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Dog Food: Your #1 Guide to Pick the Best for Your Buddy

What’s the deal about dog food?

The friendship between humans and our furry four-legged companions goes way back. After being domesticated, people have been keeping them for protection, work, and as friends.

There are so many good things about dogs that people can ask you to list 100 reasons why you love your dog and you will find it easy to answer. Dogs are only here for a short time in our life, so this is why it’s so important to take care of their health and happiness.

happy dog hugging boy on a street
Dogs Are Our Best Friend, So We Should Give Them the Best Dog Food

What can we do as responsible owners to keep them healthy? We can start with the things necessary for their survival – their dog food.

What is a dog’s natural diet? What should be inside your dog’s food? Does the dog food you’re providing have enough nutrition? Can you feed your dog human food every day?

A better understanding of how dogs use the various nutrients in dog food and the proportion they need can help you contribute to a healthier life for your pet.

What Is a Dog’s Natural Diet?

Unlike cats who are obligate carnivores, dogs are descended from omnivores. What does that mean?

Cats have to eat meat to survive, but dogs are not strict meat-eaters. Most dogs aren’t picky about their dog food and they are adaptable to a wide range of ingredients, textures, and forms in terms of what they will eat. Basically, your dog can get protein from animal-based food or from a vegetarian diet.

The “Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats” by the National Academy of Sciences explains that normal adult dogs should get at least 10% of their total calories from protein. Older dogs need as much as 50% more. So, you can feed your dogs both meat and vegetables!

What Should Be Inside My Dog’s Food?

little pug in the grass with a bone in its mouth
Delight Your Dog With Treats and Snacks

Every dog’s needs are unique – its nutritional needs depend on its size, breed, stage in life, activities, and so on.

Your dog needs several different kinds of nutrients to survive and do normal activities in its daily life. These nutrients include amino acids from proteins, fatty acids and carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water.

In terms of calories, energy comes from three major dietary components: carbohydrates, protein, and fats.

Protein

Dogs can’t make essential protein naturally from their own bodies. There are 10 essential amino acids that dogs need and must be supplied in the diet.

Essential amino acids include:

  • Arginine
  • Methionine
  • Histidine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Isoleucine
  • Threonine
  • Leucine
  • Tryptophan
  • Lysine
  • Valine.

Non-essential amino acids can be synthesised by your pet’s body and are not needed in the diet.

Protein is needed inside cells, tissues, organs, enzymes, hormones, and antibodies, and are essential for growth, maintenance, reproduction, and repair.

There are two sources of protein you can get for your dog: animal-based protein and plant-based protein.

Animal-based proteins such as chicken, lamb, turkey, beef, fish, and egg have complete amino acid profiles. Plant-based proteins are in vegetables, cereals, and soy, but these are considered incomplete proteins.

Fatty Acids

You might think that it’s bad for your dog to eat fatty food and you’re afraid of making your dog obese.

It is not wrong, but it is only risky if you give them too much. Giving the right amount of fats is important because they are the most concentrated form of food energy, providing your pet with more than twice the energy of proteins or carbohydrates.

pug looking hungry with tongue out
How Much Fat for Your Dog Is Enough?

What’s good about fats? They are needed for cell structure and for the production of some hormones.  Without fats, fat-soluble vitamins, like Vitamin A, D, E, and K can’t be absorbed into the body.

They also protect our pets’ internal organs from damage and can be used as energy if the body doesn’t have any carbs left to use. They make the taste and texture of the dog food better as well.

Essential fatty acids are good for your dog’s skin and coat.  A deficiency of essential fatty acids may result in reduced growth or increased skin problems. Linoleic acid is an essential fatty acid for dogs.

Other important essential fatty acids are Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids. They play a vital role in healing inflammation.

Studies have shown their benefits for improving inflammation in the skin, joints, intestines, and kidneys. If your dog doesn’t take enough Omega-3, it might have vision problems and an impaired learning ability. Omega-6 is also important for physiological effects in the body.

Carbohydrates

As an omnivore, dogs can get their carbs from sugars, starches, and dietary fibre.

These things can be found in cereals, legumes, and other plant foodstuffs. Absorbable carbs, like glucose and fructose, can be absorbed directly.

