Written by David Reich — Fact checked by Piet Hellemans, DVM
All dog owners must know the importance of dog Nutrition, to understand the science of feeding them. Feed your dog a balanced diet packed with all the essential nutrients.
Nutrition impacts a dog’s behaviour, reports a study.
If you are feeding only homemade food, vegan or vegetarian diet, you might want to revisit your idea.
Get inspired! check out a sample food chart for your dog given below.
The relationships that we share with our pets, especially dogs and cats, have evolved from mere companions to family members. For this reason, their health and well-being often challenges pet owners.
These challenges spring from wrong choices of food, wrong eating habits (which most dogs inculcate from their owners) or feeding any low-quality commercially available food.
Have you ever thought if the food that you provide your dog meets their nutritional needs?
As pet lovers, we want our pet friends to thrive, grow healthy and lead a happy life. And that means feeding them with a variety of fresh nutritious food.
With the pet food industry exploding with an expansive range of ready-made packaged/ canned food, pet owners are bombarded with overwhelmingly expensive choices. In such a scenario, it is important to make purchase decisions based on:
(b)your pet’s personal nutritional needs (consider breed, size, age, health conditions, behaviour, etc)
Let us discuss further.
What is dog nutrition?
The process through which food improves or modifies the health of your dog, is nutrition. Like humans, dogs also need a balanced diet to grow, boost their immune system and maintain optimum health.
Therefore, a nutritious meal plan for your pet must include components from the three major food groups: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. These could come from a combination of food from animal and plant sources. Along with 12 vitamins and minerals and clean water.
What should a dog’s diet consist of?
Diet for your dog can be a combination of home-cooked food, raw diets, and affordable commercially available pet foods. But make sure to feed your dog a balanced high-quality food packed with all the nutrients as per their needs.
The European Pet Food Industry Federation, recommends that dog food must contain 37 essential nutrients. Let us explore.
High-quality proteins are the most essential in a dog diet.
It contains the ten essential amino acids, and are the building blocks for their muscle and tissue development.
They also supply the carbon chains to make glucose for energy.
Source: All meat products, organ meats, egg, rice, wheat, corn, beans, green peas, etc
Fats and essential fatty acid derived from animal and plant sources complement the taste and consistency of the food.
They also help in transporting the required fat-soluble vitamins to the cells.
Essential fatty acids like the omega 3 and 6 groups help maintain skin, coat health, vision, learning, preventing allergies, immune system infections and other physiological functions.
Sources: Pork and Poultry Fat.
Essential fatty acids are sourced from animal fats, plants, and seed oils. Eg, Fish oil, flaxseed oil, and hemp seed oil.
The three main types of carbohydrates are sugar, starch, and fiber.
Sources: High-quality commercial dog foods, legumes, and plant food.
However, the proportion of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats vary depending on your pets’ energy and nutritional requirements. Other equally important factors determining the quality and quantity of food are age, size, breed, stage of life (pregnancy, lactation), health condition, and food intolerances.
The last but important source of energy and nutrition are small quantities of vitamins and mineral groups that are important to carry out metabolic functions and help maintain a dog’s overall health. Calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D are important to keep their bones strong and prevent dental diseases.
Why is nutrition important for dogs?
Although dogs are man’s best friend, did you know that some owners abandon or hand them over to animal shelters?!
Dog owners give up on dogs because they exhibit aggressive or destructive behaviour, disobedience, house soiling, excessive barking, aggression towards people or other animals, running away, and many other behavioral problems.
Recent reports indicate that the lockdown period had shown an increase in demand for puppies in the UK, from people who had no interest in owning a pet before. With little to no idea about dog nutrition, not only do these new owners end up choosing the wrong diet for pets, little do they know that it affects their behavior too!
Have you ever thought about why dogs show bad behavior?
A study aptly points out that canine behavior can be influenced by dietary components. Some of the findings are as follows:
- A protein-rich diet provides the essential amino acids required for the synthesis of enzymes and other proteins. At the same time, amino acids are used as precursors for the synthesis of neurotransmitters and hormones. These modulate and establish chemical messengers directly influencing behavior.
- The diet composition, nutrient availability, and nutrient interactions determine the availability of precursors in the brain, subsequently affecting the behavior or stress resistance of your dog.
- Constant feeding motivation between meals can increase stereotyped behavior, aggression and decreased resting time. But this could be corrected by implementing a high-fiber diet. (keep in mind that different breeds of dogs might respond differently)
- Low to medium-protein diets decrease territorial aggression (excessive barking, aggressive behaviour in the presence of strangers or other animals, including dogs) compared to high-protein diets.
In essence, the study reiterates that dog nutrition is an indispensable contributing factor for behavioral problems. If more research focuses on exploring this correlation, it could positively impact the welfare of dogs.
Therefore observe your pet’s activities and behavior after feeding them a specific meal, consult with your veterinarian and make necessary changes until you achieve the desired outcome.
What should I feed my dog?
The choices of dog food available in the market are overwhelming! Making the right choice is challenging.
Come up with an affordable (budget-friendly) and easy to procure (locally sourced) meal plan. Include a combination of home-cooked, raw food, specially formulated or functional food, fresh, wet, and dry dog food.
If your dog has any specific food allergies or health conditions, consult your vet about the right food choice while they are on medication.
This method would give you the flexibility to alter (reduce or increase) their diet according to change in seasons, level of activity, managing weight, pregnancy, lactation, etc. In this manner, they get good nutrition and stay healthy.
Here is a sample food chart for a healthy dog (for your inspiration).
- Animal products– Meat from beef, lamb, poultry, pork, rabbit, and game provide proteins, amino acids, fats, essential fatty acids, iron, and vitamins.
