Choosing the Right Nutrition for Your Dog
- by Rufus and Coco
Dogs, being the omnivores that they are, have quite a versatile diet compared to other pets. While their meals can include fruits, vegetables, and fiber from sources like pumpkin or sweet potato, it's essential to remember that meat should take center stage as their primary source of energy.
In this article, we delve into the world of optimal nutrition for dogs, considering various factors that play a crucial role in determining their dietary needs. From age to specific health conditions, we will guide you through the basics of providing the best nutrition for your beloved furry companions.
How to Choose the Right Kind of Food for Your Dog
What Is Tailored Nutrition?
Tailored dog nutrition is a process where you choose the best food for your pet based on their specific requirements. We have already mentioned age and health as two of the most critical factors when selecting a dog’s diet.
But there are many others, such as your dog’s breed, their physical activity, and special considerations like pregnancy.
Collaborating with your vet or a pet nutritionist is a good idea when crafting your pet’s diet. Some pet meal services take all of these factors into account when developing your dog’s recipes. By comparison, you won’t find the same convenience and quality in most cheap kibble varieties.
Tailored Nutrition for Puppies
A dog can be considered a puppy from the moment they are born to their 1st birthday. For large and giant breeds, this might be different as they are continuing their growth process up until the age of 18 months.
Every dog needs proteins, fats, and carbohydrates to thrive, along with amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. But puppies need more proteins coming from lean meats compared to nutrients they would otherwise receive from veggies and fruit.
Your vet might also recommend that you supplement your puppy’s diet with calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D. This practice is primarily utilised to prevent rickets, especially in breeds predisposed to it, particularly large ones.
Puppies also need to eat more often compared to their adult counterparts. Depending on their age, they may need to receive five to six meals or more.
Tailored Nutrition for Adult Dogs
A dog is considered an adult between the ages of 1 and 7 or 8. If you ensured a healthy diet while they were a puppy, what you need to focus on now is maintaining muscle mass and weight.
Meat proteins are great for dogs. You are not limited to chicken and beef, two of the most common protein sources in commercial diets. If you feed your dog the same food day in and day out, they may develop a food intolerance or food allergy at some point.
For this reason, it’s best to vary between protein sources such as fish and turkey or duck and novel proteins such as venison or elk.
An adult dog’s diet should contain as few grains as possible. Ideally, this ingredient should not appear on the food label that you’re considering. Fibre can come from healthier sources such as legumes or high-fibre fruit and veggies.
A healthy caloric intake is necessary for dogs with regular physical exercise in their daily schedules. If you have a lap dog and you also do not have enough time for long walks every day, consider tweaking their diet so that they don’t gain weight. Extra weight puts pressure on the joints and raises the risk of your dog becoming diabetic.
Tailored Nutrition for Senior Dogs
Most senior dogs are a bit overweight, and that’s because, like in aging humans, their metabolism slows down.
Animal protein is the major component of a geriatric dog’s diet, too, but depending on their kidney health, their diet might not have the same protein content recommended for adults.
Veggies and fruits are two good sources of fibre for senior dogs, although you may need to pay more attention to the fruits (because of their sugar content).
It’s highly recommended that you give your dog supplements during this time of their life, such as probiotics (especially if they have IBS or chronic constipation) or omega three and omega six fatty acids (as they protect your pet from cardiac conditions and also improve the way their joints function).
Different Sizes, Different Diets
Although it might seem a little strange because this is the same species, there is a wide variability when it comes to dog breed sizes. Large dogs are equipped with bigger stomachs, which means that they need more food to feel full. At the same time, they have a lower metabolic rate, so they do not need more calories than their small counterparts.
Toy dog breeds have a high metabolism and are always energetic, so they may need to eat more frequently. But because they also tend to live in cities compared to large and giant breeds, they are also more predisposed to obesity.
This is why some pet food companies manufacture diets made specifically for some breeds. You can’t feed a Saint Bernard the same things you’d feed to a Chihuahua, as they don’t have the same nutritional needs.
Your Dog’s Nutrition Impacts Their Health
The quality of the ingredients in your dog’s food has a lot to say when it comes to keeping them healthy. Some commercial diets are riddled with preservatives, artificial colours, additives, and binders, so they’re not beneficial for dogs.
Many of the more affordable options aren’t even species-appropriate as the amount of grains (used as fillers) in them is very high.
So, what’s the solution? You can talk with your vet about what you're supposed to feed your dog but do keep in mind that it would be ideal if you contacted a vet with a degree in animal nutrition or a pet nutritionist.
Everyone loves the convenience of dog kibble, but some choices can be pretty harmful to your pet health-wise.
Are Fresh, Gourmet Pet Meals Good for Your Dog?
The more tailored your dog’s meals, the better.
As their name suggests, fresh dog diets rely on fresh ingredients, so you have nothing to worry about in this sense. Most don’t use meat by-products either and are free of chemicals that could impact your dog’s health later down the line. In fact, gourmet pet meal services are typically developed only by consulting a professional who works in the veterinary field.
And best of all, you could get a few of these meals and freeze them for later use. Just get them ready in the microwave or on the stove when your dog’s next meal time comes around, and you’re all set.