Become a Dog Nutritionist: The Down Low on Healthy Dog Food

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There are six essential classes of nutrients for dogs required for optimum health. These include water, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.

Unfortunately, many dogs aren’t getting the nutrients they need. The good news is, as a pet owner, you can learn what your dog needs and ensure they are healthy and happy throughout every stage of life.

While you can work with a dog nutritionist, you can also take matters into your own hands. Keep reading to learn the basics of dog nutrition.

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Important Nutrients for Every Dog

There are several nutrients you need to ensure your dog is eating each day, regardless of age or current health. These include:


The tissues in a dog’s body are made of protein. However, the dog’s body only makes 13 of the 23 amino acids that create the proteins. The other 10 have to come from the food they eat.

If your dog doesn’t get the proteins they need, they may suffer from low blood protein. If this happens, it could cause intestinal disease, malnutrition, and liver disease.


Fats give your dog energy. They also help to keep your dog’s hair and skin healthy. Some of the most important fatty acids for your dog include:

  • Omega-3
  • Omega-6
  • Linoleic acid

It’s important to understand your dog’s body can make adequate fatty acids on its own, which means you need to ensure they get quality food that includes these essential fats.


Carbohydrates come from plant sources. When your dog eats vegetables and grains, they also get sugars, starches, and fiber.

Carbs help to power the tissues in your dog’s body. They also help in intestinal health.

Vitamins and Minerals

These are necessary for many chemical reactions in a dog’s body, including building bones and ensuring they remain strong. The good news is, your dog can easily get all the vitamins and minerals they need by choosing a “balanced” dog food.

Some vitamins and minerals required for superior health include vitamins A, D, E, and K, and phosphorus, calcium, and B-complex vitamins. It’s unnecessary to have vitamin C in their food because their body can produce it.

When your dog eats nutritious food, they won’t need mineral or vitamin supplements. In fact, according to Innovet, giving your dog supplements can be dangerous.


Even if your dog loses all his body fat and up to half of his protein, he can survive. However, just like for humans, water is so crucial to your dog that it may lose if they lose only 10 percent of the water in its body.

Water makes up over half of an adult dog’s total body weight.

While canned dog food may have a lot of water content, it’s not enough to keep your dog properly hydrated. You need to make sure your dog always as clean and fresh water available.

Tips for Selecting the Right Food for Your Dog

Now that you know the essential nutrients your dog needs, it’s time to learn what you need to look for to find the right food to keep them healthy and active. Some tips to help you find the best food can be found here.

Consider Your Dog’s Reproductive Status, Breed, Activity, and Age

The physical characteristics, overall health, and behavior are important when trying to choose the right dog food. Lactating mother dogs and puppies need more calories each day, and senior pets require fewer.

Also, active breeds need more calories than a “couch potato” breed. The amount and type of food, when fed correctly, will help your dog avoid health issues that may cause obesity.

Some dog food brands formulate the food they sell based on breed. However, most will only differentiate the food between large or small breed formulas. The differences are primarily the size of the kibble, but it’s important your dog can eat safely and comfortably.

Get to Know the Industry Jargon

Did you know the wording on a dog food package is a code to how much protein is in the food? Simple names, such as “Chicken dog food,” or “Beef for dogs” indicate that the protein makes up 95 percent of the total product, not including the water content. With the water added, the total content meets the 70 percent protein required.

Another keyword to look for is “dinner.” For example, if you find a food label that reads “Salmon Dinner for Dogs,” it only contains 25 percent protein. This is also true for words such as “formula,” “nuggets,” “entrée,” and “platter.”

If you find several ingredients on the label, when they are combined, they are required to reach 25 percent of the total product.

If the label has a phrase such as “with salmon,” “with beef,” or “with” anything else, the food only has to contain three percent of the ingredient. If “flavor” is used, it means there only has to be trace amounts of the food – just enough for the dog to detect.

How a Dog Nutritionist Can Help

While the tips and information found here can help you find the right food for your dog, it may also be necessary for you to work with a dog nutritionist if you are concerned with their health or well-being. If you notice your dog has any ailments or other problems, the best thing you can do is find if they are deficient in a specific nutrient or vitamin.

If you are looking for more information about your dog’s health and well-being, or just general tips and resources for life, keep browsing our blog. Our goal is to provide updated and accurate information and resources to our audience delivered regularly.

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