Digestible carbs need to be digested with the body’s enzymes. Carbs are the first choice for the body’s energy needs. Keep in mind that for puppies, high-fibre dog food is not recommended.

Vitamins for Dogs

Vitamins are needed for dogs’ metabolic activities.  They need a small number of vitamins for their metabolism and most of them can’t be synthesised in the body, so we should include them in their diet.

A lack of vitamins or hypovitaminosis in dogs can happen, but giving them too much is also not good as they can get hypervitaminosis or poisoning due to an excess amount of vitamins.

Keep in mind that you should consult your vet first before giving any vitamin supplements.

little toddler girl sitting with a big golden retriever beside a cherry bush
Giving Vitamins to Dogs

Check out the list of vitamins, their functions, and how much you should give to your dog (*per the daily needs for an adult dog weighing 33 pounds, consuming 1,000 calories per day. g = grams; mg = milligrams; μg = micrograms):

Vitamin A for a Dog’s Nutrient Needs

  1. Functions: eyesight, growth, immune system, good for pregnant dogs
  2. Recommended allowance: 379 μg
  3. Lack of Vitamin A: loss of appetite, weight loss, eye problems, skin problems, easier to get sick
  4. Excess Vitamin A: not good for dog’s bone and its blood vessels, dehydration, joint pain

Vitamin D for a Dog’s Nutrient Needs

  1. Functions: bone health
  2. Recommended allowance: 3.4 μg
  3. Lack of Vitamin D: lethargy, loss of muscles, bone swelling, and bending
  4. Excess Vitamin D: loss of appetite, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, dry hair

Vitamin E for a Dog’s Nutrient Needs

  1. Functions: antioxidant
  2. Recommended allowance: 8 μg
  3. Lack of Vitamin E: degeneration of bones and muscles, bad reproductivity, bad eyesight
  4. Excess Vitamin E: –

Vitamin K for a Dog’s Nutrient Needs

  1. Functions: wound healing and bone’s protein
  2. Recommended allowance: 0.41 mg
  3. Lack of Vitamin K: –
  4. Excess Vit K: –

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) for a Dog’s Nutrient Needs

  1. Functions: body metabolism
  2. Recommended allowance: 0.56 mg
  3. Lack of Vitamin B1: poor growth, weight loss, bad reflex in puppies, heart problem in adult dogs
  4. Excess Vitamin B1: –

Vitamin B6 for a Dog’s Nutrient Needs

  1. Functions: good for blood circulation, body metabolism, strengthens the immune system
  2. Recommended allowance: 0.4 mg
  3. Lack of Vitamin B6: loss of appetite, weight loss in puppies, convulsions, muscle twitching, and anemia in adult dogs
  4. Excess Vitamin B6: poor motor control and balance, muscle weakness

Vitamin B12 for a Dog’s Nutrient Needs

  1. Function: enzyme metabolism
  2. Recommended allowance: 9 μg
  3. Lack of Vitamin B12: loss of appetite, poor body defense mechanism, anaemia
  4. Excess Vitamin B12 : –

Minerals

Like vitamins, minerals are also needed for your dogs to keep them healthy.

There are 12 essential minerals nutrients for dogs, which are:

  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Chlorine
  • Iron
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Manganese
  • Selenium
  • Iodine

To sum it all up, minerals are the most important for bones and teeth, maintaining fluid balance.

They also play an important role in many metabolic reactions.

Water for Dogs

Last but not least, is water. Water is the most important nutrient as it holds 60-70% of an adult pet’s body weight.

Your pets need to have clean water available all the time. Water deficiency can cause dehydration.

Dehydration is a serious problem because just 10% of dehydration in the body can cause serious illness, while a 15% loss can result in death.

dog lapping at a big bowl of water on a grass patch
Dogs Drink Plenty of Water to Stay Cool

Does Your Dog Food Have Enough Nutrition?

Dogs eat larger but less frequent meals than cats do. It is fine to feed an adult dog once or twice per day. Puppies, however, need two to three daily meals.

If you’re wondering whether you’re giving too much or too little dog food to your dog, one way to know if you are doing a good job is to see your dog’s body.

There are ways to know their body’s condition, with the most common one called a body score index. You can also check whether they are underweight, at an ideal weight, or overweight.

