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Dog Nutrition

nutritionWhat Is The Right Food To Feed Your Dog?

Good nutrition is feeding dogs the building blocks and energy components that allow them to grow, develop to their potential, and stay active throughout their lives. There are many ways to feed your dog and hundreds of diets to choose from. Most people tend to use dry and canned dog food for convenience and cost.

At Countryside Veterinary Clinic, we have spent decades educating pet owners about proper dog nutrition for dogs of all ages, breeds, conditions, and lifestyles. Because canine nutrition ultimately plays a large part in the quality of your dog's life, we want to share some veterinary insight with you about proper dog nutrition, whether you are looking for puppy food recommendations or adult and senior dog nutrition advice.

The Keys To Canine Nutrition

The following dietary components represent the fundamental keys to canine nutrition:

  • Proteins: Proteins are complex molecules made up of amino acids, and they are the building blocks of cell growth, maintenance, and repair. In companion animals like dogs, one of the biggest demands for protein comes from the maintenance of fur and hair, which can use up to 30 percent of a dog's daily protein intake.
  • Fats: Fats provide the most concentrated source of energy in the canine diet. They also supply the fatty acids that are important building blocks for important substances and essential to maintaining normal, healthy cells.
  • Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates can be broken down by the digestive system and converted to glucose, which can also be a source of energy. Carbohydrates in the form of whole grains can furnish iron, minerals, and fiber as well as other beneficial nutrients.
  • Vitamins: Vitamins are organic substances, or synthetic derivatives thereof, required for normal body functioning. They are also important in the conversion of calories to energy, the boosting of immunity, and other body processes.
  • Minerals: Minerals are inorganic nutrients that make up less than 1% of a dog's body weight but are essential to many important functions, such as growth, strong bones, and healthy teeth.

The combinations and amounts of these components are based entirely on a dog's age, weight, physical and/or medical condition, and lifestyle. This is why there are many kinds of dog food for each phase of your canine companion's life.

What Is The Right Puppy Food?

Puppy food is specifically formulated with nutrition for dogs that are still growing into adulthood in mind. Puppies need about twice as many calories per pound of body weight as an adult dog of the same breed. You should start feeding puppies a nutritious and scientifically formulated puppy food at approximately 6 weeks of age.

Puppy food is best given in multiple, well-spaced meals 3 times daily. Feeding on a schedule will also help to get their bodies into a routine that will help with house training. 

Puppy breeds vary tremendously in size, rate of growth, tendencies to overeat, etc. There are so many variables in making the correct choices when it comes to the nutritional and caloric needs of puppies that we highly recommend seeking the advice of one of our veterinarians.

What Is The Best Dog Food For My Adult Dog?

Each dog is unique, and therefore there is no one dog food that works for all dogs. In general, feeding a premium brand such as Hill's Science Diet, Purina Pet Foods, or Royal Canin Pets Foods is a safe bet for all dogs. They have many choices of proteins and types of diets (canned, dry). All of the staff and veterinarians at Countryside Veterianry Clinic feed their pets from those three manufacturers. We are happy to discuss and recommend pet foods for your pet, too! 

Select an adult dog food that is specifically balanced to deliver the caloric and nutritional requirements essential for health, happiness, and wellness

Choosing The Right Senior Food

Generally, we consider a dog senior after 8 years of age. Every senior is different in terms of aging and nutrition needs. If your senior dog is doing well on his or her current diet, then there may not need to change it. However, some senior dogs may have health concerns they have developed over the years that may require special diets. Most senior dogs need fewer calories but require very high-quality diets. Some senior diets address this by decreasing the calories in the diet while maintaining the protein levels. Senior dogs have less ability to assimilate proteins, and for this reason, they need high-quality protein choices.

Beginning a senior dog food regimen depends greatly on the breed and size of your dog. For example:

  • Small breeds and dogs weighing less than 20 pounds - 8 years of age
  • Medium breeds and dogs weighing 21 to 50 pounds - 8 years of age
  • Large breeds and dogs weighing 51 to 90 pounds - 6 years of age
  • Giant breeds and dogs weighing 91 pounds or more - 5 years of age

There are times when supplements are helpful for senior dogs. Again, this may be very specific for your dog's needs. It is always best, to be honest, and share with the veterinarian supplements that you are giving or would like to give.

Dog Food Recommendations For Overweight Dogs

Unfortunately, obesity has become a common problem in dogs. Just like humans, being overweight can be detrimental to a dog's health. An overweight dog has many added stresses upon his or her body, and is therefore at an increased risk of:

  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Joint pain
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Low energy

Obesity occurs when energy intake (or food) exceeds energy requirements (or the amount of calories burned through activity and exercise). The excess energy is stored as fat, and accumulated fat causes obesity. The majority of dog obesity cases are related to simple overfeeding coupled with a lack of exercise. The best way to curb and reverse obesity is to:

  • Correct your dog's diet: Feed your overweight dog a reduced-calorie, high-fiber diet that includes vitamins and minerals to maintain coat and skin health during dieting. You should consult your veterinarian for dog food and feeding recommendations. Canned foods can be a good option due to the decrease in carbohydrates.
  • Increase exercise: Both the frequency and duration of exercise should be increased. Make sure you are working up to daily or longer exercise sessions. Regular exercise burns more calories, reduces appetite, changes body composition, and will increase your dog's resting metabolic rate.
  • Modify feeding habits: For you and your dog. This includes monitoring treats, cutting down on or cutting out human food, and feeding smaller, more frequent meals to keep your dog from experiencing hunger pains.

Fats Your Dog Needs

Fats help maintain healthy skin, fur, eyes, and cognitive function as well as provide valuable energy reserves. Along with protein, fats contribute to a dog nutrition program's palatability, plus they aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins: Vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Like protein's essential amino acids, fat has its own essential fatty acids (EFAs) that make up an important part of every cell:

  • Linoleic acid - Omega 6 Fatty Acids
  • Linolenic acid - Omega 3 Fatty Acids
  • Arachidonic acid

It is important to choose a high-quality dog food that provides healthy fats and fat-soluble vitamins. You should consult your veterinarian to learn if your dog can benefit from nutritional supplements.

Do Dogs Need Carbohydrates?

While dogs get a significant amount of energy from dietary protein and fats, carbohydrates are still important components of dog nutrition. They are broken down by the digestive system and converted to glucose, an alternate source of energy. For this reason, carbohydrates can be an important caloric source in some dog foods.

Whole grain carbohydrates can furnish iron, minerals, and fiber as well as other beneficial nutrients. They can be found in vegetables and fruit--which also supply minerals, fiber, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and some protein.

Vitamins For Dogs

With a balanced canine nutrition program featuring high-quality puppy food or dog food and healthy snacks or treats, your dog should receive its daily vitamins needed for optimal functioning and body processes. 

Home-Cooked Diets

Some of you may have more time and want to cook entirely for your dog. This is a perfectly healthy option as long as the diet is well-balanced. We can work with a veterinary nutritionist to help formulate a home-cooked diet using the ingredients you like to keep at home.

Make An Appointment To Discuss Dog Nutrition

Since 1988, our veterinarians and veterinary support staff have helped educate and guide tens of thousands of dog owners to better understand and implement proper canine nutrition regimens. We love helping owners learn, and we especially love seeing the positive effects of dog nutrition in the bodies and minds of the many furry, four-legged patients we view as our extended family members. If you would like to discuss canine nutrition with our veterinary staff, please contact us to schedule an appointment!

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