The health craze has taken the Western world by storm over the past couple of years. With the rise of Instagram food and fitness accounts, health fanatic bloggers and the constant string of medical reports endorsing the the importance of nutrition and well-being, being aware of and taking our health into our own hands is second nature.
Feeling good and looking good is now wholly attributed to the food we put into our bodies and the exercise we do with our bodies. Having an in-depth knowledge of nutrition and exercise plans used to be the domain of dietitians and personal trainers although now, it would seem some lay people’s expertise on the subject surpasses - or at least matches, that of many published professionals.
We care so much about our own and our family’s health, trying to always find the right balance of nutrients in meals, stuffing in our 7-a-day and being super aware of the amount of sugar we digest. We want ourselves and those we love to have the best possible chances of preventing and beating disease, being full of energy, using our brains to their full potential and making sure we get a good night’s sleep. For us dog owners, our four legged friends often fall into the family circle – how could they not? – and we care and love them just as much as any other member of the family.
Most of us are not as clued up about dog nutrition as we are human nutrition (unsurprisingly!) and tend to trust in the dog food we buy from the pet store and all the treats we give. However, while this stuff might be a good base diet for a dog, it’s super important to do your own research into exactly how much of each food group (if any) your dog should be having. This differs for different breeds and might require you to venture out of the pet store either online or even into the grocery store to find healthy dog food for your pup.
There are six major classes of nutrients which are: protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water. All of these are important in a doggy diet but in different quantities with water really leading the way as 70% of a dog’s body is made up of it.
We’ve put together a quick guide to outline how much of what your dog should be getting and why each group is important:
Proteins are complex molecules made up of amino acids, the building blocks of cell growth, maintenance and repair. The biggest demand in dogs for protein is the maintenance of fur which can use up to 30% of the daily protein intake. Animal nutrition expert Donald Strombeck, DVM, says that most of the essential proteins for dogs comes from meat and most meat by-products, eggs and dairy products.
Fats are the most concentrated source of energy in the diet and supply the fatty acids which are vital for maintenance of healthy cells. The essential fatty acids are: linoleic acid, linolenic acid and arachidonic acid. Animals needs more omega-6 (linoleic acid) than omega-3 fatty acids for good health.
Dogs don’t actually really need carbs as their body can get energy from purely protein and fats. However, carbs can be broken down by a doggy digestive system, converted to glucose and therefore be a great source of energy and can often make up the main caloric source in dog foods. Starches ingested by dogs need to be well cooked in order for them to be digested properly and can ferment in the large intestine.
Fresh and wholesome food is the best source of vitamins for your dog – organic substances in particular. Whilst your dog doesn’t need many vitamins, they are important for the conversion of calories to energy so we do advise fruit and veg in moderation.
Minerals make up less than 1% of a dog’s body weight but are vital for the functioning of growth, strong bones and teeth. Minerals are classified as: macro-minerals (calcium and phosphorus) or micro-minerals. Balance is critical for minerals with the idea ratio of calcium:phrosphorous is between 1:1 and 2:1. It’s so important to get the right balance of minerals because they interact with each other and too much of one can interfere with the absorption of another.
When planning out your dog’s diet, it’s really important to do adequate research into the breed’s needs and what you can do to make sure they are on top of their game at all times and feeling as healthy as they possibly can.