How can you ensure that you’re feeding your dog healthy food? What are the key macro proportions? What ingredients should be included? What ingredients should be avoided? Do different breeds need different foods? Which is best, canned, dry or semi-moist foods? Let’s discuss some of these questions so you can better understand what to feed your dog.
Feeding Your Dog Healthy Food
Let’s discuss macros first. We all seem to know about macros now, about finding the balance between the right levels of fat, protein and carbohydrates to make up the perfect calorie intake for us. Well its no different for dogs too, although calorie intake varies a lot compared to humans as dogs vary greatly in size. A good measure for dogs is 5% fat, up to 50% carbohydrate and 10-50% protein with the higher the protein the better, especially for mature dogs. Dogs are omnivores, you may have thought they were carnivores, but yes they can easily live off a mixed diet of plant products and meat. They can even live off a vegetarian diet if there is enough protein and Vitamin D in it.
In terms of protein animal proteins are those most rich in the elements dogs need. There are ten essential amino acids dogs need, they are the building blocks of their cells and they cannot live without them. However their bodies do not produce them so they can only be derived from proteins. High quality proteins have a good balance of all of the amino acids. Dogs can actually tell this and will always select a food high in these amino acids, rather than one low in protein.
Fats are also essential for a healthy dog diet, in fact fats also make their food tasty and get it a richer texture. Dietary fats from animal fats and plant and seed oils provide the most concentrated source of energy in a dog’s diet. They also provide essential fatty acids that cannot be synthesized by a dog’s own body and are carriers of important vitamins around the body. A dog that isn’t getting enough fat in their diet will often have a dull coat, perhaps coarse hair, hair loss, and skin lesions that are vulnerable to infection. Lack of Omega 3 oil results in vision problems and impaired learning ability, while lack of Omega 6 can result in physiologic problems.
However, choice of protein source with leaner fats is always advisable for dogs, because fatty meats such as pork lack the intensity of essential amino acids and fatty acids, but instead make your dog obese.
Look out for allergens in ingredients lists too, because many dogs are allergic to or highly intolerant to some very common ingredients such as wheat, corn, potato, chicken and soy. By eliminating these you should see a surge in digestive health, and it may also address skin and coat health issues as well as lack in energy. Certainly the choice of ingredients in your dog’s food can effect their health and vitality.