One of the questions new dog owners ask their veterinarians is “What food should I feed my dog.?
Under normal circumstances, dogs nutritional needs can be met by eating a combination of plant and animal foods. The quality and digestibility of your dogs foods are very important.
Veterinarians have reported that dogs that have only had meat diets have come into their offices in poor health. Their owners assumed that the labels on pet products described the ingredients as containing the proper ingredients. The combination of foods that make up the protein may not be as digestible as your dog needs.
A well-balanced diet is essential to your dog’s health and well-being.
- Water – Water makes up about 70% of a dog’s body mass. Water is crucial in the functioning of a dog’s bodily functions. Water dissolves and transports nutrients to the cells, helps regulate body temperature, breaks down protein, fats and carbohydrates for digestion, cushions organs and the nervous systems and flushes waste from the body. A dog will drink as much water as its body needs. There should always be a bowl of water available for your dog.
- Protein – Protein supplies energy. It also provides amino acids which are critical to life. Proteins give the body strong hair, skin, muscles and bones. They are also necessary for the body to function at its best. Your dog needs protein daily because the body does not store it. Sources of protein are meats, fish, eggs, beans and lentils.
- Fats – Fats are also a source of energy. They provide omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, Also, fats enable the absorption of vitamins, protects organs, regulates body temperature and promotes a healthy nervous system. Too much fat is not healthy for your dog. Good sources of fat are low-mercury fish and fish oil, flax seed and hemp seed.
- Vitamins – If your dog is on a home-cooked diet, you should be giving him vitamins. If you are feeding your dog a commercial well-balanced food, vitamins are not necessary. Vitamins reduce calcium and phosphorus levels, Vitamin A boosts the immune system. Vitamins C and E serves as antioxidants. Vitamin K enables the blood to clot and Vitamin B12 maintains the nervous system.
- Minerals – Minerals perform functions that are necessary in supporting life. Sodium, chloride, and potassium regulate balance. Sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium aid the nervous system. Calcium and phosphorus make up a large part of bones. Iron carries oxygen throughout the body. Zinc helps healing and selenium provides antioxidant support. Sources of minerals are meats, organ meats and shellfish.
- Carbohydrates – Carbohydrates are not an essential nutrient for your dog. However, carbohydrates are the main source of glucose. Healthy carbohydrates are a source of important vitamins, minerals antioxidants and plant-based nutrients. Sources of healthy carbohydrates are dog-friendly vegetables, fruits and legumes.
It is important to select a nutritional and high quality food that is digestible for your dog. When selecting a food you should read the ingredients. You should be familiar with most of the ingredients. If they are not familiar to you, look for a different dog food.
Proteins should be the first ingredient listed. Stay away from foods that use generic meat meal. The actual meats should be listed.
Also, the food should contain whole, fruit, vegetables and whole grains that contain entire grain kernel.
It should contain natural preservatives like vitamins E and vitamin C, or antioxidants.
Try to select a dog food low in calories, ideally less than 350 calories a cup. Ask your veterinarian to determine how many calories a day your dog should eat.
Your dog should be fed once or twice a day. It’s up to you. Many people choose according to their schedules. Always make sure water is available for your dog while being fed.
The choice of dry or canned (wet) food is your decision. They are basically the same as far as nutrition value. Dogs with special diets may require wet food. Also, veterinarians may recommend dry food as a way to clean plaque from your dog’s teeth.
Different Stages Of Life
Your dog’s nutritional needs may change as your dog goes through different stages of his life. A puppy, senior dog, or nursing dog will have different nutritional needs. Veterinarians recommend special foods for those various stages in ensure the health and well-being of your dog.
Because puppies are growing, they need to eat six times a day. There are good quality puppy foods available. Your puppy should be eating puppy food for 12 months.
Senior dogs above 7 years require a dog food with fewer calories and higher in protein. Consult your veterinarian about a food for your senior dog.
When selecting treats for your dog, you should also select a high quality treat. Treats should be organic, whole food ingredients, such as meats, whole grains, lots of good fruits and/or vegetables and natural food-based sweetness.
Remember, giving your dog treats is okay but too much is not good for your dog’s health. Treats are high in calories. You always want to avoid obesity.
Feed your dog the highest quality of food you can afford.
If you prefer to cook food for your dog, make sure it contains all the nutrients he needs. Home-cooked food will probably need vitamin supplements.
If a commercial dog food is your preference, choose a high-quality, well balanced food.
As a doggie parent, it is your responsibility to provide your dog with best and healthier\st diet possible.