Are you looking for what to feed your dogs to keep them happy and healthy? You certainly want to make sure your dog gets the best possible nutrition. There are many options, and making the best choice for your dog can be overwhelming. The vet’s guide to healthy dog diets will prove essential.
This article will focus on critical areas of understanding your dog’s nutritional needs and how to read dog food labels carefully. It will highlight every vital step you need to know so that you can make an informed decision about feeding your furry friend.
So, let’s dive in and give your pup the best possible start.
Understanding your dog’s nutritional needs
As omnivorous, that means dogs consume both animal and plant-based foods. They need six primary nutrients: water, protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. They need clean water to remain hydrated and regulate their body temperature; they should always have access to fresh water.
Protein is needed for tissue growth and repair. Fat is a concentrated energy source and aids in the absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K. Dogs also need vitamins and minerals to support their immune system, maintain healthy skin and fur, and boost bone development.
On average, dogs need a daily calorie intake of 30 calories per pound; this may vary depending on breed, body weight, level of activity, and age.
Look for a high-quality dog food brand that satisfies their particular nutritional needs. Select a dog food labeled “complete and balanced” with a specific protein source as the first ingredient, such as chicken or beef.
Reading dog food labels
Reading dog food labels is essential to ensure your dog has a well-balanced diet. Labels provide information on the ingredients, nutritional value, and feeding guidelines.
The first ingredient on the list indicates the main ingredient in dog food. For example, if the first ingredient is chicken, the dog food should contain mostly chicken. However, be aware that some manufacturers use meat by-products, which can include lower-quality cuts such as chicken feet and beaks.
The guaranteed analysis lists the minimum and maximum protein, fat, fiber, and moisture percentages. This information can help determine if the dog food meets your dog’s nutritional needs.
The AAFCO statement indicates if the dog food is formulated to meet the nutritional requirements for a specific life stage, such as puppy or adult.
Feeding your dog
The quantity of food your dog needs may depend on the dog’s age, level of activity and general health. If you overfeed your dog, it might result in obesity, while underfeeding results in malnutrition. Generally, feed your adult once or twice daily, and feed puppies more frequently.
To avoid overfeeding, always remember to measure the quantity of food you feed your dog and have a standard measuring cup to keep consistent portions.
Though spoiling your dog with table scraps and treats might be tempting, limit their consumption. Table scraps and treats may result in weight gain and other adverse health issues, such as pancreatitis.
A survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention shows that 56% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. Hence, you need to pay attention to your dog’s nutritional needs.
To avoid having an obese and overweight dog, cut treats to at least 10% or less of their daily calorie consumption. Treats can be very high in calories, leading to weight gain; therefore, they should be moderate. Select low-calorie treats that are made with healthy ingredients.
Select the correct diet for your dog
There are various kinds of dog food—for example, wet food, raw food, and kibble—each with its positives and downsides. Your dog’s specific needs and preferences are the basis for your best choice.
Dry kibble is the most common dog food and is easy to store and serve. It is also usually more affordable than other forms of dog food. But some dry kibble can be higher in carbohydrates and preservation agents. Therefore, choose a high-quality brand that meets your dog’s nutritional needs.
Wet food may be a good option for dogs who need extra hydration and have chewing issues. Though more expensive than kibble, it may be a good treat for dogs with higher protein demand or fat content.
This option is based on the principle that dogs should eat a diet similar to their wild ancestors, such as raw bones, meats, and organs. Raw food diets are becoming more and more popular among pet owners.
But preparing a raw food diet can be difficult and may not meet your dog’s specific nutritional needs. Hence, contact a veterinarian for professional advice before you proceed with a raw food diet.
For dogs with health issues like obesity, allergies, and indigestion, specialty diets are essential. They are the ideal option because they are designed to satisfy their particular nutritional requirements.
Vegetable oil can be a valuable addition to your dog’s diet, but it’s essential to use it sparingly and comply with your vet’s recommendations, according to independent veterinarian Aisling O’Keeffe.
Final thoughts on a healthy dog diet
For the general well-being of your dog, it needs a healthy, balanced diet. Choose a high-quality dog food that meets their overall nutritional needs; this will help avoid overfeeding and underfeeding.
Read dog food labels carefully before choosing, and consult your vet for more clarifications about your dog’s diet.
Apply these suggestions to help your dog stay happy and healthy.
Richard Thomas has been a freelance animal and pet care writer for over a decade. He also is a volunteer dedicated to animal rescue and welfare, working for different organizations. He lives with two adopted cats and a rescue dog.