Features of a Balanced Diet for Dogs

Creating a balanced diet for dogs improves their health and reduces illnesses and allergies. Dogs are omnivores, not carnivores, which means they require a certain amount of fruits and vegetables in their diet as well as protein. Most high-quality dog foods provide a balanced meal, but if you home cook, you have to make sure all nutrients are included.


The most important element in any healthy diet is a high-quality protein source. This should be listed in the food as turkey, chicken, beef, lamb or fish. There can be more than one protein in each food, and it may be listed as turkey meal or chicken meal. However, you want to avoid proteins labeled "meat" or "byproduct," as these are cheap and often aren't even digestible for your dog.

If you're creating a home cooked diet, make sure to include mostly muscle meat and also a small percentage of organ meat, such as heart, liver and kidneys. In the wild, dogs get different nutrients from each and require both types.

Fruits and Vegetables

Vegetables are an important addition to a dog's diet because they add minerals and nutrients not found in meat. In addition, they are low calorie, so they can be added as filler to help your dog lose weight if necessary. Just remember to grind up the vegetables in a blender or food processor so your dogs can access the nutrients.

Some vegetables that are beneficial to dogs include green beans, squash, peas, broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini. Fresh vegetables are preferable, but if you purchase canned, purchase the low or no sodium ones. Avoid feeding a food high in corn, because dogs can't digest it.

In the wild, dogs are less likely to consume fruit, but many of them enjoy it. Fruits contain a lot of vitamins and vital energy, so they can also improve your dog's health. Good fruits include apples, bananas, berries, apricots, figs and prunes.


Grain is controversial in dog diets because many experts claim that dogs would never consume grains in the wild, and thus should never be fed them in captivity. However, many other experts claim that they contain vitamins and minerals and are also a cost effective option for additional protein. Many dogs have wheat allergies, but there are several grain options that dogs may enjoy, such as oatmeal, millet and barley. Remember to cook grains because dogs can't digest them raw.


If your dog is fed a high-quality kibble, you probably don't need to add supplements. It is possible to over-supplement your dog, so don't include too many supplements to a balanced diet.

If you feed a home cooked diet, it's important to add calcium to your pet's food. Add this through a calcium supplement or an animal bone meal supplement, since bone is the natural calcium source for carnivores.

Fats and oils provide almost twice as much energy as other food sources, so consider adding a spoonful of vegetable or coconut oil. Supplementing with omega-3s or salmon oil are another good option.

You may also consider supplementing with a vitamin B supplement or vitamin E, which are important for ensuring optimal health in your dog.