A Comprehensive Guide to Dog Feeding 2023

Understanding Your Dog’s Nutritional Needs: A Comprehensive Guide to Dog Feed

Understanding Your Dog's Nutritional Needs A Comprehensive Guide to Dog Feed Introduction

Understanding your dog’s nutritional needs is essential for their overall health and well-being. Just like humans, dogs require a balanced diet to maintain good health. However, with so many dog food options available in the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one for your furry friend. This guide aims to provide dog owners with a comprehensive understanding of their dog’s nutritional needs and how to choose the right dog food.

Just as with humans, it’s important to recognize that there is no universally appropriate type and quantity of food for all dogs. There are numerous factors to consider, such as age, breed, level of activity, and dental health, all of which we as pet owners should take into account when selecting an appropriate diet for our furry friends.

This guide will also cover the different types of dog food available, including dry, wet, and raw food. Each type of dog food has its pros and cons, and it’s essential to understand these before making a decision. By the end of this guide, you’ll have the knowledge and tools to make an informed decision about your dog’s diet, ensuring they receive the nutrition they need to live a healthy and happy life.

Key Takeaways

  • Key factors to consider when choosing a dog feed include: age, breed, activity and concurrent health conditions.
  • Raw feed diets carry higher risk of harbouring pathogenic bacteria and parasites.
  • Providing a well-balanced diet that includes high-quality protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals is crucial for your dog’s overall health and well-being.

Nutritional Components and Their Roles

Important Nutritional Components in Dog Food


Proteins are essential in our dog’s diet as they form the building blocks for many important molecules including but not limited to enzymes, hormones, and antibodies. Protein is also important for muscle protein synthesis and muscle repair and growth, essential for maintaining joint strength later in life. Good sources of protein for dogs include meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products.


Fats are an excellent source of energy for dogs. They also help to keep a dog’s coat healthy and shiny. Fats are also essential for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K. Good sources of fats for dogs include fish and beef.

Fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, are also excellent sources of healthy fats.

Fats are also important to provide a store of body fat which can act as a store for energy and also provide insulation in periods of cold climates, to prevents conditions such as hypothermia.


Carbohydrates are the main energy source in dogs. They also help to maintain a healthy digestive system. Good sources of carbohydrates for dogs include rice, potatoes, and sweet potatoes.


Vitamins are essential for dogs as they help to maintain a healthy immune system. They also play a crucial role in the growth and development of a dog’s body. Good sources of vitamins for dogs include fruits and vegetables.


Minerals are essential for dogs as they help to maintain healthy bones and teeth. They also play a crucial role in the functioning of a dog’s muscles and nerves. Good sources of minerals for dogs include meat, fish, and dairy products.

In conclusion, understanding a dog’s nutritional needs is crucial for maintaining their overall health and wellbeing. A balanced diet containing proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals is essential for dogs to stay healthy.

If your are feeding a natural home feed diet, it is very important to make sure that all of these key macro and micronutrients are included in your dog’s diet in order to prevent a dietary deficiency. If you choose to select a veterinary approved and tested dog food you should be good, as these will have undergone vigorous testing and include the appropriate nutrients.

Recognising Your Dog’s Nutritional Needs

When it comes to feeding your dog, it’s important to recognise their nutritional needs based on key factors such as age, breed, and health condition. By understanding these needs, you can ensure that your furry friend is getting the right nutrients to support their body and keep them in a optimal body condition score to remain happy and healthy.

Recognising Your Dog's Nutritional Needs By Breed

By Breed

Different breed dogs have a wide variety of different nutritional needs. Larger breeds will require a greater volume (grams) of feed and may require more protein and fat to support their muscle mass, while smaller breeds may benefit from a higher fibre diet to support their digestive health. It’s important to research your dog’s breed and consult with a veterinarian to determine their specific nutritional needs.

By Activity

Dogs with a higher daily activity output such as working dogs will require a higher daily nutritional intake in terms of calorie intake. These increased calories are required to support the increased activity and prevent excessive weight loss. I would advice if you have a working dog for example police dog/ working collie to feed a specific working dog diet which has a higher plane of nutrition in terms of calorie number.

By Age

Dogs have different nutritional needs depending on their age. Puppies, for example, require more protein and fat to support their growth and development. Adult dogs, on the other hand, need a balanced diet to maintain their weight and energy levels. Senior dogs may require fewer calories due to their activity levels reducing when compared to younger years and also may require more fibre to support their aging bodies.

By Health Condition

If your dogs has a specific health condition it is important to find a diet which supports their condition specifically. As a guide I have included some common conditions, and an appropriate food for each condition.

