Feeding your dog a high-quality dog food is the key to maintaining his health and vitality. While you might be able to meet your dog’s minimum nutritional requirements with a store-brand dog food, you won’t be doing your dog any favors. The quality of your dog’s diet is directly related to his health and wellness, and not all dog foods are created equal!
There are a variety of different tactics you can employ to choose a dog food, but you should start by learning the basics about your dog’s nutritional needs. The basic nutritional requirements are the same for all dogs. You should be aware, however, that there are some differences when it comes to issues of size and activity level. For example, a small-breed dog has different energy requirements than a large-breed dog and a working breed will need more calories than a dog who lies on the couch all day. Understanding your dog’s individual nutritional requirements is essential for helping you to choose the best dog food formula.
A Word About Breed-Specific Dog Food
There are hundreds of different dog breeds out there, many of which have yet to be recognized by the American Kennel Club or other dog breed organizations. Each dog breed is unique in terms of temperament and appearance – many breeds were also developed with a specific purpose in mind. Though the number of individual dog breeds in existence is very high, they all have the same evolutionary history – up to a point.
The scientific name Canis familiaris is the name given to the domestic dog. You are undoubtedly familiar with different types of dog like the Golden Retriever or the Poodle. What you may not realize is that all of these dogs belong to the same species – Canis familiaris. Names like Golden Retriever and Poodle refer to different breeds, but they all come from the same species. The term “breed” is used to describe what the Oxford English Dictionary calls, “a line of descendants perpetuating particular hereditary qualities”. This is a nutshell explanation of dog breeding. Though each of the hundreds of dog breeds was developed for specific phenotypic traits (like size, coat color, and build), they can all be traced back to the same species.
All of this is to say that the nutritional needs for a Golden Retriever are not significantly different from those of a Poodle. All dogs have a biological need to eat a diet that is composed primarily of animal products – meat. That is simply the way that domestic dogs evolved from Canis lupis, the wolf. A dog’s body is biologically adapted to deriving nutrition more efficiently from animals than from plants. That’s why high-quality dog foods place so much importance on the inclusion of meat. Your dog’s body needs animal-based protein to survive – he also needs fat for energy. Carbohydrates do not play an important role in the natural diet of wild wolves, nor the evolutionary diet of domestic dogs.
Getting back to the point, you may be familiar with certain dog food brands that sell formulas specific to different dog breeds. Brands like Eukanuba and Royal Canin come to mind. Unfortunately, these products can be misleading – especially for inexperienced dog owners. The development of these products is based on the theory that different breeds have different biological makeup and therefor different nutritional needs. The truth is, however, that all dog breeds come from the same species which means that they are technically all evolved to follow the same kind of diet. There are minor differences between different breeds in terms of energy requirements and specific dietary needs (things like food allergies or sensitivities). But there is no real need to feed your dog a breed-specific recipe. In fact, if you check the ingredients list for some of these products you won’t find any significant differences at all.
Understanding Your Dog’s Nutritional Needs
Now that you can see why breed-specific nutrition for dogs can be misleading, I want to help you understand your dog’s nutritional needs. As I already mentioned, all domestic dogs evolved from the wild wolf, Canis lupus, but individual breeds started to show up somewhere around 3,000 to 4,000 years ago. Some of the earliest depictions of domesticated dogs come from pottery and paintings dating back to ancient Egypt. Over the centuries, these dogs were used in the development of new dog breeds which, in turn, were then used to develop even newer breeds. And that brings us to today where we have hundreds of different breeds, each uniquely different from the others.
Because all domestic dogs are evolved from the wild wolf, they have a biological need to follow a primarily animal-based diet. Dogs are not obligate carnivores in the way that cats are – they have a limited ability to digest and absorb nutrition from certain plant products. Meat is still the most important element in a dog’s diet, however. The primary nutrient your dog needs is protein and it should come from animal-based sources like poultry, meat, eggs, and fish. Protein plays a role in the development and maintenance of healthy tissue and muscles – an adult dog needs a diet that consists of at least 18% protein and puppies need a minimum of 22%.
After protein, the next most important nutrient in your dog’s diet is fat. While you might think of fat as a bad thing, it is actually a highly-concentrated source of energy for your dog. Your dog needs to have at least 5% of his diet to come from fat as an adult and at least 8% as a puppy. Fat plays a particularly important role in the diet of small-breed dogs and working breeds because they have especially high needs for energy (calories). Dogs in these categories may also have higher needs for protein to help them maintain their lean muscle mass, but their minimum requirements are the same.
As I already mentioned, dogs do not have any specific requirement for carbohydrates in their diet. Dogs have a limited ability to digest plant products and they can benefit from some dietary fiber to regulate their digestion. But because a dog’s body is best adapted to deriving nutrition from animal-based sources, too much carbohydrate can be detrimental for your dog. A limited amount of fiber in your dog’s diet can help to boost his digestion while too much fiber can cause the opposite problem – constipation, diarrhea, and other digestive issues. A quality dog food diet won’t contain more than 5% crude fiber and any carbohydrates will come from sources that are easily digestible for dogs.
What is the Best Dog Food to Feed My:
Now that you know a little more about your dog’s minimum nutritional needs and the potential problems caused by breed-specific nutrition, you may be wondering how to choose the best dog food for your dog. Below you will find a list of articles to answer that very question – just click on your dog’s breed to learn more about his specific dietary needs and to receive recommendations for the best dog food brand based on his breed:
- Australian Shepherd
- Bichon Frise
- Boston Terrier
- Cane Corso
- Cavalier King Charles
- French Bulldog
- Golden Retriever
- German Shepherd
- German Shorthaired Pointer
- Great Dane
- Miniature Schnauzer
In the end, it is your decision which dog food brand to feed your pup but it is not a decision that should be taken lightly. It should be obvious to you by now just how important the quality of your dog’s diet is for his long-term health and wellness. If you really want to make sure that your dog gets the best of the best, you should take into consideration breed-specific factors like size, activity level, and related health problems. The links above will guide you in choosing the best dog food brand for the breed you have.