient requirements of their four-legged friends. According to AAFCO, these eight things should be present in the bag or can of your dog’s food:
- Brand name and product name
- Species for which the food is intended
- Quality statement
- Percentage of each of the nutrients included in the food
- Nutritional Adequacy Statement
- Ingredient statement
- Feeding Directions
- Name and address of distributor or manufacturer
Key Nutrients Required in Dog’s Food
Dogs require different types of nutrients to ensure their proper functioning and well-being. These include carbohydrates, fats, proteins, minerals, and water. So how much of each nutrient should your dog's diet include? It depends on several factors, such as their breed, size, and age. However, there is a minimum requirement for each nutrient which must be fulfilled to maintain good health. If you understand how your dog uses these nutrients and how much they require, you can choose healthy food for your dog.
According to AAFCO, your dog must have these 6 essential nutrients to support their life and function.
The research says the daily diet of an adult dog should contain up to 50% carbohydrates by weight, 5.5% fats, and 10% protein.
Proteins are the foundation of your dog's diet. Your pup won't even survive if you skip proteins in their die. The dietary protein contains 10 essential amino acids the body cannot produce naturally. These amino acids are crucial in muscle development, repair, and growth. Besides, they donate their carbon chain to make glucose for energy. Some studies show that dogs avoid food if it lacks even a single essential amino acid.
While 'fat' might have negative connotations, fats are essential to a dog's diet. Fats provide a concentrated energy source and are vital for absorbing fat-soluble vitamins. Opt for healthy fats like those found in fish oil and flaxseed to promote a shiny coat and support cognitive function. If your pups are fed an ultra-low fat diet, they may have dry skin and skin lesions with increased infection vulnerability.
Dogs require a certain amount of energy to carry out their daily activities. Exercise, lactation, pregnancy, and growth increase the exercise needs of their body. A major source of energy for dogs is carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Commercial dog food containing carbohydrates comprises legumes and cereals.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins are organic compounds that participate in metabolic activities. Even if minute amounts, vitamins should be a part of your dog’s daily diet. Vitamin C deficiency is one of the earliest known illnesses in dogs. Similarly, minerals, such as calcium and phosphorus, strengthen teeth and bones in dogs. A well-rounded diet that includes a variety of foods can help ensure your dog gets the essential vitamins and minerals they need.
Even if your dog loses half of the protein and all the fats in his diet, he can survive. But if your furry friend loses just 10 percent of water in his body, he will die. Water constitutes half of the body weight of your dog’s body. Canned food contains considerable water, but it’s not enough, so ensure your dog always has easy access to clean water.
Which human foods are poisonous to dogs?
While it may sound tempting to feed your dog with a table scrap or share your food with them, you should know that certain foods are quite risky for your dogs.
A few examples:
- Cooked bones
How Frequently Should You Feed Your Dog?
You may love to feed your dog multiple times a day. But remember, this can lead to obesity which causes serious health issues, such as diabetes and heart disease. Therefore, your adult dog should be fed once or twice a day. You can also consult your vet to design a feeding schedule for your dog.
A well-nourished dog is healthier, more energetic, happier, and likely to live a longer life. As a responsible pet owner, you should invest time and effort into understanding and meeting your dog's nutritional needs.
You should always opt for a quality diet with fresh ingredients so your dog can process it easily and live a healthier life.
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