Healthy Eating and Nutrition for Dogs
As a Registered Dietitian, my dog’s nutrition is super important to me! If you have your own dog at home, read on to learn about optimal nutrition for your pup.
I may be biased, but our dog Coby is the cutest, best dog to ever live. Come on, just look at those sweet eyes! He brings us so much joy, laughter, and love every single day, and we are just so happy to have him in our lives.
When we first adopted Coby in November of 2020, his diet was kind of all over the place. He was getting a lot of human food and sporadic feedings of canned and dry dog food. While human food might taste delicious for our dogs, it could contain harmful ingredients for them.
As a Registered Dietitian, it’s been my goal to get him on a normal feeding schedule with healthy, high quality dog food + minimal human food. I’m happy to say his health is thriving – he’s energetic, playful, happy, and has regular bowel movements. Not much more a dog owner can ask for!
Optimal Nutrition for Dogs
Just like us humans, dogs need balanced diets to live a healthy lifestyle. There are several parts of a healthy diet, including macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Dogs need these things too, just in different amounts than humans.
Because dogs need different amounts of nutrients than humans, commercially prepared dog food is an optimal and safe choice to ensure they get everything they need in their diets. If you solely prepare human food for your dog, chances are they are missing out on key nutrients, which may lead to health conditions down the line. Commercially prepared dog food (both wet and dry) is safe, because it undergoes rigorous testing and is highly regulated (1).
Macronutrients for Dogs – Protein, Fat, and Carbohydrates
Dogs are not carnivores, so they need to eat foods from all three macronutrient food groups daily for optimal health. The amounts needed for each macronutrient will vary based on breed, size, age, and activity level.
Protein: The primary function of protein in a dog’s diet is to support muscle and tissue growth and repair. Dogs are better able to digest protein that comes from animal sources, but most commercial dog foods have a combination of both animal and plant-based protein. At a minimum, healthy adult dogs need 2.62 grams of protein per kilogram of metabolic body weight each day (2).
Fat: Fat is a highly concentrated source of energy in the diet, and there are different types of fat. Fat in a dog’s diet helps facilitate the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A,D,E, and K). Dogs also need to get essential fatty acids from their diets to fight inflammation and maintain functional integrity of cell membranes, just like humans! While it depends on breed, age, activity level, and size, most healthy adult dogs need a minimum of 1.3 grams of fat per kilogram of metabolic body weight daily.
Carbohydrates: Dogs need carbohydrates in the diet for energy production in the cells. If a dog doesn’t have enough carbohydrates in the diet, their body will divert amino acids away from muscle building to provide energy. Dogs also need fiber in their diets, which has many health benefits like bowel regularity, gut health, and weight maintenance. There are currently no specific guidelines for carbohydrate and fiber needs for dogs.
Micronutrients for Dogs – Vitamins and Minerals
Dogs need vitamins and minerals in their diets too. If a dog is deficient in a vitamin or mineral, they may present with health conditions similar to humans. For example, a dog deficient in vitamin D may have osteomalacia.
Luckily, micronutrient deficiencies are rare in dogs if fed a balanced, healthy diet. Commercially prepared dog foods are fortified with the necessary vitamins and minerals to keep your dog healthy.
Additional Nutrients for Dogs – Probiotics
Just like humans, dogs have a complex and varied population of micro-organisms that live within their guts. The sum of all these bacteria, viruses, yeasts, and fungi form the gut microbiome. Probiotics are additional live microorganisms you can get from the diet. They support a healthy microbiome and can have profound health benefits on the host (your dog)!
While we still need more research, consuming probiotics through the diet can have beneficial effects on health for dogs. A healthy gut microbiome is important for digestive health, bowel regularity, longevity, and immunity. (3, 4)
I’ve been feeding Coby Wellness CORE Digestive Health Kibble, and we both absolutely love it. He thinks it tastes great, and I love that it supports his digestive health! The kibble is coated in probiotics and contains digestive enzymes and prebiotic fibers. All these bonus ingredients make us both very happy.
Coby and I also love the Wellness CORE Bowl Boosters. They contain real food ingredients like kale, broccoli, cranberries, and oats. You can actually SEE the ingredients it’s made with!
As an RD, I feel confident feeding Coby both of these products, and I can tell he loves the taste. Does your dog gobble up his meals in 60 seconds, too?
You can find the Wellness CORE Digestive Health line in a variety both dry and wet food options, with different protein options. For the Bowl Boosters, you can find Heart Health, Digestive Health, Joint Health, and Skin & Coat Health flavors.
Nutrition for your dog is just as important as your own nutrition! Always keep that in mind when choosing what food to feed your dog.
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Thank you Wellness Pet Food for sponsoring this blog post! I’m grateful to partner with brands I love to cook with, and all opinions are my own.