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 fulfill 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 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, supplements, 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, a 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 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. 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, 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 various 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 fulfill the 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, defense against oxidation reaction, and iron metabolism.
- Iodine: Iodine is an important nutrient for the 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 a 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 fulfill energy needs and ion activation in nervous tissues.
- Vitamin K: It works by activating clotting agents, bone proteins, and a 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 the 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 or low in fat. We even have ketogenic dog diets now for our pets.
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. The best way for dog breeders to save money on feeding their dogs is by bulk buying.
Dog Foods for Pregnant Dogs
Finding the best dog food for pregnant dogs is crucial for every dog breeder seeking to ethically raise a healthy furry family. A pregnant female dog, as well as a nursing one, have greater energy requirements to sustain their own growth, but also every single whelp’s healthy growth. It’s demanding and the mother’s diet must be the best it has ever been without shocking her body too much. You generally want to gradually transition your pregnant dog’s diet before or early on during the pregnancy.
Affordable Puppy Foods
Puppy food basically comprises all types of food and nutritional supplements that are essential for the growth of the newborn pup. The bones, muscles, joints and the overall immune system of the puppies need additional nutrition for them to grow into healthy, adult dogs.
Nursing a puppy is usually a genuinely enriching experience that starts with feeding them the best puppy food you can afford. No need to break the bank; there are plenty affordable or cheap puppy foods available on the market. Make sure they are high in protein content to sustain the pup’s development – target at least 22% of protein!
Healthy Dog Food Brands
Dog food brands are plentiful, but rare are the authentically healthy dog food brands that deliver on their high and mighty claims. The Association of American Feed Control Officials has very low standards when it comes to dog food labeling.
To help you out in your decision-making process on the best healthy dog food brand, we have reviewed and compiled a list of brands we trust. To be fair, all brands exaggerate their claims and try to pretend that their kibble is better than the next one. This is fair play, but we just hate when this little game goes too far.
Bestselling Dog Foods
Granted, it is not because a lot of people buy a specific dog food that it is synonymous with quality. The brand may execute a wonderful great marketing campaign. Or, the dog food may be sold with a very low and enticing pricing strategy. However, what is great when a dog food brand is on a bestselling list, is that you know thousands of dog owners serve it daily and so far, everything is ok.
Dog foods come in different shapes and forms:
- sensitive formula, and
- many more.
It is hard to figure out which dog food brands to trust, and which to stay away from. This article reviews the bestselling dog foods in the United States.
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. Offals are nutritious and cheap, your butcher will love you! Try some yummy doggy recipes and give your dogs the treats and meals they truly deserve!
Low Fat Dog Foods
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 low-fat dog food, but health-wise, it may be wiser to use grain-free dog foods.
Ketogenic Dog Diet
The keto diet for dogs has a very simple distribution of macronutrients: 70% fat, 20% proteins, and 10% carbohydrates. The idea behind this special diet is to partially mimic what dogs would eat in the wild – with an emphasis put on the fatty acids. Indeed, most wolves eat very little carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, grains) so it makes total sense to limit these in a bespoke diet.
However, very active dogs can also benefit from carbs. Indeed, dogs use carbs as fuel to increase their energy levels during training (e.g. weight pulling, sledding, etc).
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 into 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. Do you still need some convincing? Read our list of the top benefits of grain-free dog foods.
Biologically Appropriate Raw Feeding
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 should you adopt a different diet for your dog then?
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 fiber 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.
Best Diet For Pitbulls
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 pit bulls 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. This is why their use in manufactured dog foods has exploded over the last decades. Yet, 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.
Best Dog Food For Labradors
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. 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.
Vegan Dog Food
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.
Holistic Dog Food
In the 1980s, 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.
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 world 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 you 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.
Fish Oils for Dogs
Fish oils for dogs are a great cost-effective way to enhance your dog’s intake of healthy fatty acids including polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. Different fish oils offer different ratios of omega-3, omega-6, and other much-needed micronutrients that your dog’s body and hormone system would benefit from. You can opt for cod, salmon, wild fish or even blends of several fish oils within the same bottle to attain the right balance.
Digestive Aids for Dogs
Digestive aids for dogs assist you in bettering your pet’s gut microbiota and general digestive tract and intestinal health. Supplements include probiotics, prebiotics, digestive enzymes, and vitamins. Most of the pet supplement industry is constrained by very low standards of regulation from the FDA. While the average digestive aid is not going to hurt your dog, very few of them would actually benefit your dog’s gut health.
Digestive Enzymes for Dogs
Digestive enzymes for dogs are special proteins whose job is to break down macronutrients from the ingested food. In a healthy dog, the digestive enzymes are continually produced by the dog’s pancreas. They then go on to quickly decompose carbohydrates, fibers, fats, and proteins to fasten the digestion of the macronutrients.
Not to be confused with probiotics, though, as these two are completely different in many ways. Digestive enzymes are produced by a dog’s body whereas probiotics are not. In fact, enzymes are required by a dog’s body in order to break down the food ingested while probiotics are just a bonus.
Fibers for Dogs
Dietary fibers for dogs are recommended for a healthy gut flora, solid stools, and an overall well-kept digestive system. Our guide answers all common questions about crude fibers, soluble and insoluble fibers for dogs, as well as prebiotics. We have also reviewed the top fiber-rich dog foods and the best fiber supplements for dogs.
Prebiotics for Dogs
Prebiotics for dogs are fibers found in some fruits and vegetables that help maintain a healthy gut flora in dogs. Dog prebiotics work best when taken with canine probiotics and digestive enzymes. Dog owners and dog breeders are constantly trying to find ways to enhance their dog’s health, whether it being for improving the pet’s digestive system, its coat or its overall immune defense. Trends seem to follow those of human discoveries so it was only predictable that dogs, just like humans, would benefit from prebiotic (and probiotic) 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.