Pet care: Essential nutrients for a dog

Pet care: Essential nutrients for a dog

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Like all living beings, dogs need nutrition to survive and thrive. Most healthy dogs should be capable of meeting their nutritional needs from quality pet food. Ask your vet to recommend a good brand and feeding routine to suit your dog’s breed and needs. But if you are curious to know what nutrients go into making a healthy, happy dog, these are the key components of a wholesome diet.

Water: Being adequately hydrated is essential to your dog’s health. While wet dog food can help your pet meet a proportion of its water needs, dogs need access to fresh water at all times. Keep in mind that an animal eating dry pet food needs more water than one consuming wet food. Dry food contains about 10% moisture whereas wet canned food has up to 78% moisture. Dehydration in dogs is to be taken very seriously as it can result in death.

Protein: Protein is used to build and repair tissue in the body. It is used to make enzymes, hormones and other chemicals. Protein makes up the basic building blocks for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. So it is an essential part of your dog’s diet. Your dog should ideally be eating animal-based proteins. These come from sources such as chicken, lamb, turkey, beef, fish and egg and contain complete amino acid profiles. Vegetarian protein sources include vegetables, cereals and soy. However, these are considered incomplete proteins.

Fats: Fats contain twice the energy as proteins or carbohydrates and are essential for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. It is a necessary part of a balanced diet, and about 10-15 per cent fat for healthy adult dogs is essential. Fats are needed in the structure of cells and are required to make certain hormones. It also provides the body with insulation and helps protect internal organs. A dog with a deficiency of essential fatty acids could suffer from reduced growth or skin problems.

Carbohydrates: These nutrients generally make up between 30 and 70% of dry dog food. Carbs are necessary to provide your dog with energy, and help with brain and nervous system function. Eating excess carbs, however, can lead to weight gain. Carbohydrates from dog foods mainly come from cereal grains. These include barley, oats, brown rice, whole wheat and whole corn.

Vitamins: Essential for enzyme reactions, a small quantity of vitamins are need for normal metabolic functioning in dogs. Most vitamins cannot be produced by the body and hence it is necessary for dogs to consume them through their diet.

Minerals: Minerals too cannot be synthesized by animals and have to be included in their diets. Minerals are important for bones and teeth, maintaining fluid balance and for metabolic function.

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