Essential Nutrients for Dogs (Puppy Nutrition 101)

Beyond being a source of energy, dogs need food to get the right nutrients. For your dog to be well fed and have the right nutrients, it will need to feed on a balanced diet. Apart from situations in which a dog has special needs or is sick, it should be able to get all the nutrients it needs from commercial pet foods. Keep reading to learn the essential nutrients for dogs.

Although dogs are supposed to get all the nutrients they need from commercial pet foods, it is important to know the nutritional requirements of dogs differ with age. Due to this, what is ideal for one dog might not necessarily be good enough for another dog.

What Nutrients do You Dogs Need?

Dogs get nutrients from the foods they eat, and they use these nutrients as a source of energy. These nutrients always play a role in maintaining their body and in growth. Every dog needs six essential nutrients to grow at its optimum. These nutrients are:


Dogs are unable to synthesize minerals. Due to this, they must feed on diets that provide all the minerals that they need. All things being equal, dogs depend on minerals the most for building their teeth and bones. Minerals also help in the maintenance of fluid balance. Dogs are not good at transforming linoleic acid into DHA or EPA. Therefore it is recommended to supply it via cold water fish oil.

Tip: We strongly recommend to read our homemade food recipes for skin allergies post.


For dogs to stay healthy and function at their optimum, they need vitamins in high amounts. Dogs are unable to synthesize vitamins. This means every single vitamin they need must be gotten from their diets.

If you are able to feed your dog with balanced diets regularly, you will not need to give it vitamin supplements. The only time you should give your dog vitamins supplements alongside a balanced meal is if it is struggling with vitamin deficiencies. Vitamins to include:

  • Vitamins A, D, E, K
  • Calcium
  • B-complex
  • Phosphorus

Apart from a situation in which your dog has issues with vitamin deficiencies and has been diagnosed by a veterinarian, giving a dog vitamin supplements alongside a balanced meal could lead to poisoning.

As a matter of fact, more dogs suffer from poisoning due to excess vitamins than issues of vitamin deficiency. When a dog has more vitamins than it should, it could suffer joint pain, brittle bones, dry skin, and bone pain. You can say that vitamin c is not an essential nutrient for dogs because they produce it.


Dogs get a good dose of energy from carbohydrates. They are also good for reproduction and for the health of the intestine. Although dogs do not have to feed on a certain quantity of carbohydrates to get properly fed, they have to consume the right amount of glucose to get the energy to the brain and other crucial organs.

This article contains tips to help you feed your dog the right way. For more great tips, check out


Fats might not be as popular as carbohydrates as a source of energy. Nonetheless, they are the most trusted source of energy for dogs. The energy gotten from fats is more than two times the energy that is gotten from protein and carbohydrates. In addition to providing dogs with a lot of energy, fats play a strong role in cell structure. They also come in handy in helping dogs absorb some nutrients. Fatty acids to look for:

  • Omega 3
  • Linoleic acid
  • Omega 6


Proteins play a major role in building enzymes, hormones, organs, tissues, and cells. They can be gotten from both animals and plants. To provide your dog with the right amount of proteins, some foods you should feed it are vegetables, soy, cereals, turkey, lamb, fish, beef, eggs, chicken, etc.

While giving your dog various meals to ensure that it gets proteins in the right amount, you must avoid giving it raw eggs. Also, there are 10 amino acids that come from food, which form part of the building blocks of proteins. Body tissues are built for the most part of proteins. You now understand why growing puppies should include it in their daily dog care diet.


Dogs can always get water from the foods they eat. That, however, is not enough. If your dog must get all the water it needs, you will need to provide it with fresh water constantly.

Weaning Dogs

A dog and a puppy are not fed the same way. While it is normal for dogs to eat solid foods, puppies will need to feed on milk for a long time. However, after feeding on milk after a long time, they will need to start feeding on solid food just like grown dogs. Weaning for puppies should start about four weeks after they are born. It lasts till they are about eight weeks old.

Puppies are able to get every single nutrient they need from their mother’s milk. During this period, they do not need to feed on anything other than their mother’s milk.

While it is absolutely normal for puppies to only feed on their mother’s milk, this is not always the case. In situations in which a puppy’s mother is sick or dead, it might need to feed on a commercial milk replacer. Before going ahead to feed a puppy that is orphaned, you need to consult a veterinarian.

Puppy Process

The process of weaning a puppy should not be sudden. Puppies should be left with their mother until they learn all that they need to learn. Some of these things are learning to submit to a more dominant dog, interpreting signs of dominance, and stopping biting habits. Puppy food can contain a bit more of natural protein fat.

Since puppies are best weaned gradually, one way to start this is by separating them from their mothers once after a couple of hours. When this is done frequently, the level of dependence of the puppy on the mother will reduce. While the puppy is way from its mother, you should teach it to eat from pans.

When introduced to foods other than their mother’s milk, puppies might struggle a little. They might even go to the extent of playing with this food. However, after being with this food after a while, they will know just what to do with it. While introducing puppies to solid foods, you should begin by giving them small quantities. This should be increased as the puppy gets used to solid foods.

