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. The 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.