What food should you feed your dog? Is it wrong for them to eat human food? What is a balanced diet for a dog?
We tell you how to feed your dog to keep it healthy and in good shape.
The dog is an omnivorous animal, a word that comes from Latin (Omnis, everything; vorare, to eat), and that gives us to understand that dogs have a varied diet. However, we should not know that they eat everything because some elements of the human diet, also omnivorous, are harmful to the dog’s organism in some cases in a brutal way.
What does the dog eat? Foods that are beneficial for dogs
Dogs have been with humans for only 30,000 years, which means that they have not had much time, evolutionarily speaking, to modify and adapt their stomachs to human food. It must be taken into account that a dog’s digestive system is prepared to digest raw food and has a high capacity to assimilate bacteria.
Its dentition is also adapted to prey hunting, with teeth that tear meat and molars that, aided by the strength of their bite, can even crush some bones that are also part of their diet.
In nature, a dog feeds mainly on meat, its primary energy source, and protein. But it also complements this food with fruits, vegetables or fish. Although we are talking about a hunting animal, the dog has no problem when it comes to eating food found by chance on its way.
A companion, working, or house dog has the exact nutritional needs as a wild dog, so we must look for the most balanced diet to cover them to avoid deficiencies that can lead to health problems, coat, allergies, etc.
It is inevitable to start from the origin, the wolf, because the dietary evolution of the dog is one of the several differences that the company of the human being has provoked in the biology of the dogs. The wolf is fundamentally carnivorous, including fish in the usual meats, although it can also complete its diet with some fruit or wild herbs.
Being a hunting animal, most of the meat it eats is fresh, and it hardly wastes any remains of the prey, as it can digest bones and hooves.
Viscera are essential in its diet as a source of vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids. A study published in the journal Nature proved that wolves that began to coexist with human groups some 12,000 years ago began to eat leftover food that included potatoes or rice, foods rich in starch.
Current dogs can digest starch, something that wolves cannot do; however, clinical experience in recent years has shown digestive alterations in a more significant proportion in dogs whose diet includes some cereal. This may have been when the dog’s diet differentiated from the wolf’s.
There are a series of essential elements in animal feeding, in this case, not only in the dog feeding but must also be present in their adequate proportion to balance the diet.
In any case, it is always advisable to consult a veterinarian to find the best diet for our dog.
Proteins in dogs: meat and fish for dogs
Proteins are the basis of a dog’s diet. They provide most of the energy that allows the body to function correctly.
Proteins are composed of amino acids, essential elements in the assimilation and storage of nutrients (water, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals) and are found mainly in muscle tissues and viscera. They participate substantially in forming soft tissues, such as muscles, tendons, or cartilage, and are necessary for the transmission of electrical impulses of the nervous system.
A dog’s digestive system is prepared to digest high amounts of proteins, especially those of animal origin (meat and fish), but also of vegetable origin, i.e., cereals. However, these are mainly a source of carbohydrates.
To conclude, we can say that meats, offal, fish, and eggs are the primary sources of animal protein.
In any case, do not forget that it is always best to consult your veterinarian about the type of diet that best suits your dog according to its metabolic needs.
Fats: Which ones are healthy for dogs?
Fats sometimes generate rejection if they are associated with a diet, human, or any other type of animal. We associate them almost exclusively with excess weight. However, fats are necessary energy elements for the body. Their excess can be harmful, but a lack of fats is not positive either.
Due to its predator nature, we must not forget that the dog’s digestive system is prepared to digest animal fats easily.
We must remember that fats increase the taste, so many prepared foods abuse them. An excess of fat is the cause of obesity, which leads to different health problems: overloaded joints, respiratory alterations, cardiovascular disorders, metabolic and endocrine problems, etc.
The biggest problem we face with fats is their excess in the diet, particularly obesity.
The fact that a dog is obese is a confluence of several causes, essentially overfeeding, but the lack of exercise and inadequate food intake for a balanced diet helps a lot.
But a low level of fats is unhealthy because it can cause severe problems with gums, wounds, or skin infections. Fats are a quick source of calories and, therefore, energy. They also provide essential fatty acids and are necessary for assimilating specific vitamins.
Carbohydrates for dogs
The dog, even being omnivorous, is fundamentally a predatory animal. Its belonging to the species Canis lupus is a clear indicator that its diet must-have’s significant contribution comes from the proteins offered by meat.
However, this does not mean that its only food source is meat. In the case of the dog, due to its decision to coexist with humans for some 30,000 years, its digestive system and its organism have adapted to eat other foods that also provide it with essential nutrients.
Carbohydrates are found in cereals, legumes, fruits, vegetables, and tubers and are necessary for the proper functioning of the heart and the central nervous system. They provide energy quickly, but we must not forget that the dog’s digestive system is designed to treat, above all, meat; that is to say, in nature, a dog will not eat wheat or barley, but it can occasionally add tomatoes or apples to its diet, and even some tubers.
In summary, it is interesting that carbohydrates appear in a dog’s diet, especially adding fruits and vegetables, and legumes in a smaller proportion. But without forgetting that an excess of carbohydrates causes the energy not spent to be converted into fat and immediately appear problems of overweight and obesity.
As always, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian for the best diet for our dog.
Vitamins for dogs
The dog needs a series of vitamins for the correct functioning of its organism. Each of them has a function:
Vitamins A and E
They help burn fat more efficiently, are potent antioxidants, and improve the health of the dog’s skin and eyes. Both eggs and the liver are sources of these vitamins.
This is a broad group of vitamins that contribute, among other things, to cell growth and development, nerve impulse transmission, absorption and assimilation of nutrients, proper functioning of the digestive system, and even DNA repair. As there are several types, they can be found in legumes, vegetables, offal, cereals, and eggs.
It is a powerful booster for the dog’s immune system. Very green leafy vegetables are a source of this vitamin.
It is essential for growth as it helps the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, essential minerals for the creation and strengthening of bones and teeth. It is found in fish such as tuna and sardines, fish liver oils, egg yolk, and dairy products.
If they are of good quality, prepared foods contain the essential vitamin contribution for the dog’s diet, so it is unnecessary to make an extra contribution of vitamins. In any case, it is always advisable to consult your veterinarian in case of doubt.
Minerals for dogs
Minerals are essential in a dog’s diet. In prepared foods, the indication of ashes indicates the number of minerals found in that food since they result from roasting it.
These are the characteristics of the essential minerals.
Essential for the development and consolidation of the skeleton and teeth. Its excess can cause abnormal bone growth and calcification problems.
Like calcium, the bones must be in a proper state. It also contributes to the proper functioning of cell membranes.
Cells need potassium for their metabolism to function correctly. It is also an essential mineral for the heart to work properly.
It is an essential mineral in the regulation of energy expenditure and water balance in the body.
It is an essential mineral for correctly transmitting nerve impulses and muscle function.
It is part of hemoglobin, essential in transporting oxygen to red blood cells and muscles.
Frequently asked questions by dog owners
What fruits do dogs eat?
The dog’s digestive system is designed to deal primarily with meat; in nature, a dog will not eat wheat or barley, but it may occasionally add tomatoes or apples, or even a tuber, to its diet.
What foods have protein for dogs?
A dog’s digestive system is prepared to digest high amounts of proteins, especially those of animal origin (meat and fish), but also of vegetable origin, i.e., cereals. However, these are mainly a source of carbohydrates. To conclude, we can say that meats, offal, fish, and eggs are the primary sources of animal protein.