Dog Nutrition 101 - The Basic Guide to Feeding Your Dog
Updated: Aug 20, 2021
Every owner wants the best for their waggy-tailed buddy, but understanding the nutritional needs of dogs can be mind boggling. Binging articles online can often leave you feeling more confused than before! It often isn’t just about preventing your dog from getting too chonky, but also to prevent and manage health issues they might be prone to developing. Good news for your pet pal is
Fret no more, for we’ve put together this beginner’s guide to dog food nutrition! We’re going to keep the scientific jargon out and make this a simple guide, so do conduct some additional research on your own if any areas are still grey!
What does a ‘good’ doggy diet look like?
Dogs need a balanced and complete diet for them to be able to lead the best woofy lifestyle they can. Providing high quality food with the right amounts of fats, protein, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins can achieve that. Here is a list of the nutritional categories you should look out for to improve the immunity, energy, and overall developmental health of your pet!
Protein sources and fats
Meat! Meat! Meat! Meat is the most efficient deliverer of proteins, which are made up of chains of amino acids. Proteins get broken down in the stomach, leaving amino acids which get absorbed into the bloodstream and repairs muscles and tissue. This is why protein and amino acids are a key component in your dog’s diet as the building blocks of the body.
A dog’s optimum protein diet consists of 22 kinds of amino acids. Of the 22, they are able to produce only 12 in their bodies, making it critical for their meals to contain the remaining 10 essential amino acids.
Amino acids help build healthy muscles, fur, hair, skin, and strengthen joints and tendons. They are also essential for a strong immune system and a luscious coat of hair!
Protein can be derived from:
Fish, real meat, eggs, corn, cheese, and even peanut butter!
Our furry pals are after all, descendants of wolves, and they have evolved to digest animal-based protein best which is why the most popular protein sources are:
Beef, pork, chicken, turkey, duck, salmon and venison.
Not consuming enough protein could lead to malnutrition, resulting in weight loss, nausea, and diarrhea in dogs. It would also cause their coats to look dull and weaken their energy levels and immune system to the point that it makes them more susceptible to illness and diseases.
The ongoing pandemic has made us more conscious about what we consume, and this has trickled down to how we care for our fur babies. Ever heard of ‘superfoods’, or have you been taking them yourself without knowing that your dogs can reap the same benefits from them?
Superfoods are food ingredients that are power packed with beneficial nutrients such as fiber, vitamins A and E, minerals and beta-carotene, and can be used as an additional boost for your pet’s meals.
Some examples of superfoods that provide such nutrient boosts include:
Blueberries, broccoli, green tripe, chia seeds, pumpkins, turmeric, salmon and carrots
Pumpkins are filled with prebiotics, vitamins A, C, and E as well as potassium, magnesium and iron. Favoured as superfoods for their high fiber content, pumpkins help improve overall digestive health and bowel movements, solidifying watery poops and preventing diarrhea.
Green tripe is another superfood especially beneficial to cats and dogs. It is the stomach lining of herbivorous, even toed hoofed animals such as deers, sheep, and cows. Unlike the white tripe that humans consume, green tripe is brown with greenish stains from plant-based diets. Due to it not being bleached and processed green tripe is able to retain a bulk of its nutrients such as being rich in probiotics to maintain healthy intestinal health. It also contains essential fatty acids such as omega 3 and omega 6 which help regulate blood pressure and reduce inflammation.
Minerals and Vitamins
Did you know that dogs are able to synthesise vitamin C in their own livers? That’s why most dog foods don’t come with vitamin C. Dog foods that contain essential minerals and vitamins in them often come labeled as ‘complete and balanced’.
Minerals and vitamins are vital for regulating a huge range of bodily functions, such as repairing body cells, healing wounds, forming strong bones and teeth, and strengthening our immune system. Look out for dog foods that provide vitamin A, D, E, K, B-complex vitamins, calcium, as well as phosphorus.
To put it simply, probiotics are the ‘good bacteria’ that are able to rebalance the gut and boost digestive health. They prevent harmful bacteria from ‘colonising’ your dog’s digestive system and making them sick, which happens often during times of stress, illness or malnourishment! By introducing healthy bacteria into your pet’s system, they will be better able to combat obesity, leaky gut, diarrhea and other bowel diseases, urinary tract infections, and more.
In foods, probiotics can be obtained from eating bananas, honey and yoghurt (only feed them unsweetened and plain to dogs)! As a side note, keep your dog from artificially sweetened products at all costs, as some of them contain xylitol which is highly toxic to them. It can be found in baked goods, sugar-free products like gum and baked goods, as well as toothpaste.
Besides providing probiotics found in natural foods or buying dog foods already infused with them, dog-specific probiotics can also be fed to your furkid in products that can come in powder and pill forms. Here is a list of the species-specific probiotics that are beneficial to your little one: