Best Dog Nutrition - 6 Essential Nutrients for a Healthy Dog
Just like humans, your furry pals also need a well-balanced diet that includes certain nutrients that are essential in keeping them healthy.
We take a look at six essential nutrients that are important to keep your pets in the healthiest state.
What nutrients do you need to include in their diet? The answer is a good mix of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and water.
Animal and plant-based sources can help provide protein to dogs. Animal-based food such as fish, eggs and lean muscle meat are a good source of protein. Plant-based protein can be obtained from lentils and beans.
Amino acids which are important to life are present in protein. It helps in the formation of good muscles and bones, thick strong fur, good skin and nails.
It is also helpful in making the hormones, enzymes and antibodies that are needed for an optimal body function.
When there is a lack of carbohydrates and fat in your dog’s diet, the protein will supply the needed energy.
Dogs are unable to produce required levels of amino acids their bodies need, thus it is important that their diet includes food that contains amino acids.
Proteins that are consumed by your dog cannot be stored by their bodies, and so, it is essential that you constantly include protein in their diet.
Carbohydrates can be obtained from vegetables, fruits, legumes and gluten-free grains. One important thing to remember is that vegetables and fruits are ‘Dog-friendly’.
So what vegetables and fruits can dog eat?
Dog friendly vegetables are:
Tomatoes are OK to be eaten in small quantities, but keep the stems, leaves and vine away (all the green parts)! The chemicals found in the green parts, called solanine, can be harmful to dogs.
Yes, carrots are good. Cut it into small pieces or sticks and it can be a yummy treat.
Dogs can eat celery in limited amounts. Small, chewable pieces are easily digested. Be cautious though, as too much celery can cause dogs to pee more than usual.
Just like carrots, cucumbers cut into small, chewable pieces with the skins cut off, can be good for your dog. Just stay away from pickled cucumbers as it contains too much vinegar and salt.
Can dogs eat broccoli? Yes, and no. Small amounts of broccoli can be included in your dog’s diet (about less than 5%). Go slow on broccoli heads though as they can cause stomach upsets.
This is one vegetable that has no issues and is a very safe vegetable to give your dog.
Onions and Garlic
No, these two should be avoided as they are harmful to your dogs. Onions and garlic can cause red blood cells in your dogs to break down. This condition is called hemolytic anaemia. When the red blood cells break down, they can cause your dog to receive less oxygen.
Potatoes and sweet potatoes
Cooked, plain potatoes and sweet potatoes are good for your dog. It can be baked or boiled, just don’t add anything else.
Do not give raw potatoes (or any potato-based plant) to your dog as they contain solanine just like tomatoes.
What are dog-friendly fruits?
Apples have anti-cancer properties, they help regulate blood sugar and protect the heart. The fibre in apples can also ease diarrhoea and an irritated stomach. Thus, apples are safe to be given to your dogs.
This is a fruit that is rich in fibre. It is also a very good source of vitamins A, B and C. You can find minerals such as copper, magnesium, manganese and potassium in bananas.
Apart from that, bananas can protect your dog against chronic diseases such as diabetes, some types of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Berries (blueberries, blackberries, cranberries and raspberries)
Blueberries are packed with very powerful anti-cancer, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits that come from their black, blue and red pigment called anthocyanins.
What this pigment does is it can help improve your dog’s visual clarity, prevent cognitive decline caused by age and enhance memory.
One berry that we caution you giving to your dog is strawberries, as they can cause allergic reactions similar to ones seen in humans.
This is another anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-packed fruit which is good for your dog. It’s juicy, sweet, very refreshing and perfect to quench your dog’s thirst.
Packed with high levels of vitamin C from its antioxidant properties, pineapple is also an anti-inflammatory fruit. It also contains an enzyme that can slow down signs of arthritis and it can even regulate tumour growth.
However, the same vitamin C and bromelain can be harmful to your dog. Bromelain is a property which assists with anti-inflammatory, arthritis and tumour regulation.
Too much of these two nutrients can upset the digestive system and cause vomiting and diarrhoea. So, remember to keep the portions you give your dog small.
Gluten-free grains for dogs
Grains are complex carbohydrates that are made from starch and fibre. They are small, hard and dry seeds that are harvested for human and animal consumption.
During consumption, the amylase enzyme breaks the starch down into glucose (simple sugar) that is used as a source of energy.
