The first step to providing your canine companion with the best possible nutrition, is understanding the basic requirements of your dog’s nutrition.
This information will become extremely useful when deciding if a certain brand or formula is right for your dog’s daily needs.
Dogs require several different nutrients in order to survive, amino acids found in proteins, fatty acids, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water. These guidelines are regulated by AAFCO, and each dog food manufacturer must adhere to the appropriate amounts.
The amino acids from protein, fatty acids and carbohydrates can all be measured to see how much energy (calories) they contain. Next to water, these are the most vital to your dog’s health.
There are 11 amino acids found in proteins that are referred to as essential amino acids. These play a critical part to your dog’s biological health. As well, they help create the glucose that then turns into energy! This is why high protein diets are so popular with active and working breeds!
Fatty Acids, or “healthy fats”, are one of the most concentrated sources of energy. These are normally sourced from animal fats, and the oils of various plants. A deficiency of these fatty acids can lead to poor skin condition, including dry, itchy skin, that easily becomes inflamed, as well as a dull, coarse coat. More serious side effects can happen if little to no fatty acids are present in the diet, such as vision loss, and learning impairment in puppies.
A great way to ensure your pooch is getting enough fatty acids, or to simply improve their skin and coat, is by adding a fish oil, like Salmon or Hoki to their dog food.
Carbohydrates, while they are not necessary in a dog’s diet, are beneficial for their digestive systems and as a great source of energy. In some lower quality dog foods, Carbohydrates may become the caloric source.
Vitamins and Minerals, while they only make up less than a teaspoon of a dog's normal intake. They are very important in many aspects of your dog’s health and well-being. Fatty acids help with the absorption of fat soluble vitamins. Such as vitamins A, E, D, and K.
Minerals can be categorized as one or the other; macro-minerals or micro-minerals. While balance is very important with all minerals, as they interact and can interfere with the absorption of other minerals. Two of these macro-minerals, calcium and phosphorous, MUST be given in proper amounts, at the ideal ratio of 1:1 and 2:1 respectively.
While all commercial dog foods must adhere to the strict AAFCO guidelines and requirements for these nutrients. Homemade, cooked or raw diets while they may be great for your pet with allergies, might not be completely balanced.
Thankfully, many companies are now coming out with lots of pre-made, freeze dried, and dehydrated raw diets, that owners can feel safe about!
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Check out the next post to learn more about What a Raw Diet is!