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The diet of a dog must contain various nutrients to survive: amino acids from
proteins, fatty acids and carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals,and water.
Dog food can sometimes create unwanted behaviour problems in your dog
Processes and additives can have an adverse effect on dog behaviour
Learn more about healthy dog food
PROTEINS AND AMINO ACIDS
Dogs cannot survive without protein in their diets. Dietary protein contains 10 specific amino acids that dogs cannot make on their own. Known as essential amino acids, they provide the building blocks for many important biologically active compounds and proteins. In addition, they donate the carbon chains needed to make glucose for energy. High-quality proteins have a good balance of all of the essential amino acids. Studies show that dogs can tell when their food lacks a single amino acid and will avoid such a meal.
Dogs are known to selectively choose foods that are high in protein. Whether this is simply a matter of taste or a complex response to their biological needs for all 10 essential amino acids is not known. However, dogs can survive on a vegetarian diet as long as it contains sufficient protein and is supplemented with vitamin D.
FATS AND FATTY ACIDS
Dietary fats, mainly derived from animal fats and the seed oils of various plants, provide the most concentrated source of energy in the diet. They supply essential fatty acids that cannot be synthesised in the body and serve as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins. Fatty acids play a role in cell structure and function. Food fats tend to enhance the taste and texture of the dog’s food as well. Essential fatty acids are necessary to keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy. Puppies fed ultralow-fat diets develop dry, coarse hair and skin lesions that become increasingly vulnerable to infections. Deficiencies in the so-called “omega-3” family of essential fatty acids may be associated with vision problems and impaired learning ability. Another family of essential fatty acids called “omega-6” has been shown to have important physiologic effects in the body.
ENERGY NEEDS OF GROWING PUPPIES
The growing puppy starts out needing about twice as many calories per pound of body weight as an adult dog of the same breed. Owners should start feeding puppies food at approximately 4 weeks after birth, because mother’s milk is no longer sufficient. Food is best offered to puppies in multiple, well-spaced meals.
ENERGY NEEDS OF
Because of decreased physical activity and slowed metabolism, older dogs need 20% fewer total calories than do middle-aged adult dogs. As dogs age, they tend to become overweight. It may take obese dogs longer for their blood glucose concentrations to return to normal. This disrupted carbohydrate metabolism can lead to diabetes.
Dogs need a certain amount of energy to sustain the normal activities of their daily lives. Growth, pregnancy, lactation, and exercise all increase these normal energy requirements. Generally measured in terms of calories, energy comes from three major dietary components: carbohydrates, protein, and fats. Omnivorous animals get some of their energy from carbohydrates, which include sugars, starches, and dietary fibres. The major sources of carbohydrates in commercial dog foods are cereals, legumes, and other plant foodstuffs. So-called absorbable carbohydrates, including glucose and fructose, can be directly absorbed and do not need to be digested by enzymes. Digestible carbohydrates are readily broken down by intestinal tract enzymes. Fermentable carbohydrates include certain starches and dietary fibres that pass undigested through the small intestine to the colon, where they are fermented by microbes into short-chain fatty acids and gases. Some studies suggest that fermentable fibres may aid in the regulation of blood glucose concentrations and enhance immune function. Nonfermentable fibres, such as cellulose and wheat bran, contribute little in terms of energy or nutrition and are primarily used to decrease caloric intake of the overweight animal.