Caring for your dogs means spending long hours learning about their needs and how to fulfil them in a healthy way. Cost always plays a role be it in grooming, feeding or supplementing our dogs.
To cut the long hours of research for you, we’ve put together this comprehensive page where you’ll find all the information you need to provide your dog with the care it needs.
Often, dogs suffer from certain health issues because of vitamin or mineral deficiency. A dog’s body needs to receive from its diet a balanced ratio of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, trace elements, and vitamins. Nutritional needs of the dogs depend on their age, their breed, and their overall health condition.
As a dog breeder or dog owner, you should have a basic understanding of the nutritional requirements of dogs. It will help you select the most nutritious food for your dog without a need for any additional supplements. Moreover, you can prepare a balanced diet at home if you know what your dog’s body asks for each day.
Proteins & Amino acids
Proteins are a must-have ingredient in a dog’s food. Protein macromolecules are made of amino acids, and a dog’s body cannot manufacture around 10 of them, called essential amino acids. So, the dog’s diet and food intake will fulfil the need for those essential amino acids.
Protein functions by providing energy to the body. It also helps to heel muscle cramps by building strong bones and muscles. The essential amino-acids repair the body tissues of dogs quickly. They are good for a healthy skin and hair.
Studies have shown that dogs can sniff the absence of a signal essential amino acid in their food. They might be skipping meals because of lack of any of the essential amino acid. Dogs love to have food that’s high in protein. High protein concentrations are found in poultry, beef, fish, cheese, eggs, lamb, and soybean.
Carbohydrates are pure energy sources and provide immediate, as well as sustainable, fuel to dogs. Carbohydrates in the form of fibers keep your dog satiated for a long time; and prevent him from over-eating.
Ingesting more carbohydrates than needed is the main source of several health problems so be careful with quantities. Indeed, high concentration of carbohydrates in the food of less-active dogs can cause obesity. Excess carbohydrates are eventually stored as fat cells in the body. On the contrary, a low concentration of carbohydrates in the dog food of active dogs can cause inactivity and anxiety.
Carbohydrates are commonly found in rice, oats, corn, barley, and wheat.
Fats & Fatty Acids
Fats or essential fatty acids are a long-term energy dose for dogs, and are mainly used to maintain the a dog’s body mechanics including hormonal system, coat, vital organs, cognitive functions, etc. Fats play a vital role in maintaining cell structure and normal cell functions. A healthy skin and coat are a blessing of fatty foods. Fats also assist in the absorption of certain vitamins by the body. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for better vision and memory.
However, an excessive consumption of fatty foods leads to obesity, heart problems, and arthritis. Lack of fats might make the food tasteless and less fun-to-eat. Moreover, dogs can also develop dry skins and hair problems. Fats and fatty acids are commonly found in meats, fatty fish oil, milk, offals, and vegetable oils.
Minerals are essential for proper functioning of body and mind, normal growth of young puppies, and for enzyme assistance. Mineral deficiency will lead to some health complications in dogs. A quantity of minerals in daily diet has a great impact. For example, less calcium intake can cause hyperparathyroidism. Excessive intake of calcium can cause skeletal problems in young growing pups.
The key with minerals, and because there are so many of them, is the vary ingredients so you will eventually cover your dog’s needs. Change vegetables, change meats, change meat parts, and don’t be afraid to try new things (offals, fish, etc)!
Essential mineral nutrients for a balanced diet are:
- Calcium: Calcium is required in a large quantity for hyperactive dogs. It is essential for bone and teeth health. It plays a vital role in muscular contractions and nerve-impulse transmission.
- Magnesium: Magnesium is important for hormonal functions, enzyme functions, maintaining bone structure and stabilizing the cell- membranes of nerve and muscle cells.
- Phosphorus: Phosphorus is another essential mineral for metabolic functions, forming DNA and RNA structures, maintaining acid-base balance, and skeletal structures (the bones).
- Potassium: Potassium is essential for nerve-impulse transmission, acid-base balance, enzyme reactions, and digestion and transport functions.
- Sodium: Sodium is also required in good quantity to maintain acid-base balance, generate nerve impulses and regulate osmotic pressure in transport functions.
- Iron: Iron is required in less quantity to help in the synthesis of primary components of blood i.e. red and white blood cells. It helps to perform the metabolic reactions to fulfil energy needs of the body.
- Chlorine: Chorine is good to maintain an acid-base balance, and to help in the transfer of extracellular fluids across cell membranes.
- Zinc: Zinc is essential for replication of cells, carbohydrate and protein metabolism into glucose and amino-acids, enzyme functions, and healing of the wounds.
