Your dog’s nutritional health depends on receiving the correct amounts and proportions of nutrients from the six required groups: water, protein, fat, carbohydrate, minerals, and vitamins. Except for water, commercial dog foods identified as 100% complete and balanced containing all of these required dog nutrition services.
Water is essential in helping regulate body temperature, lubrication of body tissues, and as a fluid medium for the blood and lymph systems. Because water is involved in practically every reaction within an animal’s body, any large deviation will be associated with adverse effects. Dogs, therefore, have several systems designed to maintain constant water balance.
Water intake is controlled by thirst, hunger, metabolic activity (work, gestation, lactation, growth), and the environment (humidity and temperature).
Dogs get most of their water by simply drinking it, but they also get some from fluid ingested with food, and water generated from metabolic processes in the body. Water is primarily lost in urine, feces, and respiration.
How much water a dog needs is determined in large part by the amount of food they consume each day. A general guideline is that dogs require 1 mL of water for each kcal of energy. For nursing females, the water requirement will be increased to support milk production. Water should always be freely available for your dog.
Protein is an essential nutrient and serves numerous functions in the body, such as muscle growth, tissue repair, enzymes, transporting oxygen in the blood, immune functions, and energy sources.
Proteins are made of amino acids. Each protein has a unique combination of amino acids that contributes to its shape and function. Dietary protein is digested in the stomach and the small intestine is broken down into peptides (smaller pieces of the protein containing two or more amino acids) and free amino acids, which are then absorbed into the bloodstream. Amino acids are distributed to various cells of the body where they are used to build body proteins. For the best protein for your dog, you need a pet nutrition service.
Also, essential amino acids aren’t stored as such in the body for any significant period of time. They are constantly metabolized and need to be replenished regularly in the right proportions through diet.
Dogs require 10 essential amino acids:
Sources of protein
Protein is derived from both animal and plant sources. Most protein ingredients don’t have all the amino acids in just the right proportion and are inefficient as the sole source of protein. But careful combination can lead to just the right balance.
For example, soybean meal and corn complement each other perfectly, because the amino acids that are deficient in one, are present in the other. Neither meat nor soybean meal is an ideal source of protein on their own, but either can be adequate if fed in combination with another complementary source of amino acids.
To appropriately evaluate the protein levels of different dog and cat foods, two things should be considered. One is the level of protein and the other is the protein digestibility. Digestibility is a measure of how available or easy-to-use is that protein. For the best protein for your dog, you need a dog nutrition service.
In addition to the protein level, quality control during the processing of dog foods is important. Protein may be damaged by excessive heat processing, but most reputable dog food manufacturers use proper cooking methods and employ quality control measures to ensure that products are properly made. Because information about protein digestibility is not listed on dog food labels, the manufacturer’s reputation is important.
Carbohydrate sources are sugars, starches, and insoluble fiber. Simple sugars are the smallest carbohydrate molecules and are easily digested and absorbed. By contrast, complex carbohydrates, or starches, are combinations of simple sugars forming long chains that require more digestion before they can be absorbed into the bloodstream. Insoluble fibers are carbohydrates that are not digestible by dogs or cats.
In manufactured pet foods, most dietary carbohydrates are grains, such as wheat, corn, and rice.
The primary site of carbohydrate digestion is in the small intestine, where these complex compounds are broken down to glucose (a simple sugar). Glucose is the normal source of energy used by most cells in the body.
When dogs and cats consume diets containing more energy than is needed, excess carbohydrate energy is stored in the form of glycogen in the liver and muscles and is converted to fat and stored in adipose tissues. During periods of fasting, stress, or exercise, glycogen is broken down to glucose and delivered to the bloodstream, distributed to all body tissues.
Carbohydrates in dog and cat food
Carbohydrates may make up a portion of dry diets in dog food and cat foods. A large portion of the carbohydrate in pet foods is derived from grains. Grains are usually processed by grinding, flaking, or cooking. Raw or improperly cooked starches are difficult to digest, so careful processing is important to make highly digestible pet foods.
Common sources of digestible carbohydrate found in dog and cat foods include:
Cereal grain or flour from:
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