Dog food nutrition is just as important to dogs as human food nutrition is to us. In fact, the principles are very much the same. All dogs need a well-balanced diet of carbohydrates, fats, fiber, minerals, protein, vitamins, and water in addition to antioxidants, nutraceuticals, and probiotics. This article explains the what and the why behind dog nutrition.
As a key component of dog food nutrition, protein helps dogs grow and develop, heal from injuries, and maintain a healthy coat, set of nails, and tissues. The amino acids in protein need to come from food, making nutrition critical to a dog’s health. Nonessential amino acids are naturally synthesized by a dog’s body but only if the dog is fed nutritious food. Two good sources of protein are lean meat and eggs.
Fat helps a dog’s body deliver important vitamins, utilize energy, and maintain a healthy coat, skin, pads, and resilient nose. Interestingly, dogs can synthesize every type of fatty acid except omega-6. To get omega-6, dogs must consume muscle meats and vegetable oil. These ingredients are common in dog food, so you don’t have to worry about adding them as separate components to your dog’s diet. If your dog suffers from arthritis, omega-3 can decrease its symptoms, but only when it is in proper proportion (1:5) to omega-6 fatty acids.
Carbohydrates give dogs energy and glucose. The starches and sugars in dog food coverts to glucose rather quickly and gives dogs quick energy. The carbohydrates in fruit, vegetables, and whole grains contain fiber and give dogs a steady supply of energy.
Fiber gives dogs a healthy, smooth running digestive system. The corn, oats, rice, and other grains in dog food provide a good source of fiber, as well as fruits and vegetables.
Vitamins and Minerals
Only a small amount of vitamins and minerals are needed to maintain a dog’s health, but they’re extremely important nonetheless. They’re so important in fact, AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) dog foods are manufactured with a specific formula of vitamins and minerals so that dogs don’t miss important nutrients or overdose. Without this balanced formula, dogs would have trouble getting nutrients from food, and they would also have trouble with growth and nerve processes. The following lists the vitamins and minerals that are important to a dog’s overall health.
· Biotin – assists enzymatic processes
· Choline – assists the nervous system
· Folic acid – helps vitamin B12 and assists with forming red blood cells
· Vitamin A – assists bone growth, tissue development, reproduction, vision, and night vision
· Vitamin B1 – assists with appetite, energy, and growth
· Vitamin B12 – assists with DNA synthesis and helps intestinal functions
· Vitamin B2 – assists growth
· Vitamin B5 – promotes energy and protein metabolism
· Vitamin B6 – helps protein metabolism and red blood cell development
· Vitamin C – assists tissue growth, healing, healthy bones, teeth, joints, and immunity
· Vitamin D – helps synthesize calcium and phosphorous for healthy bone and cartilage
· Vitamin E – assists muscle function, reproduction, and healing
· Vitamin K – assists blood clotting
The danger of not getting a balanced supply of vitamins and minerals results in malnutrition. A lack of sufficient calcium, for example, contributes to bone, blood, muscle, and nerve problems, while too much calcium can lead to hip dysplasia and other orthopedic disorders. And without phosphorous, calcium may not strengthen bone. An imbalanced calcium diet is easy to achieve in an all meat diet.
The minerals cobalt, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, selenium, and zinc are important too. Magnesium, for example, assists cell action and metabolism while sulfur assists joint health the protein synthesis.
Water is important to dog nutrition as well and all dogs must have access to fresh clean water at all times. No exceptions what-so-ever. A lack of accessible clean water can lead to dehydration. If you can afford it, consider giving your dog purified water especially if it’s very young, old sensitive or ill.