- Copper: Copper is an essential nutrient for melanin formation, tissue formation, defence against oxidation reaction, and iron metabolism.
- Iodine: Iodine is an important nutrient for growth of puppies, an efficient metabolic rate, and the synthesis of thyroid hormones.
- Manganese: Manganese is an important nutrient for bone strength and development, nervous system functions, and enzyme functions.
- Selenium: Selenium is required in a minimum amount to assist in immune responses and protect against oxidation.
Vitamins play a significant role in maintaining and supporting body functions and health. Healthy skin, hair and immune system are a result of proper intake of vitamins. Vitamin deficiency results in different bone, skin, hair or immune system problems. Their deficiency needs to be covered up with multivitamin supplements other than dog food and will generally be diagnosed and treated by a professional veterinarian.
The most common vitamins that are essential for balanced diet in dogs are:
- Vitamin B6: With an average adult requirement of 0.4 mg, the vitamin helps in immune responses, regulation of hormones, glucose generation, proper functioning of red blood cells, smooth nervous system functioning, and gene activation.
- Vitamin B1: It plays an important role in metabolic activities to fulfil energy needs and ion activation in nervous tissues.
- Vitamin K: It works by activating clotting agents, bone proteins, and few other proteins.
- Vitamin B12: It contains cobalt that is essential for myelin synthesis, the growth of young puppies, and cell reproduction.
- Vitamin A: Vitamin A helps to maintain the health of skin and hair. It also helps in healthy growth and supports the health of liver, kidneys, and lungs.
- Vitamin E: It helps in healing of wounds, strengthening of immune system, and maintenance of circulatory system and muscles of dogs.
If your dog has special requirements or is more senior, do try to adapt to these new factors.
As pet food quality came under serious question in the famous 2007 pet food recall many breeders and owners decided to go on their own. Most owners don’t realize how poor the quality of the average dog food is; even the ones advertised as healthy and high in proteins.
Quality ingredients have a high cost and they directly impact the manufacturers’ margins. They use cheap meat by-products to boost up the official protein quantities and a lot of carbs and fillers in order to lower costs.
Homemade Dog Food
Preparing your dog’s meals yourself is cost-effective, healthier and really creates an additional bond with your dog!
By knowing exactly what you are feeding your dog with, you have a better control over the quantity and quality of your dog’s food. You can change the recipe regularly, or offer the very same thing every day, it is up to you!
Because dogs are not fussy eaters, you don’t even have to be a great Chef to make this happen! Some meat, some veggies, some carbs and you’re pretty much done.
We always recommend to buy the best quality you can afford but you can save money by buying offals for example, they are nutritious and cheap, your butcher will love you!
If you need some help to get started, you can download our free ebook packed with 21 Delicious Homemade Dog Food Recipes.
Try these yummy doggy recipes and let’s give our dogs the treats and meals they truly deserves!
One gram of fat delivers 9 calories while one gram of protein or carbohydrates delivers 4 calories; it makes sense to cut the fat intake when controlling a dog’s weight. Low fat dog foods are extremely common nowadays since most veterinarians will recommend them whenever a dog is a little overweight.
Fatty acids and dietary fat have been demonized over the last decades and it is only now that science is backpedaling — carbohydrates are perhaps a bigger issue than fats are but mathematically, but cutting fats you will trim the double amount of calories than if you lowered your carbs instead. So yes, mathematically it does make sense to drop carbs and put your dog on a low fat dog food, but health-wise, it may be wiser to use grain-free dog foods.
For too long, pet food brands have used cheap carbohydrates and grains as cost-effective fillers; they betrayed us, the consumers. Over the last few years, grain-free dog foods have taken the dog world by a storm.
Quite simply, grain-free dog foods remove any grain-based ingredient from their recipe. A grain-free diet for dogs aims to move more in line with what dogs would have eaten before humans stepped in and began to mass produce the type of dog food we are now so used to seeing stacked on our shelves. By removing grain, compared to typical dog food, a grain free diet will attempt to insert more meat protein and digestible animal fats in to your dog’s diet.
Grain-free does not mean carbohydrate-free: these carbohydrates will usually come from starchy vegetables and roots like sweet potatoes, for example. It’s a much healthier alternative but such kibble is still very much processed. Still need some convincing? Read our list of the top benefits of grain-free dog foods.
Kibble and canned wet dog food are very appealing to most dog breeders and the reasons are simple to fathom. They are easy, clean and it’s just what everybody else does so why do otherwise?
BARF, or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food, imitates the diet of a wild dog, a wolf and other carnivores. For example, a wolf gets all the vital nutrients like protein, fat, minerals, vitamins, enzymes and fibre by eating a whole animal. As well as prey, the wolf also eats fruit, herbs, berries, grasses, roots, insects, and also the insides of herbivores.
