Health and Nutrition
Just like with people, dogs also need balanced nutrition to maintain health and wellness. People rely on tools to understand their own nutritional needs, but there aren’t any similar tools for dogs. To help dog owners learn the basics of balanced nutrition, here are some useful tips.
Carbohydrates represent the largest part of your dog’s food. Carbohydrates are important sources of energy that help maintain blood sugar levels and keep your dog feeling full. Carbs also provide some essential minerals and vitamins, as well as fiber to promote proper digestion. You will find any carbohydrates listed in the ingredients list on the back of the bag.
The next largest area is made up of protein. Proteins are essential for building strong muscles for growth and maintenance. Another important part of a healthy, balanced dog diet comes from fats and oils. These ingredients keep the body working properly, provide energy and make food taste better. On your food’s ingredient list, you will be looking for high-quality sources of protein and fat.
Dogs require certain vitamins and minerals in their diet to stay healthy. These ingredients are usually added to dog foods as concentrated powders. Common fruits, vegetables, whole grains and meats are the initial source of vitamins and minerals, and this is why fruits and vegetables are included as ingredients in dog foods.
Finally, make sure there is a bowl of fresh, clean water. This is to remind dog owners that dogs also need plenty of water daily to stay hydrated for optimal wellness, which is what we want our dogs to have for life.
Put it all Together
Now that you know about the importance of certain ingredients in a balanced dog food and what to look for on the package, use the information to make an informed decision about which dog food to purchase for your dog. A healthy diet will have good-quality ingredients in the proper balance to provide the best possible nutrition for your dog.
Now that we have taught you what goes into good nutrition for your dog, we will take a look at the benefits of good nutrition and why your dog deserves the very best food you can provide. All necessary vitamins and minerals are included in complete and balanced dog foods. This means that additional foods or supplements are not necessary for your pet’s general health.
What does Good Nutrition do for your Dog?
The proper balance of nutrients is essential when feeding your dog. Animals (and humans) need a certain combination of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and water every day in order to function normally. Balanced nutrition is no accident – pet food manufacturers work hard to determine the exact formula that goes into their products so that they provide everything your dog needs on a daily basis.
There are foods designed for specific stages of life (such as for puppies or geriatric dogs), while some provide hypoallergenic nutrition and other formulations are developed to control specific health conditions like heart disease, kidney disease, etc.
Each and every nutrient in your dog’s food has a purpose. Without adequate nutrition, your dog would not be able to maintain muscle tone, build and repair muscles, teeth, and bone, perform normal daily activities with ease or fight-off infection. Proteins provide a source of energy and help with muscle function and growth. Fats provide energy, help the brain function, and keep the skin and hair coat shiny and healthy. Carbohydrates supply a source of quick energy that allow your dog to be active and energetic. Vitamins and minerals are necessary for muscle contraction and nerve conduction and they work to prevent disease.
Muscle Tone and Body Condition
Every single cell in the body is made up of protein. It is integral in building skin, hair, muscles, organs and other tissues. Protein is necessary to repair damaged cells and make new ones. Protein is especially important for young, growing and pregnant animals. The protein in your dog’s diet ensures that he is able to build and maintain strong muscles. This is why one of the first few ingredients on a dog food label should be a protein source (chicken, beef, etc.).
Skin and Hair Coat Health
Everyone knows that a dog with a rich, shiny hair coat is most likely in good health. This is because dogs eating the proper balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids will have skin that is healthy, which produces hair with a nice sheen. Skin that is dry will lead to hair that easily splits, breaks, and falls out easily. Foods with adequate omega-3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect to reduce itching and other irritations caused by allergies or environmental conditions (like low humidity levels in the winter).
Digestion and Elimination
Carbohydrates provide fiber that helps aid digestion and elimination. Dog foods are formulated so that the needed nutrients are readily available to your dog’s digestive system and thus easily absorbed by the body. Digestibility is important so your dog can use all the nutrients in his food and easily rid his body of waste products. Your dog’s food should provide all the nutrition he needs while producing only a minimum of stool to be picked up as the end result.
Immunity and Prevention of Disease
The vitamins and minerals found in every bag of dog food work together to keep your dog’s immune system and metabolism functioning normally. Vitamins work to reduce the damage done to body cells on a daily basis. Minerals promote the normal function of the cells that maintain health. Vitamins and minerals come from both plant and animal sources in the diet. Without adequate levels of vitamins and minerals, your pet would eventually become ill.