Here's All That You Need To Know About Dog Nutrition

Nutrition, last updated 09th, Sep 2021, DrAn

For a healthy life we need a healthy Balanced diet. That is, a diet that can supply all the essential components required for maintaining and meeting the requirements of the body. A balanced diet is one that helps maintain or improve general health. So is the case with our pets. A balanced diet is absolutely necessary to maintain a healthy disease free life.

For providing your pet with a balanced diet, you need to understand your dog’s nutritional needs. And that is what this article will try and do.

Nutrition means:

1.     The process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth.

2.     Food; nourishment.

The basic requirements of a dog’s diet are

1.     Energy

2.     Proteins

3.     Fats

4.     Minerals and vitamins

5.     Fibre / Roughage

6.     Water

“Hey. Wait a minute. This is what I read as our requirement”. Yes, I bet you did. And this exactly is what your dog needs as well. The quantity is what varies. This is important because, before you make a decision on what to feed your dog, you NEED to know what his requirements are.

Dog Nutrition Pyamid

1. Energy:

Energy is what keeps the “Machine” running. Energy is needed for running, walking, getting up or even breathing. Energy is required for each and every cell to function. The primary source of energy of course is the Carbohydrates. They supply immediate energy and are also stored for later use as fats. When your dog is kept on a diet, the stored up fats get used.

2. Proteins:

Like we used to say back in fifth grade “Proteins are the Basic Building Blocks of Life”. And amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Animals require proteins as proteins are necessary for the structure and functioning of the cells and all amino acids cannot be synthesised by the body. Increased requirement occurs during pregnancy, lactation and growth period.

3. Fats:

Fats are also a source of energy but are considered to be secondary to carbs. They are stored sources kept aside for tougher times. Fats are also needed for providing a better texture to the food.

4. Vitamins and Minerals:

Vitamins and minerals are an indispensible part of the diet and directly act in many of the body functions and metabolic pathways. They help to regulate body metabolism. Some are required in large amounts while others in traces.

5. Fibre / Roughage:

They do not specifically play a role in nutrition per say. But they act in helping the movement of food through the digestive tract. They help in managing constipation and diarrhoea. It’s usually of plant origin and composed of indigestible materials.

6. Water:

Water is the absolute essentiality of life. Your dog cannot go more than a few days without water. Water is continually lost through skin, breathing and excretion. It must be replenished through intake of fluid or by break down of ingested food stuffs.

The above mentioned components are the basic requirements of your dog’s diet. The quantity in which they are required varies depending on the age of the animal, its sex, its level of activity and the ambient climatic conditions.

The dietary requirements of a puppy and an adult are very different and are given in detail in the following chart.


Dog Nutrition Chart

Based on age:

For PuppyRoyal Canin Medium Junior Dog Food

  • Puppies need more quantity of some of the amino acids and proteins that are very much necessary for proper growth and development of each part of the body.
  • Inadequate nutrition can cause stunted growth as well as infections. Its an additional concern if you are having a large breed puppy. This is because an abnormally fast growth rate may result in hip dysplasia and other orthopaedic problems.

For Adult:

  • Royal Canin Adult Dog FoodThe diet for larger breed puppies should have lesser fats and lesser caloric density than those designed for small and medium breed puppies. An abnormal calcium and phosphorous relation can result in dangerous consequences.

When feeding your dog, make sure you don't over feed him. also make sure he is not underfed either. The following chart will help you to easily look and your dog and say wether he is under weight, over weight or in ideal condition.

When you look from above, an under weight dogs Ribs are clearly visible and there is a marked concavity posterior to the ribs. For the ideal dog, the ribs are not visible but are easily felt while touching. A concavity is present just so you can differentiate the abdominal region. For an over weight dog when you look from above, neither the ribs are visible nor is there a concavity. The abdominal region may even be convex due to fat deposition. From profile also, the abdominal tuck willl be missing.

Breed Specific Diets?

The nutritional requirement for a Rottweiler is definitely not the same as that of a Chihuahua. But the thing is, the contents are all the same and what’s differing is the quantity required. I feel that pet food companies should rather concentrate on developing a food that is more suited to the species than going for breed specific dog foods.

Of course there is justice in foods designed based on the size of the dog breed. A dog classed under Giant does not have the requirements of one that is under the Toy breed class. So, while I do believe it’s only right that the companies are coming up with foods designed for dogs of various size classes, I think it’s not right that they are developing BREED specific ones. Also the needs vary based on the age of the dog as was mentioned higher up on this article.

Based on Size:

                          Giant Breeds                                                           Miniature Breeds

Royal Canin Giant Adult Dog Food        Royal Canin Mini Dog Food


Based on Specific Periods in Life:

Lactating Female Dogs and Puppies

Royal Canin Dog Food

Food supplements:

In reality it would be very difficult if not impossible to give the perfect food as there is none yet that can be called COMPLETE. So the need for supplements. Supplements can be incorporated based on your Vet’s advice or based on your own nutritional analysis. There are a wide variety of supplements now available each having nique contents and meeting a separate need. The vet analyses a deficiency, u can go and get the right dog supplement for the condition.

Food and Coat:

Itchy, flaky, dry skin without any lustre? The dog might be having a deficiency. Have him analysed and your vet might probably come to this conclusion after ruling out other possibilities. The most important factor needed for a healthy coat are the essential fatty acids. Dogs on low quality commercial foods or improperly balanced home diets can often have unhealthy skin and coat.

Dogs that are fed on low fat diets have poor skin/ coat and are prone to developing skin lesions. The main fatty acids required would be the Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids. High quality foods will have them in the proper quantity.

Oral Care:

Dental care is absolutely essential because I am sure all of us has had to endure tooth ache due to a decay at least once. There are doggie brushes and toothpastes available for this purpose. Never use human toothpaste on your dog, it is considered toxic for the dogs. Another method is to use dog chews. They are available as all veggie or non-veg formulations. When a chew is used, the dog is stimulating its salivation and this has a positive effect. The saliva helps in clearing out the debris that may have remained after the previous feeding. Also the chewing has a stimulating effect on the periodontium [what holds the tooth in its place] and helps in maintaining a healthy dental status. More over, the newer chews come with vitamins added for additional benifit.

That briefly covers the Basic Nutritional Needs of your Dog. Before you go to the store next time to get a dog food, remember to do a bit of research. Ask a few friends, ask experienced dog keepers, do a search on the internet. Buy trusted and proven brands. Do not buy something just because it is cheaper than the other. You can trust whats written on the label of a trusted brand more. Do a bit of experimenting and finally you will figure out something that suits your dogs needs.


thanks a lot doc. very very informative article

By: Shanu | 21 Apr 2013

Vet Rakan Tambolat Alshishany
very useful article

By: Vet Rakan Tambolat Alshishany | 21 Sep 2013

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