Category Archives: Dog Nutrition

Nutrition in Older Animals

Manipulation of dietary intake in older animals is necessary when there is either: (1) frank clinical disease present (2) subclinical disease present (3) the nutritional requirements of the individual have changed. Commercial pet foods have been formulated specifically for old dogs and in the future it is likely that foods will be developed for older cats as well. The justification for such products is based upon several premises: (1) That older animals have different nutritional requirements from younger adults. (2) That it is desirable to reduce the dietary intake of certain nutrients because they may be risk factors for the development, onset or progression of age-related changes. (3) That it is desirable to reduce the dietary intake of certain nutrients because they may be risk factors for the development, onset or progression of disease processes. (4) That it is desirable to increase the dietary intake of certain nutrients because of an increased requirement in older animals due to ageing changes in various organ systems. (5) That it is desirable to increase the dietary intake of certain nutrients because of increased requirements due to the likely presence of subclinical disease. (6) Read more […]

The Scoop on Dog Food

^ Knowing how much protein, carbohydrates, and fats your dog needs ^ Making sure that your dog is getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals ^ Getting an inside look at how your dog’s food is made ^ Checking out organic options Dogs are carnivores — meat eaters. Their teeth are shaped for biting, tearing, and grinding flesh and bones, and their intestinal tracts are short, with enzymes that are good for digesting proteins (but not very good at breaking down and absorbing plant material). So it only makes sense that your dog’s diet should be meat based. Dogs are also opportunists, which means they’ll eat whatever comes their way, including the trash in your kitchen and the grass in your yard. They do gain nutritional benefits from vegetables, fruits, and grains, but they need meat in their diets as their main source of nutrition. This post covers the eight building blocks of nutrition. All these building blocks are required in a well-balanced diet, regardless of the dog. But the amounts of these nutritional elements that each dog needs depends on that dog’s unique situation — puppies and adults need different amounts, as do spayed and pregnant females, and active and inactive dogs. Proteins A brief history Read more […]


Proteins are the most critical component of food for your canine carnivore. They are also the most abundant component of your dog’s body. Your dog needs proteins to produce hair, nails, tendons, cartilage, and all the connective tissues that support the rest of the tissues and organs in her body. Adequate protein is important for your dog’s growth and proper development, her muscle development and strength, a functioning immune system, the production of functioning hormones, the proper volume of blood, injury repair and prevention, and much, much more. Your dog’s body can also use proteins to produce energy, if necessary. Fats and carbohydrates are much more readily available sources of energy, but dogs can break down proteins and convert them to energy when necessary, such as when food supply is low. Proteins are made up of amino acids linked in a chain. When your dog eats protein, enzymes that the pancreas secretes into the intestines break them down into shorter chains of amino acids called polypeptides, which are small enough for the intestines to absorb. A dog’s body makes 20 different amino acids — some are essential amino acids and others are nonessential amino acids. As the name implies, your dog requires Read more […]

A brief history of dog food

Before the late 19th century, there was no such thing as prepared dog food. Lucky dogs owned by the well-to-do ate the leftovers from their owners’ dinners, and street dogs aplenty canvassed the alleys, scrounging in the trash. In the 1870s, a time when transportation literally used horse power, a European entrepreneur devised a unique way to solve the problem of what to do with the carcasses of the many horses that died every day in the cities: He decided to package and sell the horse meat as dog food. The idea caught on, particularly among the wealthy, who appreciated the convenience of having a ready-made food for their dogs. The first commercial dog foods in North America were made by Ralston-Purina in 1926. The foods were tested on dogs that the company kept in large kennels on the property near St. Louis, Missouri. Ralston-Purina dog food was given the ultimate test when it was fed to the sled dogs on Admiral Byrd’s expedition to Antarctica in 1933. Although this was a punishing test for a dog food, it also was an early precursor to the celebrity endorsements that are a major part of the advertising budgets for many large companies today. In the decade after World War II, the idea of prepared dog food really Read more […]


Fats are the major source of energy for dogs. Dogs who live outdoors in the cold need more fat to supply them with the energy to keep warm. And police dogs and working dogs need enough fat so they don’t have to get their energy from carbohydrate or protein supplies. But fats do more than provide your dog with energy. They also help keep skin and foot pads supple and coats healthy. Supplying an allergic dog with the proper amount and type of fats can make a huge difference in how much she scratches. Fats also carry fat-soluble vitamins into the body from the intestines. These vitamins are essential for health, and the only way your dog can absorb them is if she eats enough fat to carry them into her body. Plus, just as with our own food, fat makes a dog’s food tastier, which can be important in helping dogs who are ill to eat enough. Fatty acids are the major component of fat. Dogs really need only omega-6 fatty acid (linoleic acid), because they can’t make it on their own. Linoleic acid keeps your dog’s skin supple and pliable, and her pads and nose leather flexible. Dogs lacking linoleic acid have scruffy, dry coats and dry, cracked pads. Luckily, dogs don’t need a lot of linoleic acid. Good sources are beef, pork, Read more […]