How to Feed a Senior Dog

Loving this senior dog laying outsideDogs begin to age when they start approaching 12 years old. Their body composition begins to change. Some of these changes can be avoided while others can only be properly managed when they are fed the right diets. As dogs begin to age, they should be fed with diets that keep them healthy and make them maintain the right weight. Furthermore, the diets senior dogs get fed with should bring about a slowdown in the development of chronic diseases.

Different dogs begin aging at different times. Bigger dogs are known to need senior diets earlier than smaller dogs. When a dog ages, the coat, and the skin might start deteriorating. It might also begin to lose muscle mass. That’s not all. Dental problems, obesity, arthritis, and intestinal problems will become more pronounced. You can also use an automatic pet feeder to simplify your pooch life.

Dogs that are bigger in size are fed with senior diets earlier than smaller dogs because smaller dogs do not only live longer than bigger dogs. They also do not go through some of the health deteriorations that bigger dogs go through. Senior pet foods might require to be low in protein and fat carbohydrates. Their reduced activity levels won’t have as much maintenance energy requirement.

Tips for feeding your adult dogs

When feeding your commercial dog with senior diets, ensure these diets are rich in proteins. This is because research has shown that dogs do not have reduced protein needs as they grow older. Furthermore, dogs are more likely to lose protein mass when they grow older. Due to this, they should be fed with a lot of protein.

As dogs get older, they tend to put on more weight even though they do not feed on more food. This is believed to occur because older dogs do not use up as much energy as younger dogs. Since older dogs have a major increase in weight as they age, senior diets should not contain so many calories. Try our homemade dog food recipes that are rich with vitamins and minerals.

As dogs age, they lose plenty of muscle mass, and their coats also begin looking bad. To ensure that their coats look better, they should be given Gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) supplements. Dogs are able to produce Gamma-linoleic acids. This ability, however, reduces as they age.

Furthermore, the diets given to senior digs should contain a good dose of fructooligosaccharides as they are usually affected by gastrointestinal diseases. Fructooligosaccharides help with the growth of good bacteria in the intestine and digestive system. Also, consult with a vet about what kind of fruits and vegetables you can use to provide the right nutrients your dog needs.

How to Take Care of Overweight Dogs

Dogs get overweight just like humans do. A lot of people love their dogs so much and expires this love by overfeeding their dogs. This might seem great. It, however, is a route to getting a dog sick. When dogs are obese, they become less active. They also begin to deal with lots of health challenges.

Obesity in dogs brings about a general increase in stress levels of a dog. It could lead to pain in the joints, liver issues, and diabetes. Obesity occurs when a dog takes in more calories than it uses. Most overweight dogs need to follow a weight loss program or dog diet.

The excess energy that remains unused is stored in the body as fat. Although obesity is something that occurs in all dog breeds, there are breeds that are more prone to getting obese. Some of these breeds are Pugs and Labrador retrievers.

If you own any of these breeds, you have to pay special attention to their weight as you might not see them getting obese until it becomes a challenge. Always consult the nutrient requirements for your dogs and cats with a professional vet. Ask if the current food contain the essential fatty acids and vitamins minerals required for the biological value of your pooch. Some may require arachidonic acid and other fat-soluble vitamins.

Canine Nutrition Safety Tips

Before adding any vitamin supplementation to your dogs diet, consult with a professional. As a pet owner, you should understand what are the essential vitamins you pooch needs. Most dietary requirements are specific to each dog breeds. Feeding your dog the wrong balanced dog food can reduce the dogs life and cause deterioration in your dogs body and immune system.

Every dog owner should focus on constructing a complete and balanced diet according to the body weight, caloric requirements, and essential amino acids required in a dog. Balanced diets are the key to happy and healthy dogs. If you feed your adult dog the nutritional requirement that he or she needs, you will contribute positively to your overall pets health care.

Some commercial pet foods contain really bad ingredients like rendered fat, corn syrup, and propylene glycol that can be very toxic, especially for a senior dog. If you buy canned foods or other commercial dog foods, read the food label and make sure it does not contain any artificial colours. According to the AAFCO guidelines, every ingredient must be listed and food additives need to be approved and are required in dog labels.

Wrapping It Up

With proper dry matter basis conversion, your vet can determine the real quantity representation of nutrients of any given dog or cat food. This would be the only way of knowing the real amount of fat, protein, and fiber any cat or dog nutrition product has. Also, this is because most commercial pet foods contain a high amount of moisture. It is the most accurate way to trace minerals, and nutrients dogs are currently consuming.

Pantothenic acid is sometimes added as vitamin supplementation to commercial dog foods. Balanced Omega3 fatty acids can help the overall nervous system of your pooch. There are many nutrition requirements for dogs. In all life stages, make sure you watch what your dogs body and what the dog eat every day. For more dog training and pet care tips, follow our latest posts and social media.

Last Updated on 25/04/2020 by Karen Snow

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