Let’s talk diet. No, not the one you do before the summer months or right before your best friend’s wedding. I'm talking about a healthy, continuous, and balanced one.
Dogs are just like us. They need to eat a complete and balanced, nutritious diet to function properly. Because they aren’t eating and snacking all day like some of us (not pointing any fingers), what you feed them in their one to two meals per day is extremely important for their body to function properly.
You want to feed them the correct amounts of the highest quality food that you can afford for them to be healthy, happy, and full of energy. See, just like us.
So let's get into the nitty-gritty. Here are the major components of a dog’s healthy diet:
Bet you didn’t expect this one. Kidding, of course you did, it’s water.
Compared to the average adult male, whose body is made up of ~60% water, the average adult dog’s body contains ~70% - 80%. That’s a decent amount more. (sorry, I can’t do the math)
Water is essential for dogs in digesting food, dissolving nutrients embedded within those foods, and transporting them around the body to the correct destination. It also allows your furry friend to get rid of waste within their bodies through a process called “peeing”. You might’ve heard of it.
H2O (not to get scientific here) is also necessary for dogs to maintain proper hydration and health. But you should know that from one of our previous blogs ;)
Next up, you read it. Although dogs aren’t necessarily trying to build muscles and get swole, they still need to ingest protein to support biological compounds and protein groups within their body.
Naturally, dogs produce 12 amino acids that are necessary to sustain regular bodily functions. However, they need 22 of them for their body to function properly. What does that leave us with? Again, I can’t do the math.
That’s where the protein comes in. Aside from that, though, protein being eaten by dogs is digested to produce glucose, which is partly a source of their energy. (If you remember from Biology class back in the day). For those like our friend Phillip out here that miss biology class here is the lovely aminoacids that our biology professors loved to show us in class.
If you’re a judge a book by its cover kind of person, you might stay away from these guys. However, fatty acids, in dogs, are the highest concentrated source of energy.
Dogs, as you might know, tend to be energetic animals. Yes, there are couch potatoes and binge-watchers, but even those pups require sources of energy to sustain everyday activities. When a dog is growing, pregnant or giving birth, exercising, or sick they require even more energy than they traditionally receive.
Another, not yet mentioned, source of energy is carbohydrates. But we don’t need a whole section on carbs.
Other benefits of fatty acids include supporting a healthy nervous system and protecting internal organs.
Just a bunch of good stuff coming from the fatty.
Sorry, just having a little bit of fun. Now let's move on to vitamins and minerals. The good stuff.
So why are vitamins important you may ask? Great question. Vitamins help your loyal companion’s body grow, heal itself, and properly process other nutrients. Like with everything, moderation is key, and too much of certain vitamins (D for example) can be dangerous.
Let’s look at some important ones:
Vitamin A - a lack of this vitamin can cause your pooch to be more vulnerable to infections, respiratory issues, and skin wounds. It can also cause motor and vision impairment.
Vitamin D- As previously mentioned, too much of it can be toxic, but the right amount is essential. Consult your veterinarian if you are concerned with the levels of Vitamin D in your dog food/supplements
Vitamin E & C- not enough Vitamin E can cause your dog’s skeletal muscle to break down, leading to reproductive failure. Vitamin E and C can also act as antioxidants. (Find the necessary Vitamin E & C for your dog in our Skin & Coat and Mobility Chews)
Calcium and Phosphorus- Your parents ever tell you to drink your milk if you want strong bones? That’s calcium for you.
Zinc- is a necessary mineral for supporting the immune system and natural healing wounds. (Zinc can also be found in our Skin & Coat chews)
Understanding your dog’s body
If your feeding your dog the right nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in the right quantities for their size, weight, and breed, they should be at an ideal weight.
What does that look like? At their ideal weight, you should be able to easily feel their ribs, but not see them. Also, when looking at your dog from above you should be able to easily see their waist behind their ribs. From the side, their abdomen should be tucked in nicely.
In an underweight dog, you would be able to see their ribs, vertebrates, and bones without feeling any fat in between. Some issues a dog that has not been properly fed continuously is prone to infections and parasites. At the puppy level, a pup that is chronically underfed could experience growth stunts.
Finally, ¼ of dogs in western societies are overweight (National Research Council). In overweight or obese dog, you can’t feel their ribs and there are fat deposits on their back, sides, and tail area. Not great.
A special thank you to the National Research Council for their guide on proper dog nutrition! Also, remember your vet is the best source of information on the best food for your unique dog. Don’t hesitate to ask them!