How do you tell? Let’s find out:

Underweight

If you can see your dog’s ribs, backbones, hip bones, and you feel no fat or muscle on the bones, your dog is not getting enough food.

Adult dogs who are underfed will be unlikely to do anything and are easier to get sick.

This is a bad thing if it happens to pregnant or nursing dogs as this can lead to seizures and fever. Puppies may have stunted growth and adult dogs may get osteoporosis.

Ideal

If you can feel your dog’s ribs, see its waist when viewed from above, see its tummy tuck when viewed from a side, your dog has an ideal weight.

A healthy dog will show you clear eyes and a slightly wet nose. You can also see their hair and coat because a healthy dog will have a nice shiny coat.

2 puppies playing around in the grass
Feed Your Dog the Dog Food They Love

Overweight

If you can’t feel your dog’s ribs, see fat deposits over his back and his tail, its waist behind the ribs from above, and its tummy tuck, your dog is obese.

It’s more common for older and neutered dogs to get obese because they are becoming more passive. Keep in mind that if your dog is overweight, their risk of diabetes, bone inflammation, and other heart-related problems may increase.

Does Your Dog Have Sensitive Skin?

Has your dog been having hair loss or itching and reddish skin and you can’t find any ticks or fleas?

There are chances that your dog might be having sensitive skin. Dogs with sensitive skin are more prone to allergies.

This is because their body reacts to things, such as dog food or the environment, as an allergen to their immune system. If you have eczema, when you eat everything in sight, your skin starts to flare up because some foods are likely to cause inflammation.

Just like us humans, dogs with sensitive skin can’t eat carelessly. You want to be choosing a specific dog food that is meant for dogs with sensitive skin.

Does Your Dog’s Mouth Smell Bad?

Your dog’s bad breath is not something to be taken lightly because it might be a sign of dental disease.

Dental disease can be a source of infection that can spread into other parts of their body, including their heart, kidney, and liver.

To take care of their teeth, there are some products that can reduce tartar and plaque accumulation. One of the easiest ways is to give dogs dental chews as some of them won’t let you brush their teeth.

Is Your Dog Pregnant?

If your dog is becoming a mother, you might want to consider getting a milk replacer as additional nutrition for the pups. Sometimes, lactating mother dogs have trouble producing milk.

Other times, they may give birth to too many puppies, particularly for big dog breeds.

To prevent them from giving too much milk which leads to hypocalcemia (very low calcium level in their body), it’s okay to give the mother a break by giving the puppies a milk replacer.

Can I Feed My Dog Human Food Every Day?

The answer is yes and no, because even though there are plenty of human foods that your dog can safely eat, there are also many things they need to avoid. This means you can’t give them a 100% human food diet.

For example, yes, you can give them meat or chicken, but you should take caution and reconsider if it’s too salty for your dog.

yorkshire terrier dog rolling in the grass chewing a bone
Give Your Dog Healthy Food

There are many types of food that you absolutely cannot give to your dog as they can affect your dog’s health.

According to the Charleston Animal Society, here are some examples of the human food you cannot give to your dog:

  • Alcoholic beverages (they can cause coma and even death)
  • Cat food (it’s generally too high in protein and fats)
  • Caffeine (it can be toxic, and adversely affect the heart and nervous system)
  • Chocolate (in large amounts, chocolate can also be toxic)
  • Fat trimmings (they can cause pancreatitis)
  • Raisins and grapes (they can damage the kidneys)

Dogs Are Our Best Friends- Feed Them the Best Dog Food!

There are many indicators of good dog food. If you’re too busy to pick what your dog can eat, it’s best to feed your dog high-quality dog food.

There are many types of high-quality dog food for sale, so read the labels and ask your vet if you are unsure.

Basically, there are two types of dog food, dry dog food, and wet dog food. It’s easier to serve dry dog food as they are less likely to smell, spoil, and are healthier for your dog’s teeth.

As for wet dog food, many people use them as a treat or when they have to give medicine to their dogs.

Wet dog food is also great because many of them have complete nutrients and they are good to increase your dog’s water intake because they have greater water moisture than dry alternatives.

Speaking from experience, it is worth it to keep our dogs healthier by picking the best dog food, because their company is worth more than anything in the world.

If you’re still confused about what your four-legged best friend should eat, consult your vet. We know that you only want the best for them.

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