It is so important that you take the time to understand more about nutrition for dogs to ensure that your dog stays healthy and maximizes his life with you. Just as with people, dogs are prone to obesity if overfed and should be given a healthy diet of food that is made specifically for them.
To survive, they need proteins for the amino acids they provide as nutrition and that dogs are unable to make on their own. They also need carbohydrates and essential fatty acids from dietary fats which both convert to energy. Many essential vitamins and minerals such as calcium and B12 must be part of your dog’s daily nutrition plan.
Dogs have an instinctive sense about getting their needs met through the food they eat.
According to scientific data and information written up by The National Academies Press, dogs can tell if a certain food lacks a specific amino acid they require and will avoid their food if it is missing it. For information on this nutrition fact as well as specific, clear guidelines on nutrition for dogs as well as cats, please see the book Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats, published by the National Academies Press. It is very expensive to buy the hardcover book form, but you can download a pamphlet based on the report here and read it at your leisure.
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the pet food industry, but it is not nearly as strict in its guidelines regarding nutrition for dogs as it is with people foods and drugs. Pet foods are not required to have pre-market nutrition approval by the FDA, but the ingredients must be safe and have an appropriate function in the food. Dog food ingredient labeling is enforced, and the FDA does review claims that pet food companies make regarding the benefits of particular ingredients in their foods or health claims made due to their formulations.
Compare Dog Food Types
In order to compare food fairly and decide what is best for your dog, we should first look at the types of food available.
In most cases, the easiest type of food to store and feed your dog is dry food. Crunchy and tasty to many dogs, this convenient type of food is easy to take along on trips and and has a good shelf life. There are many excellent brands of dry food available. Here is a link to the top selling brands of dry dog food on Amazon (affiliate link). I also have an in-depth post about their most popular selling dry dog food, which you can read here.
Dog food is also available in semi-moist pouches and canned food (wet) varieties. Although many nutritionally wonderful brands of canned foods are available to offer your dog and meet their nutritional needs, we do not generally recommend semi-most foods. Many of the semi-moist foods that are sold in pouches are very high in salt and sugar; two ingredients that should be limited in your dog’s diet.
In addition, raw food for dogs makes a popular diet and can be nutritionally excellent. Raw food for dogs can be purchased or prepared at home. Here is a link to a site that can help determine how much raw food should be fed to your dog, based on his weight.
Nutrition for dogs aside for a moment, why would you choose one form of dog food over another besides just the convenience of storing it?
Many times you also need to factor in what your dog’s needs and preferences are as well. An older dog may not have strong enough teeth to chew up hard crunchy bits or may not digest certain foods or ingredients as well as a puppy.
Medicines and supplements are often much easier to mix into a wet food and can more easily disquise the taste of a medicine your dog might not tolerate on its own.
Organic dog treats are especially appealing, and most of the ingredients in our dog treats can be easily adapted to entirely organic as they already feature healthy ingredients. Just as people must watch the foods and snacks that we eat, we should review the ingredients of the treats and snacks that we feed our dogs to ensure that we are not going to contribute to future weight and health problems.