Like you, your dog needs proper nutrition to stay healthy, and proper nutrition comes from eating the right foods. To help you make sure that your dog is getting the right kind of foods, here’s some expert scientific advice. The information in this article is based on a report by the Committee on Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats of the National Academies. It details the nutritional requirements for your dog, how much it should get, and what happens if it doesn’t.
For a proper diet, your dog needs a regular intake of proteins and amino acids; fats and fatty acids; carbohydrates; vitamins and minerals. You should also be familiar with the different varieties of dog foods, and pet food additives such as antioxidants, herbs and botanicals, flavors, extracts and colors.
Proteins and Amino Acids
In order to survive, dogs need protein with 10 essential amino acids in their diet. Dogs have been known to avoid a meal that does not contain a single amino acid, and to choose foods that are high in protein. They can live on a vegetarian diet provided it contains enough protein with the addition of Vitamin D.
Fats and Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids are needed to keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy. Fatty acids, which come mostly from animal fats and the seed oil of plants, are the most important source of energy in your dog’s diet. They also improve the taste and texture of dog food. Without enough dietary fats, your dog can develop dry hair as well as skin lesions and be vulnerable to infections. The absence of the omega-3 group of fatty acids may result in problems with your dog’s vision and impaired learning ability.
In addition to proteins and fats, your dog’s energy requirements are supplied by carbohydrates. In commercial dog food, carbohydrates come from cereals, legumes and other foodstuffs from plants. Dietary fibers in fermentable carbohydrates help enhance your dog’s immune function. Non-fermentable fibers, like cellulose and wheat bran, are used mostly to bring down the number of calories in an overweight dog. Your dog’s daily energy needs depends upon its age (puppy, young adult, older) and its condition (pregnant, lactating, active, inactive).
Your dog needs low concentrations of vitamins in its diet, especially Vitamins A, D and E. Vitamin deficiencies in your dog’s diet can cause various kinds of ailments such as motor and vision impairment, skin lesions, respiratory ailments, reproductive failure, brain lesions and heart damage. A chronic deficiency of Vitamin B1 can even lead to death.
There are 12 minerals that your dog’s diet must contain. A dog needs calcium and phosphorus for strong bones and teeth; magnesium, potassium and sodium for an acid-base balance, nerve impulse transmission and energy metabolism. The right amount of minerals in a diet is important. Calcium deficiency, for instance, results in skeletal abnormalities while an excess of it can result in the same thing.
When buying dog food, carefully read the percentage of fat, protein, fiber and water in the product. Being aware of your dog’s nutritional requirements will help make sure it always has a healthy diet.
As with any dietary or nutritional advice pertaining to dogs, consult with your own veterinarian or pet health provider to determine the proper nutrition for your specific dog(s). –DogSplendor.com
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