- Fish are also a great source of protein, low in saturated fats, vitamins, and minerals. They are better digested when cooked. Make sure to remove or crush big fish bones before feeding. Not all fish bones get easily digested or are safe for dogs to swallow. Whitefish, salmon, sardines, catfish, cod, whiting are some safe choices. It is good to avoid sharks, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, and albacore tuna.
- Boiled or scrambled eggs are high-quality, easily digestible proteins, vitamins, and minerals.
- Dairy products – Milk, yogurt, cheese
- Vegetables are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber for dogs. You could feed boiled or canned carrots, peas, beans, celery, Brussel sprouts, spinach, and Broccoli. Raw cucumber is an energy booster, loaded with vitamins C, K, potassium, copper, and magnesium. It also helps bulky dogs lose weight.
- Fruits– Apples, Mangoes, Bananas, oranges, peaches, pear, watermelons.
- Cereals are a good source of carbohydrates and provide energy. You can include corn, rice, wheat, and barley in cooked or processed foods.
- Fats and oils sourced from both animal and plant seeds, suit dogs. Omega 3 and omega 6 are the two essential fatty acids.
Supplementing your dog’s regular diet with additional vitamins and mineral supplements in consultation with your veterinarians ensures that pets receive the required daily dietary intake.
CBD Oil as a source of essential fatty acids
Omega 3 and omega 6 are polyunsaturated fatty acid families consisting of several other fatty acids derived from linoleic acid (LA) and 𝝰-linolenic acid (LNA). But these cannot be naturally synthesized by dogs and have to be supplemented through their diet.
Let us look at some findings from research to understand further:
- Several studies have reported the importance of fatty acids for maintaining health and preventing diseases, including autoimmune diseases, diabetes, chronic inflammation, some types of cancer, etc.
- Studies have proved that hemp seed oil is a complete nutritional source because they exist in the most ideal 3:1 ratio.
- Experts opine that increased omega-3 fatty acids supply energy to body tissues, particularly during the gestational period. And omega- 6 fatty acids for normal reproduction, growth, immune functions, and skin health.
- They also help combat chronic inflammation and promote joint health.
Sources of omega-3 fatty acids can be from fish, eggs, and leafy vegetables. And omega-6 from vegetable oils, sunflower, corn, chicken, pork, and beef meat.
NatuPet CBD oil is from hemp oil, it could be easily supplemented in their diet or orally administered.
In this manner, you can be confident that your dogs have obtained their daily dose of these most important essential fatty acid groups.
How much should I feed my dog?
There are two aspects to consider:
- Frequency of feeding
Besides breed, age, and size, your pet’s energy requirement depends on the stage of life and other essential body functions. So, a simple method to determine quantity is to evaluate calories required per day.
Healthy adult dogs
In general, most veterinarians recommend feeding healthy adult dogs twice a day. Older dogs may need lesser portions. If you have an overweight dog, you might want to control fatty food and keep them active.
Feeding growing puppies could make you feel exhausted sometimes! Especially if you have large breed puppies, they might need three to four feedings in a day. Some puppies might gulp a bowl of food in the blink of an eye and give you an innocent, ‘I want more look!’ So, it is best to feed them small meals spread throughout the day. Do consider their transition time from mothers’ milk to solid food for a healthy weight gain.
On the other hand, small breeds may need feeding once or twice a day. Feed them as per breed-specific caloric requirements at this stage.
According to the number of puppies a female dog has, the frequency to feed your nursing dog might be three to four times a day. Remember to keep the dog hydrated with a lot of fresh water. Small meals spread throughout the day, less dry food replaced with semi-moist, wet food, and soups might also be helpful.
Additionally, when it comes to feeding, keep in mind these important points:
Just like how we feel satisfied and happy after a sumptuous meal, dog food must be palatable and naturally satisfy their hunger. While choosing readymade canned dog food, ensure safety and digestibility.
Never practice feeding your dog table scraps. Human food contains more salt, flavorings, and spices that are not suitable for dogs. Since dogs are more resilient animals, they seem to tolerate human food. But, their biological systems are not aligned to process what we eat.
When trying new food (canned/ dehydrated/frozen/ raw food), introduce small amounts.
Feed fresh food every meal. Avoid giving old/ stale food.
Can I feed my dog human food?
Some owners prefer human food because they prefer high-quality ingredients. But not all human food is safe for pets. Synthetic additives used in food meant for humans could be harmful to dogs.
However, there is no harm in feeding pet foods with human-grade ingredients, sourced from local farms, free from harmful chemicals, pesticides or artificial flavorings, and non-GMO.
But ready-made human food contains too much sugar, sodium chloride, and other spices. These are definitely not meant for dogs.
How are Natupet products vegan?
As a pet owner, it is your right to know that you are feeding your companions safe food. When you include CBD in your pet’s diet, ensure that the CBD is hemp-derived.
NatuPet’s specially developed CBD oil for dogs is labeled vegan to inform and educate pet owners about product ingredients.
NatuPet CBD oils for dogs do not contain ingredients derived from animals or animal by-products. Instead, they focus on delivering much-needed fatty acids as part of a nutritious meal.
Are vegetarian/ vegan diets safe for dogs?
A popular question among vegans and vegetarian dog owners who are enthusiastic to try on their pets.
There are already many pet food brands on the market offering vegan dog food and vegan kibbles.
Nonetheless, dogs are referred to as omnivorous, although they originate from the grey wolf (carnivorous). Domestic dogs have physically evolved but their nature remains species-specific, and so is their eating habits.
While feeding your dog a completely vegetarian or vegan diet may not have harmful or deadly consequences, it will impact their nutrition and physical development, as meat is an essential part of their diet.