Smart Nutrition for Dogs

Smart nutrition involves education. The more you know the better you can decide with confidence whether you are providing the best diet for your dog.

Different Types of Diets

In feeding your dogs, you have three basic choices: commercial, homemade and raw. All can be beneficial or detrimental to your dog's health depending on how they are executed.

Dogs require certain nutrients: protein, whole fruits and vegetables and certain vitamins and minerals. Dogs also need certain proportions of different types of protein, which includes both muscle meat, which provides the bulk of the protein, and organ meat, which provides various nutrients. If your dog is not getting kibble, it also needs bones to clean his teeth.

Before changing your dog's diet, research his basic health needs to ensure the diet you are about to feed provides those. This is especially important if undertaking a raw or homemade diet. Just because the ingredients are human grade does not mean your dog is receiving all the appropriate nutrients.

Commercial Diets

Many commercial diets are filled with cheap filler that provides no nutritional value for your dog, such as corn or wheat. For your dog to get the appropriate level of nutrients from a commercial diet, it needs to be a high quality diet, consisting of high-quality protein sources (not meat byproducts), fruits and vegetables and other nutrients such as calcium, beta carotine and vitamin A.

High quality commercial diets focus on providing complete nutrition, and if you feed one, additional supplements are not required. Top commercial diets also include ingredients such as egg, pumpkin, cottage cheese and omega-3s, which provide a well-rounded, healthy diet for your dog. Kibble also cleans your dog's teeth.

Homemade Diets

Since the pet recalls of the last few years, many dog owners are hesitant to feed commercial diets and instead opt for creating diets from human-grade ingredients. Many veterinarians have recipes designed to meet all of your dog's nutritional needs, but when following those, don't omit ingredients, which may lead to a deficiency. Try to feed organic when possible since our dogs are not accustomed to all the chemicals in human foods.

Meat is the most important part of your dog's diet, but don't omit ground fruits and vegetables, such as apples, mango, carrots, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and squash. You can also add eggs, cottage cheese and yogurt, but diets should still be supplemented with calcium, vitamin E and fish oil, which provide vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids.

Raw Diets

Raw diets consist primarily of raw meat and bones, which are designed to imitate how dogs eat in the wild. However, there are many chemicals in our meat not found in the wild, so it's very important to find organic meat sources.

Despite popular concerns, raw meat is not unhealthy for dogs. Their stomachs are designed to battle bacteria such as salmonella. However, dogs need more than just meat, so even raw diets should be supplemented as suggested in the homemade diets.

Some raw diets are pre-made to include meat, bones and vegetables, but you should still supplement with calcium, vitamin E and fish oil. With raw and homemade diets, be sure to feed bones or small amounts of kibble, which clean plaque off teeth.

No matter which diet you choose for your dog, be sure to do your research. Each type of diet offers unique pros and cons and requires different types of supplementation.