Pawsitively Nutritious: 6 Nutrients to Look for When Buying Dog Food

14th Nov, 2023

Written by PetHaus

Being a pet parent is a rewarding journey filled with moments of joy, companionship, and unconditional love. Whether your canine companion is your running partner, a snuggly couch buddy, or your loyal sidekick in your daily adventures, one thing remains constant: you want the best for your pup.

Pet parents share a common goal: ensuring their four-legged family members live healthy and happy lives. And it all begins with a healthy diet.

The food you select for your furry friend can make a world of difference in their overall well-being, energy levels, and the tail-wagging happiness they bring into your life.

This article will serve as your guide on your pet parenthood journey. Here, you’ll learn which nutrients are essential to your dog’s health, enabling you to make informed decisions when buying essential food and stocking up on dog treats:

1. Protein

Protein is a cornerstone of a healthy and balanced dog diet.

Why is it so crucial, you ask? Well, think of protein as the building blocks of your pet’s body.

A dog’s body relies on 23 amino acids, but it can produce only 13 of them independently. The remaining 10 must come from their food, making protein a vital component.

When shopping for dog food, keep an eye out for options with natural, high-quality proteins listed as the first ingredient. These proteins can take various forms, such as fish, meat, or poultry, catering to your dog’s taste preferences and specific dietary needs.

For adult dogs, aim for a protein content between 18 to 29%. Growing puppies, on the other hand, require a minimum of 22% protein to support healthy growth and development.

2. Healthy fats

Healthy fats are vital in maintaining your dog’s skin and coat in top-notch condition. They also serve as a concentrated energy source, providing your furry friend with more than double the energy they get from carbohydrates and proteins.

Typically, adult dogs require a dietary fat content ranging from 12 to 20% to maintain a healthy weight. However, it’s important to note that the fat content listed on dog food packaging originates from various sources, including animal and vegetable oils, as well as grains like cereal.

Balance is key when it comes to fat intake. An excessively high-fat diet can lead to weight issues and other complications for your pet. Adjust your pet’s fat intake based on their breed, life stage, body condition, and activity level.

Look out for ingredients like animal fat, corn oil, vegetable oil, sunflower oil, fish meal, fish oils, and flaxseed (linseed) in the ingredients list to gauge the fat content of your chosen dog food.

3. Carbohydrates

Your canine companion’s diet must also include carbohydrates. This macronutrient supplies valuable energy and serves as the primary dietary fibre source.

Common carbohydrate sources in dog food include whole wheat, potatoes, legumes, oatmeal, corn, brown rice, buckwheat, barley, and quinoa.

The body relies on carbohydrates for glucose, a crucial element for maintaining normal bodily functions. Glucose is vital for maintaining the nervous system and its normal functioning.

For dogs with high energy needs (i.e., growing puppies), a diet with at least 20% carbohydrates is recommended.

However, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) notes that there isn’t a specific amount of carbohydrates recommended as traditional formulations of commercial dog food already contain sufficient carbohydrates to meet the daily glucose requirements of dogs.

4. Vitamins and Minerals

The vitamins and minerals in your dog’s diet play a critical role in supporting various body functions, from DNA creation to bone development, eye function, and brain activity.

Complete and balanced dog food should ideally contain all the vitamins and minerals your dog requires, including:

  • Vitamin A

  • Vitamin D

  • Vitamin E

  • Vitamin K

  • B vitamins

  • Calcium

  • Phosphorus

Dogs that don’t get enough of these vitamins are more likely to have health issues ranging from diarrhoea to more serious diseases. Inadequate vitamin and mineral intake may also lead to hair loss and skin problems.

5. Fibre

Fibre plays a significant role in maintaining normal gastrointestinal function and gut health in dogs. It aids in keeping the colon healthy and supports the gut’s microbial ecosystem.

Dietary fibre comes in two forms: soluble and insoluble.

  • Soluble fibre retains water, typically making a dog's faeces softer. It’s commonly found in fruits and gum. Gum, in this context, refers to viscous and sticky polysaccharides found in seeds and plants.

  • Insoluble fibre, on the other hand, comes from grains and generally increases faecal bulk without softening faeces, as it doesn’t absorb water. Cellulose is a common form of insoluble fibre added to dog food.

Many supplements contain mixed fibres with mostly soluble characteristics. High-fibre diets can be used to manage medical conditions like diabetes mellitus and some gastrointestinal issues and support weight management.

6. Water

Water makes up 70 to 80% of a mature dog’s body mass. Without water, your pet’s body cannot transport nutrients, digest food for energy, regulate temperature, or eliminate waste.

Water is essential for breaking down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats while lubricating joints and ensuring normal bodily functions.

Depending on whether your dog’s diet consists of dry or wet food, moisture content can vary significantly. Dry dog food typically contains around 10% moisture, while wet dog food can contain as much as 80%.

But regardless of your dog’s diet, always provide them with a fresh water supply to ensure they stay hydrated.

Keep your canine companion healthy and happy

The journey to pet parenthood comes with its share of responsibilities, and one of the most vital is ensuring your four-legged family member enjoys a healthy and happy life.

Navigate the physical and virtual aisles of your favourite pet shop like a pro and provide top-quality nutrition to your beloved pet. And here’s to many more tail-wagging moments of love and companionship with your loyal canine friend!

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