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Dog Food for Optimal Health

Most dog owners want to provide the best nutrition and energy sources available for their pets. The quality and quantity of nutrients supplied to an animal through its dog food diet affects the overall health and wellbeing of that animal. Knowing exactly which nutrients are required and in what concentrations, ratios and quantities requires a thorough and extensive knowledge of canine nutrition and physiology. Feeding a premium quality commercial dog food appropriate for your individual dog's specific life stage or dietary needs provides owners with a sense of ease that their best friend is well looked after and given the best chance at optimal health.

The nutrients and calories provided to an animal through their dog food provide for the growth and development of new tissue, provides the building blocks for the healing and regeneration of damaged tissues, strengthens and supports the immune system and maintains the health and function of the body. Nutrition is the cornerstone of health in many, many areas and should be used as a focus for preventative medicine and optimal care of your pet.

Essential Nutrients in Dog Food

The six essential nutrient groups are protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water.

The balance of nutrients required will vary according the animal's age, life stage, size and general health needs. Imbalances in the nutrient profile of your dog's diet can cause significant disruptions to the normal growth and function of your dog's body, which may result in the development of clinical disease. Ensuring the diet offered to your pet is correctly balanced and provides optimal nutrition at a reasonable price is a challenge faced by all dog owners. Quality commercial dog foods are formulated to meet the changing nutrient and energy requirements of dogs at different stages of their development and during different medical crises. The ready availability of such dog foods takes the stress out of choosing what is best for your beloved pooch.

Premium quality commercial dog food will ensure that your pet is provided with the correct nutrients in the correct ratios to ensure optimal growth and nutrition. A home-made human style diet does not readily satisfy the nutrient needs of most pets and some foods readily consumed by humans can prove toxic or even fatal for dogs. Home-made diets should only be used when specifically prescribed and designed by a veterinary nutritionist for your individual animal.

Dog Food for Every Life Stage

Manufacturers of premium quality dog foods provide a wide range of products to specifically meet the nutrient requirements of your dog at varying stages of its life. These include foods designed to meet the specific needs of puppies during growth, adult dogs of differing activity levels, senior dogs with deteriorating joints, overweight dogs which need fewer calories but still need certain nutrient levels, to name but a few. Commercial dog food diets can also cater specifically for the altered biological needs of dogs during certain periods of illness and to support the management of certain disease processes.

How to Choose the Best Dog Food Diet

Owners should look for diets with a fixed formula, high quality protein ingredients and then take into account some of the following.

For healthy dogs, the first considerations when choosing which dog food is most appropriate are:

  • Life stage. This is the current age and breeding status of the dog is your dog a puppy, adult or senior animal? Is your dog pregnant, lactating, desexed or entire?
  • Breed. Small breeds such as Chihuahuas have differing nutritional needs to large breed dogs such as Rottweilers or Great Danes. Different foods will meet these specific requirements and this is especially important during the growth phase.
  • Breed characteristics. Is your dog of a breed known to have a predisposition towards joint disease or skin disease? Some maintenance diets are fortified with support nutrients or nutraceuticals to help reduce development of these disorders or support healthy joints or skin in such animals even when no signs are yet present.
  • Activity level of your dog. Is your dog a working dog, is your dog involved in active sports or a more sedentary creature?
  • Weight. Is your dog overweight? Body condition scoring can be used by owners or your veterinarian to establish whether your dog is overweight and would benefit from a specifically designed weight reduction diet.

Dog Food Diets for Medical Issues

For dogs with medical complaints a veterinarian may advise on the use of a prescription style commercial diet. These types of diets are widespread and cover a variety of medical conditions. Some of the more common ones include diets to support other treatments in the maintenance of renal disease, hepatic disease, skin disease, joint disease, obesity, cardiac disease, gastrointestinal disease, dental disease and many, many more. These diets are specifically designed to support the altered physiological and metabolic states of these animals whilst still delivering all required nutrients and energy in the quantities and ratios required.

Once the choices are suitably narrowed down, owners can then make decisions based on more cursory things such as flavour, wet vs dry formulations and affordability of the dog food.

Regarding affordability and value for money, the high quality ingredients and high energy density generally found in premium quality dog foods results in smaller volumes of food needing to be fed. The high digestibility and efficient utilisation of the nutrients by the animal also results in less wastage via eliminatory mechanisms of the body.

Choosing the appropriate dog food diet for your pet to ensure optimal nutrition is the first step in providing the basis for a long, healthy life. Now where is that pet bowl...?