There are many dog food products on the market today. Yet, do you know what nutrients your dog needs? This is a common question that Veterinary Schools teach their students and offer to pet owners alike. Vet Schoolsoffer reliable information that is practical and free of sales incentives so you can be assured of its scientific value.
There are six classes of nutrients that fuel the metabolism of your dog, contributing to health and overall growth. Knowing what they are and why they are essential can be helpful in purchasing from the fine commercial dog food products that are available today.
Water: this is most important in a healthy dog. Since 70% of body weight is comprised of water, you’ll need to ensure that water is readily available. Dry food has approximately 10% moisture content. Canned dog food can have up to 78% moisture. Without adequate water supply for your dog, it may become dehydrated. Even a seemingly small level of dehydration can contribute to illness. Severe dehydration may lead to death.
Proteins: these are the building blocks of life, along with essential amino acids that contribute to your dog’s growth. Protein contribute to the health, of cells, tissues, organs and antibodies, ensuring the health of your dog. The most complete proteins are animal-based, and are found in meats, poultry, fish, and eggs. Protein fuels cellular growth, maintenance and repair. Vegetable protein sources also provide protein but in less concentration and are incomplete. Besides vegetables, protein can be found in smaller amounts in soy and cereals. Check with your vet’s office or veterinary school for more detailed information.
Fats: loaded with more than two times the amount of energy (calories) of proteins or carbohydrates, fats are essential for several reasons. First, they are required by the body to metabolize fat-soluble vitamins. Second, fats are also vital to your dog’s cell structure and aid in the production of hormones. Third, fat helps maintain body heat, protects your dog’s vital organs, and assists in some nutrient absorption processes. Ratios of essential fatty acids are important to identify in a balanced dog food. The most common EFA’s are Linoleic acid, Omega 6, and Omega 3 fatty acids. They help heal inflammation, protect against arthritis and joint breakdown and ensure proper intestinal absorption of minerals and vitamins. Additionally, EFA’s are vital to renal (kidney) function.
Carbohydrates: these are the glucose providers and are another important source of energy for body cells, the brain and other organs. Carbohydrates also have fiber and provide important intestinal tract bacteria. Your dog will need a moderately fermentable fiber source that contributes to the essential balance necessary to maintain proper bowel function. Beet pulp, corn, rice, and wheat are all examples that veterinary schools will recommend as moderately fermentable fiber sources.
Vitamins: these are the catalyst of enzymes essential for a healthy dog’s metabolism, since the body does not synthesize most vitamins on its own. If you feed your dog a commercial diet, it is not usually necessary to provide your dog with supplements unless recommended by your vet because most dog foods are nutritionally balanced. Providing extra vitamins can lead to health problems. For example, an excessive amount of vitamin A may lead to joint or bone pain, brittle bones, and dry skin. Too much vitamin D can create bone and soft tissue calcification and bone density problems.
Minerals: as an inorganic substance, minerals also are not synthesized by your dog’s body. They are essential elements for your dog’s bones and teeth, numerous metabolic processes, and fluid balance.
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