Understanding the Nutritional Needs of Your Dog

Dogs are omnivores, not carnivores!

By March 06 | See Comments

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Understanding the Nutritional Needs of Your Dog
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Your dog’s diet plays a vital role in its overall health. There are countless health problems that are very common in dogs, with most of them stemming from poor dietary habits. Unfortunately, the blame for this falls mostly on owners who simply don’t know better, or don’t understand the nuances of canine nutrition.

Most people wrongly think that dogs are carnivores, when in fact they actually have diets that resemble human diets more than anything (i.e. they’re omnivores). This means that dogs require a complete nutritional profile and that their diets need to be as balanced as possible (containing an optimal blend of protein, fats, carbohydrates, and vitamins/minerals).

With so many dog food types available on the market, choosing which one is best for your dog can be more challenging than one might think. Do you go with dry dog food? What about canned food? What’s the difference, anyway? What should you look for nutrition-wise? How do you know which product is best?

These are all very common questions, which is why we’ve written this blog post - to help you make a well-informed purchasing decision (and get the highest quality food possible for your pup). Below are some basic tips on managing your dog’s diet; how to choose a dog food, what a complete nutritional profile looks like, and more.

Canine Nutritional Profiles: What They Need to Thrive

Because dogs descended from wolves, many pet owners (wrongly) think that their pet dogs need a diet that’s mostly protein. However, this couldn’t be any further from the truth. Dogs are related to wolves, yes, but they are completely different animals (and have evolved to become omnivores - i.e. they need a well-balanced diet).

Your pet dog may have descended from a wolf (many thousands of years ago), but the way that the tooth structure and GI tract of domesticated dogs have evolved over time makes them 100% omnivores. This means that your dog needs to be fed a diet that’s rich not only in protein, but in carbohydrates, fats, water, vitamins, and minerals.

The specific nutritional profile of your dog will depend on a variety of factors. For example, a 90 pound Chesapeake Bay Retriever will have a much different nutritional profile than a 6 pound Chihuahua. Not only that, but every dog responds to food differently. Some dogs have allergies, others have sensitivities, and others can tolerate anything that they’re able to swallow.

The Differences Between Dry and Wet Dog Food

On a macro level, the primary difference between these two types of food is that wet dog food contains a much higher level of water than dry food (which contains virtually zero water because it’s ingredients are essentially dehydrated). Differences can be further highlighted between brands, and even between specific products under one brand.

For example, Rachael Ray Nutrish natural chicken & veggies dry dog food recipe is a dry dog food that contains dehydrated chicken as its main protein. However, this brand also produces wet dog food as well, with completely different sets of ingredients (i.e. different nutritional profiles).

What Ingredients You Should be Looking For

As we’ve already highlighted several times in this blog, dogs need to be fed balanced diets in order to maintain and strengthen their overall health. This depends on your dog’s specific breed, age, and medical history, however, most dogs can benefit from up to 50% of their calories coming from carbohydrates (with the rest coming from lean protein sources and healthy fats).

One thing that needs to be considered is that the quality level of the ingredients in dog food is what’s really important (not what the actual ingredients are). For example, dog food that features free-range chicken and wild-caught salmon would obviously have a higher quality nutritional profile than one that features chicken byproducts and farm-raised salmon byproducts.

Final Thoughts Regarding Optimal Nutrition For Your Pet Dog

Feeding your dog a healthy, nutritious, and well-balanced diet should be one of your main priorities as its owner. So many diet-related health issues can lead to very serious medical problems, which is why placing an emphasis on providing your dog with the highest quality diet possible is very important.

Whether it’s dry food or wet (canned) food, make sure that the ingredients are high-quality. Also, remember that different breeds have different nutritional requirements and that your dog’s medical history (and age) can also factor into their diet.

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