What Dogs Need Nutrionally: Canine Dietary Requirements

As a dog owner you must ask yourself what dogs need nutritionally. A balanced diet is essential for your dog's health and to prevent obesity. There are many types of dog food: raw food, kibble food, canned food. The best food for your dog depends on many factors: your dog's age, energy level and health condition. However, it is important to know the essential nutrients that a dog needs.

Dogs need protein, fats, carbohydrates and fibers in their daily diet.

Proteinfor Immune Function

Dogs are carnivores and they should eat meat. Meat is rich in protein and fat and helps in the growth and development of the dog, while keeping the immune system strong. Meat, fish or eggs are great sources of protein. An adult dog needs about 18% of protein in his daily diet. Puppies and lactating dogs need more protein per day: 28%. Also, if you have a performance dog, he will need 25% to 30% protein per day.

Fiber for Digestion

A dog needs fiber for proper digestion. Starches, rice, corn, soybean hulls, bran or pectin are all great sources of fiber. The fibers do not provide energy for the dog, but have many health benefits and the amount of fibers should be increased when the dog has certain diseases to speed up the recovery. An increased amount of fibers is recommended for overweight cats and cats with diabetes.

Soluble Carbohydrates for Energy

Carbohydrates are a good energy source and every commercial brand of dog food contains a lot of carbohydrates. Soluble carbs are the healthiest in your dog's diet and may be found in grains: rice, corn, wheat or oats. Obese dogs should decrease their carbohydrate intake. A diet that is high in carbs may also cause digestive problems.

Fats for a Healthy, Shiny Coat

Fats are necessary in a healthy canine diet. They provide a concentrated form of energy. A healthy diet that contains enough fats also contributes to a healthy, shiny coat. Fish oil and vegetable oils are easily digestible sources of fat. An adult cat should get 9 to 15% fats in his diet.

Types of Dog Food

The dog food that is available in pet stores is either kibble food or canned food. The kibble food is more concentrated and the dog needs less amounts of kibble food per day. Kibble food is also beneficial to prevent plaque and gum disease, however it contains less vitamins, minerals and fats. Even if the label of the dry food contains a lot of nutrients, remember that some of these nutrients are lost due to the heat during the storage.

On the other hand, canned food contains more nutrients, but is also more costly. Canned food is more liquid and it is more recommended for a better digestion. Dogs with kidney and liver problems should eat wet food.

You need to check the food labels and make sure the food you choose for your dog contains all the needed nutrients.

Dogs with certain health conditions will need a prescription diet that has different amounts of fat, protein and carbs. Your vet can suggest a formula that can be suitable for your dog's condition.