Historically, dog food and nutrition were little understood. A lot of what a dog ate depended on geography, education, and finances. With technology, science improved, and we gained much more insight into the health of our animals, dogs included.

Over the years, dog food has advanced significantly and become a much higher priority for dog owners. With so many dog food options on the market, it can be overwhelming to determine which is best for your dogs. To get a better understanding of your dog’s nutritional needs below is a breakdown of the basic components comprising your dog’s diet.

  1. Protein
    In dog food, most protein will come from other animals like chicken, beef, lamb, fish, etc. This is an essential part of every dog’s diet regardless of breed – dogs have always been meant to consume animal protein. Some dogs are sensitive and can develop allergies to certain protein sources. Incessant itchiness and skin issues can be a common sign that your dog is reacting to his protein source.

The amount of protein your dog needs can vary based on size, breed, age, energy level and more. Be sure to do some calculations to determine the best amount of protein for your dog – there are plenty of formulas and standards found online.

Note: when a food mentions “crude protein” this is referencing all the protein found in the food, not just the protein from animal sources.

  • Fats
    Just like in humans, fats are a necessary component of a dog’s diet. Fats are the second main source of energy for dogs, only being beaten out by protein. Fats are also necessary to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, joint health and achieve a healthy coat and skin.

    Fats in dog food can be found in the form of oils, omega-3 fatty acids, and animal fats.

  • Carbohydrates
    Yes, dogs need carbs too! This is another important energy source for dogs, particularly for puppies and sickly or elderly dogs as it helps them build fat storage. For active, healthy dogs carbohydrates may not need to be as high since they can source energy from protein and fats.

    However, they are still needed as they stabilize glucose.

  • Vitamins and Minerals
    Vitamins perform many functions in the body of the dog. From helping build bone density, to improving brain function, blood clotting, and more. With such diverse functions and forms, it can be easy to provide too much – which can lead to toxicity. This is really only important if you also supplying supplements that contain vitamins or if your dog has an underlying health issue.

Minerals are the structural components of your dog’s body: body tissue, muscle function, electrolytes, etc. Since minerals support so many aspects of the dog’s body, a deficiency will quickly show symptoms and can lead to serious complications.

As always, consult your veterinarian if you have any questions regarding your dog’s diet. Remember that his nutritional needs will change as he ages and it’s never out of the question to change or improve upon what you’re already feeding.