Dog nutrition is a big world! And a very important one when it comes to keeping your dog healthy.
You have likely heard the saying “you are what you eat.” That’s as true for dogs as it is for us. Giving your dog the right food and feeding him the right way is key to help them live a longer and healthier life. But don’t kid yourself into thinking there is a “one-size-fits-all” solution. When it comes to dog nutrition, different dogs have different needs so let us jump right into some questions you may have about your dog’s nutrition.
How much should I feed my dog to provide essential nutrients?
Your dog’s diet depends on two things: your dog’s breed and the food you provide. It sounds simple but it is true! Different foods have different nutritional values and caloric values. That is why if you choose food with a high caloric value, you will want to feed your dog a smaller amount. If the dog food you picked has a lower caloric value, you will have to provide larger portions.
This is because regardless of the food you choose, your dog needs a set number of calories per day. No more and no less! You can find the number of calories in dog food by checking the nutritional label on the package.
How many calories does my dog need?
To determine the ideal number of calories for your dog, you will need to start by evaluating whether your dog is at its ideal weight. Purina’s article explains that you can evaluate your dog’s weight by feeling their ribs, checking their profile, or looking at them from an overhead angle.
If your dog is showing signs that it is at their ideal weight, then you will need to remember that number for the next step. If your dog’s weight is not ideal, you will want to determine their ideal weight. Although there is not a straightforward formula to calculate how many calories every dog needs, the formula below should give you an idea:
30 x weight in kg (or pounds divided by 2.2) + 70 = daily caloric needs
If you’re not one for numbers, you can always use the calorie calculator at the Pet Nutrition Alliance website. Now that you know how to determine the amount of calories your dog needs in a day and the amount of calories in a serving of your dog food you can calculate the amount of food you need to feed them daily. Most dog food packages even come with daily recommendations by weight.
Keep in mind that you want to feed your dog based on their ideal weight, not their current one, in case they are over or underweight.
What are essential nutrients and why does your dog need them?
Nutrients are what provide our bodies everything it needs for its basic functions. Essential nutrients are the ones that we are only able to get through our diet because our bodies aren’t able to produce the required amounts.
There are seven main types of nutrients which are:
- Proteins: The building blocks of cells, tissues, organs, enzymes, hormones, and antibodies
- Carbohydrates: The biggest providers of calories
- Fiber: Maintains a healthy bacteria balance in the digestive system.
- Fats: An important key to the structure of cells. Crucial to produce hormones and absorb some vitamins
- Minerals: Important in the structure of bones and teeth
- Vitamins: Needed for the normal cell function, growth, and development
- Water: This one does not need any introduction as it makes up 60-70% of the average person’s total body weight
What to look for when choosing dog food
As mentioned earlier, there is not an exact diet that fits the needs of every dog. The ideal diet largely depends on the dog’s breed, activity level and age. Still, to get a feel for what works best for dog, PetMD, explains the ideal the parameters for a dog’s balanced diet are:
- Protein: 18-25%
- Carbohydrates: 30-70%
- Fat: 10-15%
As for minerals and vitamins, if your dog has a balanced diet, you won’t need to worry about those because their normal diet will already provide the required nutrients. If your dog has a health condition that requires additional supplements you should always check with your vet before changing your dog’s diet.
When evaluating dog food, you will also want to consider the moisture levels because it impacts the balance of other nutrients. Most dry dog food brands have moisture compositions of between six and ten percent, semi-moist foods are between 15 and 30 percent, and wet dog foods typically have around 75% moisture. Regardless of the brand of dog food you provide your pet, you will need to ensure your dog always has fresh and clean water available.
Making sense of these tips to improve your dog’s nutrition
By giving your dog a well-balanced diet you’re able to help them live a longer and happier life simply because they won’t be missing any important nutrients from their diet. Remember, you don’t need to give your dog treats and table scraps all the time to prove your love. In fact, these should not make up for more than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake.
Even when your dog gives you that incredibly cute and pleading look, you must stay strong! Bad eating habits can easily lead to health problems for your dog later on. As noted earlier in this article, it is always a good idea to include your vet when in any conversation that concerns your dog’s diet, so it is optimized for their needs.