Essential Nutrients Dogs Need For Health

Nutrition Resources December 21, 2023
Essential Nutrients Dogs Need For Health



Essential Nutrients Dogs Need For Health

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Essential Nutrients Dogs Need For Health

There’s a lot to know when it comes to selecting the best dog food for your newly-adopted pup, and it’s one of the most important decisions you’ll make to ensure he lives a long and healthy life. With that said, we’ve broken down the fundamentals of dog nutrition, what to look for when selecting the perfect food, and the basics of feeding.


You might be wondering why protein is so essential. Protein is an important source of essential amino acids and energy for dogs. Protein is an essential component of a dog’s diet. Protein is made up of 22 amino acids, which can be thought of as the protein’s building blocks. Twelve of these amino acids are produced by the dog’s body, but the remaining ten must be obtained from animal sources such as meat, poultry, and fish in the dog’s diet.

To summarize, dogs require protein to thrive, and it is one of the most important ingredients to look for when comparing different dog food brands. What is the first ingredient listed on the bag or can of dog food? The first ingredient must be a protein, because the first ingredient listed on the nutritional label of your dog’s food will be the most visible.


Fats protect internal organs, regulate body temperature, and help the nervous system function properly. Dogs with low fat levels may develop dry, itchy skin and dull coats. Dogs require fatty acids that their bodies cannot produce on their own. These fats are referred to as essential fatty acids.

It is also worth noting that calories in pet foods are calculated slightly differently than in human foods. Protein and carbohydrates are assigned a calorie value of 3.5 per gram. Each gram of fat contains 8.6 calories. This is to account for the less processed ingredients that are typically found in pet foods.

Not all fats are good for your dog. When selecting a high-quality dog food, take into account the source, quality, and quantity of fat.

Vitamins And minerals

Vitamins and minerals are very important and serve a vital role when it comes to the health and development of our pups. Because of this, many pet food brands include vitamins and minerals while making food. Inception dog food recipes contain important vitamins and minerals for your dog, such as vitamin A acetate, vitamin D3 supplements, and vitamin E supplements.

Vitamin A is great for supporting your dog’s vision. Vitamin D3 is great for dogs’ skin since they can’t get vitamin D from the sun. Last but not least, vitamin E helps your dog develop healthy and strong muscles and keeps their immune system strong.


Carbohydrates are a dog’s main source of glucose (energy). Carbohydrates are not required in a dog’s diet, but they are associated with important vitamins, minerals, and plant-based nutrients. Carbohydrates include grains, barley, brown rice, whole corn, and potatoes.

Feeding Guidelines

Follow the feeding guidelines listed on the dog food you’re feeding your dog. This is a great rule to follow. These feeding guidelines will be based on age and weight. “Older dogs typically do not need to consume as many calories to maintain their ideal body weight, and it may be a good idea to consider a senior diet or a less caloric-dense diet to keep your older pet from becoming overweight,” said Dr. Quest.

For example, when comparing Inception to other pet food brands that recommend you feed 1 to 1 ½ cups for dogs who are 10 pounds or less and between 1-3 months old, for Inception, you will feed ¼ to ¾ cups per day despite the dog’s age. When comparing a second pet food brand that recommends you feed 1 to 2 ½ cups for a 2- to 3-month-old dog weighing 3 to 12 pounds, again with Inception, you feed ¼ to ¾ cups per day despite the dog’s age.

Adopting a new dog is a fun and rewarding experience, and diet is very important in ensuring their lifelong health. If you have any specific questions about your dog’s diet needs, consult with your veterinarian.

What is a Guaranteed Analysis on the Label?

All dog food labels state the minimum amount of protein and fat, as well as the maximum percentage of fiber and moisture.

According to the scientific research unit of the National Research Academics Council, at least 10 percent of your dog’s daily diet should be protein, and 5.5 percent should be fat. However, always consult your veterinarian for specific dietary needs.

Bring your current dog food and treats, or a picture of the label, to your next vet appointment, and ask your vet to go over the ingredients with you.

What to Look For:

  • The first ingredient is real meat.
  • Fillers (corn, wheat, and soy), if present, should be listed near the bottom of the ingredient list.
  • If a “meal” is listed, make sure it comes from a specific source (for example, chicken, beef, or salmon) rather than a general “meal” (for example, poultry meal, fish meal, etc.).
  • Specific protein by-products (for example, beef by-product) have a high nutritional value and are generally not an issue; however, general statements (for example, by-product meal) are of lower quality.

Beware of:

  • The name of the food contains the phrase “with” or “flavor” (for example, with beef or beef-flavored) because it contains a small percentage of real meat.
  • The same ingredient appears several times under different names (for example, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, sugar, sucrose).
  • Fillers in foods and treats, as well as an excess of fillers in dog food (which may not be biologically appropriate for your pet).


AAFCO may be one thing that stands out on the dog food bag or can. AAFCO stands for Association of American Feed Control Officials, and they have guidelines outlined for pet food companies to meet when creating their foods.

With that in mind, it’s important to make sure any dog food you’re assessing for your dog has the AAFCO statement. What this means is that the pet food has been created to meet AAFCO nutrient requirements or has undergone AAFCO feeding studies to help ensure it meets your dog’s nutritional requirements to stay healthy.


Anne is a wellness writer with a lifelong love of animals large and small. As a former veterinary technician, she has a passion for your pet’s well-being. Anne rescues and rehabilitates animals in need. She shares her farm with lots of critters including horses, sheep, dogs, cats, rabbits, and chickens
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