Dogs require 14 different vitamins. With only a few exceptions, dogs don’t make the vitamins themselves, which means they must get these vitamins in their food. Vitamins participate in numerous chemical reactions that help to release the needed nutrients from food and help the dog’s body put those nutrients to use. Vitamins can be either water soluble or fat soluble. Water-soluble Vitamins Water-soluble vitamins have to be supplied on a daily basis, because they are continually broken down and excreted. They include the following: • Thiamin (vitamin B1): Promotes a good appetite and normal growth. Required for energy production. • Riboflavin (vitamin B2): Promotes growth. • Pyridoxine (vitamin B6): Aids in the metabolism of proteins and the formation of red blood cells. • Pantothenic acid: Required for energy and for protein metabolism. • Niacin: Exists in many enzymes that process carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. • Vitamin B12: Necessary for DNA synthesis and intestinal function. • Folic acid: Works together with vitamin B12 and in many of the body’s chemical reactions. • Biotin: Acts as a component of several important enzyme systems. • Choline: Required for proper transmission of nerve Read more […]


Minerals are present in small amounts in the tissues of all living things. Teeth, bones, muscles, and nerves have especially high mineral content. Although the AAFCO provides guidelines for the minimum amounts of minerals necessary for canine growth and development, each dog’s mineral requirements depend on the current nutritional state. For example, if a dog is iron deficient, he will need and absorb more iron from the intestinal tract. Working dogs and ill or stressed dogs may also have higher requirements. Minerals can be divided into two groups: major minerals and trace minerals. The major minerals are required in gram amounts each day, whereas the trace minerals are required in milligram or microgram amounts per day. Of the trace minerals, several are known to be required for canine health, and the roles of others are less understood. Your dog’s body needs to maintain a delicate balance between the various major and trace minerals. For several trace minerals, the line between the required amount and toxic levels is a thin one. So supplementing an already balanced dog food with minerals can create more problems than it solves. Table Sources of Minerals lists the different minerals your dog needs and which foods Read more […]

The Main Types of Dog Food

If you’re like most people, when you look at the shelves of dog food in the store, you’re bewildered by the choices available: puppy foods and senior foods, foods for large dogs and small dogs, diet foods for pudgy pooches, foods that claim to be all natural, foods that promise to improve your dog’s coat, foods that make their own gravy, and foods shaped like little bones. How can you possibly pick the best food for your furry friend that will give him all the nutrients he needs and help him live a long and healthy life? Worry not. The following sections help you make better choices when buying dog food. Many different forms of dog food are available today. Dry food usually contains less than 10 percent water, semi-moist foods contain 25 to 40 percent water, and canned food contains 75 to 80 percent water. You may also have heard the terms premium or super-premium to describe dog foods, but these terms don’t have a legal definition — they can be used by anyone. Premium is a term frequently used to describe high-quality dog foods generally sold in pet supply stores rather than grocery stores. Super-premium generally refers to the highest-quality foods that are prepared using the best ingredients available. Likewise, Read more […]

Reading a Dog Food Label

The first place you need to look when trying to decide on a food for your furry friend is the label on the bag, box, or can. Reading a dog food label isn’t very different from reading the one on your cereal box. A certain amount of nutritional information must be included on the label, but a certain amount of leeway exists in how the dog food company presents it. Divide the label into two parts: the product display panel (on the front of the package) and the information panel (usually on the back). The product display panel The product display panel is the place where the dog food company hopes to catch your eye. So it makes sense that it appears on the front of the package. You’ll typically find a few key pieces of information on the product display panel, primarily the dog food company name, the product identity, the product use (whether it’s dog food or cat food, for example), and the net weight of the package. You may also find a banner statement, which is where the dog food company makes claims about the quality of the food. Product identity The product identity section states the name of the product, such as Big Bart’s Beefy Dinner. Any terminology regarding the meat or meat flavor used in the product identity Read more […]

Paying Attention to How You Feed Your Dog

Many people free-feed their dogs, which is the practice of keeping a dog’s bowl full and letting him eat whenever he wants. Although this may seem like an easy approach to feeding, free-feeding isn’t a good idea, for many reasons: • Dogs who are free-fed are more likely to be overweight. This may not have been true in the past, but with today’s highly palatable foods, your dog will enjoy eating long past the point at which she’s full. She will likely take in more calories than she needs and carry the fat to prove it. • You can’t tell exactly how much your dog is eating. In fact, you may not recognize that your dog is ill until you suddenly notice you haven’t been adding much food to her bowl in the past few days. Food intake is one of the best indicators of health, so you should always be in a position to monitor your dog’s intake accurately. • Medicating dogs who are free-fed is more difficult. If you have to give your dog pills, such as heartworm preventive, and your dog is free-fed, you will have to make sure that you pop it down her throat and she swallows it. However, if she gets fed two square meals a day, you can just add the pill to her food and it will go right down the hatch! • Free-feeding is Read more […]