Diet and Nutrition Tips For Your Dog
As humans, we know we have to get a certain amount of vitamins and minerals every day. We also know that we should avoid certain ‘bad’ foods that can lead to health issues. Well, the same goes for your dog! Dogs also have important nutritional requirements that should be met everyday. And as the owner, you’re the one responsible for supplying the right food.
Here are some nutrition tips for your dog you need to know, about keeping your dog happy and healthy.
Your dog’s nutrition requirements
Water is the most important nutrient; a lack of water can lead to death in a matter of days. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times. Dogs who eat dry food need even more water than those who eat fresh food that naturally contains a good amount of moisture.
Dogs require protein to renew cells and tissues. Healthy adult dogs need a minimum of 2.62g of protein per kilogram of body weight, while puppies between 4–14 weeks old need between 9.7g and 12.5g of protein per kilogram of metabolic body weight per day. It’s important that the protein be high quality, such as from raw or lightly cooked chicken, turkey, duck, etc.
Dietary fats are required to facilitate the absorption, storage, and transport of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K). They’re also a source of essential fatty acids (EFA), which maintain functional integrity of cell membranes.
6 diet tips for keeping your pup healthy
Feed a biologically appropriate diet
While the commercial dog food industry will have you believe otherwise, dogs were not meant to eat kibble. Raw feeding has increased in popularity over the last decade and there are many options for premade, balanced raw diets that won’t break the bank.
Puppies should be moved to real food after weaning, at about 3 to 4 weeks of age. The best meats at this age are raw, boneless, white mince such as chicken, fish, or turkey. By 4 to 5 weeks of age they can try red minces (duck, beef, pork, organ meats) and these can contain ground bone. Most breeds will be eating meat on the bone (often known as raw meaty bones) by 6 weeks and on.
Adding vegetables, seeds, fruit, and healthy fats (like a bit of coconut oil) to a puppy’s diet is a great way to provide a complete and balanced raw diet—just as dogs evolved on.
Avoid inflammatory wheat and grains
Many commercial dog foods contain grains such as wheat, rice, soy, and spelt, which can cause your dog’s blood sugar levels to spike. High amounts of carbohydrate in a diet can also promote inflammation, as can other components of grains such as gluten and lectins. These are best avoided. Raw feeding is ideal, but if you opt for a grain-free kibble you will want to research dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).
Read the ingredient label on dog treats
Many dog treats contain additives such as flavours, preservatives, antioxidants, and colours. Some of the more dangerous ingredients include ethoxyquin, a common preservative that’s also a pesticide and a hardening agent for rubber, and propylene glycol, which is used in antifreeze and also to keep semi-moist kibble from drying out. It’s been removed from cat foods but is still present in many dog foods and treats. Read labels carefully to ensure you’re not inadvertently affecting the health of your pup negatively.
Add a source of healthy fat
Fats are the major source of energy for dogs—2.5 times more than either protein or carbohydrates. Healthy fats such as omega-3s also help keep a dog’s skin and coat healthy and their foot pads supple. Nutritionally, fatty acids aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, K, and E, while also supporting cell structure and function, and even a dog’s vision and learning abilities.
If you’re feeding a biologically appropriate diet that is balanced, your dog will already be getting a good amount of fat. You can also supplement to balance the omega-3 using whole fish like sardines (sardines canned in water also work), coconut oil, or flaxseed oil.
Dogs need to chew things, but they don’t need to snack all the time! Overfeeding can cause puppies to grow too fast, leading to problems with skeletal development, excess weight, and excess fat cells. Adults who are overfed can become overweight and obese. In turn, this can lead to inflammatory health issues, joint problems, and even a reduced lifespan.
Supplement when necessary
Dogs fed a wholesome, raw-food diet shouldn’t need extra vitamins and minerals; however, dogs who are transitioning from inferior foods (like kibble and canned food) or who have been feeling unwell may need some extra support in the form of a supplement.
There are plenty of natural supplements for dogs on the market that can fill any gaps in your pup’s diet. Some dog multivitamins contain a wide range of the nutrients they need for good health. Look for a product that contains vitamins such as biotin and vitamin E help to promote healthy, supple skin and shiny coats. Nutrients such as glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM are great for supporting connective tissues and joint health.
Digestive enzymes and probiotics are also very important for facilitating healthy digestion and the absorption of nutrients. And most importantly, make sure your pup is getting some form of essential fatty acid, such as through coconut or flaxseed oil or through feeding whole fish a few times per week.