It is no coincidence that well-fed dogs are usually the happiest and healthiest of canines. Just like people, dogs need to eat a properly balanced diet in order to maintain good health and lead long, active lives. Dog nutrition is very similar to human nutrition, but it is important to remember that dogs are not people. They are unique animals with dietary needs based on centuries of evolution. While dogs are more omnivorous than pure carnivores like cats, they are not true omnivores like human beings. A balanced diet for a dog includes many of the same basic nutrients as a balanced human diet, but the proportions are different.
A good diet balances all of the important nutrients and takes into account a dog’s age, activity level, health, reproductive status and current body condition.
Important nutrients to consider when planning a dog’s diet include water, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. A proper analysis of dog food must account for the sufficiency of these nutrients.
Often overlooked, water is necessary to sustain life and maintain good health. It actually comprises up to 70% of a dog’s weight and is necessary for most bodily functions. Essential for building body structures and for driving metabolism, proteins are another indispensable element of canine diets. Although less important to dogs than proteins, carbohydrates provide an extra energy source and contribute dietary fiber to aid in digestion. Fats are necessary to keep many body systems functional, and they contribute to making foods taste good to dogs. Although only needed in relatively small amounts, vitamins and minerals are also necessary components of a healthy canine diet.
While there are general rules for good dog nutrition, the best diet and foods for any dog will be based on each animal’s individual needs. A good diet balances all of the important nutrients and takes into account a dog’s age, activity level, health, reproductive status and current body condition. A truly excellent diet not only allows a dog to survive, it promotes optimum health and longevity.