Food must contain all the essential components listed below, which together and in the correct proportion fulfill the requirements of a healthy dog. Energy level, body weight, age and health are sometimes important factors which should be considered when considering the approviate levels of each component. Ingredients named on a dog food label must account for 95% of all ingredients in the food.
- Water;Fresh & clean water should be available all times.
It is most important component of a canine food. Usually all mammals
require some 44 – 66 ml/Kg B.W of water daily, and for dogs, the most
appropriate way is to let a dog drink water 2 – 3 times a day with dry
dog food, while making water continually available throughout the day so
a dog can drink as it feels it needs to.
- Carbohydrates; Carbohydrates may be simple sugars (soluble)
or complex crude fibers (non soluble) of starch and cellulose. A dog may
require both, but it should be noted that dog food containing more
complex crude fiber can cause diarrhea and abdominal complications such
as pain. Beet pulp is most suitable source of carbohydrates for dogs; it
contains both soluble and non soluble forms of carbohydrates.
- Proteins; Proteins are a source of amino acids and are an
essential component to increase nitrogenous compounds in a dog’s body. A
dog may require proteins according to its age and quality of the
protein supplied. Adult dogs usually require almost 2g/Kg B.W of protein
each day. Balanced canine foods must contain 22 – 25% protein for
growing puppies, while 11 – 14% of proteins in dry matter food for adult
- Fats;Fats are a condensed source of energy in canine food.
Other then their use an an energy source, fats are also needed to help
digest some essential fat soluble vitamins such as Vitamin A, D, E &
K. A balanced food should contain 5 – 15% fat.
- Vitamins & Minerals; Vitamins may be water soluble or
fat soluble, as both are essential for the physiological efficacy
(health) of a dog’s body. Most commercial foods contain excessive
amounts of vitamins then are usually required. Foods contain excess
vitamins because vitamin quality declines as food sits on the shelf, so
they add more to make sure a dog gets enough. It also compensates for
low vitamin absorption in the gastrointestinal tract.
Dietary minerals in food are macro minerals (sodium, potassium, calcium & phosphorus) & trace minerals (iron, zinc, copper, iodine etc.). Minerals are supplied in amounts of grams per day, and amounts should be related with the energy level of a selected food. If there is a deficiency or too many minerals in a dog food, nutritional diseases may occur.
Types of FoodFood may be a commercial food or provided via a home cooked diet. Commercial foods are further classified as dry, canned & soft moist. Home cooked diets on other hand are referred to as raw dog food, due to uncertain quality and a uncertain component ratio. Only feed a homemade diet if it has been formulated by a veterinary nutritionist. Even then, food may require vitamin supplements.
Commercial Dog FoodSelecting dry, canned or semi-moist dog food comes down to owner choice and convenience. They all are fine for healthy dogs. Many owners like to combine the different types of food.
- Dry Food; Dry food is the most popular commercial food, containing 90% dry matter and10% water. This is the most digestible form of dog food, where ingredients such as grains, meat, vitamins, fats, minerals and byproducts are combined and cooked. Complex fibers are converted to a simpler digestible form to ensure quality and energy levels. Dry food is preferred by owners due to its lower cost, digestibility and because it has fewer adverse effects on the oral cavity (mouth).
- Canned Dog Food; Canned foods contain 68% water and 32% dry matter. Ingredients are similar to those of dry dog foods, but with a slight difference in processing. High amounts of frozen or fresh meat are included in it with other components such as grains. Canned foods are more expensive then dry food, but have a long shelf life, improved palatability and are available in durable containers. Since these foods contain more water, dogs will need to eat more to get the same calories.
- Semi–Moist Dog Food; This type of food contains 25 – 40%
water and 60 – 75% dry matter. These are usually preserved by a
substance called humectants. The main component of semi–moist foods are
sugars and salts along with other necessary components. These are
convenient and digestible, but are expensive and may cause digestive
problems in some dogs, due to the acidification of components.