Dog Nutrition : As a parent, we always want to give the best for our family—from food and shelter to other basic needs. That being said, as part of our family, dogs also need essential nutrients for their bodies to develop and maintain a healthy and long life.
But it’s not surprising to feel overwhelmed with all these dog food choices in the market nowadays, especially when you see claims written on their packaging such as “complete and balanced.” Our efforts to be sure of this sometimes lead us to ask: are they all really?
It depends on the ingredients! Dog parents should know the essential nutrients their dog needs, how much to feed them and what you need to look for when it comes to a dog food brand. As a pet parent, you can equip yourself with the right knowledge on dog nutrition by reading reviews and, of course, by talking to your veterinarian.
One of the advantages of knowing the essential nutrients your furry friend needs is you won’t be overspending on useless and impractical products anymore. So, how do you know if the food you’re providing your dog meets their nutritional needs? That’s a tough one if you are not equipped with good information.
In this article, we are going to explain and simplify everything you need to know about dog nutrition.
What comprises nutritional and well-balanced dog food?
A complete and balanced diet should include proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. When you hear this, it may seem really simple, right? But, understanding how many nutrients your dog needs, and how each nutrient is utilized and processed in your dog’s body is a bit complicated.
As a responsible pet parent, the important things you need to know about nutrition in dog food are the guidelines for pet food created by the Association of American Feed Control Officials or AAFCO, the nutrients present in your dog’s food, and what these nutrients do.
With AAFCO’s statement of nutritional satisfaction, pet parents can identify products that will surely meet their dog’s nutritional requirements.
Labels required by AAFCO
As we all know, human food product labels are different from that of pets’, so comparing them will be difficult. Proper labeling of pet food and supplements is required in order to help pet parents know how much of each daily nutrient is needed according to life stages.
Dog’s Nutritional Requirements
Just like in humans, this important nutrient is responsible for building and repairing muscles and bones in dogs. It also produces hormones and enzymes and can also be a source of energy.
Dogs or pets, in general, need a total of 22 amino acids, 12 of which are considered non-essential because pets can synthesize them on their own. The remaining 10 are essential amino acids as they cannot be produced naturally in the body, so they must be supplied through their diet.
Sources of protein in dog food and how much does a dog need
The highest amount of amino acids can be sourced from animal proteins such as beef. Since dogs cannot easily digest plant fiber, plant proteins gravitate towards lower digestibility.
Theoretically speaking, dogs can be fed a complete plant-based protein diet. However, other protein sources may be needed in addition to their diet in order to meet their minimum daily requirement that can be absorbed safely.
A growing dog needs 18% dry matter—that’s the minimum dietary protein requirement—and 8% dry matter for a grown dog. This is solely based on high-quality protein. As recommended by AAFCO, a dog’s daily diet should have a minimum of 22% dry matter for their growth and 18% dry matter for their maintenance.
Consider investing in dog food packed with natural and high-quality proteins to ensure your dog is provided with enough protein its body needs. It depends on your dog’s preferred taste, whether it’s from lean meat or poultry. Dog foods provide great taste and are easy to transition to.
Adding carbohydrates to a dog’s diet will supply them with energy and dietary fiber. Depriving your dog of carbs will result in their body taking amino acids away. Growing dogs with high-energy needs require at least 20% carbs in their diet. Foods rich in carbohydrates are grains, whole corn, brown rice, barley, and potatoes to name a few.
They are essential for your dog’s growth and health. As long as you are providing your dog with complete and balanced food, your dog should be getting the important vitamins needed for a healthy and happy lifestyle.
Having read this article, we hope you’ll feel more confident when choosing the right dog food for your four-legged family member. Being well-informed about nutrition is important when parenting. This will help you protect your family members as well as your wallet from buying unhealthy and overpriced products.