Kidney Disease

Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function

ROYAL CANIN Renal Small Dog – 1.5kg

Liver Disease

Hill’s Prescription Diet l/d Liver Care Dry Adult Dog Food

Pancreatic & Gastrointestinal Disease =

ROYAL CANIN Dog Food Gastrointestinal Low Fat



Types of Dog Feed

Types of Dog Feed Dry vs Wet Feed

There are several types of dog feed available, including dry, wet, and semi-moist. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to choose the one that works best for your dog.

Dry dog feed is the most common type of dog feed and is easy to store and serve. It’s also less expensive than other types of dog feed. However, it may not be as palatable as wet or semi-moist dog feed and may not provide as much moisture for your dog. Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that dry food is more beneficial for dental health over time, as it reduces the buildup of plaque and tartar accumulation. The hard texture of dry food also helps to clean teeth, in contrast to wet food.

Wet dog feed is a good option for dogs who need more moisture in their diet. It’s also more palatable than dry dog feed and can be helpful for geriatric patients of dogs with dental pain who have trouble chewing. However, it can be more expensive and may not be as convenient to store and serve as dry dog feed.

Semi-moist dog feed is a cross between dry and wet dog feed. It’s more palatable than dry dog feed and more convenient to store and serve than wet dog feed. However, it can be more expensive than dry dog feed and may not provide as much moisture for your dog.

Considerations of a Raw Food Diet for Dogs

Raw food diets for dogs have become increasingly popular in recent years, as more pet owners seek to provide their furry companions with a diet that more closely resembles what their wild ancestors would have eaten.

Personally, as veterinary professional, I would not advice the majority of owners to feed a raw feed diet, due to the negative risks outweighing the potential benefits. I would recommend owners to feed a good quality Veterinary approved dog feed from a reputable brand such as Hills or Purina.

Below I have included a handy table providing a quick summary into the benefits and limitations of raw feed diets.

Pros Cons
Owner claims of improved coat quality. Higher risk of harmful bacteria in the feed (E.coli, Salmonella).
Owner claims of healthier skin. Risk of chocking on bones.
Minimally processed & closer feed to wild ancestors. Gastrointestinal issues (dysbiosis, leading to vomiting, diarrhoea, and weight loss).
Risk of owners of handling excess raw meat & animal products.
Higher risk of harmful parasites.


Understanding Your Dog’s Nutritional Needs Conclusion

In conclusion, understanding the nutritional needs of your dog is crucial for their overall health and well-being. It is important to choose the right type of dog food that meets their dietary requirements and supports their lifestyle.

When selecting dog food, owners should consider the age, breed, size, and activity level of their dog. It is also important to read the ingredients list and choose high-quality dog food with a balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

Owners should also be aware of any allergies or sensitivities their dog may have and choose dog food accordingly. In addition, it is important to monitor their dog’s weight and adjust their diet as needed to maintain a healthy weight and body condition score of 3/5.

If this guide has inspired you to switch your dog’s food, it is crucial to make the transition slowly and gradually. This involves gradually weaning them off their old food and introducing the new feed in small amounts to avoid any digestive issues. This will reduce the risks of gastrointestinal upset, which we commonly see when feed is changed to rapidly. This can induce signs such as vomiting and diarrhoea, although are usually mild and will resolve in a short time. If you are concerned about changing your dogs feed, please consult a Veterinary professional for further advice and guidance.


What is the best type of food to feed my dog?

The best type of food for your dog will depend on several factors, including their age, breed, activity level, and overall health. Consult with your Vet to determine the most appropriate diet for your dog.

Can I feed my dog human food?

Some human foods can be safe and healthy for dogs in moderation, such as lean meats, vegetables, and fruits. However, many human foods can be harmful or even toxic to dogs, so it is important to research and consult with your veterinarian before feeding your dog human food.

How much should I feed my dog?

The amount of food your dog needs will depend on their age, weight, and activity level. Follow the feeding guidelines provided on the food packaging or consult with your veterinarian for personalized recommendations.

What foods are toxic to dogs?

Several human foods that are safe for us can be extremely hazardous to our pet dogs. Examples of common household foods that should be avoided include dark chocolate, raisins, grapes, and artificial sweeteners. It is important to be aware of the potential hazards of certain human foods and to keep them out of reach of your dog. If you suspect that your dog has ingested a toxic substance, seek veterinary care immediately.

Why is chocolate toxic to dogs?

Dark chocolate contains a compound called theobromine, which dogs are unable to metabolize effectively and can lead to symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, seizures, and even death in severe cases.

Veterinary Author at AblePaws.co.uk | Website | + posts

Being a 5th year Vet student and having a passion for improving the health and welfare of all animals, I am providing AblePaws.co.uk with a veterinary perspective / insight into the real word applications, including strengths and limitations of the products it reviews. This will allow you to make an informed decision as to the suitability of the pet products reviewed on the site to keep your pet mobile, comfortable and full of life!

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