The fibre in whole grains (think oats, whole brown rice and barley) cannot be digested, but they have health benefits. There are grains that contain gluten and some are gluten-free.
It is important to ensure that you only feed gluten-free grains. Here’s the list of grains that you can feed your dog:
- Oats (just ensure that they have a ‘gluten-free certificate)
Grains provide a variety of nutrients and vitamins that are needed by your dogs. They help with overall health, provide energy, and are an economical source of energy.
3. Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Amino Acids
When it comes to animal-based fats, fish and fish oils are the top provider. Low-mercury fishes such as wild-caught salmon and sardines are safe to be consumed.
These sources are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 and promote a healthy nervous system, protects internal organs, regulates temperature and enables the absorption of vitamins.
Plant-based fats can be obtained from flaxseed, hempseed, sunflower oil and olive oil.
Just be careful not to give too much food that contains fat as it can cause gastrointestinal and pancreatitis issues.
Many also wonder if coconut oil can be given to your dog. Coconut oil can be used in many ways for your dogs, but when it comes to providing essential nutrients for a balanced diet, coconut oil is one that doesn't supply fatty acids that are needed in the diet.
Muscle meats, organ and plant-based dog-friendly food can provide the needed vitamins to your dog.
Different vitamins play different roles in your dog’s diet. What vitamins are needed for your dog and what are their benefits?
- Vitamin D: Helps in regulating calcium and phosphorus levels
- Vitamins C & E: Serves as antioxidants (comes from your various dog-friendly fruits)
- Vitamin K: helps in getting blood to clot while
- Vitamin B12: maintains the function of the nervous system.
There are two types of minerals - microminerals and macrominerals. Macrominerals are required in higher levels compared to microminerals but both are equally essential to your dog’s overall health.
Minerals can be found in various types of food. Shellfish like oyster provide zinc-rich minerals while organ meat provides iron and copper.
Phosphorus can be found in meat and bones provide high calcium minerals.
So, what types of minerals can be classed into micro minerals and macro minerals?
As we all know, most organisms cannot live without water. It makes up at least 70% of a dog's mass.
It helps regulate body temperature, flushes waste from the body, dissolves and transports nutrients to cells and hydrolyses protein, fats and carbohydrate for digestion.
Filtered, clean water straight from the tap is adequate. Ensure that the water can be easily accessible by your dog.
What are probiotics? In simple terms, probiotics is good bacteria that is needed in your dog’s stomach (gut). Probiotics help keep your dog’s gut healthy and balanced.
So what type of probiotics can you give your dog? Yogurt, kefir, bananas and green tripe are some of the probiotics containing food that can be given to your dog.
Onions and garlic are also sources of probiotics, but as we know, they are not good for dogs in large quantities and should not be given to dogs.
How can I increase my dog's nutrition?
When it comes to Fido food, moderation is the key. Too much of any food type will not be good for its health.
By giving your dog a complete, balanced meal which contains the required nutrients, it can ensure that your dog stays in the healthiest state.
Below is a summary of food that contains the essential nutrients your pals need.
Type of Foods
Fish, eggs, lean muscled meat, lentils, beans
Good muscles, bones, thick coat, skin and nails.
Energy substitute when there is no carbohydrate and fats.
Vegetables: Tomatoes, carrot, celery, cucumber, broccoli, peas.
Fruits: Apples, bananas, berries, watermelon, pineapple.
Grains: Corn, oats, rice, millet, buckwheat, quinoa,
The main source of glucose, which is fuel to the body.
Supply important vitamins, minerals and minerals for optimum health.
Fatty amino acids
Animal-based: Wild-caught salmon, sardines.
Plant-based: Flaxseed, hempseed, sunflower oil, olive oil
Rich in omega-3 and omega-6 which promotes a healthy nervous system.
Muscle meat, organ, dark leafy greens, dog-friendly fruits.
Vitamin A, C, E, K and folate-rich, protection against cancer, anti-aging properties.
Shellfish (oyster), organ meat, bones.
Excellent source of magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, copper and iron.
Filtered, clean tap water
Dissolving and transporting nutrients, regulating body temperature, flushing waste from the body.
Kefir, yogurt, banana, green tripe
Promotes good gut health
We all want what is best for our dogs. We hope that the above guide will enable you to provide the best-balanced diet as these nutrients are important to ensure your dog’s optimal health.