Nutrition for Dogs

The importance of nutrition for your dog’s health

Why it matters what you feed your pooch

Nutrition for dogs is just as important as for humans and good nutrition relies on similar principles.

Most people understand the importance of nutrition for their own health. We know that eating lots of veg, fruit, healthy protein and avoiding fast food, junk, sugary processed food is the way to have a healthy long life. However, somehow many people still fail to see that the principle of ‘you are, what you eat’, which is also true for dogs. If you feed them cheap, processed food full of animal by-products, vegetable derivatives, fillers, flavouring, and other artificial products they will incur health problems sooner or later.

The quality of ingredients is key as quality ingredients provide a better quality of life, resulting in fewer skin conditions, less itching, fewer ear infections, shinier coats, less inflammatory bowel disease, better muscle tone, stronger bones, more energy, better temperament and other immediate physical benefits of better nutrition. Dogs are happier and feel better overall.

Cost is often a problem. However, the more digestible the food is, the less you need to feed, so the bag of food at the higher cost will last longer. The more palatable a food is the less waste you have, so there’s less thrown out because your dog didn’t eat it. Premium food will keep your dog healthier and a dog as fit as a fiddle will reduce your vet bills in the long-term as well as guarantee that your best 4-legged buddy will be by your side for much longer.

What makes a food high quality?

Higher quality foods are foods that ideally contain real meat (and maybe some meat meal – the pros and cons of meat meal is for another article). Dogs need the same macronutrients that we do, albeit in different proportions:


Protein is extremely important for building and repairing muscles and other body tissues. It is needed to form new skin cells, grow hair, build muscle tissue, and more. It also assists in creating body chemicals like hormones and enzymes that are needed for normal function. It provides energy  and keeps the immune system strong.

Proteins are made up of amino acids, and dogs require 22 amino acids to make necessary proteins. A dog’s body is able to make about half of these needed amino acids, but the rest must come from the food your dog eats every day. Because these amino acids are so important, they are called essential amino acids. Deficiencies of any of the essential amino acids over time can lead to health problems.


Fats are very important in both human and canine diet as they are needed for the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Without enough fat, a dog with an unlimited supply of those vitamins cannot benefit from them. Fat also serves as a source for essential (unsaturated) fatty acids (EFAs) that canines can’t manufacture but they are needed for cell membrane integrity.


Carbohydrates are also required but grains should be minimised. You want to avoid corn, wheat and soy components that are often used as fillers and sometimes found to be the first allergic component when a dog presents with an intolerance or allergy to their food.

With a higher quality food the pet gets better nutrition through better digestibility and absorption of nutrients. It’s important to know the difference in digestible protein versus crude protein. Lower quality foods may add crude protein such as chicken beaks, cow hooves, goat hair, any and all sources of protein but not necessarily digestible protein, which means it passes through in the stool with no nutritional benefit to the pet. Meat sources of protein versus cereal grain sources are also important as dogs are carnivores with a digestive system geared toward meat, not corn, wheat or soy.

Some less expensive or lower quality brands will add sugar or artificial flavourings to make their food more palatable, so watch out for these unnecessary ingredients.

There is no one type or brand of food that’s best for all dogs. Each dog’s age, medical condition (if any), immune system (allergies, hot spots, itching, weepy eyes . . .) and lifestyle (a working dog, active sports dog versus a family pet) needs to be considered in choosing a food brand.

Is premium quality food really worth the expense?

Absolutely! However, not everybody can afford the highest quality food but I think we can all make wiser choices and better decisions for the health of our dogs. It is important to read the labels and know what to look out for. 

If it has something you would not eat yourself, don’t make your dog eat it!

If you have any questions, drop us a line at 

If you want to know more about food labels, read the Debunking dog food labels article.

Dog nutrition

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