Hi stranger! Signing up for MypetMD is easy, free and puts the most relevant content at your fingertips.
What’s in a Balanced Dog Food?
Most dog foods on the market today are meant to be the only source of nutrition for our dogs. You will find the words “complete and balanced” printed on back of the bag. Foods must meet nutritional standards established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). It is important to note that a dog food that meets AAFCO standards is not necessarily precisely balanced. To prove they are healthy, foods must either be made from a recipe that meets certain requirements, or they must be put through a special feeding trial.
Maintenance dog foods contain anywhere between 30-70% carbohydrates. Dogs are omnivores, meaning they can process carbohydrates as a source of energy. Common cereal grains such as wheat, corn, rice, barley, and oats give kibbles structure and texture. An ingredient such as beet pulp, which contains carbohydrates that are less digestible (fiber), helps keep dogs "regular." Fiber also helps keep the animal feeling full longer, decreasing the amount of food needed, and preventing obesity.
One of the most important nutrients for dogs is protein. Protein is made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks that create strong muscles and repair body tissues. Because the dog can only make half of the amino acids he needs, the other amino acids (called essential amino acids) must be provided by the diet. Common ingredients such as chicken, egg, beef, turkey, lamb, soybeans, and fish meal provide necessary protein levels.
Dogs require a balance of fatty acids that must come from the food they eat. Fats provide energy, as well as taste and flavor to foods. They also help the animal to absorb certain vitamins. Fat in the diet provides healthy skin and a shiny, healthy coat. Quality fats used in dog foods include poultry fat, vegetable oil, soybean oil, and fish oil. A balanced diet provides about 10-15% fat.
Vitamins and Minerals
Last, but not least, essential vitamins and minerals must be added to a dog food recipe to maintain good health. Vitamins and minerals are found in many common foods, including fruits and vegetables. This is why these ingredients are often used in dog foods.
Sometimes vitamins and minerals are added in the form of powdered premixes, but they can also come from other ingredients like legumes, grains, meats, fruits, and vegetables.
And don’t forget, a healthy diet is not complete without the addition of fresh, clean drinking water. Water is essential to eliminate wastes from the body, regulate body temperature, transport nutrients around the body, and prevent dehydration. While there is some moisture still present in dry dog food kibbles, dogs should be given a source of quality water available at all times, in addition to a healthy, balanced diet.
Additional SlideshowsWhat's New Dog Cat
|6 Things Commonly Found in Your Dog’s Poop||8 Common Eye Problems in Dogs||5 Bad Behaviors Dog Parents Encourage||6 Things That Give Your Pet Gas||Seven Common Mistakes in Flea and Tick Prevention|
|Top Ten Pet Assistants||Past Winners of the Westminster Dog Show||Ten Fourth of July Pet Safety Tips||Understanding Ticks on Dogs and Cats||The Importance of Water|
|How Did My Cat Get Fleas or Ticks?||5 Reasons Your Cat is Extremely Hungry||10 Tips to Keep Your Senior Cat Healthy||Watch Out For These 6 Nutrients in Cat Food||5 Signs of Renal Disease in Cats|