The Dog Nutrition Science behind Canine Formulas

The best thing you can do to give your dog a long and happy life is provide the best available nutrition. Here is some essential information about dog nutrition:

Certified Dog Foods

Your best option is to begin by feeding your dog a nationally recognized ‘name brand' food formulated especially for either adult dogs or puppies. This food should be certified by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). AAFCO does not endorse or recommend any particular brand or manufacturer of pet foods, but it sets general standards for all types of cat and dog foods, and certifies products which meet those standards. You can find the AAFCO label on any bag or can of AAFCO certified food.

Many manufacturers make formulas whose standards are far higher than the AAFCO standards and these premium foods usually offer better nutrition. Remember that a puppy needs a special formula with extra nutrients. Use puppy food until your dog is fully grown, and feed your puppy three to four times per day until it is at least six months old.

Breed and Size

Try to find quality formulas specially made for your dog's size and breed. For instance; larger breeds will need a puppy food that promotes a slower growth rate because they need more time to develop strong bones and joints. Smaller dogs should have a concentrated formula with lots of fuel for their high metabolisms. If you can't find a breed specific formula ask your vet for a recommendation.

High Quality Dog Food Nutrition

You may be tempted to place too much emphasis on buying an ‘inexpensive' pet food product, but remember that you'll get what you pay for. Look for the best quality food you can afford. Low quality food full of fillers and by-products like bone, connective tissue and beaks are on sale (even in specialty pet stores). Many inferior products are advertised as ‘premium' so read labels and nutrition information carefully. A higher priced food doesn't necessarily guarantee quality either. Look for the best ingredients in the right formula for your dog and look for the AAFCO certification. Also remember that canned foods are not, by definition, more nutritious than dry foods.

If you have other concerns about your dog's nutrition you can ask your vet to perform a blood test which will tell you if your dog's diet is deficient and you can use that information to add nutritional supplements.

Things to Avoid

  • Table foods are not generally recommended for your dog. They do not provide balanced nutrition and many foods which are fine for humans can be harmful for dogs. Feeding table foods also encourages picky or finicky eating and troublesome habits like begging.
  • Alcoholic Beverages can not only intoxicate your dog; they can lead to coma or death.
  • Chocolate or anything containing caffeine can damage your dog's heart.
  • Onion and Garlic may adversely affect your dog's red blood cells, causing anemia.
  • Cooked or raw fat has been linked to pancreatitis in dogs.
  • Most Cat foods are too high in protein for your dog.