Make a change and your dog’s health will prove to you that you made the right decision.
The prey diet for dogs mimics the wolf’s ancestral food regimen. The wolf was hunting and eating different meats, organs and bones. For our dogs, variety is key.
Feed the different staples you can find; usually chicken, pork, duck, beef, turkey and fish. Obviously, you may prefer to feed elk, deer, rabbit, quail, bison, or local meats you easily and cheaply have access to.
The main priority is to prepare ahead of time to know your dog’s needs in terms of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Then, be knowledgeable with the meats you use to provide the right mix of muscle meat, organs and bones for your dog to live a happier and healthier life.
A great website on the topic is preymodelraw.com.
If you own a bully dog, you must know that they have different requirements from pretty much any other dog breed out there. The best dog food for pitbulls is one that will provide enough proteins to grow the dog’s muscular frame, but also enough fatty acids to enhance brain functions and overall health.
Carbohydrates, on the other hand, should be given to dogs and pitbulls with a lot more restraint since they aren’t providing anything more than what fats and proteins don’t already offer. Carbs are very cheap to mass produce therefore their use in manufactured dog foods has exploded over the last decades; but they aren’t promoting any health benefit, it is quite the opposite actually.
We recommend 50% of proteins coming from red meat, poultry and offals; 30% of healthy fats coming from fatty fish, eggs, olive and fish oils; and 20% of complex carbohydrates coming from unprocessed vegetables.
If you own or breed labradors, make sure to read our list of the best dog foods for labradors. They have been carefully selected to answer as fully as possible to the nutritional needs of the Labrador breed. Labradors are very active and alert dogs and tend to be fed whatever is available at the time. And this is where things go wrong.
The labrador breed has seen its lifespan decrease sharply over the last decades and we are believing that the main cause of such decline is the diet fed to labradors. Generally, such active dogs need a higher amount of proteins in order to maintain and grow the muscle mass, as well as healthy fats (Omega 3 and Omega 6 in the right ratio) to make sure the dog’s hormonal system and brain functions are properly working.
Avoid carb-filled dog foods that simply use cheap ingredients in order to simply make the food calorie-dense but nutrient-poor.
Nowadays, the vegan diet is very common for us, humans. It was a matter of time before vegan dog owners started to design vegan diets for dogs so the whole family could transition to an animal-free feeding habit.
The whole quest for the best dog vegan foods has started with the poor quality of the various meats and meat by-products used in commercial dog foods nowadays. It’s just a logical conclusion — if the meat used in most dog foods today is not nutritious whatsoever, then let’s just scrap it altogether and start feeding our dogs and puppies a vegan diet.
In the 1980’s, consumers were becoming more educated about their own nutrition, and as a result started reading the labels on dog foods, too. A few pet food manufacturers started to remove chemicals from their products, creating the holistic trend that we know today. It has come a long way since then.
Brands began using meat sources which were sustainable and human-grade, with no off cuts or by-products. Holistic generally means treating something from the inside out.
Depending on the diet you chose and got your dog accustomed to, he or she may lack some specific nutrients, trace elements, minerals and vitamins. In some cases, the consequences on your dog’s health are negligible while in other cases, the dogs will lean towards an unhealthy future. Having a little box with the right dog health supplements will help cover most shortcomings and improve your dog’s health significantly.
Some supplements are filled with a precise purpose. For example, the bully worlds is fond of weight gainers and protein supplements to boost the dog’s muscle mass. Other dog supplements are great to soothe some existing complications such as MSM and Glucosamine for dogs to relieve joint pains and arthritis.
Warning point, though: supplements can’t be used to replace a dog’s healthy balanced diet. Whether your prefer kibble or raw or homemade, you have to use your best judgment to offer your dog(s) the best quality you can afford. Then, you can complement it using these dog supplements.
Once your dog becomes an adult, it may show signs of dog diabetes; we wrote a comprehensive articles on how to tackle dog diabetes using a controlled diet but there are the symptoms:
- Urinating noticeably more than usual
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Drinking extreme amounts of water
- Dog is acting lethargic
- Cataract formation
- Diabetic ketoacidosis
And canine diabetes is getting worse.
Since 2011, cases of diabetes in dogs have increased by over 30 percent and feline diabetes also surged by 16 percent. The fact that diabetes increases across both domesticated pets tells us that human are probably a big cause. A second cause may be the quality of the various pet foods available in supermarkets and online.
The most common type of diabetes in dogs is diabetes Mellitus, also called sugar diabetes. It’s good to know that there is no cure as of today for diabetes; but with a lot of control, it is possible to live a long life with it.